Psychology Career Specialties

Psychology Career Specialties

The field of psychology has many different specialties to choose from. We've provided descriptions of some of them with links to help you find further information about each one.

Applied Psychology   |   Art Therapy   |   Biopsychology   |   Child Development   |   Clinical Psychology   |   Cognitive Psychology   |   Cognitive Science   |   Community Counseling   |   Community Psychology   |   Counseling   |   Counseling Psychology   |   Criminal Psychology   |   Dance Therapy   |   Developmental Psychology   |   Educational Counseling   |   Educational Psychology   |   Engineering Psychology   |   Environmental Psychology   |   Experimental Psychology   |   Family and Home Science   |   Forensic Psychology   |   General Psychology   |   Geropsychology   |   Health Psychology   |   Human Development   |   Human Factors Psychology   |   Human Services   |   Industrial/Organizational Psychology   |   Infant Psychology   |   Marriage and Family Counseling   |   Mental Health Therapy   |   Music Therapy   |   Neuropsychology   |   Neuroscience   |   Organizational Psychology   |   Pastoral Couseling   |   Psychology   |   Quantitative Psychology   |   Rehabilitation Counseling   |   School Counseling   |   School Psychology   |   Sex Therapy   |   Social/Personality Psychology   |   Sports Psychology   |   Substance Abuse Counseling   |   Therapeutic Recreation   |   Vocational Counseling


Applied Psychology

Applied psychology (sometimes called industrial psychology) is the use of psychological principles and theories to overcome practical problems in other fields, such as business management, product design, ergonomics, nutrition, or clinical medicine. Daily activities for people working in the field of applied psychology vary in range; anything from laboratory experimentation through workplace field studies of specific performance factors to direct services to troubled persons.

This division of psychology can be practiced in fields as varied as aviation, forensics, environmental studies, sports, and consumer studies among others. Training and resulting degrees obtained differ depending on the concentration selected and the level of position ultimately desired. In most cases, the degree obtained is a combination of a psychology courses matched with classes specifically geared towards the concentration (i.e.: engineering for an Aviation Psychologist who could then study the effects of cockpit design on a pilot). Better positions are reached by obtaining at least a master's degree for any concentration which allows entry to jobs in industry, consulting, and/or private practice. In many states, obtaining clinical licensure requires a doctorate degree..

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Art Therapy

Art therapy is the process by which people who have experienced illness, trauma, or challenges in living are able to work with trained art therapists to become involved in a process of creating various types of art in an effort to cope with their symptoms and stress. By working with therapists and artistic media, individuals enhance their self-awareness and cognitive skills, learn to reduce stress, and make advances in personal healing and development.

Requirements for employment in this field include a graduate degree based on standards developed by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) - this includes the completion of 45 credit hours of course work and 700 hours of supervised practicum work. Courses cover some of the following areas: principles of art therapy, normal developmental sequence, diagnosis and assessment, psychopathology, and ethics and standards of practice. Individuals can qualify as registered art therapists by obtaining professional certification from the Art Therapy Credentials Board which requires candidates to complete a minimum of 1,000 direct client hours in addition to the educational requirements outlined above.

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Biopsychology is a branch of psychology that studies and questions the connections between behavior, emotions, and the mental processes of the human brain. Biopsychologists work to determine the how and why of the body and mind; are the body and mind different parts of a human, are they interconnected, or are they really one and the same thing? They then look for relationships between biology and psychology to see how behavior and cognition are influenced. For example, when see a photograph, how do the structures in the brain interact with your emotions to tell you what you feel about that photo? To assist in studying the brain to this extent, biopsychologists are specially trained to read results provided by tools like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which takes still pictures of the brain, and positron emission tomography (PET) that shows pictures of the brain while it is at work.

Educational programs at the bachelor's level include courses covering neurobiology, basic memory and learning functions, neurochemistry, statistics, and histology and histochemistry of the brain, in addition to a variety of electives and time spent in a practicum setting. Nearly 40 percent of all individuals in this field obtain a post-graduate degree that allows for work or study at positions in universities, colleges, or research settings.

  • - psychology glossary.
  • MedBioWorld - links to associations, journals, and databases for biological science.

