the psychologist in the public health sector deals with the challenge of fitting in non-psychiatric institutions characterized as one specific locus of professional practice of health. this study intends to understand the meanings attributed by the psychologists to their practice developed in the public health institutions in fortaleza. based on qualitative approach from a critical-interpretative perspective, the sample was composed by eight psychologists who are part of the public health team. the main technique employed was the non-directive individual interview that allowed to construct two different axis related to the objectives. the results point out many difficulties experienced by the informants that vary from a precarious academic graduation until the influence of the biomedical model in the assistance organization. in the services explored, the psychologist assumes attitudes of care as technique, adjustment, control and nullification of the difference. there are, however, experiences that go beyond the traditional models of education and practice.