When we ask most people what psychology is, the first image that comes to mind is that of the psychologist treating a patient, probably lying on a sofa. However, clinical psychology is only one of the specialties of psychology, a much broader science that studies human behavior and psyche in all possible areas of action. This means that wherever there are people, a psychologist will have a job.
The specializations of psychology
Psychology is the science that studies the human psyche, which means that its findings can be applied in several areas. Each of these branches of psychology is a discipline.
All the specializations of Psychology have a common basis but concretely deepen the different contexts in which the problem occurs. In the same way that a doctor can specialize in cardiology or pulmonology, a psychologist can also specialize in several disciplines.
Therefore, if a child has a learning problem he should not go to the clinical psychologist, but to an educational psychologist or educational psychologist and if a person begins to suffer from memory problems, it is better that he consult a neuropsychologist.
What are the specializations of psychology?
- Psychology of education and development
It is the discipline of psychology that is dedicated to the analysis and improvement of teaching and learning, meaning teaching and learning those processes that take place within a school or family unit. The educational psychologist works with both the teacher and the student, which implies contact with children and young people, but also with teachers and parents.
The educational psychologist will study teaching methods, how they affect students and how to perfect them. It will also analyze the learning strategies used by the students and how to optimize them. He will be responsible for understanding the type of relationship the student establishes with his or her family and how this favors or hinders school learning.
In practice, the educational psychologist often limits his activity to schools and is responsible for providing psychological guidance to students on various topics such as drug addiction, sexuality, interpersonal relationships ... or deals with problems such as shyness, aggression and learning disabilities … It also actively participates in career guidance processes, as well as in the prevention and resolution of conflicts generated in educational environments.
Within educational psychology we find developmental psychology, a branch of psychology that studies changes in behavior and psyche resulting from the maturation of individuals as they go through the different stages of development, from childhood to old age.
Educational psychology is based on the discoveries of developmental psychology, to propose more effective educational techniques and methods that take into account the evolutionary period through which the student passes. This means that the educational psychologist is not limited to working with children and adolescents, but is present in all teaching-learning contexts, including adulthood and early age.
- Clinical psychology and / or health psychology
This specialization of psychology is essentially responsible for the relationship between health and disease in the field of the human psyche. It includes from a teenager's simple orientation to sexuality, to psychotherapy to treat mental disorders such as phobias or depression.
But it is important to make a differentiation. Clinical psychology focuses more on the psychopathological process and its treatment, so these psychologists are prepared to treat all kinds of more or less severe mental disorders that affect people's quality of life. In these cases, especially when it comes to serious diseases such as psychosis or schizophrenia, it is normal for them to work side by side with the psychiatrist to diagnose, intervene and control psychological disorders.
Within clinical psychology, different specialties can be developed at the same time such as: psycho-oncology, psycho-immunology, child psychology, psychology of the elderly ... The clinical psychologist can also specialize in a particular age phase : infantile-adolescent, adult or third age. There are also clinical psychologists who specialize in the treatment of sexual dysfunction, an area of psychology known as sexology.
Others specialize in couple and family psychology, a specialization in psychology that analyzes the individual in the context of their closest relationships with their partner, children and / or parents, usually focusing on dysfunctional families. These psychologists analyze interpersonal conflicts trying to offer the parties adequate strategies to ensure that each person finds their place in the relationship.
Health psychology, on the other hand, predominantly focuses on analyzing the psychological health process. It analyzes the mind-body relationships, especially starting from the effect of illnesses, both eminently psychological and physical, and looks for healthy models that favor a good psychological balance. As a result, the health psychologist does not treat the ailments directly, but is primarily involved in mental health prevention plans. He therefore carries out a purely prophylactic work.
Both specializations of psychology, however, converge in addressing less serious problems such as orientation in coping styles of stressful situations and pain, for example, with the aim of helping people to better understand what is happening to them, to assume problems from a different perspective and ultimately practicing a healthier lifestyle.
In some cases neuropsychology is considered a branch of clinical psychology, but its importance is such that it has gained a position of its own among the disciplines of psychology.
The object of study of this specialization in psychology is the relationship between the brain and behavior. A neuropsychologist not only knows all the disorders that have a neurological basis and a strong psychological component, such as dementia and stroke, but also dominates the functioning of the brain in relation to higher psychic functions.
Some of the main fields of application of Neuropsychology are the diagnosis and rehabilitation of neurological disorders, but in recent times, given the progress in brain analysis techniques, this branch of Psychology is extending to other fields, so we have seen the birth of specializations such as Neuromarketing, which analyzes the impact of advertising messages on the brain and how this influences the consumer's purchasing decisions and desires.
- Work or institutional psychology
This specialization of psychology focuses on companies, taking on the task of analyzing and understanding the relationships that the person establishes with the production process. For this it is essential to analyze the relationship of the person with the work they do: their motivations for the work they do, their interests, expectations and the level of satisfaction they have with their occupation. But also the relationships with the rest of the collaborators: the organizational climate, the level of satisfaction starting from the relationships that are established and the type of communication that prevails.
