Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior, according to the American Psychological Association. It includes a variety of study areas that deal with all aspects of the human experience, including areas such as human development, health, clinical, sports, cognitive processes, and social behavior.
The Origins of Psychology?
The origins of psychology are traced back as far as ancient Greece in about 400 B.C. In fact, the word psychology comes from the Greek word psyche, which means vital breath or human soul. Psychology, however, at that time was based more on philosophy and theory with Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle all setting the foundation for what psychology has evolved into today.
How Psychology is Applied Today
Currently, psychology is the study of mental processes, behavior, and the relationship between the two. Mental processes consist of motivation, emotion, and learning. Psychologists use their understanding of mental processes and study how people think, learn, feel, perceive, interact, and understand, and how all of these things affect behavior.
Psychology today is applied through professionals known as psychologists. Psychologists are therapists, counselors, scientists, researchers, and clinicians that study human behavior to help address and provide solutions to people dealing with issues related to public health, interpersonal relationships, education, crime and terrorism, the economy, and more.
According to the American Psychological Association, psychologists study both normal and abnormal functioning and treat people with mental and emotional problems. They also study and encourage behaviors that build emotional resilience and wellness.
It is important to note that psychologists are typically doctoral-level professions. In order to practice as a psychologist and treat people with mental and emotional disorders, you need to have at least a doctorate degree in an area of psychology.
The Types of Psychology
Our minds are affected by everything that they perceive and experience, from culture to parenting styles to mental illnesses. There are areas of psychology that cover almost every one of these factors, and psychologists study how our behavior changes in different circumstances.
The study of psychology is divided into ten major branches:
- Clinical psychology is the treatment of psychological problems through therapy and prevention.
- Biopsychology deals with how our bodies affect our minds.
- Educational psychology looks at how educational environments impact our brains and behaviors, and the treatment of learning disorders.
- Cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes, such as memory and thoughts.
- Forensic psychology uses psychology in legal settings, such as lawmaking and enforcement, or witness examination.
- Industrial psychology examines and addresses issues in the workplace by using psychological methods and theories.
- Social psychology is the study of how we are affected psychologically by social situations and experiences.
- Health psychology works with medical fields to discover how our bodies and our minds impact each other.
- Developmental psychology looks at the changes in humans over time—both individually, as children grow and develop, and culturally, as society progresses and changes—and works to explain these changes through a psychological lens.
Careers in Psychology
Careers in psychological fields are typically divided into two types: research-based and practice-based.
Research-based psychologists look at psychological effects—both how the brain is affected by outside factors and how it influences our perceptions and experiences. Practice-based psychologists work with clients and patients to change psychological factors to improve their lives.
Careers in psychology require varying levels of education and training. For example, a counselor usually needs a master’s degree, a certain number of completed clinical hours, and a license. In contrast, positions like psychologists and psychiatrists will require a doctorate degree (as much as five years or more of school), clinical hours, and maybe even a residency.
Deciding Whether Psychology is the Right Career For You
Studying psychology in college is not for everyone. Before you make the decision to study psychology, it is important to ask yourself a few key questions. Are you interested in helping people with mental and behavioral disorders? Do you love to do research or do you love applying research? If you can answer “yes” to any of these and you feel passionate about psychology, then it is time to enroll in the psychology program of your choice.