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Child Development

As children develop into adults, they typically progress through various and predictable physical and mental developmental stages. Child development is the study of the stages in this process, including Body Movement, Thinking and Learning, Communication, The Senses, Relating to Self and Others, and Self-Care and Daily Living Skills. Child development specialists work with children, families, and educators to ensure that a child's needs are being met to allow for development through these stages at an age appropriate level.

There is variety to the jobs available in this profession. Typically, many individuals obtain an associate or bachelor's degree that allows them to work for public school systems, provided that state teaching certifications are obtained as well. People interested in working in clinical or private practices are prepared for this by pursuing doctoral degrees that offer, in addition to courses, supervised research projects, and hands-on training in child psychology in a clinical environment.

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Clinical Psychology

According to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO, 2001) "when compared with all other diseases (such as cancer and heart disease), mental illness ranks first in terms of causing disability in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe." Clinical Psychology is the branch of psychology that studies and treats mental health issues such as behavioral or emotional disorders. It is a broad approach to human problems, covering the assessment and diagnosis of patients, followed by varying consultation and treatment programs based on the severity of conditions discovered.

Clinical psychologists work in a variety of settings including HMOs, private practice, hospitals, schools, government agencies, and many more. The entry level requirement for these professionals is a doctorate from a clinical psychology program that has been recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA). In addition, all states require an individual to be licensed to practice.

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Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology is an approach that follows the high level functions that the human brain carries out - such as comprehension and use of speech, visual, and memory perceptions; information processing, reasoning, planning, calculating, and problem-solving; and self-monitoring. Basically, cognitive psychologists study how a human's brain or mind understands its external world and then uses that understanding to determine a course of action. For example, a person needs to perceive the world around him, remember past events to compare present events to, process the important parts of the two worlds as compared to each other, formulate a plan of action, understand and transmit language about this decision if necessary, and store what has been learned from the current experience for later reference.

Individuals trained in cognitive psychology most commonly need at least a doctoral degree for employment. This opens the door to positions in clinical and laboratory research, artificial intelligence, cognitive modeling, and faculty positions in education, to name a few.

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Cognitive Science

Cognitive science is the field of science concerned with cognition. Cognition is defined as the psychological result of perception, learning, and reasoning. This science is an interdisciplinary practice that, through the frequent use of scientific methods and modeling, can collaborate with other fields such as psychology, linguistics, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, and philosophy, etc.

A doctoral degree is typically the minimum educational requirement needed for employment in this field. With this training, a wide variety of positions become available in areas such as research, artificial intelligence, neuropharmacology, pathophysiology, neurophysiology, and education.

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Community Counseling

Community counseling is a diverse field which can be practiced in various settings, such as community, mental health, and human service agencies; school counseling centers; and residential treatment facilities. Counselors are trained to meet the needs of individuals of all ages who are experiencing difficulties in their day-to-day functions, such as school, work, marriage, or family and social relationships. They typically provide support, development, and monitoring for people needing psychiatric consultation, family therapy, marriage counseling, and support group involvement.

Some positions (such as a public health specialist) can be obtained with a bachelor's degree and several years of work experience, however in most cases, a master's degree or higher are preferable. Advanced degrees lead to jobs in professional, non-university based research positions (applied research, consultation, evaluation, public policy); clinical positions (individual or group therapy) and counseling services; academic positions at universities and colleges; and community-based jobs with government, mental, or public health agencies, advocacy organizations, and community development groups.

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Community Psychology

Community psychology is a branch of psychology that deals with interactions between people and their environments. Social issues, local institutions, community development measures, and cultural influences, among other things, are studied to understand their impact upon individuals, groups, and organizations in a given region. Research derived from these studies is used to formulate community-based plans for improving the well being of people living and working the region.

Education for community psychologists consists of courses in psychology coupled with ones aimed at working towards dealing with every day community-based social issues. Some examples are: human diversity, program evaluation, group dynamics, and changes in social environments. People who have obtained a bachelor's degree this field will find opportunities in support positions, while advanced degree holders can expect to find jobs in clinical environments, research, academia, and community or government-based organizations.

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Counseling is known as providing a person with direction or advice in an effort to help him make a decision or plan a course of action. Counselors work with people who suffer from a wide variety of afflictions and conditions, such as stress management or chemical addiction. The practice of counseling involves researching mental health issues as well as spending time actually counseling patients. Depending on counseling styles, various behavior modification practices are explored and implemented by the counselor and patient and monitored for results.

