Psychology allows you to understand mental health disorders and their treatments. It also opens the doors to study how people learn and interact with each others. What makes psychology exciting is that it encompasses a wide range of topics and approaches; which makes it a great career path for those interested.
Generally in the UK, if you are wanting to look after your mental health and wellbeing, then a psychologist is the person you would want to arrange an appointment with. There are many fake psychologist online, so, I would always recommend visiting Health and Care Professions Council website to check their register.
In this article, we will explore some of the major areas of psychology, including:
These fascinating branches brings a unique perspective to the study of the human experience and offers valuable insights into the ways in which we think, feel, and behave.
Whether you're just starting to learn about psychology or just have an interest, there is always more to discover and understand about the human mind. So, let's dive in and explore.
If you are intending on studying psychology, I have put best psychology schools in the UK at the bottom of this article, these have been taken from the Times Education website.
Clinical psychology generally focuses on the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental health disorders and behavioural issues. Clinical psychologists in the UK work with individuals, families, and groups to help them cope with a wide range of mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationship issues.
They use a variety of techniques to help their clients, including psychological assessments, therapy, and behavioural interventions. They may also work with other healthcare professionals, such as psychiatrists and social workers, to provide comprehensive treatment for their clients.
In the UK, Clinical Psychologists typically have a doctoral degree in psychology and are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). They may work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, mental health clinics, and private practices.
Overall, the goal of clinical psychology is to help individuals lead healthy and fulfilling lives by addressing their mental health and behavioural needs.
Clinical psychology probably holds the most famous influential people figures, such as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. I was going to write about both of these figures and probably will in the future; however, there's a very nice articles on the Simple Psychology website about Freud and Jung
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica cognitive psychology studies mental processes such as "attention, language use, perception, problem-solving, memory, and thinking". It focuses on how people process, store, and use information.
Some specific areas of research within cognitive psychology include:
- Attention: how people select certain stimuli to focus on while ignoring others
- Language: how people use and understand language, including the processes of reading and writing
- Perception: how people interpret sensory information and create mental representations of the world around them
- Problem-solving: how people approach and solve problems, including decision-making and reasoning
- Memory: how people encode, store, and retrieve information
- Thinking: how people use their mental abilities to process and manipulate information, including reasoning, decision-making, and problem-solving
Cognitive psychologists use a variety of research methods to study these mental processes, including experiments, observations, and computer simulations. They may also use brain imaging techniques such as Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to study brain activity during cognitive tasks. The insights gained from cognitive psychology research can have practical applications in fields such as education, marketing, and design.
Developmental psychology is the scientific study of how and why people change over the course of their lifespan. This includes physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development, as well as the influence of genetics and the environment on these changes.
Developmental psychologists examine how people change and grow throughout their lives, including how they develop language, social skills, moral judgment, and identity. They also study how people's relationships and experiences in different stages of life, such as infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, can affect their development.
Some key areas of focus within developmental psychology include:
- Physical development: This includes changes in the body, such as growth, motor skills, and sensory abilities.
- Cognitive development: This involves the study of how people's thinking, problem-solving, and memory skills change over time.
- Social and emotional development: This includes the development of social skills, such as communication and teamwork, as well as the development of emotions, such as empathy and self-control.
- The influence of genetics and the environment: Developmental psychologists also study the role that genetics and the environment play in shaping people's development. This includes the influence of parents, siblings, peers, culture, and other social and cultural factors - which now includes social media platforms.
Developmental psychology is an interdisciplinary field that draws on research and theories from a wide range of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, anthropology, and biology. It has practical applications in many areas, including education, health care, and social policy.
Some influential figures in the history of developmental psychology include Jean Piaget, who developed a theory of cognitive development; Erik Erikson, who proposed a theory of psychological development; and Lev Vygotsky, who studied the role of culture in cognitive development. More recently, researchers such as Carol Dweck, who has studied the role of mindset in development - well worth checking out her Ted Talk (The power of believing that you can improve).
Social psychology is a branch of psychology that studies how people think, feel, and behave in social situations. It examines how individuals' thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are influenced by the presence and actions of other people.
Some of the key areas that social psychology research focuses on include:
- Social influence: This refers to the ways in which people are influenced by the actions, beliefs, and attitudes of others. This includes conformity, obedience, and group dynamics.
- Attitudes and persuasion: This area of social psychology looks at how people's attitudes and beliefs are formed, changed, and maintained. It also examines the ways in which people can be persuaded to change their attitudes or behaviours.
