Psychology is the academic and applied study of mental functions and behaviors. The word "psychology" comes from two specific Greek words—psyche, which means "soul," "life," or "mind," and logia, which means "the study of." Simply put, psychology is the study of the mind.
The overarching goal of psychology is to understand the behavior, mental functions, and emotional processes of human beings.
This field ultimately aims to benefit society, partly through its focus on better understanding of mental health and mental illness.
Most psychologists can be classified as social, behavioral, or cognitive scientists. Psychologists study many different areas, including biological foundations, mental well-being, change and development over time, the self and others, and potential dysfunctions.
They explore how psychological factors interact with biological and sociocultural factors to influence individual development. Psychologists attempt to understand not only the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior, but also the physiological and biological processes that underlie cognitive functions and behaviors.
Clinical psychology focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders and mental illness. Psychologists working in a clinical capacity (such as therapists or counselors) work with clients who are struggling with mental illness to assess, diagnose, and implement various forms of therapeutic treatment. Much of this treatment is based on clinical research.
While clinical psychologists tend to work directly with clients, non-clinical psychologists focus more heavily on research. Research psychologists employ scientific methods to explore relationships between various psychosocial variables and examine a wide range of topics related to mental processes and behavior. Researchers and other non-clinical psychologists often work in university psychology departments or teach in other academic settings (e.g., medical schools or hospitals). Some are employed in industrial and organizational settings, in health-care settings, in the media, in sports, or in forensic investigation and other law-related fields.