To prepare to enter the field of counseling, a bachelor's degree in Psychology, or another bachelor's degree with a minor in psychology, is strongly recommended. Completion of a master's degree is not always required but does help in getting selected to a doctoral program. Last is the need for doctoral level training (usually Ph.D., but Ed.D. or Psy.D. are included) in programs requiring four to five years to complete. It is wise to select institutions that have been accredited by the APA Committee on Accreditation, as graduating from an accredited program makes the process of applying for licensure easier once you begin looking for employment in this field.

  • Argosy University - get your psychology degree at one of 13 U.S. Campus Locations.
  • Counseling Psychology - professional division of the American Psychology Association - provides information about the training, credentialing, and activities of counseling psychologists.
  • Hyperdictionary - definition of counseling.
  • American Counseling Association - homepage of an organization dedicated to the growth of the counseling profession, with resources for students, counselors, and consumers.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics - official statistics on a career as a counselor, including working conditions, training, and earnings.

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Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychology concentrates on both normal developmental issues and on those associated with physical, emotional, and mental disorders. This specialty then focuses on an individual's personal needs for emotional, health, and personal development; social and educational desires; and health and general welfare, in an effort to find ways to facilitate the continuous functioning and growth of the person over his entire life by teaching him how to reduce stress and resolve personal crises.

Depending on the clientele and types of services provided, counseling psychologists can be employed in a variety of settings: schools, independent practices, centers for community mental health or family services, medical facilities, consulting firms, businesses, rehabilitation agencies, etc. Training programs, in most cases, are accredited by the American Psychological Association. Individuals in this field can find employment with only a bachelor's degree (i.e.: care manager in an assisted living center or as an assistant to a psychologist in a correctional program), however completion of a doctoral program (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) that requires at least five to seven years of graduate study (with courses and training on a variety of topics and professional skills), board certification, and state licensure are usually needed for employment as an independent licensed clinical or counseling psychologist.

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Criminal Psychology

Criminal psychology is the study of what causes people to commit crimes and how we can intervene to prevent criminal activities. Criminal psychologists work closely with forensic psychologists to understand either an individual criminal or an aspect of the entire field. The field is very important because, by understanding the motivations and psychological outlook of a criminal, we can help to rehabilitate him or her and to prevent these factors from affecting a possible, or budding, criminal.

Criminal psychologists work for city, county, state and federal government organizations, and in private consulting practices. Individuals may be employed with a bachelor's or master's degree (police personnel, probation officers, forensics, etc.), however advanced positions are offered to candidates who have earned a doctorate (five to seven years of study) in counseling and completed a post-doctoral fellowship with a concentration in criminal investigative psychology. State licensure also is required with requirements varying from state to state.

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Dance Therapy

Dance therapy is using movement and dance to express and work through emotions and experiences; it is sometimes called "movement therapy." Like music therapy, the field is new but has many applications. Sometimes patients have difficulty working through their problems with medication and traditional talk therapy; for these patients, alternative therapies can be helpful in helping them to open up.

To prepare for a career as a dance therapist, individuals should have extensive personal dance experience coupled with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts with a heavy load of psychology courses. A master's degree in dance/movement therapy (or a similar title) is required to be considered as a professional in this field and enables the individual to be credentialed as a D.T.R. (Dance Therapist Registered), allowing practice in clinical, rehabilitative, and educational settings. An A.D.T.R. (Academy of Dance/Therapists Registered) designation allows the teaching of dance and movement therapies to students interested in this field.

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Developmental Psychology

Developmental psychology is the study of progressive behavioral changes in an individual throughout their lifecycle; from birth until death. Professionals in the field often focus on the social and mental development of children, and how environment and genetics work to influence how a child "grows up."

Developmental psychologists, once concerned mainly with the development of children, now include the study and/or treatment of aging populations in their practice. Careers paths can lead to employment in educational, recreational, and health programs; hospital and hospice life programs; infant and preschool stimulation programs, and research positions in academia, for example. While a master's degree is a minimum requirement for working in this field, to practice counseling, individuals need to obtain a doctorate degree, must be licensed by the state in which they practice, and may need additional certification from a professional association (i.e.: the National Board for Certified Counselors).