- Interpersonal relationships: This area of social psychology focuses on the nature of social relationships between people, including factors that influence their formation, maintenance, and breakdown.
- Prejudice, discrimination, and stereotypes: Social psychology also investigates the ways in which people's attitudes and behaviours towards others are influenced by their biases and stereotypes, as well as the ways in which these biases and stereotypes can lead to prejudice and discrimination.
- Group behaviour: Social psychology studies the ways in which people behave in groups, including how group dynamics and leadership can affect group behaviour.
Overall, social psychology aims to understand how people's social environments and interactions with others shape their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
There are many influential figures in the field of social psychology, but probably the most well known would have to be Kurt Lewin who is considered one of the founders of modern social psychology. He is known for his work on group dynamics and leadership, as well as his contributions to the development of the field of social psychology.
Being that I have my own business, this branch of psychology interests me the most as it covers most business aspects that drive our businesses forward - I'll probably write a more in depth article another day. Industrial-organisational psychology is the scientific study of human behaviour in organisations and the workplace. It is a branch of psychology that focuses on the application of psychological principles and methods to understanding and solving problems in the workplace.
I-O psychologists work in a variety of settings, including academic institutions, private consulting firms, and government agencies. They use scientific research to understand and improve issues related to work, such as employee productivity, job satisfaction, and leadership.
Some specific areas of focus within I-O psychology include:
- Personnel psychology: This involves the selection, evaluation, and development of employees. I-O psychologists may use psychological tests to assess job candidates and help organisations make hiring decisions. They may also design training programs to help employees develop new skills or improve their performance.
- Organisational psychology: This involves the study of organisational behaviour and how it impacts the effectiveness of an organisation. I-O psychologists may conduct research to understand how organisational structure, communication, and leadership style impact employee behaviour and performance.
- Occupational health psychology: This involves the study of how work environments and conditions impact employee health and well-being. I-O psychologists may develop interventions to improve working conditions and prevent burnout or other negative outcomes.
- Consumer psychology: This involves the study of consumer behaviour and how it impacts marketing and business decisions. I-O psychologists may use psychological principles to understand consumer decision-making and design effective marketing strategies.
Overall, the goal of I-O psychology is to use scientific research to understand and improve the effectiveness of organisations and the well-being of their employees.
Hugo Munsterberg is credited as being the first I-O psychologist who published the first book on the topic: Psychology and Industrial Efficiency. A few years back I came across Angela Lee Duckworth who wrote the book Grit The Power of Passion and Perseverance which is a New York Times Best Seller, but it's well worth checking out her Ted Talk.
This field of psychology focuses on the psychological and social factors that impact learning and teaching in educational settings. It aims to understand how students learn, how to help students learn more effectively, and how to create a positive and supportive learning environment.
Some key areas that educational psychology investigates include:
- Cognitive processes: This includes how students process, retain, and retrieve information, as well as how they solve problems and make decisions.
- Motivation: This involves studying what drives students to learn and how to increase their motivation to learn.
- Learning and development: This includes how students' cognitive, social, and emotional skills develop over time, and how they can be supported in their learning.
- Social and emotional factors: This includes understanding how students' relationships with others and their emotional well-being can impact their learning.
- Teaching and instruction: This involves understanding the best practices for teaching and how to create an effective learning environment.
Educational psychology can be applied in a variety of settings, including schools, universities, and other educational institutions, as well as in educational research and policy development.
John Dewey is considered to be one of the pioneers of educational psychology, Dewey's work focused on the role of experience and practical problem-solving in learning. I found an interesting article about Dewey on Stanford's website
This is a very interesting form of psychology, examining how the evolution of the human species has shaped the way our minds work and the behaviours that we exhibit. It seeks to understand the psychological mechanisms that have evolved in humans in order to solve problems that were important for our ancestors' survival and reproduction.
One key idea in evolutionary psychology is that our brains have evolved to solve specific problems that were important for the survival and reproduction of our ancestors. For example, our brains have evolved to recognise patterns in our environment, to form social bonds with others, and to communicate effectively.
Another important aspect of evolutionary psychology is the concept of natural selection, which is the process by which certain traits are passed down from one generation to the next because they are advantageous for survival and reproduction. According to evolutionary psychology, the traits that are passed down are those that helped our ancestors survive and reproduce, and therefore, they are traits that we have inherited from our ancestors.
Some of the topics that evolutionary psychologists study include mate choice, parenting, aggression, and cooperation. They often use evolutionary theory to explain why certain behaviours are present in humans and why they are more common in some populations than in others.
