Psychology is a popular choice as a major for college students. But what study fields can you choose from? And where do the different branches of psychology lead career-wise?
To answer these questions, here are 33 of the most popular fields in psychology. Each field offers a unique career path and has you potentially working with a different kind of clientele. The education requirements for career success also vary, ranging from bachelor degrees through to medical degrees, masters and doctorates.
Why Psychology and Psychiatry Are Distinct Fields
Psychology and psychiatry are distinct fields within healthcare, which is why psychiatry is not included on this list.
Psychologists are trained to study the mind and behavior and to use scientific methods to understand and treat psychological problems. They may use techniques such as counseling and psychotherapy to help their clients overcome mental and emotional challenges. But they do not have the medical training or authority to prescribe medications.
Psychiatrists, on the other hand, are medical doctors who have completed training in psychiatry. They are licensed to diagnose and treat mental health conditions using a range of treatments, including medications and psychotherapy. They are also trained to evaluate and treat medical conditions that may affect mental health, such as neurological disorders.
Psychologists and psychiatrists do, however, often work together as part of a treatment team. Combined, they offer quite comprehensive care to individuals with mental health conditions. Psychologists provide counseling and psychotherapy, while psychiatrists prescribe medications and provide other medical treatment.
Difference Between a “Branch” and a “Field”
The terms “branch” and “field” are often used interchangeably to refer to different types of psychology. But “branch” tends to be used to refer to a more specific area of focus within a field, while “field” refers to a broader area of study or application.
A branch refers to a specific area of study within the broader field of psychology. There are many different branches of psychology, each of which focuses on a particular aspect of behavior and mental processes. Some examples of branches of psychology include cognitive psychology (the study of mental processes such as perception, attention, memory, and problem-solving), developmental psychology (the study of psychological and social changes across the lifespan), and social psychology (the study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the presence and actions of others).
A field, on the other hand, refers to a broader area of study or application within psychology. Among the different fields of psychology is clinical psychology, which covers the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. It includes a wide range of specialties, such as child psychology, geropsychology, and forensic psychology. Industrial-organizational psychology is another example of a field in psychology, covering the use of psychological principles and techniques in the workplace.
Behavioral psychology is one of the core disciplines within the wider field of psychology. Pioneers like John Watson and B F Skinner promoted the idea in the early 20th century that all behaviors are learned. Behavioral psychology revolves around the study of observable behavior. Practitioners pay attention to how people respond to different external factors.
Courses in this psychology branch will have you exploring how behavioral responses develop and adapt. In particular, you’ll examine theory and empirical studies of conditioning. Certain reactions, whether desired or not, can follow from a specific, repeated stimulus. Conditioning can be natural or artificial. A conditioned behavioral pattern is established when a response is consistently induced by a stimulus.
Behavioral psychology represents a tool as much as a field of specialization. Knowledge in this area is valuable for roles as diverse as behavioral counseling, school counseling, social work and correctional services. You can also do research in this field or apply your skills to administer cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) as a clinical psychologist.
Child psychology is a branch of psychology focusing on the social, mental, and emotional development of children only. Child psychologists are trained to study children’s issues and treat them.
The thinking of children differs from adults as they move through different stages of learning and emotional and social maturity. In addition, children have fewer concepts and verbal communication skills for conveying information. But they can also be observed in uninhibited states such as when playing at school.
Coursework in child psychology includes study of child development from prenatal period through maturity, cognitive psychology, language development, learning, perception, and social behavior studies.
Clinical issues you may need to address when working as a child psychologist include anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder, depression and other mood disorders, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Without treatment, these mental health conditions can prevent children from reaching their full potential.National Institute of Mental Health
These professionals are in demand by the family law industry, being called on to write family reports for judges. The reports are used to help make orders for custody and parenting time. For example, a family law child psychologist may indicate whether sole custody or joint physical custody is preferable in a custody dispute, with the recommendation potentially affecting the parenting schedule and orders. Family law experts usually work as private practice consultants.
A specialized degree is required to become a child psychologist. A bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology, is just the starting point. The majority of child psychologists are doctoral graduates, having earned either a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) or PhD (Doctor of Philosophy). Child Psychologists work in a variety of community welfare settings, as researchers with institutes or universities, or as private practitioners.
