Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Fields of Psychology

The field of Psychology is wide and varied. Lotsa hats, so to speak.

Clinical Psychology
Clinical psychologists assess and treat people with psychological problems. They may act as therapists for people experiencing normal psychological crises or for individuals suffering from chronic psychiatric disorders. Some clinical psychologists are generalists who work with a wide variety of populations, while others work with specific groups like children, the elderly, or those with specific disorders (e.g., schizophrenia). They may be found in hospitals, community health centers, or private practice, and practice a variety of different theories and treatments (e.g. behavioral, cognitive, psychodynamic, psychoanalytic).

Community Psychology
Community psychologists are concerned with everyday behavior in natural settings the home, the neighborhood, and the workplace. They seek to understand the factors that contribute to normal and abnormal behavior in these settings. They also work to promote health and prevent disorder.

Counseling Psychology
Counseling psychologists do many of the same things that clinical psychologists do. However, counseling psychologists tend to focus more on persons with adjustment problems, rather than on persons suffering from severe psychological disorders. Counseling psychologists are employed in academic settings, community mental health centers, and private practice. Recent research tends to indicate that training in counseling and clinical psychology are very similar.

Developmental Psychology
Developmental psychologists study how we develop intellectually, socially, emotionally, and morally during our lifespan. Some focus on just one period of life (e.g., childhood or adolescence). Developmental psychologists usually do research and teach in academic settings, but many act as consultants to day care centers, schools, or social service agencies.

Educational Psychology
Educational psychologists are concerned with the study of human learning. They attempt to understand the basic aspects of learning and then develop materials and strategies for enhancing the learning process. For example, an educational psychologist might study reading and develop a new technique for teaching reading from the results of the research.

Evolutionary Psychology
Evolutionary psychology is a field that uses evolutionary theory to understand behavior and the design of the brains and minds of humans and other animals. Closely related to Comparative Psychology, evolutionary psychology is an approach, or way of thinking that can be applied to any topic within psychology, such as perception, learning, development, social, and so forth.

Experimental Psychology
This area of specialization includes a diverse group of psychologists who do research in the most basic areas of psychology (e.g., learning, memory, attention, cognition, sensation, perception, motivation, and language). Sometimes their research is conducted with animals instead of humans. Most are faculty members at colleges and universities.

Environmental Psychology
Environmental psychologists are concerned with the relations between psychological processes and physical environments ranging from homes and offices to urban areas and regions. Environmental psychologists may do research on attitudes toward different environments, personal space, or the effects on productivity of different office designs.

Family Psychology
Family psychologists are concerned with the prevention of family conflict, the treatment of marital and family problems, and the maintenance of normal family functioning. They design and conduct programs for marital enrichment, premarital preparation, and improved parent-child relations. They also conduct research on topics such as child abuse, family communications patterns, and the effects of divorce and remarriage. Family psychologists are often employed in medical schools, hospitals, community agencies, and in private practice.

Forensic Psychology
Forensic psychology looks at law studies and legal issues from a psychological perspective (e.g., how juries decide cases) and psychological questions in a legal context (e.g., how jurors assign blame or responsibility for a crime). Forensic psychologists are concerned with the applied and clinical facets of the law such as determining a defendant's competence to stand trial or if an accident victim has suffered physical or neurological damage. Jobs in these areas are in law schools, research organizations, community mental health agencies, and correctional institutions.

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Psychology
GLBT Psychology focuses on the psychological issues affecting lesbians, gay men, and bisexual and transgendered individuals, focusing on the diversity of human sexual orientations by supporting research, promoting relevant education.

Health Psychology
Health psychologists are concerned with psychology's contributions to the promotion and maintenance of good health and the prevention and treatment of illness. Clinical Health Psychologists deal with health and illness in settings, and there are Health Psychologists who focus more on health promotion, designing and conducting programs to help individuals stop smoking, lose weight, manage stress, prevent cavities, or stay physically fit.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychologists are primarily concerned with the relationships between people and their work environments. They may develop new ways to increase productivity or be involved in personnel selection. You can find l/O psychologists in businesses, industry, government agencies, and colleges and universities. I/O psychologists are probably the most highly paid psychologists.

