Perhaps you’ve always been interested in human behavior that deviates outside the norm. Perhaps psychological disorders and abnormal behavior are truly fascinating to you. If this is true and you’re interested in learning how to specialize a psychology degree in abnormal psychology, you’ve come to the right place. Fortunately for you, there are a number of ways you can specialize your coursework in the area of abnormal psychology and find career options related to the field. Let’s examine what abnormal psychology is, what kinds of educational opportunities are available in the subject and the types of careers you might consider within the field.
What is Abnormal Psychology?
Abnormal psychology focuses on the study of psychological issues or disorders that of dysfunctional behaviors. Such conditions falling under the umbrella of abnormal psychological issues include but are not limited to…
- obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- borderline personality disorder (bipolar disorder) and other mood disorders
- various psychotic disorders
- anxiety disorders
- eating disorders
- major depression
- serious personality disorders
Those who are employed in this field study behaviors that cause people difficulties in everyday functioning. They use their education and skills to uncover underlying mental functioning that may be caused by disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder or mental illnesses. They also work directly with clients to teach healthier behaviors and ways to overcome or manage the issues that are causing them personal distress. These mental health professionals are crucial for treating abnormal disorders. They change lives through medical treatments such as cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy every day.
Tools used on the job include personality inventories, intelligence tests, observations and interviews. Professionals in the behavioral and mental health field consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, currently in its fifth edition, to identify whether patients exhibit the characteristics required to be assigned a particular mental health diagnosis.
What are the Educational Components of Abnormal Psychology?
There are a number of options available for those wishing to specialize a psychology degree in abnormal behavior or abnormal psychology. In order to diagnose and treat psychological disorders, students must undergo a high level of education. At the bachelor’s or master’s level, you will study topics such as psychological theories relevant to the study of abnormal psychological behavior, the kinds of disorders in this category and diagnosis procedures, as well as the ethics involved in psychological treatment. It is also possible to go on for a doctoral degree in psychology to attain further credentials, leading to additional career opportunities. The type of job you can pursue depends on your level of education, along with other factors such as practical experience.
At the master’s or doctoral level, you will may need to pass a licensure exam or undergo a practical experience such as an internship, depending on your program or the state in which you live. These requirements will help to provide you with the hands-on experience and competencies you need in order to feel confident in your skills to work directly with clients suffering from abnormal behaviors due to a mental disorder.
What are the Career Options for Abnormal Psychology?
Your educational background in abnormal psychology can lead to a number of job types like clinical psychology, counseling psychology or rehabilitative psychology. With a bachelor’s level degree, you might work as a drug and alcohol counselor, rehabilitation assistant, case manager or psychiatric technician. Master’s level practitioners may look for positions as a psychotherapist or clinical social worker. Should you decide to go on for a doctorate, you could become a clinical psychologist, psychological researcher or a professor, according to the American Psychological Association.
There are a variety of settings in which you could work. It’s possible to set up a private counseling practice or to join a group practice. Mental health clinics, juvenile detention centers, correctional facilities, schools, rehabilitation centers and residential group homes are other common locations for behavioral and mental health practitioners to be employed.
Joining the Field of Abnormal Psychology
While earning a degree and gaining hands on experience is no walk in the park, many professionals agree that being able to treat psychological disorders and see people go on to live a happier life is extremely rewarding. It is clear to see that entering the field of psychology is a decision that can be quite fulfilling, along with challenging. As you can see, there are many ways in which to specialize a degree in abnormal psychology.