In this blog post, we will talk about 31 types of psychologists, in order to understand better which type of therapy you may need.
Also, if you are a psychology student, you can read this article as a guide, to help you choose your specialization.
How many types of psychologists are there?
There are several types of psychologists, such as clinical psychologists, neuropsychologists, forensic psychologists, etc.
In this article, we will talk about all types of professions in the field of activity of psychology to know what type of therapy each one practices.
Any psychologist is specialized in a certain field of activity, the classification of the types of psychologists is the following:
Applied Behavior Analyst
Applied behaviour analysis is a science that seeks to understand and improve human behaviour.
What differentiates it from other areas with the same intention:
- focuses on socially significant behaviours, objectively defined;
- the intervention aims to improve the studied behaviours by demonstrating a causal relationship;
- the methods of scientific research are used: objective descriptions, quantifications and controlled experiments.
Applied behavioural analysis is extremely important to understand developmental problems, especially in individuals diagnosed with autism, but it is an excellent way to understand other forms of adult psychopathology, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or paranoia.
An important role of the behavioural analyst is to identify the function of undesirable behaviours.
For a start, the behavioural analyst collects data, which is a very important step to then continue with behaviour management.
Once the behavioural function is identified, the behavioural analyst will know exactly how to intervene and what method he can apply to model the undesirable behaviour.
Data collection is done both through direct observation (recording inappropriate behaviours – taking into account frequency, duration, intensity, background and consequence) and through discussions with teachers and parents of children.
The behavioural analyst is responsible for training teachers so that they can use behavioural analysis techniques in the classroom for proper classroom dynamics and good management, given that they spend much of their time together.
Aviation psychologists have the responsibility of assessing the mental state of potential candidates for the role of pilot.
It is not so easy to fly a plane, therefore you need a person with mental endurance, a person who does well under pressure, a person who has effective stress management strategies.
An aviation psychologist also does screening for possible mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders and burn out.
Among the duties of an aviation psychologist are the supervision of the mental state of pilots, flight attendants, traffic controllers – by organizing group sessions, training, or individual counselling sessions.
Biopsychologists are not, in fact, behavioural psychologists, as many people believe. Even if they both study the causes of human thoughts and behaviours.
Biopsychology is rather a branch of science that studies how our nervous system and brain influence our actions and thoughts.
Biopsychologists look into brain injuries, poorly developed brains and compare them to healthy brains – to determine what the difference is between them, and what can be done in terms of diagnosis and treatment.
The definition of cognitive psychology is very complex, revealing various essential aspects of it, within the definitions.
Thus, it is stated that a cognitive psychologist:
- studies the information processing mechanisms and their impact on the personality;
- studies information processing, from sensory input to motor or behavioural output;
- approaches the psychic and behavioural phenomena from the point of view of the informational mechanisms that serve them.
Humans, being an informational system, are the object of study of Cognitive psychology.
Cognitive psychology has its own language and a specific methodology.
Its theories and models must conform to the requirements of general psychology; thus it must offer formalist models that can be implemented on the computer as well as to build valid and relevant models of human behaviour. Hence the bicephalous character of cognitive psychology.
Comparative psychology got its name from the idea of comparing the behaviour of different animal species.
This branch began its activity shortly after the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species (1859).
Darwin himself meant in “The Descent of Man” (1874) that human intelligence evolved into its current form gradually, so it might be interesting to look at a range of different animals to see how intelligence evolved.
Early comparative psychologists seemed to accept the idea of a ladder on which animals could be placed from the bottom to the top.
This idea can be traced back to Aristotle’s “Great Ladder of Nature.” The idea is rejected by modern scientists.
Therefore, a comparative psychologist explores and studies certain aspects of the animal kingdom (such as communication, a cognitive system, sensations, etc.) and compares them with humans, trying to help us better understand certain primary behaviours (such as instincts, “fight or flight”, etc).
Cross-Cultural psychology is interdisciplinary and appeals to other social disciplines that allow the association of variables at the level of society and the characteristics of the individual.