Clinical psychology focuses on issues related to mental health and its treatment. The word clinical in the term is important to understand. As a clinical psychologist, you generally work in clinical settings such as psychology clinics, mental treatment facilities, and hospitals. You can also provide professionals services for schools and court systems.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), clinical psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness and psychological distress.
You can think of this field as providing advanced diagnosis, counselling and interpersonal therapy for clients with mental health problems. Unlike a psychiatrist, who may prescribe medications to treat chemical imbalances, your treatment tools revolve around client interactions. Cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, and client-centered therapy are ways you can help patients.
To work as clinical psychologist, you need to a Doctor of Psychology degree, or a PhD with a clinical psychology specialization. Start with a Bachelor of Psychology and earn strong grades. Coursework includes statistics, behavioral studies, cognitive studies, and extensive work in biology and chemistry. Clinical programs also offer training in psychotherapy and psychological testing.
Most postgraduate clinical psychology programs include an internship as part of the training process. This may lead to future employment at the place of internship. Successful graduates find work either in mental health institutes or clinics, or teach at colleges and universities. Other clinical psychologists choose more research-oriented careers.
In cognitive psychology, you study mental processes such as attention, perception, memory, and problem-solving. Cognitive psychologists examine how people process information and how this affects their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. It has since become one of the most influential and widely studied areas of psychology. The discipline helps us understand how people process and use information, which is essential for many aspects of daily life, including learning, communication, and decision-making.
Cognitive psychologists use research methods such as lab experiments, observations, and computer simulations. They study topics such as how people perceive and interpret information, how they remember and forget information, and how they solve problems and make decisions.
Cognitive psychology is also closely related to other fields of psychology, such as developmental psychology, social psychology, and abnormal psychology. It also has important applications in fields such as education, business, and healthcare.
Community counselors advise, counsel and provide support and rehabilitation services for people in community settings. You may work in places such as community centers, clinics, schools and private practice. Your services may be required by all kinds of people experiencing a myriad of different life difficulties.
To qualify to work in this field, you normally specialize in community counseling as part of a master’s degree in science, arts or education. For your undergraduate degree, colleges may prefer that you’ve studied psychology, education, behavioral science, social work or a related field. Bachelor degrees in community counseling are also available.
Coursework in a community counseling program could cover fundamentals of personality theory, ethics and cultural awareness, research and statistical methods, various psychological studies, and ultimately a clinical practicum or internship. Some studies in clinical and diagnostic technique may also be required.
Generally, students need to achieve a master’s certification to obtain a license as a professional counselor. Such a course of study helps students develop their group assessment skills, in addition to providing professional experience.
Consumer psychology (or marketing psychology) is a branch of psychology related to marketing and consumer behavior. It’s the study of how individuals, groups, and organizations make decisions about the acquisition, use, and disposal of products, services, and ideas. It is an interdisciplinary field that includes elements of sociology, anthropology, economics, and marketing.
Consumer psychologists strive to understand how and why people make purchase decisions. They gather data and insights into consumer behavior using surveys, experiments, and observations. The information is then used by marketers and other professionals to develop marketing and advertising strategies, as well as to design and improve products and services. Data is increasingly available via digital platforms that monitor online consumption and other activities.
If you want to use psychology but not necessarily in therapeutic or formal research capacities, you may want to do a degree in business or communications. Psychology skills are highly relevant where you are trying to influence others, such as to get them to buy something or partner with your organization. Marketing, sales and public relations are all possible career paths.
In counseling psychology, you provide individuals with one-on-one help to perform better in life. Almost any person at any stage of life may benefit from counseling psychology. The aim of this form of therapy is to help people improve their overall wellbeing. The focus can be on any important area of life, from personal organisation and development, to relationships, mental wellbeing and forming friendships.
When providing counseling, a psychologist facilitates improved personal and/or interpersonal functioning. Areas include emotions, social interactions, education, growth and development, and organizational concerns.
Counselors integrate theory, research and practice to deliver personalised therapy services. These professionals also need strong awareness of cultural issues that impact on clients and their experiences.
Counseling psychology employ many tools to help people improve their general well-being and enable them to live highly functional lives. The techniques are often specific to the kind of issue being addressed. Some examples of counseling tools from Positive Psychology are to: challenge self-limiting thoughts, visualize your future career, do personal affirmations for self-esteem, explore feelings, and examine the rules we live by.