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Educational Counseling

Educational Counseling involves work in the field of education as well as counseling psychology. Graduates in this field usually work as school counselors in grades K-12 or operate their own practices. Educational counselors provide guidance to individuals through their knowledge of learning and human behavior and by conferring with others who may have influence on the person, such as parents, teachers, and administrators.

Most commonly, people who choose this occupation pursue a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) which allows for entry into jobs as counselors or teachers in academia, the government, and in private industry, or as licensed counseling psychologists in private practice. It takes between five to seven years of graduate study to receive a Ph.D. Holders of a master's degree can teach in high schools or two year colleges, administer psychological evaluations and counsel patients under the supervisory watch of a doctoral level psychologist, or work as guidance or vocational counselors. Little opportunity is afforded to people who have earned only a bachelor's degree. Examples of employment at this level are assistive positions in a rehabilitation environment and data collectors for psychologists conducting research.

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Educational Psychology

Educational Psychology is the study of how people learn. Clinically, it is defined as the study of the principles of mental development in order to participate in the advancement of mental growth. Students typically plan to work with people in any stage of life from childhood to adulthood or to teach at the secondary level. Students may also wish to engage in the research of theory as it applies teaching and learning issues.

Few options are open to individuals who have earned only a bachelor's degree (data collectors/analysis providers, rehabilitation assistants). Two years of master's level graduate work in counseling accompanied with one year of counseling experience allows individuals to work as vocational or guidance counselors; counsel patients or administer psychological evaluations (under the supervision of a doctoral level psychologist); or work teach in high schools or two year colleges. A doctoral degree (Ph.D. - based on five to seven years of graduate study) allows an individual to work independently as a licensed counseling psychologist, or PhD. holders can find work as teachers or counselors in educational establishments, government, and private industries.

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Engineering Psychology

The American Psychological Association defines Engineering Psychology as, "promoting the development and application of psychological principles, knowledge, and research to improve technology, consumer products, energy systems, communication and information, transportation, decision making, work settings, and living environments." In the real world, an Engineering Psychologist will develop more efficient work systems through advanced experimental research. Students in this field will work primarily in human factors research and experimental psychology.

Currently, engineering psychology is what is known as a "growth field" which means that there are many opportunities for employment. Unfortunately, many of these opportunities are not available without a graduate degree. Most engineering psychologists are involved in teaching, research, and design in areas such as government, consulting firms, universities, and industry. Some of the most common job titles are staff scientist, engineering research psychologist, usability engineer, and computer systems designer.

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Environmental Psychology

Environmental Psychology, sometimes referred to as EcoPsychology, is the study of the relationship between people and their environment and how they influence one another. Students seeking a degree in Environmental Psychology will study the interactions of people with their home, work and nature, among others.

Career options are limited in environmental psychology with only a bachelor's degree. Some job titles with this level of education are Environmental Designer and Environmental Architect. Opportunities are much greater with a master's degree. At this level, graduates are eligible for all entry-level positions, and are able to teach environmental psychology. Others holding this M.A. prefer to conduct research on the environment.

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Experimental Psychology

Experimental Psychology is the study of the mind through experiments. Students in this program will attempt to explain the workings of the mind, such as learning, memory, and cognition, through experimentation usually in a controlled setting. Coursework in this area usually is focused on experimental design and research methods.

Becoming an experimental psychologist requires education beyond the undergraduate level (Ph.D. or Psy.D.). Experimental psychologists study behavioral processes through research. Many professionals in the field work at academic institutions teaching, supervising student research, and conducting research of their own. Others conduct research for businesses in the public and private sector.

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Family and Home Science

Family and Home Science is the study of how individuals and families develop. Students in this field study multiple topics such as child abuse and divorce, in this culture as well as others, and the affects these situations have on the individual and the family. A background in home and family science prepares students for careers in various fields, for example, social work, law, and multiple health professions.

A graduate from a bachelor's program in family and home science has multiple career options. A person can begin work at this level as a social worker, a care manager at a children's facility, or at other family service centers. With a doctorate level degree and a counselor's license, the graduate will most likely work at an independent practice counseling families who have experienced divorce, remarriage, child abuse, death of a loved one, domestic violence, behavior problems, etc.

