Exploring The Various Specialty Areas in PsychologyDecember 30, 2013
Psychology is a very diverse field of medicine with an extraordinarily wide range of specialty areas. Psychologists often choose to specialise a specific area within psychology. Here’s a sneak peek into some of the specialty areas in this field.
Clinical psychologists assess, diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Also called clinicians, these professionals make up the single largest specialty area in psychology. They frequently work in mental health centres, hospitals and private or group practices.
Within the area of clinical psychology, there are also several sub-specialty areas. Some clinicians specialise in treating certain age groups or certain types of psychological disorders while others are generalists and work with diverse clients. Clinical psychologists might work in a hospital setting with individuals suffering from neurological conditions or brain injuries or they may work in a mental health centre to counsel individuals or families coping with mental illness, stress, substance abuse or various personal problems.
Counselling psychologists make up another large specialty area in psychology. Counselling psychologists perform many of the same tasks as clinical psychologists, with the only significant difference being that the former tend to work with patients suffering from less severe forms of mental illness. Counselling psychology deals with providing therapeutic treatments to patients who suffer from a wide variety of symptoms.
Forensic psychologists work in the specialty area that focuses on the intersection of psychology and the law. Forensic psychologists are often involved in lawsuits, insurance claims and custody disputes. Many professionals work in family courts where they perform child custody evaluations, conduct visitation risk assessments, investigate reports of child abuse and offer psychotherapy services.
Forensic psychologists working in the civil courts are responsible for evaluating competency, providing second opinions and providing psychotherapy to crime victims. Those working in the criminal courts are responsible for working with child witnesses, conducting evaluations of mental competency and assessing juvenile and adult offenders.
School psychologists focus on working within the educational system to help children with academic, emotional and social issues. The aim of school psychology is to collaborate with teachers, students and parents to promote a healthy learning environment that meets the needs of children. These professionals work with individual students as well as groups of students to help resolve academic difficulties, behavioural problems, disabilities and other issues. School psychologists also work with parents and teachers to develop effective techniques to deal with classroom and home behaviour.
Industrial-organizational psychology deals with workplace behaviour and is one of the fastest growing specialty areas in psychology. I-O psychologists perform a variety of functions, including designing products, hiring qualified employees, creating training courses, conducting tests and performing research on various aspects of the workplace.
Social psychology focuses on understanding how interactions with other people impacts individual and group behaviour. These professionals typically work in fields such as organizational management, market research, systems design and other applied areas. Prominent areas of study include leadership, attitudes and group behaviour.
Experimental psychologists or research psychologists conduct research on the behaviour of humans and animals. They usually work at private research centres, universities, non-profit organisations and government agencies. Some major areas of research include genetics, substance abuse, motivation, cognitive processes and neuroscience.