What Are the Different Fields in Psychology?

Psychology is a broad area that encompasses a number of specialized fields, including clinical, counseling and school psychology. Read on to learn about a few of the different psychology fields in which you could specialize. Schools offering Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Psychology Defined

The study of the mind and behavior is called psychology. The general goal of psychology is to identify patterns or issues within a person's mental processes. When this is achieved, you can resolve problems that are interfering with patients' lives or better understand human interactions and actions.

Psychology encompasses a number of fields, each of which yields its own challenges and opportunities on the academic and professional levels. If you study psychology, you'll probably choose a specialization while pursuing an advanced degree. If you're looking to work as a professional psychologist in one of the three fields listed below, then you'll need either a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree.

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology involves diagnosing the mental health of medical patients, recommending medications and providing therapy. Clinical psychologists may treat serious psychological conditions, such as schizophrenia and depression. Clinical psychologists may further specialize in areas like neuropsychology, health psychology or child psychology. Clinical psychology work is often conducted in medical settings, where you collaborate with medical staff to design behavior modification programs and therapeutic plans for patients.

Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychology deals with diagnosing and treating the mental and emotional issues of individuals or groups of patients. Counseling psychology often deals with afflictions related to stress, including factors that are work-related, social or familial in nature. Counseling psychology professionals often work in private or group practices, hospitals or clinics. In such settings, they provide therapeutic advice on how to deal with stress and anxiety.

School Psychology

School psychology applies psychological concepts to educational settings. You'll partner up with teachers and school administrators to create and implement behavior management programs and lesson plans. One of the main goals of school psychology is to help create positive learning environments for all students. As a school psychologist, you'll also help school administrators formulate programs to help meet the needs of various types of students, including those who are disabled or gifted.

Other Fields

There are numerous additional disciplines within psychology that may include both clinical and research-based work. Below are brief descriptions for some of the other fields in psychology:

  • Consumer psychology: As a consumer psychologist, you would examine what factors play into purchasing decisions.
  • Developmental psychology: You would study mental states, including emotions, morals and intelligence, that occur throughout the lifespan.
  • Experimental psychology: This is usually a research-based field that delves into subjects like cognition, perception, sensation, learning, language and memory.
  • Family psychology: Your career would involve improving relations between couples and among families.
  • Forensic psychology: This field applies psychological principles to legal matters and court cases.
  • Industrial-organizational psychology: In this field, you would help improve workplace conditions by collaborating with employers and employees regarding training, motivation, productivity, teamwork, efficacy and well-being.
  • Social psychology: You would examine social interactions to see how they affect behavior; you may study issues like prejudice, attraction and attitudes.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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