Subareas of Psychology There is great diversity within psychology. Following are brief summaries of some of the major areas in which you can concentrate your studies. You should view these as opportunities, not limitations, since new areas are constantly emerging. Information about specific areas of psychology can be obtained from relevant APA Divisions . Other ways to become informed are to read related articles in journals and books, write to colleges and universities with specialized training programs, and talk to psychologists knowledgeable about the area.
Clinical psychologists assess and treat people's mental and emotional disorders. Such problems may range from the normal psychological crises related to biological growth (e.g., rebellion in adolescence, inadequate self-esteem at midlife) to extreme conditions such as schizophrenia or depression. Many clinical psychologists also do research. For example, they may study the characteristics of psychotherapists that are associated with improvement in the conditions of patients, or they may investigate the factors that contribute to the development of phobias, or the cause of schizophrenia. Clinical psychologists work in both academic institutions and health care settings like clinics, hospitals, community mental health centers, and private practice. Many clinical psychologists focus their interest on special populations such as children, minority groups, or the elderly. Others focus on treating certain types of problems such a phobias, eating disorders, or depression. Opportunities in clinical psychology are expanding relative to populations that have not been served well in the past: children, families, the elderly, inmates, inner-city residents, ethnic groups, and rural dwellers These opportunities exist in clinics, in other human service settings, and in private practice.
In most states people with master's and bachelor's degrees may not independently practice psychology. They may, however work in clinical settings under the direction of a doctoral-level psychologist. In some cases this work could include testing or supervised therapy. People preparing for careers in clinical psychology should investigate local licensing laws carefully. A list of state licensing boards is available from the APA Office of
Community psychologists are concerned with everyday behavior in natural settings-the home, the neighborhood, and workplace. They seek to understand the factors that contribute to normal and abnormal behavior in these settings. They also w to promote health and prevent disorders. Whereas clinical psychologists tend to focus on individuals who show signs o disorder, most community psychologists concentrate the efforts on groups of people w are not mentally ill (but may b at risk of becoming so) or on the population in general.
Counseling psychologists foster and improve normal human functioning across the life span by helping people solve the problems, make the decisions, and cope with the stresses of everyday life. Typically, counseling psychologists work with normal or moderately maladjusted people, individually or in groups, assessing their needs and providing a variety of therapies, ranging from behavior modification to interpersonally oriented approaches. They apply systematic, research-based approaches to help themselves and others understand problems and develop potential solutions to them. Counseling psychologists often use research to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments and to search for novel approaches to assessing problems and changing behavior. Research methods may include structured tests, interviews, interest inventories, and observations. They also may be involved in a variety of activities such as helping people to stop smoking or to adjust to college, consulting on physical problems that might have psychological causes or be responsive to treatment with psychological techniques, teaching graduate-level practica in counseling, or developing and testing techniques that students can use to reduce their anxiety about taking examinations. Many counseling psychologists work in academic settings, but an increasing number are being employed in health care institutions, such as community mental health centers, Veterans Administration hospitals, and private clinics. Those with master's degrees are often found in educational institutions, clinics, business, industry, government, and other human service agencies.
Developmental psychologists study human development across the life span, from newbom to aged. Developmental psychologists are interested in the description, measurement, and explanation of age-related changes in behavior; stages of emotional development; universal traits and individual differences and abnormal changes in development. Many doctoral-level develop- mental psychologists are employed in academic settings, teaching and doing research. They often consult on programs in day-care centers, preschools, and hospitals and clinics for children. They also evaluate intervention programs such as Head Start and Follow Through and provide other direct services to children and families. Other developmental psychologists focus their attention on problems of aging and work in programs targeted at older populations. Persons with bachelor's- and master's-level training in developmental psychology work in applied settings such as daycare centers and in programs with youth groups.
Educational psychologists study how people learn, and they design the methods and materials used to educate people of all ages. Many educational psychologists work in universities, in both psychology departments and schools of education. Some conduct basic research on topics related to the learning of reading, writing, mathematics, and science. Others develop new methods of instruction including designing computer software. Still others train teachers and they investigate factors that affect teachers' performance and morale. Educational psychologists conduct research in schools and in federal, state, and local education agencies. They may be employed by governmental agencies or the corporate sector to analyze employees' skills and to design and implement training programs. Traditionally, job opportunities for educational psychologists have been concentrated in academic and educational settings and have been limited to those with doctoral degrees. Recently industry and the military are offering increased possibilities for people with doctoral degrees who can design and evaluate systems to teach complex technical skills. There are new opportunities in evaluation of social problems and policies as well. All of these areas may begin to provide jobs for those with master's degrees .
