The careers in environmental psychology are somewhat limited because this is a relatively new academic field. Most environmental psychologists are researchers or consultants who work for universities, governments and non-profit organizations.
Environmental Psychology Researcher
An environmental psychology researcher may investigate the challenges that arise from the interactions between people with natural and constructed environments. They will use research methods, data measurements and literature analyses to construct theories, test hypotheses, create models, propose new concepts and administer questionnaires. Environmental psychology researcher may use statistical tools to evaluate data from behavioral measurements and controlled questionnaires. Their ultimate goal is to assess how environmental factors impact individual attitudes and collective behaviors.
An environmental psychology researcher may explore how uninformed attitudes and indifferent behaviors negatively affect special environment and geographies. For example, they may study water conservation attitudes in arid climates, public transit problems in crowded cities and anonymous littering in rural areas. Most of their projects conclude with the preparation and presentation of reports to a variety of audiences and publications, including industry magazines and scientific journals.
Environmental Psychology Consultant
Municipal governments, regional organizations and private think tanks may hire consulting environmental psychologists to research various things. For instance, a city may hire them to conduct a meta study into the factors that influence people where they choose to live. The psychology consultant may research how environmental factors make certain neighborhoods less or more attractive to home buyers. Many cities conduct similar studies as part of their long-term plans to reduce urban sprawl.
Ideally, environmental psychology consultants will isolate the factors that realtors and property developers can use to increase the density of sparsely populated, inner-city communities. These same consultants may be hired by city planners who want to redevelop, gentrify and improve rundown neighborhoods. For example, the majority of high density neighborhoods in inner-cities will use townhouses and condo complexes on smaller lots to provide homeowners with some green space.
Therapeutic Care Specialist
Some environmental psychologists earn counseling licenses in order to work with therapy programs that embrace sustainable attitudes and wilderness based healing. To illustrate, many private counseling, specialty needs organizations and substance abuse rehabilitation centers run outpatient treatment programs. Patients may be delinquent youth, recovering alcoholics, on the autism spectrum or struggling with co-occurring mental health problems. These applied environmental psychologists will research and apply therapeutic methods to help patients overcome problems and resolve psychological problems.
Therapeutic care specialists will experience first-hand how patient’s attitude changes directly impact their mental, social and emotional well-being. These environmental psychologists may engage patients in individual and group activities to discuss issues, teach valuable skills and model healthy attitudes towards nature. These therapists play a vital role in the delivery and coordination of clinical services. They collaboratively work with multidisciplinary treatment teams. They are responsible for the clinical care and therapeutic needs of their short-term patients.
Related Resource: 5 Websites for Environmental Psychologists
Anyone who wants to explore potential careers in environmental psychology should visit the American Psychological Association’s website. The APA created Division 34 approximately 40 years ago, which is the official Society for Environmental, Population and Conservation Psychology.