A degree program in counseling psychology includes coursework in addiction, adolescent development, abnormal psychology, neuropsychology, counseling procedures, multiculturalism, and crisis intervention. Typically students pursue the highest level of education available: a doctoral degree. On successful completion, graduates find placements with public counseling service providers and in private practice.
Criminal psychology is a large field that takes in many different aspects of managing criminality. Students train to investigate and analyze the criminal mind. Jobs that you may do as a professional criminal psychologist include:
- Profiling: Identifying the likely characteristics of suspects using statistics or case-specific data.
- Consulting with law enforcement agencies: Assisting criminal investigators in areas such as formulating police interview questions or provide expert input into investigations.
- Individual assessment: Assessing alleged perpetrators to establish factors such as potential motive, likelihood of guilt, and mental capacity to stand trial.
- Criminal system research: Researching important questions such as witness recall ability and behaviour, and the nature of confessions.
- Expert testimony: Providing expertise to help judges and jurors understand criminal behaviour and abnormal thinking.
- Psychotherapy: Criminal psychologists may also help criminals themselves to understand their actions and make progress with rehabilitation.
Courses in this branch of psychology explore how law enforcement, public safety, homeland security, and the criminal justice system work together for the benefit of society. Coursework includes studies in crime analysis, criminal behavior, decision making and critical thinking, social violence, as well as biopsychology and abnormal psychology.
Graduates tend to seek higher levels of education in this field, usually a specialised master’s or doctorate, due to greatly enhanced career opportunities provided. A bachelor degree in psychology is a good starting point. Career prospects continue to be high due to demand for skilled criminal profilers and assessors.
In developmental psychology, you focus on the psychological and social changes that occur throughout the lifespan, from infancy to old age. It’s a core field of study within psychology and is often included in undergraduate and graduate psychology programs.
Developmental psychology helps us understand how people change and grow over time. Moreover, we gain insight into how these processes are influenced by environmental, cultural, and biological factors.
Study topics include cognitive development (how people think and learn), social development (how people interact with others), personality development (how people’s personalities change over time), and emotional development (how people’s emotions change over time). These can be explored using research methods such as laboratory experiments, observations, and surveys.
Developmental psychologists work with people of all ages, from infants to elderly adults. They’re employed by universities, schools, hospitals, and research institutions. The job may involve collaborating with other professionals, such as teachers, social workers, and physicians, to provide support and assistance to individuals and families. To become a developmental psychologist, you typically need to earn a doctoral degree in psychology.
Educational psychologists study how people learn and how to improve educational outcomes for students. They may work in places such as schools, universities, and government agencies. Their primary focus is on promoting learning and educational achievement. The ultimate goal is to help students learn and succeed in school and beyond.
Some specific duties of educational psychologists are to:
- Conduct research on learning and teaching methods, including how students learn best and how to design effective instructional materials.
- Assess students’ learning needs, including identifying any learning disabilities or other issues that may be impacting their academic performance.
- Provide support and guidance to teachers, parents, and other education professionals to help them understand and address the needs of their students.
- Develop and implement interventions and programs to improve learning outcomes for students with special needs or those who are struggling academically.
- Collaborate with other professionals, such as school counselors and social workers, to provide a comprehensive range of support services for students.
Coursework in an educational psychology program covers research methodology, human learning, development, and cognition. Key areas of focus are:
- Learning and development: How people learn and develop, including how they process and retain information, and how to design effective instructional materials and strategies.
- Motivation and engagement: How to motivate and engage students in learning, including the role of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards and how to create a positive and supportive classroom environment.
- Individual differences: How factors such as age, gender, culture, and learning styles can impact learning and how to design instruction that is inclusive and responsive to the needs of all students.
Becoming an educational psychologist typically requires a significant commitment of time and effort. But the rewarding nature of this profession can make it well worth the investment. Most educational psychologists hold a master’s or doctoral degree in educational psychology or a related field.
Depending on your career goals and the state in which you plan to work, you may need to obtain licensure or certification as an educational psychologist. Requirements for licensure or certification may vary by state. But you’ll typically need to complete a certain number of supervised hours of experience and pass a licensure or certification exam.
Environmental psychology is a field of psychology which explores the relationship between people and their physical environments, including how this relationship affects behavior and well-being. Environmental psychologists study topics such as how people’s interactions with the built environment (e.g., buildings, cities) affect their mental and physical health. A key aim is to learn how to design environments that promote well-being.