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Forensic Psychology

The American Board of Forensic Psychology defines forensic psychology as "the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system." Students in this field typically are preparing for a career in the courts, exercising their expertise in matters of the law, public policy, or determining the competency of a witness, just to name a few. Coursework in this increasingly popular concentration is mostly focused in criminal justice as well as general psychology.

With a bachelor's degree in forensic psychology, one might work as a social worker or a parole officer. Employment opportunities increase with the level of education attained. A forensic psychologist with a master's degree may be employed as a counselor at a correctional facility, conduct research, or be involved in policy making. With a doctorate and licensure from the American Board of Forensic Psychology, one usually is employed in a private practice, but also may be on the payroll at the police department profiling suspects. In a private practice, psychologists may do anything from counseling convicts, consulting for the police, to taking the stand as an expert witness.

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General Psychology

Psychology is defined as the science of the mind and behavior. Students in general psychology programs study all aspects of the science including, memory, cognition, learning, research, and emotion. A degree in general psychology prepares the graduate for many careers ranging from counseling to experimental psychology.

Many use their degree in general psychology to gain entry into medical school, MBA programs, and just about any other graduate program out there. Most students, however, go on to graduate study in a specialized field in psychology. The most popular among these are clinical psychology and counseling psychology. Professionals in this field deal personally with the mental disorders present in society today. Clinical psychologists work in clinical settings, while counseling psychologists usually work in independent practices.

  • Argosy University - get your psychology degree at one of 13 U.S. Campus Locations.
  • American Psychological Association (APA) - massive site covering topics relevant to the psychology profession.
  • General Psychology 101 - a sample of lecture notes given in a general psychology course given by Dr. C. George Boeree of Shippensburg University.
  • - definition of psychology.
  • Careers in Psychology - created by the American Psychology Association, this PDF file explains the various degrees in psychology, types of careers, what psychologists do, advice for the education process, and APA's resources for students.

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Geropsychology is the study of adult development and aging. With life expectancy in the U.S approaching 80, there is increased interest in the study of the aging process as it affects the mind. That is just what students in this area will do with regards to social and personality development, and declining mental ability later in life. Graduates of geropsychology programs typically conduct further scientific research on these and other aging issues.

Employment opportunities in the field of geropsychology differ with the education level attained. With a bachelor's degree, graduates may be employed as a care taker at an assisted living facility or a psychiatric hospital, for example. With a graduate degree and state or national certification, graduates can become clinical geropsychologists. These professionals will work in a variety of settings with senior members of society, treating disorders or conducting research on such treatment.

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Health Psychology

Health Psychology is the study of the role the mind and behavior play in illness. Study in this field includes the biological as well as psychological effects of illness. Employment as a health psychologist will include working with various health care professionals to conduct research and provide diagnosis and treatment.

Training in the field begins with an undergraduate degree in Psychology, followed by graduate work leading to a Ph.D. or Psy.D. These programs tend to vary in specificity so prospective students should check the areas of concentration in the program to see which one suits their goals. Practicing health psychologists must be licensed in areas like clinical or counseling psychology through the American Board of Professional Psychology. Job opportunities are on the rise due to the increase in demand of the expertise of professional psychologists by colleges, universities, and various medical institutions.

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Human Development

Human development is a broad field encompassing any form of therapy or research which seeks to improve the quality of life for a group of people. For instance, child human development is about providing women the resources they need to have happy, healthy babies. Global applications in the field include working to provide the equal distribution of resources; such as clean water, health care, and education; to people all over the world.

Professions in the field vary greatly. With a bachelor's degree in Human Development, one can pursue a career as a teacher, a midwife, a social services worker, a parole officer, and a research assistant, among others, and become more specific with more education. There is no governing body of licensure in the field, but many of the professions graduates may wish to attempt require a license or certificate before beginning work. Job opportunities in the field are obviously high due to the variety of occupations graduates may pursue.

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Human Factors Psychology

The study of how humans and technology interact. Its focus is on helping humans to optimize their relationships with machines, systems and environments. Applications in the field look to optimize our use of technology at home, at work and at play.

Human Factors is an increasingly growing field with incredible opportunity for employment. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely to work directly in the field with only a bachelor's degree. A master's or doctoral degree (Psy.D., or Ph.D.) is usually required. Once this level of education is attained, graduates can expect to be employed as a human factors practitioner, an ergonomics consultant, a researcher, a design specialist, or a usability engineer. Further certification is sometimes required depending on the place of employment. Examples of these certifications include certified safety professional and certified professional ergonomist.

