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Psychology is a very broad field that offers a wide range of career options.
Differentiate among the various subfields within psychology
Psychology is a very broad field, and there are many career options available for graduating students of psychology.
Clinical and counseling psychology involve the study and application of psychology for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and treating psychological disorders.
Other careers in psychology include industrial-organizational psychology, school psychology, sports psychology, forensic psychology, biological psychology and behavioral neuroscience, comparative psychology, evolutionary psychology, and health and medicine.
In addition, many graduates of psychology will choose to make careers in academia, in either teaching or conducting research.
Psychology is a very broad field, and there are many career options available for graduating students of psychology. The following subfields give a sense of the diverse work psychologists can engage in.
Clinical psychology involves the study and application of psychology for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and treating psychologically based dysfunction. Clinical psychologists use various treatment methods to promote subjective well-being and personal development. Although clinical psychologists may engage in research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and program development, many clinical psychologists focus on using psychological assessment and psychotherapy to treat individuals with psychological disorders. In many countries, clinical psychology is a regulated mental-health profession.
Similar to clinical psychology in many respects, counseling psychology focuses on the assessment and treatment of emotional and behavioral disorders. These can range from short-term crises, such as difficulties resulting from adolescent conflicts, to more severe or chronic conditions, such as schizophrenia. Some counseling psychologists exclusively treat specific problems or populations.
Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology
This subfield applies psychological concepts and methods to the workplace in order to optimize human potential. It focuses on the psychology of the workforce, including issues such as recruitment, selecting employees from an applicant pool, performance appraisal, job satisfaction, work behavior, stress at work, and management. There are several subfields within the field I-O psychology: for instance, personnel psychology focuses on the selection and evaluation of workers, while organizational psychology examines the effects of work environment and management styles on worker motivation, job satisfaction, and productivity.
Educational psychology studies how humans learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, the psychology of teaching, and schools as organizations. School psychology combines principles from educational psychology and clinical psychology to understand and treat students with learning disabilities, foster the intellectual growth of gifted students, facilitate prosocial behaviors in children, and otherwise promote a safe, supportive, and effective learning environment.
Sports psychology seeks to understand the psychological and mental factors that affect performance in sports, physical activity, and exercise; it then applies these principles to enhance individual and team performance.
Forensic psychology is concerned with the application of psychological methods and principles to legal questions and issues. Most typically, forensic psychology involves a clinical analysis of a particular individual and an assessment of some specific psycho-legal question.
Biological Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience
This subfield focuses on the biological aspects of behavior and mental processes, and there are different specialties within this subfield. For instance, physiological psychology uses animal models to study the neural, genetic, and cellular mechanisms that underlie specific behaviors; cognitive neuroscience investigates the neural correlates of human psychological processes using neural-imaging tools; and neuropsychology uses psychological assessments to determine the extent of cognitive deficits caused by brain damage or disease.
Comparative psychology is the scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of nonhuman animals, especially as they relate to adaptive significance and the development of behavior, which can lead to a deeper and broader understanding of human psychology. This subfield researches many different species, from insects to primates.
Evolutionary psychology examines psychological traits—such as memory, perception, and language—from a modern evolutionary perspective. Evolutionary psychologists seek to identify which of these traits are evolved adaptions: in other words, how they are the functional products of natural selection or sexual selection.
Health and Medicine
Careers in health settings can vary widely and include health psychology (sometimes called health-and-wellness psychology), occupational-health psychology, and medical psychology. Health psychology concerns itself with understanding how biology, behavior, and social context influence health and illness; health psychologists generally work alongside other medical professionals in clinical settings, although many also teach and conduct research. Medical psychology involves the application of a range of psychological principles, theories, and findings to the effective management of physical and mental disorders to improve the psychological and physical health of the patient. Occupational-health psychology (OHP) is a relatively new discipline concerned with identifying psychosocial characteristics of workplaces that give rise to health-related problems in people who work.
In addition to the many options listed above, many graduates of psychology will choose to make careers in academia. Some may become full-time or adjunct faculty at universities, while others may take on faculty positions that are exclusively devoted to conducting research, or a combination of the two.