10 Specialties in Psychology Explained
Psychology is the study of the human mind and behavior. However, that is a very vast area with many yet unexplored avenues. Thus, there are many specialties and fields in psychology you learn with a Masters or PhD.
When people think of psychologist, they are most often thinking of clinical psychologist, a therapist who aids people with mental health issues. Clinical psychologist assess, diagnose and treat individuals suffering from psychological distress and mental illness such as schizophrenia, depression, PTSD and anxiety disorders.
Clinical Psychologist are highly trained, most often a PhD is required to become one, and have extensive experience in both research and clinical practice. Other than working in hospitals or clinical centers as therapist they are also often found in academia as researchers。
Counseling psychology is similar to clinical psychology in that they are. However, the key difference is that while counseling psychologist do assist and treat individuals with mental health issues, they do not specialize and focus on it as much as clinical psychologist. Rather, counseling psychologist help people deal with more general day to day psychological issues.
Counseling psychology is more about wellness and prevention than pathology. This can involve counseling on stress, self-esteem, relationship and social skills issues, behavioral problems, emotional disturbances, and career problems.
Addiction psychology or substance abuse treatment psychology focuses on treating and assisting individuals with addictions related to alcohol and drugs. However, addiction psychologist can also specialize in gambling, sex, pornography, and other destructive addictions.
Addiction psychologist work together with clients to set up treatment goals and plans, maintain sobriety and modify behaviors or mindsets that lead to substance abuse. As substance abuse are often intertwined with mental health issues, substance abuse treatment psychologist also have a firm grasp on it.
Forensic Psychology is essentially the intersection of psychology and law. While TV shows and movies have led many to think that forensic psychologist are criminal chasing mind readers, the truth is they use their knowledge of the human mind and behavior to aid law enforcement more ‘mundane’ but no less important tasks.
Forensic psychologist offer professional testimony in court, perform child custody evaluations, consult on criminal cases, assess the mental state, competency or risk of recidivism of criminals, and counsel victims of crime to help them process their emotional distress or help prepare them to testify.
Neuropyschologist specialize in the relationship between the brain, the nervous system and human behavior. It requires in-depth knowledge of biology specifically neuroanatomy, neuroscience, brain development, neurological disorders and more.
Many neuropsychologist are involved in academic research in laboratory settings or help clients with traumatic brain injuries or other neurological problems such as Parkinsons or dementia.
6) Industrial-Organizational Psychology
Industrial-Organizational Psychology (I-O psychology) is all about learning human behavior within organizations and applying that to make a better, healthier and more productive workplace.
I-O psychologist seek to solve human organizational problems in the workplace by designing programs or structures that increase efficiency, employee satisfaction and retention, and, minimize risk or lower cost. I-O psychology is one of the most lucrative fields of psychology, they earn a significantly high average salary that can go up to six figures.
7) Developmental Psychology
Humans are constantly developing over our life spans from infants, children, adolescents, adults to the elderly. Developmental psychology examines how and why we change over the course of our lifetime in terms of cognitive and emotional development, self concept and identity formation.
Developmental psychologists sometimes focus on a specific period such as early childhood or old age. The task they perform may include evaluating and assisting children with developmental disabilities such as autism, investigating issues associated with aging, or the research the acquisition of language in infants.
8) Sports Psychology
Every profession faces it’s own unique psychological challenges. However, athletes face very distinct issues such as intense pressure, motivational problems and psychological recovery from injuries.
Thus, a sports psychologist fills the role of improving athlete’s performance in ways that a coach cannot. This includes helping athletes with relaxation and stress relieving techniques, maintaining motivation, and communicating effectively with teammates.
9) Health Psychology
In cases of illnesses and health crises, the causes are not purely biological. Social and psychological factors come into play as well. By working together with doctors and professional health care providers, health psychologist seek to provide a more holistic healthcare approach by improving both their mental and physical health.
Hence, they seek to develop healthy habits and lifestyles in their clients, instruct them on effective coping techniques to manage their pain or stress related to their medical conditions.
10) Couple and Family Psychology
Marriages, intimate relationships and family relationship have ups and downs, it is normal for couples or family members to air out problems and differences. However, sometimes this can turn their relationship negative, toxic or downright abusive.
A Couple and Family therapist is a good way for these individuals to heal their fractured bonds with each other. They treat the family or couple together as a whole, utilizing Systems Psychology to examine how couples and family members behave and interact in the context of a system. Hence, they seek to improve communication and understanding between families or couples.
Interested in more info about psychology check out our 10 Things You Can Do With A Psychology Degree or Top 7 Reasons You Should Study psychology article.