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What are the Different Types of Psychology?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated Jan 24, 2024
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There are many different types of psychology, and within the main fields of study, there exist several sub-categories. Psychological studies are typically divided into the main categories of professional, academic, and popular psychologies. Professional psychologists are involved in a field of study that prepares a student to become a trained psychologist or counselor, usually concentrating on counselor-patient interaction, while academic psychologists study the core concepts of psychology as a whole. Popular psychologies address areas of study considered specific to certain population groups, such as children and teens. Popular types of psychological evaluation may also cover fringe areas such as paranormal activities.

Academic psychology is generally considered to be the research and study of human behavior. In most cases, those involved in this field do not have a public practice, but typically work in research departments attached to universities or medical centers. These psychologists attempt to understand and identify certain types of human behavior, and their research is often the basis of treatment programs employed by professional psychologists. Sub-categories of academic psychology include developmental, biological, and abnormal psychologies.

Professional psychology usually defines a field of study that consists of actual hands-on treatment. These professionals take the results that have been obtained by academic researchers and apply them to actual patient care. Professional psychologists help patients suffering from psychological disorders that can be classified as abnormal, cognitive, and health related. Professional psychologies are often aimed at counseling patients who have disorders that interfere with their day-to-day lives, such as panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, and manic-depressive syndrome.

The term “popular psychology" is often given to studies that attempt to address behaviors specific to certain groups of people. Psychologies designed to treat prison inmates, children, and military personnel are usually classified as popular psychology. In addition, fringe studies that may or may not be recognized by traditional science are also included in this field. One of these psychologies would be the study of paranormal activities, and professionals who study in this area are referred to as parapsychologists.

All types of psychology are considered to be constantly evolving fields that influence treatments offered by the professional psychologist. As new research inevitably leads to a better understanding of human psychology, professional psychologists will typically incorporate these new findings into their treatment methods. In addition, in the field of popular psychology, more and more segments of the population are being identified as suffering from illnesses that result from common elements specific to groups defined by age, culture, or employment.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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