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The 12 branches (or fields) of Psychology

The 12 branches (or fields) of Psychology

July 14, 2024

It is quite common to think that psychologists and psychologists are dedicated to solving certain types of personal problems of "patients". Behavioral problems, such as alcohol addiction; of emotional type, like the pain that produces the death of a loved one, or related to pathologies also treated from psychiatry.

Definitely, psychology is, for a good part of the population, the practice of performing psychotherapy , when not directly something that has to do with divans, hypnosis and psychoanalysis in general.

The different specialties (branches) of psychology

However, if we stop to examine more closely what is and what psychology has been throughout history, we will realize that the fields and fields in which it can be applied are much broader than it seems suggest the iconic image of Sigmund Freud by providing psychotherapy services. In fact, psychology can have as many facets as activities performed by the human being .

That is what makes there is not a single psychology, but many branches of psychology that are oriented to different areas of application and different objectives. The psychology consisting in the realization of psychotherapy with patients is, then, only one of the many specialties that exist within the science of behavior.

So, if you want to know what are the different branches of psychology and their work, it will be good to read what comes next.

1. Psychology of organizations and work

The psychology of organizations and work (the latter also known as industrial psychology) has to do with research and intervention on workers, with the aim of finding strategies to make their level of performance optimal taking into account the needs of each of them and the organization as a whole. ANDs, therefore, the application of psychology to the world of work .

The people who dedicate themselves to organizational psychology usually work within the Human Resources departments of the companies, or they can offer their services from specialized agencies in the selection of personnel, the teaching of training courses, the creation of work dynamics more effective, etc.

As the activities that are carried out within an organization are very varied, this branch of psychology has, in turn, many aspects.

One of its facets, for example, is oriented towards what makes each of the workers, individually, perform well in their job , either intervening on the tools that each person has, studying their strengths and weaknesses, conducting ergonomics studies to check whether or not they work comfortably, etc. This facet of specialization is usually called work psychology, or industrial, since it has to do with the performance of each one of the workers and their immediate work environment.

The other facet of this specialty of psychology, on the other hand, is oriented to work dynamics and relationships between the people that make up the organization , and therefore has to do with the work environment, leadership studies, the resolution of conflicts of interest, the creation of effective communication flows, etc. This is organizational psychology.

The psychology of work and organizations is also the branch of psychology that usually has a greater job, and therefore is usually a very valuable professional option. Inside of her, the selection of personnel tends to be the one that creates more jobs .

2. Marketing and consumer psychology

The psychology of marketing is born from the psychology of organizations, in the sense that it is aimed at meeting the needs of the productive machinery of companies . In this case, these needs consist of giving out products or services that are offered, making the potential demand for these go to the company's offer.

In short, of all the branches of psychology this specialization focuses on research aimed at creating services and products that are attractive to the client . Therefore, it intervenes in the creation of the marketing plan, advertising and product design.

The marketing and consumer psychology specializes in making what the organizations offer as attractive as possible for the type of client to whom the product or service wants to be sold, and also establishes which communication strategies are most useful to reach this . It is a discipline that is very overlapping with what media and advertising agencies have traditionally been doing, and that is why this type of psychologist works together with professionals in those fields.

Among the most valuable assets of the psychology of marketing and the consumer is neuromarketing, which applies techniques of the neurosciences to see how potential customers or consumers respond to pieces of advertising, designs of packaging (product packaging), etc. Advertising psychologists can also play an important role in these design processes according to the way they interpret the reading of brain activation patterns, the monitoring of the movement of the gaze before an advertising poster, etc.

This is one of the most important psychology specialties in a context in which consumers are increasingly immune and skeptical of advertising.

3. Clinical and health psychology

This is one of the branches of psychology best known, if not the most, and consists of research and intervention focused on psychological problems more or less severe that affect the quality of life of people. If the psychological alterations have to do with mental disorders, the clinical psychologists will work together with other health professionals in the diagnosis, prognosis, intervention and control of the psychological alterations.

People who belong to this specialty of psychology offer a service called psychotherapy and whose form, approach and procedures can vary greatly, depending on the psychological orientation you have and the tools that are available. Due, not all health psychologists work in the same way or have the same training , although they may be included in the category of mental health professionals.

4. Sexology

The specialization of sexology within the field of psychology has to do withn the application of psychology to the resolution of sexuality problems . It is a branch of psychology derived from clinical psychology and health but which is oriented to the treatments on the sexual life of patients.

Although the psychology of the field of sexology is especially useful to treat sexual dysfunctions, it can also play a very important role in improving the sexual life of people without any disorder of this type.

5. Neuropsychology

The nervous system is the base of operations of everything that has to do with our behavior, our emotions and feelings and our ability to think and communicate, so it is normal that one of the branches of psychology is oriented towards the neurosciences.