Environmental psychologists are concerned with the relations between psychological processes and physical environments. These environments range from homes and offices to urban areas and regions. Environmental psychologists may do basic research, for example, on people's attitudes toward different environments or their sense of personal space. Or their research may be applied, such as evaluating an office design or assessing the psychological impact of a government's plan to build a new waste-treatment plant.
"Experimental 'psychologist" is a general title applied to a diverse group of psychologists who conduct research on and often teach about a variety of basic behavioral processes. These processes include learning; sensation; perception; human performance; motivation; memory; language, thinking, and communication; and the physiological processes underlying behaviors such as eating, reading, and problem solving. Experimental psychologists study the basic processes by which humans take in, store, retrieve, express, and apply knowledge. They also study the behavior of animals, often with a view to gaining a better understanding of human behavior, but sometimes also because it is intrinsically interesting. Most experimental psychologists work in academic settings, teaching courses and supervising students' research in addition to conducting their own research. Experimental psychologists are also employed by research institutions, business, industry, and government. A research-oriented doctoral degree is usually needed for advancement and mobility in experimental psychology.
Industrial/organizational psychologists are concerned with the relation between people and work. Their interests include organizational structure and organizational change; workers' productivity and job satisfaction; consumer behavior; selection, placement, training, and development of personnel; and the interaction between humans and machines. Their responsibilities on the job include research, development (translating the results of research into usable products or procedures), and problem solving. Industrial/organizational psychologists work in businesses, industries, governments, and colleges and universities. Some may be self-employed as consultants or work for management consulting firms. In a business, industry, or government setting, industrial/ organizational psychologists might study the procedures on an assembly line and suggest changes to reduce the monotony and increase the responsibility of workers. Or they might advise management on how to develop programs to identify staff with management potential or administer a counseling service for employees on career development and preparation for retirement. Consumer psychologists are industrial/organizational psychologists whose interests he in consumers' reactions to a company's products or services. They investigate consumers' preferences for a particular package design or television commercial, for example, and develop strategies for marketing products. They also try to improve the acceptability and the safety of products and to help the consumer make better decisions. Engineering psychologists are industrial/organizational psychologists concerned with improving the interaction between humans and their working environments, including jobs and the contexts in which they are performed. Engineering psychologists help design systems that require people and machines to interact, such as video-display units; they may also develop aids for training people to use those systems. Personnel psychologists are industrial/organizational psychologists who develop and validate procedures to select and evaluate personnel. They may, for example, develop instruments and guides for interviewers to use in screening applicants for positions, or they may work with management and union representatives to develop criteria for assessing employees' performance. Jobs for industrial/organizational psychologists are available at both the master's and the doctoral level. Opportunities for those with master's degrees tend to be concentrated in business, industry, and government settings; doctoral-level psychologists also work in academic settings and independent consulting work.
Neuropsychology and Psychobiology
Psychobiologists and neuropsychologists investigate the relation between physical systems and behavior. Topics they study include the relation of specific biochemical mechanisms in the brain to behavior, the relation of brain structure to function, and the chemical and physical changes that occur in the body when we experience different emotions. Neuropsychologists also diagnose and treat disorders related to the central nervous system. They may diagnose behavioral disturbances related to suspected dysfunctions of the central nervous system and treat patients by teaching them new ways to acquire and process information technique known as cognitive retraining. Clinical neuropsychologists work in the neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatric, and pediatric units of hospitals, and in clinics. They also work in academic settings where they conduct research and train other neuropsychologists, clinical psychologists, and medical doctors. Most positions in neuropsychology and biopsychology are at the doctoral level, and many require postdoctoral tr@g. Limited opportunities exist at the bachelor's and master's level for technicians and research assistants.