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Human Services

The field encompasses the many areas that are concerned with providing for the protection or betterment of people's physical, mental and social well-being. Often tied in with "health services," groups and agencies in the field disseminate information on health topics, work with professionals, and work to facilitate research. Many agencies provide pamphlets, links and databases on the identification and prevention of disease and on ways to live a healthier lifestyle.

As our population grows, so does our need for human service professionals. Jobs in the field vary greatly in regard to specialization and training. Persons with a Human Services degree may ultimately be employed as social workers, police officers, and cosmetologists, for example. Along with the variation in training comes variation in certification, with many of the professions requiring specialized training for licensing.

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Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Industrial psychology is a branch of applied psychology dealing with the efficient management of labor forces. Professionals in the field focus chiefly on problems and stress encountered by workers in industrial, mechanized environments. Organizational psychology is more broad; it focuses on workers interact with their workplaces and how their work experiences can be improved.

Training in the field usually begins with a bachelor's degree in psychology with an I/O concentration. Students may pursue a career at this level, but many go on to graduate school and study in areas like human resources, organizational development, and labor relations. Job titles in the I/O field can include consultant, training manager, corporate vice president, and so on. Certification is not necessary to work, but a certificate from one of the many professional organizations may aid in career advancement.

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Infant Psychology

The field focuses on the mental health of the infant, before and after birth. Infants born with mental illness need a different approach to care then older children and adults.

Training in infant psychology usually involves education beyond the bachelor's level - a Ph.D., Psy.D., or master's degree is usually required. Students pursuing these degrees eventually teach, work in agencies and organizations that offer services to infants and their families, or conduct research relating to the care and development of infants.

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Marriage and Family Counseling

Counseling a family or couple undergoes to understand and resolve their problems and disagreements. The purpose of such counseling is to help families overcome their problems and function as a healthy unit. This type of counseling sometimes accompanies therapy that an individual family member is undergoing.

Upon completion of a graduate program in counseling psychology (individuals can not obtain a license to practice without a Ph.D. or Psy.D.), persons most likely will work in one of two settings. The first is to counsel families in an individual practice, and the second is to counsel in a clinical setting, which usually involves more severe mental disorders. In order to practice as a licensed psychologist, individuals must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Some states require additional certification.

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Mental Health Therapy

Mental health therapy encompasses all forms of the treatment of mental illness and the upkeep of mental health. It includes psychological testing and treatment, research, group counseling, career counseling, and more. Counselors in the field are certified by the state and have completed clinical training; they can be found in private practices, in hospitals, and in many other settings.

Mental health counselors work in a number of settings, from private practices, to treatment centers, to employee assistance programs. In order to become a licensed mental health counselor, one must first obtain at minimum a master's degree in counseling, complete at least 2 years of clinical training, and pass a state or national certification exam.

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Music Therapy

Music therapy is simply the treatment of aspects of mental illness using music. A newly recognized field, music therapy is growing fast in the treatment of many different disorders. Music can be a way to calm a patient or to help them connect through their senses to their environment - it does not "cure" mental illness, but it can be a soothing way to connect with a patient in ways that other therapies cannot.

The education required to be a professional music therapist is a bachelor's degree in music therapy from one of 70 schools approved by the American Music Therapy Association, this includes 1200 hours of clinical training with a supervised internship. Students may also pursue a graduate degree in music therapy, but this is not necessary for certification. MT-BC (Music Therapist - Board Certified) is the certification obtained from the Certification Board for Music Therapists, by a person completing the required coursework and passing the national certification exam.

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Neurobiology, Psychobiology

Neurobiology is a branch of biology that deals specifically with the anatomy and pathology of the nervous system, including the brain. Psychobiology, in contrast, is the study of the effects of cognition, emotions and experience on animal physiology. Psychobiologists believe that our personalities and behavior are intertwined with biological, social, cultural, and environmental factors - meaning that mental illness is a response to a conglomeration of these factors.

Training in these areas begins with a B.S. in psychology with much emphasis on biological study, especially the brain. Most students in the field use their undergraduate degree to launch themselves into medical school and pursue careers as doctors and nurses. Others go on to gain master's degrees and Ph.D.'s in neurobiology and psychobiology and work as professors and researchers at colleges and universities.