Neuroscience, Biopsychology and Psychobiology
Neuroscientists (a newer term for Biopsychologists and Psychobiologists) investigate brain- behavior relationships. Beginning a Decade of the Brain (1990-2000), neuroscience is a huge and growing research area to which psychologists contribute. These psychologists study both very basic processes (e.g., how brain cells function), sensory systems, memory, and more observable phenomena such as behavior change as a function of drug use. Some continue their education in clinical areas and work with people who have neurological problems.

Psychometrics and Quantitative Psychology
Psychometric and quantitative psychologists are concerned with the methods and techniques used to acquire and apply psychological knowledge. A psychometrist revises old intelligence, personality, and aptitude tests and devises new ones. Quantitative psychologists assist researchers in psychology or other fields to design experiments or interpret their results. Psychometrists and quantitative psychologists are often employed in colleges and universities, testing companies, private research firms, and government agencies.

Rehabilitation Psychology
Rehabilitation psychologists work with people who have suffered physical deprivation or loss at birth or during later development as a result of damage or deterioration of function (e.g., resulting from a stroke). They help people overcome both the psychological and situational barriers to effective functioning in the world. They work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, medical schools, and in government rehabilitation agencies.

School Psychology
School psychologists are involved in the development of children in educational settings. They are typically involved in the assessment of children and the recommendation of actions to facilitate students' learning. They often act as consultants to parents and administrators to optimize the learning environments of specific students.

Social Psychology
Social psychologists study how our beliefs, feelings, and behaviors are affected by other persons. Some of the topics of interest to social psychologists are attitudes, aggression, prejudice, love, and interpersonal attraction. Most social psychologists are on the faculty of colleges and universities, but an increasing number are being hired by hospitals, federal agencies, and businesses to perform applied research.

Sports Psychology
Sport and exercise psychology is the scientific study of the psychological factors that are associated with participation and performance in sport, exercise, and other types of physical activity. Sport psychologists are interested in two main areas: (a) helping athletes use psychological principles to achieve optimal mental health and to improve performance (performance enhancement) and (b) understanding how participation in sport, exercise, and physical activity affects an individual's psychological development, health, and well-being throughout the life span.

If I've forgotten any, please let me know. I'd hate to think I left a hat out of the stack.

Most information sourced from Auburn University


~Deb said...

I go for stress management and anxiety disorder. But, at the same time, I wish my psychiatrist would understand more about the GLBT community as well. Can I bundle all of these psychiatrists/counselors/therapists up in one person?

~Deb said...

Oh, and I would love a Christian therapist as well!

We're tawkin' a lot of money in medical bills here, huh? :)

Donna said...

Hi Deb, I'm glad you wrote about all the different ways a person can be a psychologist. I think that most people assume that psychologists are clinical. I'm learning more about the other branches of being a psychologist. Last quarter, I had a class where just about everyone was going for their degree in educational psychology. I learned a lot about it. Now, in my assessment class, I'm learning more about psychometrics...always an interesting area of psychology!

Angel Chasse said...

Hey Dr Deb!

I will be sharing this post with Jim, as I think he would love seeing all there is to do under the "psychology" umbrella :)

Have a great day!


Marj aka Thriver said...

Catching up on my reading on your amazingly informative blog, as usual, Dr. Deb! Thank you for the very kind and supportive comment you left at my blog recently. I appreciate your taking time to do that! :)

Ian Lidster said...

This is great, Deb. It's a keeper and I printed it out. Helpful to me as a journalist to be able to define my terms in a story, but also very informative. Your blog just persists in being great, it does.


jumpinginpuddles said...

lol im sure our T is all of these things, lol well most of them anyway, ok ok i must be the first to say it some of these look more boring than watching snails hitch a ride up a leaf.

Godwhacker said...

What a wonderful and diverse field. If I could live to be 300, I would love to wear many of those hats. ~ forever stuck in epistemology. :)

Smalltown RN said...

stumbling across your blog couldn't have happend at a better time especially seeing as what I wrote about on my blog. I really enjoyed this topic. I was very informative....thank you

Belizegial said...