Environmental psychology draws on concepts and methods from other fields of psychology, such as social psychology, cognitive psychology, and developmental psychology. It also has important applications in fields such as architecture, urban planning, and design. Among the professionals who use knowledge of environmental psychology are architects, designers, environmental psychologists, marketing professionals, policy analysts, public health professionals, and urban planners.
Some specific topics that may be studied in environmental psychology include the effects of natural and built environments on well-being and behavior, the psychological impacts of environmental problems such as pollution and climate change, and the design of public spaces and buildings that promote well-being and positive social interactions.
Evolutionary psychology is a branch of psychology that studies how evolution has shaped the way the human mind works and how it has influenced human behavior. It’s based on the idea that the human mind has evolved to solve the problems that our ancestors faced in their environments.
Evolutionary psychologists study a wide range of topics, including perception, cognition, emotion, social behavior, and personality, from an evolutionary perspective. They use evolutionary theory to understand how psychological traits and behaviors may have been shaped by natural selection over time.
Evolutionary psychology is a relatively new field within psychology. It’s often seen as a subfield of psychology that is closely related to other disciplines such as anthropology, biology, and sociology.
Experimental psychology is a field of psychology that involves designing and conducting research studies. The goal is to understand the psychological processes that underlie behavior and mental states.
Experimental psychologists use investigative methods such as lab-based experiments, field studies, and computer simulations. They explore topics like perception, cognition, attention, emotion, motivation, personality, and social behavior.
Some experimental psychologists focus on basic research, seeking to understand fundamental psychological processes. Others apply their findings to practical problems, such as improving education, enhancing human performance, or developing new treatments for psychological disorders.
To become an experimental psychologist, you typically need to earn a doctoral degree (either a PhD or PsyD). Most professionals in this field also complete postdoctoral training, which may involve additional coursework, research, or clinical experience.
Forensic psychology is a subfield of psychology that involves applying psychological principles and methods to legal issues and the criminal justice system. It is a specialized area of practice that combines elements of both psychology and law.
Forensic psychologists are trained mental health professionals who apply psychological principles and methods to the legal system. You can perform forensic psychology in settings such as courts, prisons, probation departments, and law enforcement agencies. Practitioners may be called upon to provide expert testimony in legal proceedings.
Specific duties in forensic psychology include:
- Evaluating the mental soundness of criminal defendants to determine their competency to stand trial, insanity at the time of the crime, or risk for recidivism.
- Assessing the psychological well-being of children involved in custody disputes or other legal proceedings.
- Providing therapy to individuals who have been involved in the legal system, including victims of crime, offenders, and witnesses.
- Conducting research on topics relevant to the legal system, such as eyewitness memory, false confessions, and the psychological impacts of incarceration.
- Testifying as an expert witness in legal proceedings, including providing expert opinions on psychological issues and interpreting psychological research for the court.
Forensic psychologists typically have a graduate degree in psychology, such as a Master’s or Doctoral degree, and may also be licensed as a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or social worker.
General psychology practice refers to the application of psychological principles and techniques to help people cope with mental health issues and concerns. General psychologists are trained to work with individuals, families, and groups to identify and address diverse issues, including stress, anxiety, depression, relationship problems, and trauma. They help people better understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and to develop strategies for managing their problems.
General psychology is not a specific branch of psychology but rather a broad term that can refer to the study of psychology as a whole. Psychology is a scientific discipline that focuses on the study of behavior and mental processes, including how people think, feel, and behave. Within psychology, there are many different branches that focus on specific areas of study. While general psychology can encompass all of the branches and more, it is not itself a specific branch of psychology.
General psychologists typically work in settings such as private practice, hospitals, clinics, schools, and community organizations. Techniques they may use to assess and treat mental health issues include talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and other evidence-based approaches. They may also work with other mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, social workers, and counseling professionals, to provide support and treatment options for clients.
In the United States, licensure as a psychologist typically requires the completion of a doctoral degree in psychology, such as a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in psychology. These programs involve extensive coursework, research, and clinical training in a variety of areas within psychology, and are designed to prepare students for careers as psychologists.
Genetic psychology is a subfield of psychology that examines the role of genetics in human behavior and mental processes. It’s concerned with understanding how inherited genetic variations may influence individual differences in cognition, personality, and other psychological traits.
