What Kinds Of Psychology Are There
Psychology is the study of behavior and mind, including how they develop, change, and interact with each other. It’s also the practice or art of helping people improve their lives through psychological intervention.
A psychologist is someone who has received training in one specific field of psychology, but there are many sub-disciplines within it. Some psychologists specialize in certain areas like child development, school counseling, clinical/forensic psychology, etc. Others work in multiple areas, such as sports psychology, organizational psychology, medical psychology, etc. The area you’re most interested in studying might not be your primary focus when deciding to become a psychologist. For example, I majored in both history and philosophy in college and had no intentions of becoming a psychologist. But after taking several classes on personality theory and learning about the importance of understanding human motivation, I changed my major to psychology.
While all psychologists share an interest in understanding and influencing human behavior, some fields are more focused than others. One of the main distinctions between specialties is whether the psychologist primarily focuses on research (e.g., clinical) or application (e.g., school). There are also differences in the way psychologists approach therapy sessions. For instance, some use psychotherapy techniques while others rely on medication and counseling.
Let’s take a closer look at four main branches of psychology: Cognitive, Forensic, Social, and Developmental.
Cognitive psychology deals with perception, thinking, memory, attention, language and intelligence. These skills affect our ability to learn, communicate, process information, make decisions, solve problems, think abstractly and understand concepts. People with conditions that affect these abilities can experience difficulties, such as dyslexia, ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, depression and anxiety disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke, dementia, epilepsy, etc. Cognitive psychologists help patients deal with these issues by using instruments like IQ tests and standardized tests of visual acuity, spatial reasoning, verbal fluency, processing speed, memory recall, mathematical calculation, problem solving and decision making. They also examine educational records for evidence of early intellectual impairment, which could indicate a genetic abnormality. In addition, cognitive psychologists sometimes conduct experiments to better understand the processes underlying normal and abnormal behaviors.
Forensic psychology involves working with law enforcement agencies to assist them in identifying potential suspects, developing profiles, assessing credibility and reliability of witnesses, testifying in court, researching crime statistics, etc. Many psychologists have also worked as expert witnesses for criminal defendants. This branch includes things like bioethics, criminology, epidemiology, forensics, jurisprudence, legal medicine, medicolegal investigation, neuropsychology, pathology, physiology, toxicology, anthropology, psychiatry, sociology, criminology, law, economics, finance, public policy, business administration, management, leadership, marketing, advertising, sales, etc.
Social psychology studies how individuals and groups behave in relation to each other. Its goal is to increase knowledge of individual differences, group dynamics, prejudice, discrimination, stereotypes and prejudice, power relationships, communication, emotions, aggression, stress, etc. Psychologists in this field often try to explain why humans react to situations in the ways that they do and then develop interventions to address those reactions. Examples include family conflict resolution, group dynamics, workplace harassment, bullying, violence, suicide prevention, substance abuse, sexual assault awareness, gender roles, parenting, education, politics, etc.
Developmental psychology explores factors affecting physical, emotional, social and intellectual growth throughout life. Areas studied include childhood, adolescence, adulthood, aging, education, pregnancy, childbirth, genetics, nutrition, fitness, physical activity, exercise, occupational safety & health, environmental risk, etc. While this branch shares similarities with cognitive, forensic and social psychology, it tends to focus on long-term effects rather than short-term solutions to behavioral problems. An example would be if a teenager were having trouble adjusting to high school because of low self esteem. Instead of trying to provide immediate assistance, developmental psychologists will usually recommend changes to the environment to promote healthy development over time.
As we’ve seen, psychologists cover a wide range of topics. No matter what interests you, there’ll probably be a field somewhere where you’ll be able to find employment. Take a moment to consider the kinds of jobs you’d enjoy doing before deciding upon a degree program. You should also find out more about possible career paths after graduation.
If you decide to pursue a career in psychology, remember to keep up with new developments in your field. Keep abreast of any advances that occur so you can continue expanding your expertise and providing excellent service to clients. Also, stay informed about trends in the job market and be prepared to adapt accordingly. Good luck!
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