The occupational or institutional psychologist is also responsible for analyzing the correspondence between a person's potential and abilities with the needs of a certain job and, often, is also responsible for developing the psychological profile necessary to occupy a certain position or take on certain tasks. within the company. It is the well-known “personnel selection” that amazes us with its creative and revolutionary techniques. Once the people have been selected, the psychologist often takes care of their training.
He is also responsible for analyzing what factors hinder the proper functioning of the company and what to do to increase production and improve the working environment. The ultimate goal of the organizational psychologist is to improve productivity and quality of work by making sure employees feel satisfied.
In practice, many times the psychologist either simply selects the right staff for the job or turns into a clinical psychologist within the organization. Although it largely depends on the vision of the company he works for, because in large companies psychologists usually do more creative and flexible work. But the good news is that it is one of the major professions in psychology.
- Psychology of Advertising or Marketing
The psychology of marketing has emerged from the psychology of organizations as it is also focused on satisfying the needs of companies. In this case, it's about increasing sales through advertising.
The psychologist who is dedicated to this sector deals with the design and promotion of products on the market. It is the exciting world of target analysis a particular product is aimed at in order to optimize its most attractive features.
He must apply knowledge from different branches of psychology to understand which products or services are most interesting to customers. It also analyzes the needs and purchasing habits of consumers, to present the most interesting products that fit their profile and optimize the return on investment.
Marketing psychology is also responsible for branding or branding processes to help companies stand out from the competition and bring value to their consumers. These psychologists must specialize in communication techniques, text analysis and, of course, subliminal advertising techniques. Usually they are placed in the Marketing departments of the company to contribute to the creation and development of marketing plans and advertising campaigns, so they have to work with different professionals from the most diverse fields.
- forensic psychology
It focuses on the analysis of criminal processes. The forensic psychologist is in charge of carrying out the necessary expertise in the trials, both with the victims and the accused, but also prepares the detainees for their reintegration into society and provides advice to relatives.
It determines the degree of truthfulness of the testimonies and the conditions of emotional stability of the prisoners, diagnosing the degree of intentionality in the crimes. It also assesses the psychological damage in the victims. In a forensic evaluation process, the psychologist has the goal of examining the person to see if they suffer from any disorder that could be a mitigating factor in criminal acts, have false memories or are lying.
In this regard, knowledge of graphology and behavioral deviation is necessary, but also of the main psychopathologies and child psychology. Although this specialization is not highly sought after among psychologists, it requires a thorough understanding of all disciplines of psychology. Furthermore, his role is also key in creating psychological profiles of criminals that will aid in the search and capture.
- Sports Psychology
It is the branch of psychology dedicated to evaluating and enhancing sports performance, so it will resort to psychological techniques that allow the athlete to improve their physical performance. The sports psychologist works equally on an individual level with athletes as well as with teams.
At the individual level there are visualization techniques that, for example, allow the athlete to refine movements and improve results. In addition, you work on motivation and empowerment, while training the tools to cope with the pressure of training and competitions without suffering a breakdown.
In the case of teams, in addition to motivation, we usually also work to promote a good climate that improves performance and resolves possible conflicts between members. Often one also has to work on leadership functions.
A sports psychologist can do a variety of interventions, from specific treatments to relieve performance anxiety to self-instruction exercises, educational sessions, or even value training through sport.
The ultimate goal of sports psychology is to allow the athlete to use psychological dynamics, learned strategies and emotional state in his favor, to make the most of his abilities.
- Social psychology
This specialization of psychology focuses on the analysis of behavior and psyche in groups, puts an emphasis on the collective and the way people relate to each other. This branch is related to sociology, although unlike the latter, it focuses on the impact of groups on the mind of each of the individuals. Analyze how social processes determine personality and reactions.
The social psychologist studies a wide range of phenomena, ranging from mass violence to social norms, group pressure, the formation of stereotypes and the spread of beliefs. As it is one of the major disciplines of psychology, its findings usually have a huge impact on the rest of the areas.
Within social psychology lies community psychology, which focuses on analyzing the problems of specific communities. In this case, the goal is to understand the dynamics within the community and to promote positive changes for each of the members, so that all can improve the quality of life. This psychologist often works with the social worker, and must be inserted into the community to make sure that the change comes from within, for this reason it favors a self-directed transformation by the leaders of the community themselves. The community psychologist is just a facilitator.
What is the best specialization in Psychology?
Over time, new branches of psychology will continue to develop. The choice of this or that specialization must depend on our potential and on how much it really attracts us because, if we choose a specialization for the sole fact that it is better paid, we run the great risk of falling into routine and professional dissatisfaction.
On the contrary, if we love the chosen specialization, we will probably engage creatively, open new doors and eventually we will not only be more satisfied with ourselves, but our income will probably also increase, as a natural result of this passion.
In particular, I recommend that you opt for a degree in general psychology, in which all the specialties of psychology are taught and then, with a deeper understanding of each branch, choose the one you like best, for which you will need to do at least one. master's degree. It is the longest path, but it is the best, not only because you will learn a lot more about psychology, but also because it will increase your chances in the job market as you will have a broader profile that is not limited to a single specialization.