Genetic psychology is a relatively new field that has emerged from the intersection of psychology and genetics. It relies heavily on research methods from both disciplines.
While genetic psychology is a subfield of psychology, it’s also closely related to other fields such as genetics, biology, and neuroscience, which also study the role of genetics in various aspects of human behavior and functioning.
Health psychology focuses on the psychological and social factors that influence health and illness.
Health psychologists study how behaviors, such as diet and exercise, and social and environmental factors, such as stress and pollution, can affect physical health. They also develop interventions to promote healthy behaviors and prevent illness. To become a health psychologist, you typically need to earn a doctoral degree in psychology, with a focus on health psychology.
The psychology of health has broad interest in the community and is studied and used by many types of healthcare professionals. These include health educators, health policy analysts, medical doctors, nurses, public health professionals, and social workers.
Some of the main topics covered in health psychology courses are: the biopsychosocial model of health, the role of behaviors in health, the role of social and environmental factors in health, health promotion and disease prevention, coping with illness, health disparities, and links between mental and physical health.
People who work in human services are often on the front line helping people with psychological issues. They are advantaged from having a solid understanding of mental problems that affect individuals, and often have some form of psychological training.
Human services professionals assist people overcome problems such as mental illness, substance abuse, poverty, and social injustice. They help people in need in settings such as hospitals, schools, and social service agencies. Job examples include: case manager, community organizer, drug and alcohol abuse counselor, marriage and family therapist, rehabilitation counselor, and social worker.
When working in human services, you provide support and assistance to individuals, families, and communities by: identifying and addressing their needs; providing counseling and therapy; coordinating care; and advocating for their clients.
To become a human services professional, you should earn a bachelor’s degree in human services or a related field. Many jobs require a degree. Consider earning a master’s degree as well. Some human services jobs, such as counseling and social work, may require postgraduate education.
Hypnotherapy is a field of psychology where hypnosis is used to bring about changes in an individual’s thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. It is generally considered to be a safe and effective treatment option when practiced by a qualified and experienced hypnotherapist.
Hypnotherapy is based on the idea that the unconscious mind can be accessed through hypnosis. By using this access, it is possible to bring about positive changes in a person’s life. The practice is often used to help people overcome issues such as anxiety, phobias, and depression, as well as to help them quit smoking, reduce stress, and improve their overall well-being.
Hypnotherapy is a rising career option and with strengthening popularity, along with alternative and complementary health care. Clients and agencies seek out those with a strong, well-rounded education in hypnosis and therapy.
To become a hypnotherapist, you generally need to complete a training program and obtain certification or licensure. The regulation of hypnotherapy and requirements for practicing can differ from one jurisdiction to another. In some cases, a degree in a related field such as psychology, counseling, or social work may be required. In other cases, a high school diploma may be sufficient.
Professional organizations that offer training and certification in hypnotherapy include the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and the National Guild of Hypnotists. The programs typically include courses on the theory and practice of hypnotherapy, as well as supervised clinical training.
In industrial psychology, you study human behavior in the workplace. As distinct from organizational psychology, which looks more at group dynamics, the main interest is the individual’s experience. Business issues such as employment classification, compensation, performance appraisal, recruitment, selection, and training are at the forefront.
The industrial and organizational psychology disciplines together form the industrial-organizational (I-O) branch of psychology. As someone with training in industrial psychology, prospective job titles include: Human resources (HR) manager, Organizational development consultant, Training and development specialist, Research psychologist, Talent management specialist, and Industrial-organizational psychologist.
To become a practicing industrial psychologist, you usually need a graduate degree in psychology or industrial-organizational psychology. Master’s and doctoral programs available in these fields. They provide advanced training in psychological principles and research methods, as well as specialized training in areas such as selection and training, performance appraisal, and leadership.
Industrial-organizational psychology is an applied discipline that uses psychological theories, principles, and research to solve problems related to human behavior in organizations. Compared to the industrial and organizational components of this discipline, I-O is both broader and tends to be more applied in nature. The branch of psychology focuses on solving practical problems in the workplace.
Industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologists use psychology to address organizational issues. These may include personnel selection, training and development, performance appraisal, leadership, motivation, and work-life balance. They work in places such as academic institutions, consulting firms, and government agencies.