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Neuropsychology attempts to document and understand the relationship between the nervous system and our cerebral and mental functions. The field looks at how our brain and nervous system act upon and are affected by processes of thought such as language, memory, emotion, and perception.

Clinical neuropsychology is one of the largest specialties in the field of psychology today. Careers in this area begin with a B.S. in psychology, followed by either a master's degree or Ph.D. in neuropsychology. Those pursuing a master's degree will be employed as a professor of neuropsychology or a researcher in the field. Those who go on to hold a Ph.D. or Psy.D. will most likely become practicing clinical neuropsychologists after completing their clinical trials and passing a state or national licensing exam.

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Neuroscience can be defined as the science and study of the nervous system. Professionals in the field study the anatomy, chemistry, and biology of components of the nervous system and their relationship to our higher cognitive processes.

Comparative Psychologists (Neuroscientists) are concerned with the biological bases of behavior. The most common positions in the field are teacher and researcher at a college or university, but teaching positions usually require a Ph.D. Students also use an undergraduate degree in neuroscience as a starting point for medical school.

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Organizational Psychology

The field is similar to social psychology, in that it studies how individuals interact in groups - except in this case, the group is a specific one, such as a corporation, school, tribe, or city counsel. It is an applied field, meaning that research is used to help members of these groups to forward the mission of the group and to work well together. Team-building seminars are one example of organizational psychology at work.

Training in the field usually begins with a bachelor's degree in psychology with an organizational concentration. Students may pursue a career at this level, but many go on to graduate school and study in areas like human resources, organizational development, and labor relations. Graduates of an organizational psychology program usually use their expertise in a consulting role assisting companies on managing a happier, more efficient work force. Certification is not necessary to work, but a certificate from one of the many professional organizations may aid in career advancement.

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Pastoral Counseling

Pastoral counseling is therapy provided by a spiritual leader that focuses on the moral, ethical and spiritual aspects of a problem. It is where theology and psychology meld together to provide therapy that many find more helpful then the traditionally clinical and detached braches of psychology.

Due to the increase in health care costs and the introduction of managed mental health care, mental health therapy is not readily available to all those who need it. People then seek out other avenues of care, such as Pastoral counseling which offers professional therapy in their religious community. Those interested in a career in this type of counseling must complete an extensive training program. This includes a bachelor's degree from an accredited school, a three year professional degree from a seminary, and a master's or Ph.D. in the mental health field. Pastoral counselors must also complete the clinical experience and pass the state or national licensing exam. Professionals will likely work closely with individuals and families from a variety of religious backgrounds.

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Quantitative Psychology

The field involves the mathematical, research-based approach to psychological phenomena. As opposed to (or in addition to) less empirical methods, quantitative psychology looks for the "hard numbers" behind a research question. A good scientists always looks for numbers, statistics and other physical forms of proof that a theory is working, so that other scientists can understand and replicate his or her work.

A career in quantitative psychology comes after a Ph.D. in the field is earned. In general, there is a high demand for persons with such a degree. These graduates will most likely work as professors or researchers at academic institutions, but some may find more lucrative research positions pharmaceutical companies or engineering firms, for example.

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Rehabilitation Counseling

The field focuses on the physical, mental and psychiatric disabilities of those with developmental and accidental injury to the brain. The aim of research and therapy in the field is to help patients achieve independence and be productive members of society.

Rehabilitation Psychologists have completed a Ph.D. or Psy.D. program in the field along with hours of clinical practice, and passed a state or national licensing exam. These professionals work in a broad range of areas and organizations. Some are researchers and professors at schools, while others work in medical centers, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, community agencies, etc. With such a broad range of options in the field, possibility of employment in one of these areas is very high.

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School Counseling

With school counselors in almost every educational institution in America, these psychologists are often the first ones we meet in life. School counselors help students work through academic, personal and social issues so that they can be successful at school and beyond. Most counselors also help students with career development.

Employment as a school counselor usually begins with a bachelor's degree in education or psychology followed by a master's degree in school counseling. In order to be employed, persons must pass the state licensing exam. Counselors will work in elementary or high schools assisting students with all types of life issues from death of a loved one to preparing for their career.