Neuropsychology is a specialization somewhere between neurology and psychology, and its reason for being is the study of mental processes and the functioning of the brain when there is any alteration in this .

Neuropsychology is especially useful in the study of brain injuries, malformations, dysfunctions and diseases that affect the functioning of the nervous system. Thus, people who from all branches of psychology opt for this specialization can devote themselves to the study of the relationships between mental (and behavioral) processes and what happens in the brain, to draw conclusions to make a diagnosis, prognosis, treatment and control of symptoms.

6. Forensic psychology

This specialty is oriented to cover needs that appear within the judicial system. A forensic psychologist collects, analyzes and presents psychological evidence that will be taken into account in judicial proceedings . For example, you can evaluate an investigated person to examine the possibility of having mental disorders, or provide evidence to reinforce the hypothesis that a person has false memories.

Unlike what happens during psychotherapy, in which information related to the behavior of a specific person is also collected and analyzed, in the psychological forensic evaluation the interests of the psychologist or psychologist and those of the person examined do not coincide. In fact, among the tasks that the forensic psychologist has is to explore the possibility that the person being examined is lying to assert a version of the facts that benefits him.

In addition to all this, the branch of forensic psychology is related to the creation of psychological profiles of criminals to help in the tasks of search and capture.

7. Psychology of education and development

Almost all branches of psychology direct part of their attention to learning processes, but the specialization in educational psychology directs all their attention to them. The objective of this branch is apply techniques and strategies to make learning happen in the most satisfactory way possible , making a good fit between apprentices and teachers.

In addition, the psychology of education understands the concept "education" in its broadest sense. It does not only have to do with what young people do in school, but also applies to all areas where learning plays a leading role, whether in training courses for workers or within families and communities that must adapt to a new situation.

In fact, from the psychology of education, the need to conceive of education as a network work is given more and more importance , which is exercised far beyond schools and academies. That is why part of the efforts of educational psychologists are directed to put in contact different agents that, among themselves, have a role in the education of a group of people: teachers, social workers, relatives, etc.

The psychology of development is closely related to the psychology of education and is often perceived as the same thing. However, the first is more oriented to behavioral changes that have to do with the maturational development of people and their passage through the different stages of growth, from childhood to old age.

This is used from the educational psychology to establish criteria that allow knowing what the capacities and learning limits of people are, depending on which stage of development they are in. For example, the fact that a girl is five years old presupposes that she will not be able to learn contents that require the use of a formal logic moderately elaborated.

8. Sports psychology

The branch of sports psychology aims to implement strategies to make the psychological and physical performance of athletes lead them to improve their results, both in terms of their individual performance and in the one that involves their cooperation and coordination with other people on your team (if there are teams in the sport in question). The objective is to make the psychological dynamics, the strategies learned and the emotional state in which the athlete finds himself, leading him to find himself in an optimal situation to maximize his abilities.

Psychologists and psychologists who opt for this branch intervene in many of the processes that are addressed from clinical and educational psychology, such as following self-instructions, developing a good self-image and self-image, resolving conflicts, habits that have what to do with communication during sports sessions, etc.

9. Social psychology

This is one of the most interesting branches of psychology, since puts special emphasis on the dimension of the collective, relationships between people in a context . Thus, social psychology is oriented to investigate the way in which the presence of other people (whether real or imagined) affects the mental processes of the individual.

It is, therefore, a specialization that, although it belongs to psychology, approaches sociology more than the other branches. In addition, being one of the great areas of psychology, can have an important role in the other branches of this discipline: in the psychology of organizations, in education, etc.

10. Community psychology

Community psychology can be understood as a drift of social psychology oriented to research and intervention on problems that affect specific communities and localized groups of people.

Its objective is to generate both material changes in the context of these people and new dynamics of relationships between them that allow their quality of life and decision-making capacity to improve.

In addition, the research and intervention strategies of community psychologists promote the participation of community members throughout the process .

11. Couple and family psychology

This branch of psychology can be understood as a specialization within clinical psychology that also takes ingredients from social and community psychology and, in the case of couples therapy services, from sexology. It focuses on the resolution of conflicts within families, and the sessions offered tend to be in groups.

12. Basic and experimental psychology

Basic psychology is a branch of psychology totally focused on the investigation of the most general psychological processes that have to do with human behavior . It is oriented to the study of the psychological processes typical of mature and healthy human beings, to discover trends and patterns that characterize the entire human population.

This specialty of psychology is responsible, therefore, for the study of basic psychological processes such as memory, attention, reasoning or decision making, putting much more emphasis on the mechanisms on which these are based than on the way in which the context influences them.

Bibliographic references:

  • Triglia, Adrián; Regader, Bertrand; García-Allen, Jonathan. (2016). Psychologically speaking. Paidós. . ISBN 9788449332531.
  • Vidales, Ismael. (2004). General psychology. Mexico: Limusa. ISBN 9681863739.
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