I-O psychologists use scientific research methods to collect, analyze, and interpret data related to human behavior in organizations. Research techniques include surveys, experiments, and observational studies, to understand the factors that influence employee performance, motivation, and well-being.
I-O psychologists may also use their expertise to design and implement interventions to improve organizational effectiveness and efficiency. For example, they may develop and implement training programs, design selection and promotion systems, or develop strategies to improve employee motivation and engagement. They may also work with organizations to address issues related to diversity and inclusion, or to develop policies and procedures to promote a healthy and safe work environment.
To work in industrial organizational psychology, you’ll typically need to earn a graduate degree in psychology, with a focus on I-O psychology. Most I-O psychologists have a master’s or doctoral degree in psychology, with a specialization in I-O psychology. Consider volunteering or interning with organizations or research labs that focus on industrial-organizational psychology. This can help you build your skills and gain valuable experience.
Marriage and Family Therapy
Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) is a psychology field that focuses on familial relationships. Therapists work with individuals, couples, and families to improve their relationships and emotional well-being.
MFT recognises the significant impact relationships and family systems have on emotional and psychological well-being. Therapists are trained to help families in practical ways. They address communication problems, relationship conflicts, parenting challenges, and mental health concerns.
As a counselor, you use therapeutic approaches and techniques to help people understand and resolve their problems, improve relationships, and achieve greater emotional and psychological well-being. You might also assist people manage divorce and start to rebuild their lives. MFT is often considered a subfield of psychology, and many therapists have a degree in psychology or a related field.
To become a licensed marriage and family therapist, you typically need to do a master’s or doctoral degree in Marriage and Family Therapy or a related field, such as psychology or social work. Many programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). You” also need to meet any licensure requirements specific to your state, which likely includes passing an exam and completing a certain number of supervised clinical hours.
Coursework may include the study of communication and conflict resolution, counseling and psychotherapy theories with a focus on family systems, how family relationships impact on psychological well-being, intervention methods for couples and families, marriage and relationship enrichment techniques, and parenting skills.
Mediation and Dispute Resolution
Mediation and dispute resolution can be considered one of the fields of psychology. Practitioners use psychological principles and methods to help parties resolve conflict or otherwise come to an agreement or result.
As it becomes increasingly apparent that individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities and nations must work together in peaceful ways for the common good, mediation and dispute resolution are poised to become increasingly popular.
In mediation, a neutral third party, termed a mediator, works with both sides of a dispute to have them agree on their own terms, without someone else deciding what is best for them. For example, in family law, a mediator may help parents agree on a custody schedule and parenting plan. Negotiation is often involved.
Mediation is one form of dispute resolution. Other forms are arbitration and litigation. The steps involved in a dispute resolution process vary depending on the approach being used and the nature of the dispute.
Mediation and dispute resolution are used in legal settings, workplace conflicts, family disputes, and community conflicts. Professionals working in this field may be trained in psychology, social work, law, or other related disciplines. They may work as mediators, arbitrators, or conflict resolution specialists, and may be employed by government agencies, private businesses, or non-profit organizations.
Mediation and dispute resolution is a fast-growing field of study, offering skills that are sought after in the workplace. Study programs offer strategies and practical skill sets necessary for the practice of mediation. Career prospects depend on your level of education and the occupational niche chosen.
Mental Health Counseling
Mental health counseling is a field within psychology that focuses on helping individuals address and manage psychological, emotional and related concerns. To practise, in most states you’re required to have both a master’s degree in counseling or a related field and a license or certification.
Mental health counselors work with individuals, families, and groups to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders and to sustain health. They train in therapeutic techniques to address issues such as depression, addiction and substance abuse, suicidal impulses, stress, problems with self-esteem, and grief.
Counselors can help clients with numerous life problems beyond immediate mental health needs, including career, education, family, and parenting concerns. For example, a counselor might work with a troubled client to explore career options and develop job search strategies. They might also help clients navigate the challenges of education, such as choosing a major or managing academic stress.
Counselors often work with other health professionals as part of a treatment team, such as physicians, nurses, social workers, and other mental health practitioners. They coordinate care so clients receive broad treatment. For example, a counselor may consult with a client’s physician or nurse to manage emotional and physical treatment synergistically. If a client is experiencing severe depression or anxiety, the counselor may refer them to a psychiatrist for medication management.
