What are some of the specialty areas in psychology?

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Psychology is a broad field with many specialty branches. After a basic Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, many professionals continue their education to obtain recognition as a specialist in an area that interests them. The American Psychological Association recognizes fourteen different specialties.

Clinical

Four of the specialties operate in clinical settings. Clinical Neuropsychology deals with the assessment and treatment of issues stemming from the relationship between brain and behavior. This branch requires postdoctoral specialized education and training. Psychologists trained in Clinical Neuropsychology work with patients whose central nervous system causes abnormal behavior. Clinical Health Psychology combines all aspects of life to improve our health care system, promote health, and prevent disease. This specialty treats patients with chronic diseases such as AIDS, cancer, or chronic pain. Clinical Psychology is a general practice specialty that covers a wide range of disorders and treats a diverse population. Clinical Psychologists must have knowledge of the entire span of psychopathic disorders and treatments. Clinical Child Psychology focuses on providing services to children who have difficulties in a variety of situations. Psychologists study how family and social influences affect the child’s development, behaviors, and overall health.

School and Work

Several branches of psychology deal with individuals and groups in school or work settings. School Psychologists operate on both the individual and system level to create positive learning environments by examining the schooling process. This specialty requires doctoral level training. Counseling Psychology helps individuals, groups, and organizations with relational problems. An expert in this field will look at relationships and outside influences to aid the target group or individual. They often work with groups with the same problems or help organizations increase productivity. Industrial and Organizational Psychology studies behavior in regards to work and applies this knowledge to solve problems. Industrial and Organizational Psychologists are involved with employees beginning with selection and training and through out their employment. Forensic Psychology is the professional practice of providing expertise to members of the judicial system. This expertise could come in the context of evaluation, consultation, reports, or expert testimony. Police and Public Safety Psychology assists members of public service in carrying out their duties effectively, safely, and ethically. Psychologists in this specialty are trained to look for abnormal adjustments to occupational stressors and treat individuals after traumatic events.

Other

The remaining five specialties deal with a variety of settings and issues. Psychoanalysis in Psychology analyzes personality development by looking at both conscious and unconscious processes. This area of psychology requires formal postdoctoral training. Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology addresses human problems of groups and individuals across the entire life span. Techniques are typically applicable in any situation. Family Psychology treats family units with relational problems. Examples of problems include discipline and behavioral problems and the burden of caring for another. Professional Geropsychology works with the elderly and their families to maintain mental and physical health and adjust to changes associated with older age. Sleep Psychology studies, evaluates, and treats sleep disorders by examining underling causes.

The first specialty was recognized in 1996. Since that time, the Council of Specialties in Professional Psychology was created to promote knowledge of various psychology specialties.

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