Cross-Cultural psychologists examine psychological processes in their cultural context.
It allows overcoming the vision of ethnocentric psychology, elaborated in a Western context.
And it can thus increase the application potential in the school environment, often multicultural.
Cross-Cultural psychologists follow the study of the variability of postulates psychological according to cultural determinations (theoretical register) as well as studying the specific forms of social expression of the subjects inserted in cultures
different (practical register).
Counselling, in very simple terms, is a type of relationship in which a specialized person provides help, upon request, to a person who is going through a more difficult period of his life.
The purpose of psychological counselling:
– self-knowledge and self-discovery of one’s own potential
– personal growth and development
– assuming responsibilities for the decisions taken
– self-acceptance and acceptance of others
– positive relationships with others
– increasing the degree of tolerance to frustration
– improving physical and mental health
– inner well-being
– discovering the joy of living.
The role of a counselling psychologist goes beyond the field of immediate experience, using certain techniques and strategies acquired through specialized studies, training courses that will provide the counsellor with the necessary skills: empathy, active listening, ability to communicate, tolerate differences and what it is more important to believe in the client’s resources and healing ability.
Psychotherapy for children is a method of psychological treatment adapted to the age and needs of the child.
The main technique of therapeutic intervention is based on play.
Play is the specific activity of a small child and means a way of communication between him and the adults around him.
Through play, the child stages his inner feelings, his thoughts, desires, fears, his complex experiences.
The child psychologist provides the child with a series of objects and toys that, during the therapeutic session, he can use at his own choice.
In the special framework of psychotherapy, the child will project on the objects he has at his disposal what worries him, his sufferings, his joys.
He will create a game, his own story full of meaning and meaning.
This hidden meaning will be discovered together with the child psychologist who will help the child to manage the misunderstood feelings and thus to diminish the patient’s suffering.
The role of the clinical psychologist is to investigate, test and diagnose. Healing the patient does not necessarily fall within his duties!
And the label received after the investigations does not use the patient. But possibly to the psychiatrist, in prescribing a drug treatment.
Psychological counselling is done somewhat empirically, because the clinical psychologist does not learn in great detail, in the faculty of psychology, how to advise long-term, and guide the life of a client!
Having only limited skills in terms of time and duration in this regard.
Usually, the clinical psychologist is available in hospitals or as an employee of state institutions – child protection, mental health laboratories.
Professional approvals for various activities, such as driving or carrying a gun, are also obtained from the clinical psychologist working in private practice.
Consumer psychology is a branch of industrial/organizational psychology that deals with advertising and marketing of consumer goods.
Consumer psychologists use the principles of attitude change and persuasion.
Not all consumer psychologists put themselves in the service of business; in the mid-1960s they began to undertake research aimed at “protecting consumers’ rights and investigating their well-being” (Jacoby, 1975).
But more often than not, psychologists conducted market research for businesses.
They research what the consumer needs or wants from a product, or they validate the results of marketing tests for products in limited fields.
Investigation research skills and computer data analysis skills, acquired in postgraduate programs in social psychology, are useful in this type of activity.
Community psychologists study how people integrate into a community and how the community affects each individual.
This branch of psychology studies what aspects of society, often unpleasant and undesirable aspects, affect and prevent the individual from becoming better.
Community psychologists research the unpleasant situations in society and look for how it impacts each individual, and also for strategies in order to improve the situation.
Developmental psychologists research human development, from children to old age.
Aspects studied by a Developmental psychologist include physical and mental health, cognition, intelligence, emotions and personality, and methods of social interaction.
Human development is achieved under several aspects, among which are established, in
the limits of certain relativity, relations of mutual conditioning, aspects between which we find the following important:
- the biological ones that materialize in the growth and maturation of the organism (physical, morphological, biochemical development);
- the psychic ones consisting of the elaboration and evolution of the processes, functions, phenomena, attributes and other components of the psyche;
- the social ones manifested as tendencies and behaviours of a social role (behaviours adapted to the social norm).
