Applied psychology refers to the entire discipline that includes all fields of psychological studies that use research-based findings to address and resolve behavioral issues. The range of this discipline is so diverse that some specializations engage in extensive laboratory research while others are involved in field studies to create assistive programs for certain populations.
To understand the breadth and depth of this discipline, here are some of the most popular specializations.
Clinical psychologists are involved in the diagnoses, prevention and treatment of emotional and behavioral dysfunctions. The focus of the clinical psychologist is on personal development and achieving optimum well-being. Psychological assessments, psychotherapy and neuropsychology are under the purview of clinical psychologists. They may also end up as academics and researchers. Clinical psychologists do not usually issue prescriptions for symptom management.
This field of psychology studies how humans learn and how the educational environment can address the needs of students with different abilities. The goal is to develop client-centered interventions that would address specific needs. Educational psychology includes the psychology of teaching. It draws from the principles of the science of cognition and behavior-based research specific to learning environments.
Also known as industrial psychology, this field specializes in workplace dynamics with the goal of optimizing communication and inter-relationships. The goal is to enhance efficiency while building a positive and productive work environment. Employee selection, performance assessment and workplace motivation are some of the traditional tasks of the organizational psychologist.
With the national obsession with various sports and the central figures of these tournaments, sports psychology is another field that bears consideration. This field of specialization focuses on the impact of psychology on performance in different athletic endeavors especially in high stakes, high pressure competitions. Working with athletes, parents, coaches and teams, sports psychologists teach motivational techniques such as positive self-talk, visualization and goal setting.
Counseling psychology is the field of specialization that focuses on personal and interpersonal issues with emphasis on emotional, social, educational organizational issues. This service covers all ages, which is apt considering that some of the client situations involve personal and family crises and physical, mental and emotional trauma. The wellness approach ensures that the psychologist and the client work toward resolving the issues. Treatment sessions are limited to a short-term schedule. These applied psychologists may deal with issues concerning social concerns, school, career and family issues, health problems and various types of stress management.
Academic and Career Track for Applied Psychologists
A four-year bachelor’s degree in psychology is the typical starting point for someone focused on a career in this field of psychology. Some universities offer Applied Psychology as a major while other colleges have a customized track so that the student earns an undergraduate degree in this field. In many cases, a master’s degree in psychology or social work may be required to earn the credentials to work in this field. Some degree-granting institutions offer a master’s in Applied Psychology, and some fields of specialization may require post-graduate studies and verified internship as part of the credentialing requirements.
Applied psychologists can look forward to an interesting career that may involve different workplace environments. Jobs for psychologists are expected to grow faster than the national average in the next 10 years according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.