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Psychological Disciplines

What are the different fields of specialization in psychology?


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April 08, 2012 9:19PM

CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY: Clinical psychologists assess and treat people with psychological problems. They may act as therapists for people experiencing normal psychological crises (e.g., grief) 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 are trained in universities or professional schools of psychology. They may be found working in academic settings, hospitals, community health centers, or private practice. The homepage of Division 12 (Clinical Psychology) can be found here.

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. The homepage of Division 17 (Counseling Psychology) can be found here.

DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY: Developmental psychologists study how we develop intellectually, socially, and emotionally over the lifespan. Some of the areas they are interested in are: Children's peer relations, language comprehension, computational models of cognitive development, parent-infant interactions, social and communicative behavior in infants, and language acquisition across languages and cultures. The homepage of Division 7 (Developmental Psychology) can be found here.

EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY: Educational psychologists conduct research and develop theories about teaching and learning. They attempt to understand the basic aspects of learning and then develop materials and strategies for enhancing the learning process. Their efforts are applied to improve teacher training and help students learn more efficiently. The homepage of Division 15 (Educational Psychology) can be found here.

EVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY: Evironmental psychologists focus on the relationship between people and the physical environment they live in. As such, they are interested in the effects of the physical environment on a person's behavior and mental processes. For example, they examine how environmental stimuli such as noise, temperature, and weather affect a person's emotions, cognitive processes, performance, and social interactions; the effects of the social environment, crowding, personal space; and the psychological effects of environmental disasters The homepage of Division 34 (Population and Environmental Psychology) can be found here.

EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY: This area includes a diverse group of psychologists who do research in the most basic areas of psychology (e.g., learning, memory, cognition, perception, motivation, and language). Their research may be conducted with animals instead of humans. Most of these psychologists work in academic settings. The homepage of Division 3 (Experimental Psychology) can be found here.

FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY: Forensic psychologists study of questions and issues relating to law and the legal system. A forensic psychologist offers an expert psychological opinion in a way that it impacts one of the adversarial arenas, typically the courts. Forensic psychologists evaluate various areas, such as expert testimony, jury selection, child testimony, pretrial publicity, repressed memories, the death penalty, battered woman syndrome, domestic violence, drug dependence, and sexual disorders. Although many people think of forensic psychologists as focussing on criminal matters, this is certainly not always the case. The American Academy of Forensic Society website can be found here.

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. They They recognize the importance of life style and behavioral factors that contribute to physical disease, the search for ways to contain health care costs, and potential of health-oriented psychological interventions. They may design and conduct programs to help individuals stop smoking, lose weight, manage stress, and stay physically fit. They are employed in hospitals, medical schools, rehabilitation centers, public health agencies, academic settings, and private practice. The homepage of Division 38 (Health Psychology) can be found here.

HUMAN FACTORS PSYCHOLOGY: Human Factors psychologists study the human/machine interface. They may help make appliances such as cameras user-friendly, or they may do studies of safety-related issues in the design of machinary, airplane controls and instrument layouts, or they may do basic research on human perceptual and motor abilities as they relate to the operation of machines, computers, and other mechanical devices. Human Factors information can be found here.

INDUSTRIAL/ORGANIZATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY: Industrial/organizational 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. They are employed in business, government agencies, and academic settings. The homepage of Division 14 (Industrial and Organizational Psychology) can be found here.

NEUROPSYCHOLOGY / PHYSIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY: These psychologists are concerned with brain/behavior relationships. They may be involved in clinical work, in the assessment of brain-damaged pateints, or in research, such as attempts to relate cognitive activity to brain activity as seen in brain scans. The homepage of Division 6 (Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology) can be found here.

SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGY: School psychologists are involved in enhancing the development of children and adults in educational settings. They assess children's psychoeducational abilities and recommend actions to facilitate student learning. They are typically trained in Schools of Education and work in public school systems. They often act as consultants to parents, teachers, and administrators to optimize the learning environments of specific students. The homepage of Division 16 (School Psychology) can be found here.

SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: Social psychologists study how our beliefs, feelings, and behaviors are affected by other persons. Some topics of interest to social psychologists are attitude formation and change, aggression, prejudice, and interpersonal attraction. Most social psychologists work in academic settings, but some work in federal agencies and businesses doing applied research. The homepage of Division 8 (Social Psychology) can be found here.

SPORT PSYCHOLOGY: Sports psychologists study the psychological factors associated with participation and performance in sport, exercise, and other types of physical activity. Sport psychologists focus primarily on two areas. First, they focus on helping athletes use psychological principles and skills to achieve optimal mental health and to improve performance. Second, they

seek further understanding of how an individuals' participation in sport, exercise, and physical activity affects their psychological development, health, and well-being.