Dr. Deb,

Thanks for this useful info. Some of it is new to me, so I am going to be copying this into word and reviewing this to gain more knowledge and insight in these different fields of psychology.

Is there any way to copyright the material in our blogs so that they don't get reproduced elsewhere without permission? I recently came across articles about bitacle.org and from my own experience, it appears that google.com can pick up the nice pics on my blog and then reformat and perhaps sell them over the internet. I understand there is an opt out feature to get out of this process, but I am clueless on this.

Do you have any words of advice or can you do a blog post on this topic separately?


Nancy said...

Great info, but how does one who needs a psychologist or one is crisis find the kind they need. I think I would have to rely on word of mouth instead of the yellow pages because I would get more stressed trying to figure which direction to go. To many hats but what a great field. Every one should probably try to find a compatible Doc 'just in case' or when they are in crisis.
I think I will copy this info just in case because one never knows what can set off their crisis

Todd and in Charge said...

Very informative. Personally we believe in integrative medicine, which attempts to treat the whole person from a combination of medical and alternative perspectives.

Reiki 4 Life said...

OMG I had no idea there were so many different kinds of psychology...yeah, I think most people just think of clinical psychology or counselors. Wow. Great informations...you seem to wear a lot of hats yourself Dr. Deb!

~be well

Dawn said...

I had no idea there were that many different fields! This is so interesting. thanks for taking the time to write about it.

Dr. Deb said...

Dear ~Deb,
Why not?

Dear Donna,
There are many interesting subsets in the field, I agree.

Dear Angel,
So many to choose from!

Dear Marj,
Glad you are doing better.

Dear Ian,
Just as in any profession, there are many subsets within the field, right?

Dear JIP,
To each his or her own, I say. I find the different subspecialties fascinating.

Dear GW,
Sounds good to me.

Dear Smalltown,
Hope you caome back and visit again.

Dear Belize,
I don't know much about copyright stuff, but it IS a problem. I know that there's a website using some of my stuff too. Very disturbing.

Dear Nancy,
Word of mouth is the best way to find someone, I think.

Dear Todd,
I am an integrative fan as well.

Dear REiki,
I wear just a few hats. Like everyone else! Wife, mother, daughter, psychologist, sister, etc. :)

Dear Dawn,
There are many different subsets within various jobs. I just thought I'd highlight psychology!


Anonymous said...

All the better for me to shrink you with my dear...
(Sorry couldn't resist)
Many hats are good. I think it is best when we find specialists in our area, only because the field is so very broad.

Candace said...

Oh good grief. Now you've made me go and learn something.

Layla (aka Barbara) said...

This was fascinating! I linked to you today and told all my readers that your blog is a MUST READ!

Anonymous said...

My little sister is a psychology major. She doesn't know what she wants to do with her degree yet. I always found the field of psychology interesting.

Tom & Icy said...

This is very impressive.
If they had Agricultural Psychology, they we could be out-standing in the field.

Heidi said...

Wow..I didn't realize there were so many fields of Psychology.

That's why I love your blog..Always something new to learn.

Ms.L said...

I had no clue!
That's really interesting.
I've always wanted to go into
Psychology...if only out of curiosity,lol. Probably not the best reason;p

Fallen Angels said...

I didn't realize there were so many different subfields! I did learn about evolutionary, environmental and biological psychology in my (physical)anthropology class though.

It would be interesting to read a post on the differences between the behavioral, cognitive, psychodynamic and psychoanalytic approaches. I would also be interested in reading about sociocultural and epingenetic approaches...but I think that since these two are only "emergent theories" of development, there may not be treatment approaches... yet! I really like the epigenetic theory...does away with the old nature vs nurture idea... it's both!

Nancy said...

Dr Deb,
i nominated your blog in the "Blogger's Choice Awards" under Best Health. I hope your readers will vote its easy to register and vote got to
Thanks for providing us with great info, your the best

Nancy said...

PS: it takes 24 hours for the people to register your Blog....

Raine said...

ok i just have to do it- forgive me in advance- you forgot the pet psychologists !!! :P

p.s. I am trying the numbers and will try again and will email the results

Nancy said...

