Psychology Study Material: Popular Areas of Psychology: Clinical Psychology

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Popular Areas of Psychology

Clinical Psychology

Clinical Psychology

A branch of psychology concerned with the study, diagnosis, and treatment of abnormal behaviour. It is the oldest as well as the most well-known branch of psychology. Clinical psychologists are trained to diagnose and treat problems ranging from the everyday crises of life such as grief due to the death of a loved one, to more extreme conditions, such as a loss of touch with reality. Some clinical psychologists also conduct research, investigating issues that range from identifying the early signs of psychological disturbance, and studying the relationship between how family members communicate with one another, to the understanding of a wide variety of psychological disorders.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology

A branch of psychology that studies the psychology in action at the workplace, including productivity, job satisfaction, and decision-making.

Health Psychology

The branch of psychology that explores the relationship of psychological factors and physical ailments or disease e. g. Health psychologists are interested in how the long- term stress (a psychological factor) can affect physical health. They are also concerned with identifying ways of promoting behaviours related to good health (such as exercise) or discouraging unhealthy behaviours (such as smoking, drinking etc) .

Consumer Psychology

A branch of psychology that studies and explains our buying habits and our effects of advertising a buying behaviour. Mainly dealt with the likes and dislikes and preferences of people.

Forensic Psychology

The branch of psychology that investigates legal issues and psychological variables involved in criminal behaviour, e. g. what factors determine criminal tendencies, how criminals be reformed, deciding what criteria indicate that a person is legally insane, and whether larger and smaller juries make fairer decisions.

Schools of Thought

Wilhelm Wundt, in Germany, established the foundations of modern psychology in 1879. He wanted to study, experimentally, the conscious experience of individuals. As discussed earlier, the different schools of thought gradually emerged after psychology took this scientific turn. These schools were basically different ways of observation, description, understanding, and prediction of psychological phenomena, in the present context, mental processes and behaviour

Earlier Schools of Thought

The earlier schools that paved the way for further developments in modern psychology were

  • Structuralism: focused on studying the conscious experience by looking into its individual parts or elements.
  • Functionalism: focused on what the mind does and how it does.
  • Gestalt Psychology: focused on studying the whole experience of a person rather than breaking it into individual components.
  • Psychodynamic School: focuses on the unconscious forces that drive/motivate human behaviour.
  • Behaviourist/Behavioural School: focuses on studying the behaviour that is observable and overt.

Prevalent Approaches/Models/Perspectives

At present some of the earlier approaches still exist. Psychologists belonging to these sets of theories have contributed a lot to the body of psychological knowledge and practice. Today, we can see at least six approaches or models of dealing with the psychological phenomena.

Biological Approach

  • The psychological model that views behaviour from the perspective of biological functioning. The role of brain, genes, neurotransmitters, endocrine glands etc. How the individual nerve cells are joined together, how the inheritance of certain characteristics from parents and other ancestors influences behaviour, how the functioning of the body affects hopes and fears, what behaviours are due to instincts, and so on.
  • Psychologists using the biological model view even more complex kinds of behaviours such as emotional responses e. g. anxiety, as having critical biological components.

Psychodynamic Approach

The approach that concentrates on the belief that behaviour is motivated by the inner forces, over which individuals have little control. Founded by the Viennese physician Sigmund Freud in early 1900s, proponents of psychodynamic perspective give importance to the inner unconscious experiences and the forces that led that behaviour. Freud believed that unconscious determinants of behaviour had a revolutionary effect on 20th century thinking, not just in psychology but also in related fields a well. Although many of the basic principles of psychodynamic thinking have been highly criticized, the model grown out of Freud՚s work has provided a way not only for treating mental disorders but also for understanding everyday phenomena such a prejudice and aggression.

Behaviourist/Behavioural Approach

The psychological model that focuses on the overt observable behaviour. The model emerged as a reaction to the earlier approaches that emphasized the significance of hidden, underlying, predetermined forces. The behaviourists suggest that observable behaviour alone should be the main area of interest to psychology.

Humanistic Approach

The psychological model, that suggests that people are in control of their lives. It is considered as one of the most recent approaches to psychology. This approach rejected the view that predetermined, automatic, biological forces, unconscious processes or the environment determines behaviour. On the contrary, it proposes that people themselves decide about their lives. A failure in being capable of doing so leads to psychological problems. It also stresses the idea that people, by nature, tend to move towards higher levels of maturity and maximum potential.

Cognitive Approach

The psychological model that focuses on how people know, understands, and thinks about the world. Main emphasis is on how people understand of the world, and their thinking, affects their responses; how it may lead to positive or negative psychological consequences, and even health-related outcomes.

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