Why do individuals behave the way they do? Why do certain students have difficulty understanding a lesson? Will an employee who has experienced a personal tragedy be ready to return to work? Can different learning strategies help individuals with dyslexia? How does depression impact an individual’s interpersonal relationships? Is a parent who has undergone counseling a good candidate for full custody? These questions and more are what drive psychologists. As a research field and clinical practice, psychology seeks to understand human behavior and find practical means for individuals and groups to function more soundly in their environments. Psychology encompasses nearly every sector – industry, education, healthcare, and social services. In addition, psychology brings a highly dynamic range of research approaches, methodologies, and solutions. Although there are many different types of psychologists, all psychologists must pursue graduate study to practice psychology. While a master’s degree is sufficient for some jobs, most elect to pursue a doctorate. Below are descriptions of five different types of psychologists.
Clinical psychologists work with individuals, families, and groups that are facing mental health challenges, such as substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and other such difficulties. Clinical psychologists vary widely on their approach to patient treatment. Some use psychotherapy while others employ EMDR therapy, cognitive behavioral approaches, or gestalt therapy, to name a few. Sometimes they work with psychiatrists, who can prescribe medication, to create a more effective treatment plan.
Forensic psychologists work closely with professionals in the criminal justice and judicial systems. They provide impartial evaluations for individuals seeking to rejoin society after completing a sentence and can provide psychological expertise during trials. They play a crucial role in family court and criminal court. Their evaluations affect decisions regarding child custody, criminal motives, sentencing, and parole hearings. They may also help decide whether an individual is fit to stand trial or whether he/she is aware of the consequences of his/her behavior.
Organizational psychologists research and assess the psychological underpinnings affecting workplaces. They provide insight into employee and supervisor dynamics and can provide strategies to address worker productivity, employee satisfaction, and workplace conflicts.
Social psychologists focus on group behavior and the impact groups have on individual behavior. Family dynamics, social structures, and cultural dynamics are among the issues on which social psychologists focus.
Educational psychologists focus on the psychology issues affecting teaching and learning. They play a significant role in the lives of individuals with special needs, learning disabilities, or exceptional aptitude. They work with principals and educators to cultivate learning strategies and programming to help students with diverse learning needs. Like sports psychologists, who find strategies and techniques to motivate athletes to perform at their utmost level, educational psychologists seek means to help students reach their peak academic performance.
Psychology is perhaps one of the most innovative, rewarding, and exciting fields. Psychologists tackle some of the most fundamental questions of human behavior and identity. They provide essential tools and insight for those facing challenging circumstances. In addition, they help individuals attain the services and support they need to lead healthier lives at home or work.