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School Psychology

School psychologists are similar to school counselors, but they often have more training. They perform many of the functions of a counselor, but they are also qualified to work with teachers, parents and students together to solve behavior problems. They can conduct group counseling sessions in fields such as anger management and improving communication, and they work to intervene in a trouble child's life if it seems that the child has problems at home, or may be ready to drop out of school.

Due to the increase in issues facing children today, it is predicted that a psychologist will someday be employed at every school. School Psychologists begin their careers with training at the doctoral level (unlike school counselors who must only hold a master's degree) then by passing the state licensing exam. Also contrary to school counselors, school psychologists work in a variety of settings like health centers, schools, social services, and correctional facilities

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Sex Therapy

Sex therapy is the recognition and treatment of problems related to sexual function and expression. The field is important because professionals now realize that sexual expression is fundamentally tied in to how one feels about oneself. Sex therapy is often undergone by couples, but it can also be for an individual.

Sex Therapists are mental health professionals who must undergo the same training as any other therapist. Master's or doctorate level education, plus passing of a state licensing exam, is required for practice. A graduate may also choose to become a sex counselor or educator. Certification is required for both, but experience may replace education in the certification process. All three professions help people deal with sexual issues like sexual addiction and abuse

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Social/Personality Psychology

Social psychology is the study of how the personality, motivations, and the behavior of the individual influences and is influenced by social groups. Personality psychology basically seeks to answer the question of why people are different - why do we have so many different types of personalities? The fields are related because they shape and influence one another; our personalities and the way we related to society affect each other.

Becoming a Social or Personality Psychologist begins with a bachelor's degree (usually, but not necessarily in psychology) and ends with a master's, Psy.D., or Ph.D. - depending on the individual's career focus. Due to social and personality psychologists' extensive knowledge of human behavior and research methods, there are vast employment opportunities in the field. Professionals may be employed in various departments of colleges as researchers and professors. There is also demand for them in government and private-sector organizations as researchers, managers, and consultants.

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Sports Psychology

Sports psychology is a new field which recognizes that the making of a healthy competitive athlete involves three things; the physical, the technical, and the mental aspects of the athlete. Psychological readiness, however, has long been a mostly neglected area. Professionals in the field help athletes become their best by focusing on this area.

With a bachelor's degree and additional education at the master's or doctorate level specializing in exercise and sport psychology, an individual is ready to become a Sports Psychologist. Professionals in the field usually work in one of three areas - education, research, or, with certification, counseling athletes. This is an increasingly popular field, so employment opportunities are at their highest.

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Substance Abuse Counseling

Professionals in the field work with persons profoundly affected by substances of abuse. It is a challenging field because addicts often have problems in many areas of their lives, and need help on these many fronts. Counselors work with others to help the addict form a stable social and emotional base so that they are able to recover from their addiction and be healthy members of society again.

A career as a substance abuse counselor begins as any other career in psychological counseling, with education beyond the undergraduate level. After receiving a Psy.D. or Ph.D., usually in psychopharmacology, state licensing is required. Professionals in the field work in hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, correctional facilities, and so on, dealing with people of all age levels and from all walks of life who suffer from addiction.

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Therapeutic Recreation

Recreational therapists are health care providers working to help patients with mental or physical disabilities. It has been found that people who are able to engage in physical activity are happier overall and are therefore better able to cope with regular therapy, and with life in general.

The NCTRC (National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification) is the governing body for certifying recreational therapists. Prior to being certified the person must obtain a degree from a four year accredited college and university and pass the NCTRC certification exam. Once licensed, therapists will find themselves working in any number of settings from nursing homes, to mental health institutions. Many people are discovering the benefits of this type of therapy and demand for recreational therapists is increasing.

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Vocational Counseling

Vocational counseling is the study of how work-related experience and behavior affect us psychologically. With work being such an important component of our lives, it helps to understand how it affects us and how we can improve our lives through this understanding.

A career as a vocational counselor begins as any other career in psychological counseling, with education beyond the undergraduate level. After receiving a Psy.D. or Ph.D. in counseling psychology, state or national licensing is required. Professional vocational counselors usually work in an independent practice or at a college or university, advising students and clients on the steps to take to make the most of their lives and careers. With such a high premium on finding a job after school, most academic institutions now employ a professional vocational counselor.

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