From a procedural perspective, human development involves all the changes that occur to a human being from conception to death, changes that underlie a number of processes such as maturation and learning.
An educational psychologist is a specialist in psychological counselling, who:
- investigates psychological problems specific to the school environment;
- explains and promotes understanding the process of child/adolescent development and the relationships between this process, behaviour and learning;
- selects, manages and interprets standardized tools psychological evaluation;
- establishes and communicates the diagnosis;
- develops and implements plans individualized/group with preventive and/or intervention character;
- provides psychological counselling specialized in the educational field; carries out psychological research activities.
The educational psychologist has a degree in psychology, his initial professional training being carried out through specific forms of the national education system that ensure the acquisition of competencies minimum professional requirements required to practice the profession of psychologist.
The goal of an engineering psychologist is to ensure that workplaces are safe, clean and productive environments.
The role of an engineering psychologist is very important, and can even save lives.
Its role is to predict what elements are unsafe at work, what accidents and errors could be prevented, what the employer should do to ensure that workplaces have safe places to be.
Environmental psychology treats the environment from two or two levels, from the perspective of environmental influence on behaviour and from the perspective of the influence (or consequences) of human behaviour on the environment.
Environment as a context of behaviour: our affective dispositions, cognitions, behaviours only make sense if they are understood from the perspective of context.
The environment also determines what behaviours are possible, how difficult the chosen behaviour will be, etc.
We cannot sit if there is no chair around and we cannot move forward if there is a wall in front of us.
These aspects of the environment make certain actions possible and the slopes difficult or impossible.
It is easy to notice the similarity between environmental and social psychology.
The environment affects the behaviours and internal states of the person as well as social factors whose impact is studied by social psychology.
As an intersection between psychology and the justice system, forensic psychology often plays a significant role in the study of behaviour, in the punishment and prevention of crime.
Basically, understanding and explaining them on certain aspects of psychological health can help advance legal cases, inform juries, and also determine the underlying reasons for committing crimes.
Forensic psychology is simply an interaction or combination of the practice and study of psychology and the legal system.
The American Council of Forensic psychology defines forensic psychology as the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues related to law and the legal system.
In general, it involves the application of psychological principles in the field of criminal investigation and law.
A degree in forensic psychology is largely an advanced degree (either a master’s or a doctorate) that may include specialities in subdisciplines, including sex offences, crime prevention, victim support, correctional psychology, and child psychology.
The peculiarities of the mental disorders of the elderly have led to a new discipline in psychiatry under the name of psychogeriatrics.
Psychogeriatrics considers the causes that lead to the development of mental disorders in the elderly such as brain trauma, strokes that lead to poor irrigation of the brain with oxygen, somatic diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or mental trauma.
Psychogeriatrics is a necessary discipline because the mental disorders of the elderly have specific features and the mental symptoms in the elderly are often undiagnosed, attributed to old age.
Pharmacological treatment of mental disorders in the elderly leads to reactions different from those of adults if we consider the reduction of substances called neurotransmitters in the elderly (substances that mediate the transport of information from one neuron to another at the synapses).
The development of psychogeriatrics leads to a better knowledge of the particularities of pharmacological treatment, better monitoring of the effects of drugs administered to the elderly, both the desired effects, improving the mental state of the elderly and side effects.
Health psychology is a new and dynamic field of psychology, which is constantly evolving.
Psychologists working in the field of health psychology apply the theories and results of psychological research to:
- Promote health and prevent disease
- Understand the experience of the disease and how patients cope with the disease or how they recover after treatment
- Customize treatments and interventions
- Improve health systems and public health policies.
Health psychology deals with questions such as: what motivates people to adopt certain behaviours and how can we change risk behaviours?
How do emotions and cognitions relate to health behaviours and their consequences?
The target groups that health psychologists work with are numerous and include patients, relatives, medical staff, health systems and institutions.
Therefore, some basic concepts are relevant for anyone working with patients or promoting behavioural changes in practice.
Industrial / Organizational Psychologist
Organizational psychology refers to the (collective) behaviour of people, in relation to socio-technical systems that we call “organizations”.
