Types of Psychology

Written by Melisa Shafiee

Psychology. To a general audience, words like “therapy,” “mental disorders,” or “the brain” may come to mind. While these three words certainly connect to psychology in some way, it is essential to know that psychology is a more extensive field than it seems. Believe it or not, some types of psychology involve crime, sports, and even technology. This article will dive deep into ten different, fascinating types of psychology, and introduce you all to fields that you may not have known existed. Whether you are interested in pursuing a career in psychology, or are curious to learn more about the variety of existing fields, this article is one that your brain will appreciate. 

Behavioral Psychology

Why do we reward ourselves after doing something positive? Or, why do we often replicate the behaviors of our parents or relatives? Behavioral psychology explores the answers to these questions, and focuses on how our mind controls the behaviors that we do. The goal of behavioral psychologists is to predict the behaviors and habits of humans, as well as treating patients with behavioral disorders, such as ADHD or OCD. Behavioral psychologists also explore how we learn common behaviors and habits, which occurs through processes such as classical conditioning and operant conditioning. One of the most notable contributions to behavioral psychology is Albert Bandura’s Bobo Doll experiment, in which he proved that children model adults’ acts of aggression, which influences their behavior. 

Clinical Psychology

For those interested in diagnosing and treating psychological disorders, clinical psychology is likely to be most appealing. Clinical psychologists work with patients and conduct tests to discover what mental disorder they may be experiencing. They will then create a treatment plan to cure the patient as proper as possible. Clinical psychologists work firsthand with patients with various disorders, such as BPD or major depressive disorder. If learning about psychological disorders is intriguing to you, then this may be a suitable path.

Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology goes deep into the mind, and studies how we process, remember, and communicate information. Cognitive psychologists have various duties, such as researching the brain, conducting experiments, or treating patients with cognitive disorders. Cognitive psychologists may also test intelligence, and investigate how we “know” information. Another interesting aspect of cognitive psychology is that it sometimes focuses on states of consciousness, and even our dreams. If you want to learn why we think the way we do, or if you are passionate about neurology, cognitive psychology could definitely be a field of interest. 

Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychology focuses on treating patients who are in a difficult mental state. It is most similar to the “therapy” that we often hear of. Unlike clinical psychology, people who see a counseling psychologist do not need to have a mental disorder. Counseling psychologists work with and listen to patients to help them overcome their mental challenges, and will recommend a plan for the patient to relieve their stress and improve their sense of self. Counseling psychologists may specialize in marriage, grief, or helping youth improve their mental health. There is unfortunately still a stigma over the concept of counseling in some cultures. However, the work of counseling psychologists has been proven to work numerous times,  and they help create a healthier society each day. 

Developmental Psychology

Developmental psychologists investigate how we develop and change as we become older. They study characteristics of people at each stage of life, from infancy to elderhood. Not only do developmental psychologists learn how our minds change over time, but they also learn how our body and emotions change as well. Though a lot of the work of developmental psychologists involves studying data or conducting experiments, they may also treat patients with developmental delays or disorders. A specific idea pertaining to developmental psychology is a critical period, meaning that children have a certain amount of time in their life to learn how to fluently speak a language, or they may never learn how to speak one at all. 

Forensic Psychology

If you have fallen in love with true crime podcasts over quarantine, forensic psychology may be a fantastic career field to explore. Forensic psychologists are well-educated on the legal system, criminology, and psychology, and their work requires knowledge of all three fields. Forensic psychologists may question criminals to discover their true motivations, conduct research before a trial, or even work with law professionals to teach them how to investigate a crime scene. It is important for forensic psychologists to know how to read facial expressions, as non-verbal cues can reveal extraordinary details of a criminal. 

Health Psychology

Health psychologists play a significant role both in psychology and in the medical. Their work mainly pertains to how biological, psychological, and social factors influence our health, specifically how we become sick. They also study psychology’s role in creating behavioral medicine. On the direct level, health psychologists help people make healthier choices that benefit both their bodies and their daily lives. They may help guide patients with addiction or eating disorders on their path to recovery, and change their lives for the better. A notable health psychologist is Kelly Brownell, whose work has contributed to the actions made against obesity, such as the implementation of taxes over high-calorie foods and drinks. 

Personality Psychology

Personality psychologists focus on how our traits and characteristics make us unique. They study how people differentiate from each other by using various theories, including the Big 5 personality factors, which include extraversion and conscientiousness. Personality psychologists also discover how biological, psychological, and social factors all influence our personality, as our genes, our mind, and society all play a massive role. These psychologists may work mostly on research, but they also can help treat patients with personality disorders. Many of us have heard of Sigmund Freud, who created the notable psychodynamic theory in which our personality is influenced by our unconscious. If you are interested in learning about how individuals are the way they are, then personality psychology may be most appealing for you. 

Social Psychology

Social psychologists primarily focus on how society and social factors influence our actions, behaviors, and personalities. Social psychology is commonly confused with sociology, and it is important to know that social psychology focuses on society’s impact on an individual, while sociology focuses on societal patterns as a whole. Social psychologists may work directly with patients to improve their attitudes, decision-making, and understanding of society. Social psychologists also research societal influence over humans by observing prejudice and stereotypes, and specifically focus on how these factors impact each person. Social psychologists must have a deep understanding of society, and an even deeper understanding of its weight on the human mind. 

Sports Psychology

Wait, sports and psychology? Is that even real? Well, it is! Sports psychologists work with athletes to help them improve their performance during matches. They specifically study how sports influence our minds, and how our mind influences our performance in sports. Sports psychologists help athletes improve their performance in all aspects, from recovering from injuries to collaborating with a team. Psychology as a larger impact on sports than many of us may imagine: the next time you are watching a March Madness basketball game, think about the role a sports psychologist has made into the performance of your favorite team. 

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