I was able to vote. Hope you win, you are a kind and sensitive person

Dr. Deb said...

Dear Mom,
It is hard to find a specialist, but going by word of mouth is a general good rule.

Dear Candace,
LOL! You are so very funny,

Dear Layla,

Dear Urban,
There will be many places with which she could plant her flag.

Dear T& I,
Verrrrry funny!

Dear Heidi,
I'm a teacher at heart. And I loooove psychology. So it works here!

Dear MS. L.,
Not a bad reason at all. In fact, I went into Psych bc I was curious about the field.

Dear Fallen,
Great idea. I will do a future post on that.

Dear Nancy,
Thanks. It is always nice to get a nod from blog pals.

Dear Raine,
Pet psychologists would fall under clinical, I think. But good point nonetheless.

Dear Nancy,
I registered too and voted for many of my favorites too. I'll be linking a post tomorrow with a hat tip to you. TY :)


Raine said...

Dear Deb, when you do that post that Fallen Angels suggested could you please translate it into simple english for those of us who have not gone to college in the last 100 years or so?
Thank you , Raine

Wendy C. said...

Is there such a thing as vocational psychology - or would that fall into the general category of industrial psych?

Dr. Deb said...

Dear Raine,
LOL, will do.

Dear Wendy,
Yup, that falls under I/O.


PalmTreeChick said...

What about congnitive behavioral?

Dr. Deb said...

Dear Palmtree,
That falls under the Clinical Psychology subset.

jane said...

I think psychologists do so much more for us than psychiatrists. I'm not saying psych's don't help, of course the meds do. But it seems psychologists get more to the root of the problem, doesn't demand medicine is the cure for everything & doesn't give out drugs based on what company they're in good with. (You know, perks)

I think studying the brains of pedophiles would be an amazing field to work in. Hopefully, someone is going to find a link, gene, etc. that makes these people tick the way they do.

Dr. Deb said...

Dear Jane,
Psychologists have training in the mind and behavior in a more indepth way than do psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are skillfully trained in medicine and all that goes with it. Though they do take courses in mind and behavior, the focus is less intense than psychologists. But we all do play a role in helping with mental illness and psychological/psychiatirc issues. The key is to find the right professional(s) for what you need.

And I believe there is alot of research being done on Pedophiles. Hopefully such data can help us understand more.


HP said...

Excellent post to explain the differences in the fields of psychology. I have to add to your health psychologist part though because there is a distinction here between clinical health psychologists who deal more with the same problems as clinical psychologists in health/illness settings eg. depression, anxiety, adjustment, somatisation, ptsd following illness, abnormal illness behaviours etc etc and those that devise the kind of programs you talk about - who focus more on health promotion. Important to make the distinction I think.

Dr. Deb said...

Dear HP,
Will add that, thanks!

Layla (aka Barbara) said...

What a fascinating list! I had no idea some of these existed.

Anonymous said...

I happened to read your answer to Wendy C. on April 13. I am a vocational psychology and I think most of us belong to Div. 17 of APA, i.e. Society of Counseling Psychology because there is a section of vocational psychology. If you want to know more about us, check out this site: http://www.div17.org/vocpsych/

Anonymous said...

Dr. Deb,
I am thinking about Art Therapy. Where does this fall? Counseling psychology? If I like couple of fields of psychology, what would be the best way to decide on school and start? For example, I am interested in counseling, especially art therapy but I am also interested in educational psychology and cultural psychology.

Anonymous said...

hi dr. deb,
it would be really helpful if you could kindly talk about the trends in psychology in the 21st century. which fields are coming up in psychology...as far as i know cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, positive psychology, cultural psychology and sports psychology are some of them. any others you can think of?

Saree said...

Hi Deb,thanks for posting this.
This have been a big help!
I hope you'll produce more ideas about Psychology and may you publish a book someday. ^__^

Johnny said...

I wish there was a field of research in the psychology of music and how it specifically effects moods and if it can change how someone develops. Music, philosophy and understanding the human mind/consciousness has always been my love and putting them together and doing research in this field would be very fulfilling.

Sigrun said...

Liberation psychology