Organizational psychology is a subfield concerned with the behavior of individuals within organizations. You explore how individuals interact with one another and with the organizational structure, as well as how individual and group behavior can be managed and improved to benefit the organization.
In a study program, topics you may cover include:
- Organizational behavior: How individuals and groups behave within organizations, including motivation, communication, leadership, and conflict resolution.
- Workplace culture: The shared values, beliefs, and behaviors that shape the social and psychological environment of an organization.
- Employee attitudes and job satisfaction: How individual employees feel about their jobs and the organization, and how these attitudes can affect performance and productivity.
- Group dynamics: How groups of people interact and influence one another within organizations, including group decision making, group conflict, and group cohesion.
- Human resource management: How to manage and develop the workforce, including selection, training, and performance appraisal.
- Organizational change: How to manage change and adapt to new circumstances, including topics such as change management and organizational development.
Organizational psychology is more focused on group dynamics than the closely related field of industrial psychology, which is more orientated towards the individual employee experience. The two subfields combine to form the industrial-organizational (I-O) branch of psychology.
With training in organizational psychology, potential jobs include: human resources (HR) manager, organizational development consultant, research psychologist, talent management specialist, and training and development specialist.
If you just want to work in business in a psychology-relevant field, you can do so without advanced psychological training. Job options for Bachelor of Psychology graduates include HR assistant manager, marketing assistant, and social media manager.
Pastoral counseling is a form of mental health counseling provided by a pastor or other religious leader. It combines traditional techniques with the spiritual and religious beliefs of the individual seeking help. The goal is to help individuals address their mental health concerns within the context of their faith and spirituality, and to find meaning and purpose in their lives.
In a pastoral counseling education program, modern counseling is blended with ministry practices such as the use of prayer. Students learn general counseling theory and practice while being challenged to increase their understanding of ministerial work. Courses may combine a strong core of traditional instruction with components that are highly experiential in nature, such as supervised counseling sessions, role-plays, and other interactive activities.
Students learn how to counsel the diverse range of individuals who may present to them, generate initiatives within local congregations, and inspire the lay ministry within their denominations. You should graduate with an enhanced sense of professionalism and new ideas for volunteer work.
Psychopharmacology is a branch of psychology that deals with the effects of drugs on the mind and behavior. It involves the study of how drugs affect brain function, and how they can be used to treat mental disorders and neurological conditions.
Professional courses are available for healthcare workers who are interested to learn more about psychopharmacology. They’re helpful to gain a better understanding of the medications used to treat mental health conditions and how they work. Participants may include physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, counselors, and case managers.
Becoming a licensed psychopharmacologist requires a significant amount of education, typically at least 12 years of training after high school. You’ll need to: (a) earn a bachelor’s degree in a field such as psychology, biology, or pharmacology; (b) attend medical school and earn a medical degree (M.D. or D.O.); (c) complete a residency in psychiatry; (d) obtain a license to practice medicine in your state; and (e) consider pursuing additional training or certification in psychopharmacology.
Psychopharmacologists work closely with psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals to develop and evaluate the use of medications in the treatment of conditions.
Rehabilitation counseling is one of the fields of psychology that focuses on helping people directly. Counselors assist individuals with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities to achieve their full potential and lead independent, productive lives.
Rehabilitation counselors work with individuals who have disabilities or mental health conditions. Disabilities may be developmental or caused by accidents, injuries, or health conditions. Techniques and approaches to help their clients overcome challenges include counseling, psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and other evidence-based interventions.
Rehabilitation counselors also help their clients develop coping skills, set achievable goals, and develop strategies for achieving those goals. They may work with clients on a one-on-one basis or in group settings, and may collaborate with other professionals, such as physicians, occupational therapists, and social workers, to provide comprehensive support to their clients.
To become a rehabilitation counselor, you typically need to first earn a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field, such as psychology, social work, or special education. After earning a bachelor’s degree, you can pursue a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling, which typically takes two to three years to complete. A master’s degree program typically includes coursework in counseling techniques, disability-related laws and policies, and assessment and diagnosis of disabilities. Some states also require rehabilitation counselors to be licensed or certified in order to practice.