Overall, evolutionary psychology is a fascinating field that helps us understand how the evolution of the human species has shaped our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.
Jerome H. Barkow wrote a very interesting book about evolutionary psychology: The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture
Forensic psychology involves the application of psychological knowledge and principles to legal issues and the criminal justice system. It is a combination of psychology and the law, and it involves working with individuals who are involved in legal proceedings, such as suspects, defendants, victims, and witnesses.
Some specific areas of focus in forensic psychology include criminal behaviour, witness testimony, victimisation, and risk assessment. Forensic psychologists may work in a variety of settings, including courts, prisons, forensic psychiatric hospitals, and private practices.
Some of the tasks that forensic psychologists may be responsible for include:
- Assessing the mental health and competency of individuals involved in legal proceedings
- Providing testimony in court as an expert witness
- Conducting research on topics related to psychology and the law
- Providing counselling and therapy to individuals involved in legal proceedings
- Assessing the risk of individuals to reoffend
- Assessing the credibility of witness testimony
- Providing forensic psychological evaluations in child custody cases
Overall, forensic psychology is an interesting and very important field that helps to apply psychological principles and research to legal issues and the criminal justice system; however, I do wonder how often this method is utilised within the criminal justice system.
Criminal Psychology: A Beginner's Guide by Ray Bull and Claire Cooke seems to be a very popular book to learn about this. I haven't personally read it; however, as of writing this there were just under 500 top reviews on Amazon. It's on my list of reads.
Focuses on the psychological and behavioural factors that influence health and illness. It is concerned with how people think, feel, and behave in relation to their physical health, and how to use this understanding to promote healthy behaviours and prevent or treat illness.
Some specific areas of focus within health psychology include:
- The role of stress and coping in health and illness
- The impact of social support and social networks on health
- The effects of emotions on physical health
- The psychological aspects of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cancer
- The role of behaviour change in promoting health and preventing illness
- The use of psychological interventions to improve health outcomes
Health psychologists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and research centres. They may work with individuals, groups, or communities to promote healthy behaviours and prevent illness. They may also work with patients to help them manage chronic conditions and cope with the psychological and emotional impact of illness.
This is my least interest out of the psychology realm, as I believe there are some great other natural methods that tackle this area, especially within the Palliative Care area which was born out of the Hospice Movement of 1967, to which Dame Cicely Saunders is widely regarded as the founder. Palliative Care is still growing in popularity and is definitely becoming a key element in todays health care for the dying. I'm very much a fan of Dr Emma Murphy's work on this subject.
If you are wanting to read more about this subject, "Health Psychology" by Shelley Taylor is very recommended - but for some reason seems to be extremely expensive on Amazon. Another recommended book is by Tulku Thondup The Healing Power of Mind (simple meditation exercises for health, well-being and enlightenment).
It's always important to help athlete's perform the best they can and often motivation can be low, this is where sports psychology comes into play, as it focuses on the psychological aspects of sports and athletics. It is concerned with understanding how psychological factors such as motivation, concentration, and self-confidence can impact an athlete's performance. It also involves helping athletes to develop mental skills and strategies to improve their performance and well-being.
Sports psychology can be used to help athletes in a number of ways, including:
- Improving motivation and focus: Sports psychologists can help athletes develop strategies for maintaining motivation and focus during training and competition.
- Enhancing self-confidence: Sports psychologists can help athletes develop self-confidence through techniques such as positive self-talk and visualisation.
- Managing stress and anxiety: Sports psychologists can help athletes manage stress and anxiety that may be hindering their performance.
- Improving goal-setting and decision-making skills: Sports psychologists can help athletes develop strategies for setting and achieving goals, as well as making good decisions under pressure.
- Enhancing team cohesion: Sports psychologists can help teams develop strategies for improving communication and teamwork.
Sports psychology is a growing field that is becoming increasingly important in the world of athletics. It is a useful tool for helping athletes to optimise their performance and achieve their full potential.
W. Timothy Gallwey has written probably the most classic book for sports psychology, the most famous being The Inner Game of Tennis. Personally I think it's worth reading his three book collection set which includes: The Inner Game of Tennis, Inner Game of Gold and Inner Game of Music.
Times Higher Education Subject Rankings 2022
1 University of Cambridge
2 University College London (UCL)
3 King’s College London
4 University of Edinburgh
5 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
6 University of Kent
7 University of Manchester
8 Cardiff University
9 University of St. Andrews
10 University of Warwick