Organizational psychology refers to the relationship between people and the organization, i.e. between members and the system, and concerns the reciprocal exchanges between these two entities.
The competences of an industrial/organizational psychologist include:
- applies tools, techniques and methods (questionnaires and interviews) to test individual perceptions and attitudes regarding organizational relationships and practices;
- applies job satisfaction surveys.
Competence in-group evaluation
- analyzes team roles;
- group evaluation of perceptions, attitudes and behaviours related to the structure, culture and management of the organization;
- conduct a focus group to find out what employees think about reward systems.
Competence in evaluating organizations
- organizational diagnosis;
- diagnosis and evaluation of ways to optimize work;
- diagnosis of counterproductive behaviour in the organization;
- personnel turnover analysis;
- diagnosis of job satisfaction and motivation;
- performs a network analysis to diagnose the communication structure of the company;
- makes a diagnosis of the culture and organizational climate in the company.
Competence to evaluate the work context
- performs an analysis of organizational actors
Competence in needs analysis
- assessing the needs for change and organizational development
Competence in product definition and requirements analysis
- describes the requirements that a work climate monitoring system must meet
Competence in product design
- developing a perception assessment questionnaire, developing a program of cultural change
Competence in product testing
- analyzes the validity of employee surveys
- professional strategy;
- continuous professional development;
- professional relations;
- sales and marketing;
- research and development;
- customer management;
- business management;
- quality assurance.
The media psychologist analyzes and studies the influence of technologies on daily relationships, on lifestyle, the impacts of technology on physical and mental health, on decision making and so on.
The competences of a military psychologist are:
- determining the psychological characteristics of military missions in peacetime and during specific operations (peacekeeping operations, military police outside the country, etc.);
- investigating the psychological characteristics of combat readiness and the psychological factors that influence participation and performance in combat;
- researching the contribution of military training to the development and psychological training of the military;
- researching the role of cognitive and regulatory processes in military activity;
- analyzing the functions and structure of the military team as a social group;
- optimizing the decisional and socio-relational behaviour of the commander;
- evaluation of the performance potential of the fighters;
- carrying out the activities of psychological assistance, therapy and counselling of the military in peacetime and during specific missions;
- investigating ways to reduce the level of occupational stress and stress in combat;
- conducting research in the field of psychopathology and diseases specific to armed struggle;
- communication and networking in the interdisciplinary team;
- observance of the deontological code of the profession of military psychologist;
- the use of scientific methods and techniques in military psychology.
One of the services offered by neuropsychologists is the evaluation of cognitive and psychological functioning in the context of medical, neurological or psychiatric disorders.
Patients with a variety of medical and psychological problems, such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, neurological disorders, academic difficulties, acute personality changes, and general brain problems are referred to a neuropsychologist.
Clinical neuropsychologists will diagnose, administer, interpret the neuropsychological test and provide possible recommendations to these patients.
However, they may also provide some psychotherapy services, such as those designed to help improve cognitive functioning or behaviours to compensate for cognitive difficulties.
Clinical neuropsychologists in colleges or academic medical centres devote most of their time to research.
Basically, these psychologists conduct studies that help psychologists better understand how they can diagnose and treat neuropsychological disorders.
These studies may involve the administration of neuropsychological test batteries or the use of brain images, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (computed tomography).
Personality psychologists study personality and its variations. More specifically, personality psychologists focus on:
- the construction of a coherent image of the individual and of the psychological processes of thereof;
- investigating the existing differences at the psychological level between individuals;
- investigating human nature and similarities between individuals.
Although in psychology we tend to define personality according to one’s purpose
which describes it, two directions of personality research have emerged:
- the nomothetic approach – looks for general laws that can be applied to different individuals (thus working with a large number of people);
- idiographic approach – tries to understand the unique aspects of a certain individual.
Psychologist Doctorate – PhD
A PhD in psychology can take any time from 4 to 6 years to complete.
It involves research and theoretical applied training in psychology, depending on the sub-specialization you choose.
