Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. Studying psychology can help you understand yourself and the people around you, which can lead to personal development and increased job satisfaction. But there are many different types of psychology. It can be hard to keep them all straight!
In this article, we’ll look at the four main branches of psychology that you need to know about as an aspiring psychologist or just as someone who wants to understand psychology better. These include behavioral, cognitive, psychodynamic, and humanistic psychology.
Clinical psychologists are trained in diagnosing and treating mental disorders, including substance abuse problems. But they can also help people improve their quality of life and maintain mental health by helping them address troubling issues from childhood or adolescence, as well as coping with loss, stress, or a major life transition.
A clinical psychologist may use psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) to treat these issues. In some cases, he or she may recommend medication management (psychotropic drugs).
Clinical psychologists often work in private practice but also may be employed by hospitals, schools, or other organizations. Their clients include children, adolescents, and adults.
The study of biological factors that impact and shape behavior and psychological processes. This area has some overlap with neuroscience, and both areas focus on similar processes, but biopsychology is largely concerned with behaviors that are associated with specific physiological structures or functions. For example, a researcher interested in finding out how genetics influence certain behavioral traits might study identical twins who have been separated at birth.
Studies like these often require functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans to measure brain activity as participants perform tasks or recall memories.
Biopsychologists use statistical analyses such as t-tests and ANOVAs to uncover patterns within their data and make hypotheses about links between physiological factors and observed behavior patterns.
Counseling psychologists work with clients in a therapeutic setting to help them understand and resolve issues that may be affecting their mental health. They’re often more research-focused than clinical psychologists and aren’t always licensed which means they might not be able to prescribe medication.
While counseling psychologists typically earn a Ph.D., they may also have master’s degrees or licenses that are specific to their state. Their role is similar to that of a psychologist, but they tend to focus on how an individual’s behavior impacts his or her ability to interact with others.
As an academic discipline, behavioral psychology is concerned with how humans and animals learn, and how they behave under various circumstances. At its core, behavioral psychology asks: How do behaviors develop?
In addition to examining basic learning processes (such as classical conditioning) and more complex patterns of behavior (including operant conditioning), it also studies highly complex, abstracted social behaviors like language acquisition in children. Behaviors are learned from both positive and negative experiences.