Read these 4 Choose Your Psychology Discipline Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Psychology Degree tips and hundreds of other topics.
Psychology studies human behavior and mental function. In general, psychology disciplines fall under either basic or applied science. The psychology disciplines within the basic sciences include niches such as social, abnormal, experimental or cultural psychology. Applied science is typically made-up of clinical, occupational and health niches, among others. There are a vast number of specific sub-fields within the realm of psychology disciplines, covering almost every imaginable topic. Some professionals focus on psychology experimental approaches such as developmental, perceptive, emotional or social disciplines. Other professionals specialize in very narrow niches such as mathematical, ecological or even traffic psychology. Some of the most general or common psychology disciplines include behavioral medicine, cognitive psychology or psychotherapy. All psychology disciplines work to accomplish similar goals, which is to understand and solve problems within different areas of human activity. Psychologists will generally focus on either practice or research, and can be found working in a number of fields. Depending on the psychological disciplines, professionals often work in clinics, schools or research facilities as well as in business capacities such as in legal, media, sports or forensics settings.
Research psychology is an interesting aspect of experimentation that deals with how humans think, feel, act and learn. Research psychology strives to answer questions on physical problems of the human brain and work to find treatments for problems like memory loss.
There is money to be made in the field of research psychology, as many of these psychologists work for government offices, universities and private corporations. One could even be a professor in this field since it requires a doctoral degree.
There are numerous aspects involved in the field of research psychology. One will be required to propose theories, make sure experiments meet ethical guidelines, conduct interviews, publish experiment results, apply for grants and attend conferences. If one is an animal lover, they might want to consider another field of psychology to study under because laboratory experiments with rats, monkeys and even pigeons will be mandatory.
Comparative psychology correlates greatly with this field as it is concerned with the behavior of animals. It is concerned with animals by the behavior and mental life of them.
There isn't a great need, or usually much opportunity, to concentrate in one specific area of Psychology before graduate school (master's degree level). Think of your psychology education as a career path that will unfold as you explore more about it in college and while working in the field. You'll know much more about psychology, its applications and how you want to apply your education by the time you're ready for a master's program. You may instead want or need to work in the field before you continue for a higher Degree in Psychology. This can be another way to discover more about potential opportunities in the field and your own preferences. You may also decide that an Associate's or Bachelor's Degree in Psychology is as far as you want to go in school, or that you'd rather continue on in a related or different field. Psychology is an excellent foundation, as mentioned earlier in this book, for other studies and careers. Still another scenario might be that you have a bachelor's degree in something other than Psychology and decide to go into a Master's in Psychology program. If and when you get to the point of looking at Master's programs in Psychology, there are choices of more discipline-oriented programs or more eclectic ones. The same is true if you already have a Master's Degree in Psychology and are looking at doctoral programs. In any case, a somewhat broad-based education in Psychology may provide a broader range of job opportunities than you would have otherwise. These are choices to discuss with a college advisor.
It's always a good idea to check with a career counselor when you want to know if you should choose a specific discipline and need help sorting through all of the possible variables involved in making a choice. If you find it makes sense to choose a specific psychology discipline, you'll most likely decide this and have opportunity to do so when you're looking at master's and doctoral programs. If you know you want to work in a clinic that provides cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), for instance, you'd want to learn about Cognitive Psychology and Behavioral Psychology, and be trained in the use of CBT. You'd also want to make sure there is enough of a job market in work where you'd use CBT before you invest too much in that discipline. If your career goal is to be a school counselor, you would want to choose a School Psychology or Counseling program. There are relatively few such simple choices of careers paths in psychology, though. As an example, you may feel particularly drawn to Jungian Psychology, but want to work with people who have mental illnesses. Since few, if any, jobs working with that population would give you the opportunity to use Jungian Psychology and you might have a hard time getting a job with that population with a Jungian background, you might want to reconsider the degree program or your choice of population.
Some psychology disciplines are well suited to the job market and others aren't. Some types of psychology are best used in specific settings, such as Human Factors Psychology which is used in industrial settings. Some psychologies are best suited to particular populations. Job markets vary between regions, states, cities and rural areas too. These are just a few of the factors a counselor can help you include in your decision-making.