School Counseling and Psychology
School counseling and psychology is a field that involves working with students in educational settings to promote their academic, personal, and social development. School counselors and psychologists are trained to understand the psychological, social, and emotional factors that can impact a student’s learning and well-being. They use this knowledge to help students overcome challenges and succeed in school.
School counselors typically work with students in elementary, middle, and high schools. They may provide individual counseling, group counseling, or classroom instruction to help students develop skills such as problem-solving, conflict resolution, and communication. School counselors may also work with teachers and parents to develop academic and career plans for students. Additionally, they may provide resources and support to students and families facing personal, social, or academic challenges.
School psychologists are trained to use psychological principles and techniques to understand and address the psychological and behavioral needs of students. They may work with individual students or with groups of students to assess and treat mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, or learning disabilities. School psychologists may also work with teachers and school administrators. Together, they develop and implement programs and interventions to improve academic achievement and promote positive social and emotional development among students.
To become a school counselor or psychologist, you typically need to earn a master’s degree in school counseling or school psychology. These programs may include coursework in counseling techniques, child and adolescent development, assessment and diagnosis of psychological and learning disorders, and research methods. Some states also require school counselors and psychologists to be licensed or certified in order to practice.
Social psychology is a branch of psychology where you examine how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the presence and actions of others. It’s routinely included in general courses in psychology, as it’s one of the main subfields.
Social psychology encompasses topics such as group dynamics, social influence, and interpersonal relationships. Some of the key areas of study include social cognition, social perception, social influence, and social interaction.
You can study this branch at any level, from a bachelor degree through to a masters or doctorate. Potential careers where your knowledge and skills may be useful include academia, counseling, education, human resources, licensed psychologist, marketing, public health, social research, and social work.
Social Services and Social Work
Social services involves providing support and assistance to individuals and families in need. Social workers, who are trained professionals in the field of social services, help people cope with challenges they may be facing, such as poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, or disability.
Social workers may provide individual and family counseling, advocate for their clients’ rights, and connect them with resources and support services in their communities. They work in hospitals, schools, mental health clinics, and government agencies. They may also work in private practice or for non-profit organizations.
Some social workers help clients facing a disability or a life-threatening disease or a social problem, such as inadequate housing, unemployment, or drug addiction. Professionals in this field of psychology also assist families that have serious domestic conflicts, sometimes involving child or spousal abuse. Some social workers conduct research, advocate for improved services, engage in systems design or are involved in planning or policy development.
There are several different types of social workers, including clinical, who provide mental health services; child and family, who work with children and families to address issues such as child abuse and neglect, adoption, and foster care; and school, who work in educational settings to support the academic and social-emotional development of students.
To become a social worker, you typically need to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or a related field, such as psychology, sociology, or human services. After earning a bachelor’s degree, you can pursue a master’s degree in social work (MSW).Programs may include coursework in social work theories and practices, as well as supervised fieldwork or internships.
Sport and Exercise Psychology
Sport and exercise psychology is a field of psychology that focuses on the psychological and social aspects of sport and physical activity.
Sport and exercise psychologists work with athletes, coaches, and other professionals to improve performance, enhance motivation, and increase enjoyment of sport and exercise. They may also work with individuals who are not athletes, but who are seeking to improve their physical health and well-being through exercise and physical activity.
Sport and exercise psychologists use techniques such as counseling, psychotherapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. These help athletes and other active individuals overcome mental and emotional barriers to performance and success. They may also use methods such as goal-setting and visualization, and work with teams and organizations to create positive and supportive environments that foster growth and development.
To become a sport and exercise psychologist, you typically need to earn a doctoral degree in sport and exercise psychology or a related field, such as psychology or kinesiology. Doctoral programs take four to six years to complete and include coursework in advanced topics in sport and exercise psychology, as well as supervised research experience.
Substance Abuse Psychology
Substance abuse is a field of psychology that focuses on treating drug and alcohol abuse disorders. The disorders are characterized by the persistent use of drugs or alcohol despite negative consequences.
Counselors and psychologists work with individuals who have disorders, as well as their families. They identify the underlying causes of the problem and develop strategies for overcoming addiction. Techniques are available such as counseling, psychotherapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy, to help clients achieve long-term recovery.
To become a counselor, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as psychology, social work, or human services, and complete a certification program in substance abuse counseling. To become a substance abuse psychologist, what’s normally required is a doctoral degree in psychology, with a focus on substance abuse and addiction.