Psychometrics and QuantitativePsychology
Psychometric and quantitative psychologists are concerned with the methods and techniques use tn acquiring and applying psycho logical knowledge. A psychometrician may revise old intelligence, personality, and aptitude tests or devise new ones. These tests might be used in clinical, counseling, and school settings, and in business and industry. Other quantitative psychologists might assist a researcher in psychology or in another field design or inter pret the results of an experiment. To accomplish these tasks, they may design new techniques for analyzing information. Psychometricians and quantitative psychologists typically are well trained in mathematics, statistics, and computer programing and technology. Doctoral level psychometricians and quantitative psychologists are employed mainly by universities and colleges, testing companies, private research firms, and government agencies. Those wit master's degrees often work for
Rehabilitation psychologist researchers and practitioners work with people who have suffered a physical deprivation or loss, either at birth or through later damage such as resulting from a stroke. They sometimes help people adjust to the physical handicaps associated with aging. Typically, people treated by rehabilitation psychologists face both psychological and situational barriers to effective functioning in the world.Many rehabilitation psychologists work in medical rehabilitation institutes and hospitals. Other rehabilitation psychologists work in medical schools and universities, serve as consultants to or as administrators in state and federal vocational rehabilitation agencies, or have private practices serving
School psychologists help educators and others promote the intellectual, social, and emotion development of children. They also involved in creating environments that facilitate learning an mental health. They may evaluate and plan programs for children with special needs or deal with less severe problems such as disruptive behavior in the classroom. They sometimes engage in program development and staff consultation to prevent problems. They sometimes provide on-the-job training for teachers in classroom management, consult with parents and teachers on w to support a child's efforts in school, and consult with school administrators on a variety of psychological and educational issues. School psychologists may be found in academic settings, where they train other school psychologists and do research, for example, comparing the effectiveness of different tests in diagnosing a child's learning problems. Other settings in which school psychologists work are nursery schools, day-care centers, hospitals, mental health clinics, federal and state govern ment agencies, child guidance centers, penal institutions, and behavioral research laboratories Some school psychologists work in private practice.To be employed in the public schools of a given state, school psychologists must have complete a state-approved training program (or the equivalent) and be certified by the state. Certification as a school psychologist can usually be obtained after 60 hours of gradate work and a one-year supervised internship. Many persons now practicing school psychology in the United States have been trained at the certificate level. APA's policy regarding use of the title "school psychologist" sets higher standard than do many state school psychology certification requirements. The APA standards require that individuals using the title "school psychologist" have a doctoral degree from a regionally accredits university or professional school providing an organized, sequential school psychology program in a department of psychology in a university or college, in an appropriate department of a school of education or other similar administrative organization, or in a unit o a professional school (APA, 1981). School psychologists trained at the doctoral level often find employment in a variety of settings including schools, hospitals, university training programs, mental health clinics, and other agencies. Typically, in comparison to nondoctoral professionals in school psychology, the Doctoral level school psychologist has mor research and evaluation training a well as more in-depth clinical and consultative training. The number of jobs in school psychology has increased slowly but steadily in the last decade. The opportunities
Social psychologists study how people interact with each other and how they are affected by social environments. They s individuals as well as groups, observable behaviors, and private thoughts. Topics of interest to social psychologists include personality theories, the formation of attitudes and attitude change, attractions between people such as friendship and love, prejudice, group dynamics and violence and aggression. Social psychologists might, for example, study how attitudes toward the elderly influence the elderly person's selfconcept, or they might investigate how unwritten rules of behavior develop in groups and how those rules regulate the conduct of group members. Social psychologists can be found in a wide variety of academic settings, and, increasingly, in many nonacademic settings. For example, more social psychologists than before now work in advertising agencies, corporations, hospitals, educational institutions, and architectural and engineering firms as researchers, consultants, and personnel managers. As with experimental psychology, a research oriented doctoral degree is usually necessary in social psychology-
The following are areas of psychology that are either emerging or expanding which should provide an increasing number of jobs in the coming years.
Family psychologists are practitioners, researchers, and educators concerned with the prevention of family conflict, the treatment of marital and family problems, and the maintenance of normal family functioning. They concentrate on the family structure and the interaction between members rather than on the individual . As service providers, they often design and conduct programs for marital enrichment, pre-marital prepartion, improved parent-child relations and parent education about children with special needs. They also provide treatment for marital conflicts and problems that affect whole families. As researchers, they seek to identify environmental and personal factors that are associated with improved family functioning. They may study communication patterns in families with a hyperactive child or conduct research on child abuse or the effects of divorce and remarriage on family members. A subgroup of family psychologists specializes in the prevention and treatment of sexual dysfunction and in research on human sexuality. Doctoral programs in family psychology are just beginning to appear. Traditionally most family psychologistshave earned their degree in a professional area of psychology, and then obtained advanced training in departments of psychiatry, family institutes, or through individual supervision. Postdoctoral training programs are becoming more common. Family psychologists are often employed in medical schools, hospitals, private practice, family institutes and community agencies. Job opportunities also exist for university teachers, forensic family psychologists, and consultants to industry.
