Psychology is the scientific study of human behavior and thought processes. However, like any other science, psychology is sub-divided into different specialties. If you’re considering a career in psychology, understanding the different goals of these specialties can help you decide how to steer your studies and which career paths most interest you.
- Clinical Psychology – This is the most familiar form of psychology. Clinical psychologists provide support to individuals who are working through mental health problems. They may provide talk therapy, group therapy, medication, and other interventions in order to improve their patients’ sense of well-being.
- Forensic Psychology – Forensic psychology applies psychological principles to the criminal justice system. Professionals in this field may provide a multitude of services, from criminal profiling for investigators and lawyers to rehabilitation and mental health treatment for offenders.
- Educational Psychology – Educational psychologists work with schools, colleges, and universities to help create a learning environment that supports students with disabilities or who are experiencing social or emotional problems. They often consult with special education teachers to assess students for learning disorders and help create individual educational plans that lay out modifications for instruction.
- Organizational Psychology – Known as work psychology, occupational psychology, business psychology, and industrial psychology, organizational psychology is the study of how humans behave in the workplace, and how to take advantage of psychological principles to create a more effective and productive working culture. Organizational psychologists can help businesses improve training, team functions, and navigate change.
- Counseling Psychology – Counseling psychology helps people navigate difficult problems and gain control of their emotions. There’s some overlap with clinical psychology in this field, but with counseling psychology, the focus is less on treatment of mental disorders and more on coping with life or re-establishing one’s direction. Counseling psychologists may offer relationship therapy, grief therapy, vocational therapy, and other related services.
- Sports Psychology – In sports psychology, psychologists work with athletes to help them improve their performance or recover from setbacks. They may also work with coaches to help them learn more effective strategies for leading teams and guiding athletes through the application of psychological principles.