Psychologist Doctorate – PsyD
A PsyD involves teaching and preparing students to practice psychology.
A PsyD is less about statistics and quantitative research methods, and more about clinical practice and theory.
Dealing with traumatic events affects a person’s belief that the world is a safe place.
The assistance provided is based on a holistic approach, treating the person as a whole.
Rehabilitation programs aim at 3 fundamental objectives:
- capitalizing on the personal resources of the beneficiary
- awareness of one’s own needs and limits
- identifying ways to overcome difficult situations.
If necessary, people will benefit from the combination of psychotherapeutic treatment with medication and physical recovery activities: physiotherapy, massage, thermotherapy, Ceragem, etc.
Most children usually spend a very long period in their early life attending school. Some start at the age of three or even younger.
So school is a very influential part of a child’s life. For this reason, it is so essential that each school carefully selects its school psychologist.
In particular, school psychology is a field that applies the principles of educational psychology, developmental psychology, clinical psychology.
Also, community psychology and behavioural analysis applied to address the mental and behavioural health needs of children and adolescents in collaboration with educators and parents.
The main goal of school psychology is to create a happy, healthy, safe, positive and effective learning environment for all children. Specifically, professionals in this field are committed to ensuring that the needs and well-being of students are always a priority.
This branch of psychology was first addressed in 1954 when the American Psychological Association (APA) organized a conference at the Thayer Hotel in West Point, New York. This conference was rightly called Thayer’s conference.
Social psychology is the field of psychology that studies how the behaviour, feelings or thinking of a subject are influenced by the behaviour and characteristics of other people with whom the subject is in a relationship.
In a most general sense, it is the scientific study of the real or imaginary interaction of social actors (individuals, groups) within a given social, cultural and historical context.
The social psychologist will study the emotional problems in daily life, the causes of dysfunctional behaviour, the role of interpersonal and group dynamics in adaptation and therapy, the processes of psychological change, but also therapeutic strategies in the social context.
Spiritual psychology unites the realm of inner life (psyche in Greek) and the spiritual aspects that are involved in human life.
A spiritual psychologist focuses his attention on the ways in which a person can know himself, he can have the experience of himself as an individuality (spiritual constitution) with the inner life.
The orientation of spiritual psychology is self-observation of the inner life (of the soul) of a person.
Sports psychology is a relatively new discipline, gaining a well-defined place in the psychology of motor sciences.
More precisely, we could say that he studies human behaviour and mental processes in the field of sports.
Beyond the motor performance in the sports area, the champion is above all a human.
The unpredictable life course causes changes in the route that are impossible to anticipate and sometimes avoid.
Good psychological training allows the adaptation to the new situations and the continuation of the activity in which the performer is engaged, allowing him to continue to register success.
The psychology of sport does not aim only at the direct intervention of the psychologist towards the performance athlete but also at the training of the coach and the staff in his immediate vicinity.
The whole team must have as a common denominator the balance and focus on the same goals, the knowledge of the weaknesses and the strengths of the athlete in order to be able to counteract potential obstacles.
The sports psychologist has training in this sense and brings team cohesion, standardizes the diversity of personalities that make up a group of people, managing the dynamics of the group to achieve the best results.
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Transpersonal psychology studies the transcendental or spiritual aspects of human experience, in other words, it goes beyond traditional psychologies and focuses on the mind, body, spirituality and extended consciousness, beyond the self.
Areas of interest in transpersonal psychology include spiritual and mystical experiences, meditation exercises, rituals, shamanism, the connections between spiritual experiences, and disorders such as psychosis, anger, and depression.
The principle underlying this science is the recognition that every human being is ultimately part of a more comprehensive whole.
Transpersonal psychology means increasing the individual awareness of the body, mind, soul and spirit, in order to transform the way we perceive ourselves, the relationships we have with others and the environment.
In this blog post, we talked about 31 types of psychologists, in order to understand better which type of therapy a person may need, or which areas of psychology are of interest to you if you are a psychology student.
Which types of psychologists did you find more interesting? Do let us know in the comments section!