Health psychologists are researchers and practitioners concerned with psychology's contribution to the promotion and the maintenance of good health, and the prevention and the treatment of illness. As applied psychologists or clinicians, they may, for example, design and conduct programs to help individuals stop smoking, lose weight, manage stress, prevent cavities, or stay physically fit. As researchers, they seek to identify conditions and practices that are associated with health and illness. For example, they might study the effects of relocation on an elderly person's physical well-being. In public service roles they study and work to improve government's policies and systems for health care. Doctoral programs in health psychology are just beginning to appear. Most health psychologists now earn their degree in another area of psychology such as clinical or counseling but concentrate their studies, research, and practical experiences in health psychology. Postdoctoral work is often required. For the past decade the most common setting in which health psychologists have found employment is medical centers. However, more opportunities are opening for health psychologists as consultants to industry on the promotion of health. Other health care settings are also providing jobs for health psychologists; these include hospitals, health maintenance organizations, rehabilitation centers, public health agencies, and private practice.
Psychology of Aging
Researchers in the psychology of aging (geropsychology) draw on Sociology, biology, and other disciplines as well as psychology to study the factors associated with adult development and aging. For example, they may investigate how the brain and the nervous system change as humans age and what effects those changes have on behavior or how a person's style of coping with problems varies with age- Clinicians in geropsychology apply their knowledge about the aging process to improvethe psychological welfare of the elderly. Many people interested in the psychology of aging are trained in a more traditional graduate program in psychology, such as experimental, clinical, developmental, or social. While they are enrolled in such a program, they become geropsychologists by focusing their research, coursework, and practical experiences on adult development and aging. Increases in the percentage of the population that is aged 65 or over and greater social attention to the needs, the problems, and the potentials of older persons have contributed to a growth in the demand for geropsychologists. Geropsychologists are finding jobs in academic settings, research centers, industry, health care organizations, mental health clinics, and agencies serving the elderly. Some are engaged in private practice, either as clinical or counseling psychologists, or as consultants on such matters as the design and the evaluation of programs. A doctorate is normally required for teaching, research, and clinical practice, but an increasing number of employment opportunities are becoming available for people with associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees. These positions typically involve the supervised provision of services to adults in nursing homes, senior citizens centers, or state and local government offices for the elderly.
Psychology and Law, and Forensic Psychology
Psychology and law is a new field with career opportunities at several levels of training. As an area of research, psychology and law is concerned both with looking at legal issues from a psychological perspective (e.g., how juries decide cases) and with looking at psychological questions in a legal context (e.g., how jurors assign blame or responsibility for a crime). Forensic psychology is the term given to the applied and clinical facets of psychology and law. Forensic psychologists might help a judge decide which parent should have custody of the children or evaluate the victim of an accident to determine if he or she sustained psychological or neurological damage. In criminal cases, forensic psychologists might evaluate a defendant's mental competence to stand trial. Some forensic psychologists counsel inmates and probationers; others counsel the victims of crimes and help them prepare to testify, cope with emotional distress, and resume their normal activities. Some specialists in this field have doctoral degrees in both psychology and law. Others were trained in a traditional graduate psychology program, such as clinical, counseling, social, or experimental, and chose courses, research topics, and practical experiences to fit their interest in psychology and law. Jobs for people with doctoral degrees are available in psychology departments, law schools, research organizations, community mental health agencies, law enforcement agencies, courts, and correctional settings. Some forensic psychologists work in private practice. Master's and bachelor's-level positions are available in prisons, correctional institutions, probation departments, forensic units of mental institutions, law enforcement agencies, and community-based programs that assist victims.
Psychology of Women
The psychology of women is the study of psychological and social factors affecting women's development and behavior. The field includes the study of stereotypes about women, the relation of hormones to behavior, women's achievements in mathematics and science, the development of gender roles and identity, sexuality, psychological problems of women and their treatment, and physical and sexual abuse of women and girls. Psychologists focusing on the psychology of women are found in academic settings and a variety of clinical settings. Current research topics include women's reactions to being raped and the best treatment techniques for rape victims, factors that promote managerial success, factors that discourage talented girls from obtaining advanced mathematics training, and the causes of eating disorders such as anorexia. Clinicians whose area of concentration is the psychology of women may practice feminist therapy with women and girls. Most psychologists whose concern is the psychology of women have received their training in clinical, developmental, or social psychology, or in psychobiology, pursuing their special interest within these broader areas . Teaching positions for doctoral level psychologists are available in psychology and women's studies departments. Researchers who focus on health issues for women have been hired as faculty members in nursing, public health, social work, or psychiatry departments of universities. Clinicians work in mental health centers and in private practice..