Branches of Psychology

Branches of Psychology Psychology is a remarkably diverse subject, which is why a number of different branches have emerged to explore different topics and perspectives. Explore some of the many branches of psychology and learn more about what each one has to offer, including forensic psychology, cognitive psychology, human factors and many more. Abnormal Psychology Behavioral Psychology Biopsychology Clinical Psychology Cognitive Psychology Comparative Psychology Cross-Cultural Psychology Developmental Psychology Educational Psychology Forensic Psychology Health Psychology Human Factors Psychology I/O Psychology Personality Psychology Positive Psychology Social Psychology Sports Psychology Perspectives in Modern Psychology Psychologists and researchers have many different ways of looking at questions and issues in psychology. The numerous perspectives in psychology offer unique ways to explain and predict human behavior. Subfields of Psychology Find more information on the many subfields in the field of psychology. Includes specialty areas such as biopsychology, developmental psychology, clinical psychology, forensic psychology, personality psychology, and more. Areas of Psychology - Divisions of the APA Major areas of psychology according to the American Psychological Association's (APA) 53 divisions. Includes specialty area's such as clinical psychology, counseling psychology, forensic psychology, and more. Fields of Psychology Psychology is a huge topic and conveying the depth and breadth of the subject can be difficult. As a result, a number of different fields of psychology have emerged to deal with specific subtopics within the study of the mind, brain and behavior. Learn more about some of the different fields of psychology. Experimental Psychology Experimental psychology is an area of psychology that utilizes scientific methods to research the mind and behavior. What Is Consumer Psychology? Consumer psychology studies how and why we buy goods and services. Learn more about how psychologists study the science of consumer behavior. What Is Community Psychology Community psychology is a relatively young discipline within psychology that is concerned with how individuals relate to society. Learn more in this overview of community psychology. What Is Transpersonal Psychology? Transpersonal psychology is a perspective focused on understanding the spiritual side of human existence. Topics such as meditation and peak experiences are often studied in this field.


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Transcript of Branches of Psychology

Page 1: Branches of Psychology

Branches of Psychology

Psychology is a remarkably diverse subject, which is why a number of different branches have emerged to explore

different topics and perspectives. Explore some of the many branches of psychology and learn more about what

each one has to offer, including forensic psychology, cognitive psychology, human factors and many more.

Abnormal Psychology

Behavioral Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Cognitive Psychology

Comparative Psychology

Cross-Cultural Psychology

Developmental Psychology

Educational Psychology

Forensic Psychology

Health Psychology

Human Factors Psychology

I/O Psychology

Personality Psychology

Positive Psychology

Social Psychology

Sports Psychology

Perspectives in Modern Psychology

Psychologists and researchers have many different ways of looking at questions and issues in psychology. The

numerous perspectives in psychology offer unique ways to explain and predict human behavior.

Subfields of Psychology

Find more information on the many subfields in the field of psychology. Includes specialty areas such as

biopsychology, developmental psychology, clinical psychology, forensic psychology, personality psychology, and


Areas of Psychology - Divisions of the APA

Major areas of psychology according to the American Psychological Association's (APA) 53 divisions. Includes

specialty area's such as clinical psychology, counseling psychology, forensic psychology, and more.

Fields of Psychology

Psychology is a huge topic and conveying the depth and breadth of the subject can be difficult. As a result, a

number of different fields of psychology have emerged to deal with specific subtopics within the study of the mind,

brain and behavior. Learn more about some of the different fields of psychology.

Experimental Psychology

Experimental psychology is an area of psychology that utilizes scientific methods to research the mind and


What Is Consumer Psychology?

Consumer psychology studies how and why we buy goods and services. Learn more about how psychologists study

the science of consumer behavior.

What Is Community Psychology

Community psychology is a relatively young discipline within psychology that is concerned with how individuals

relate to society. Learn more in this overview of community psychology.

What Is Transpersonal Psychology?

Transpersonal psychology is a perspective focused on understanding the spiritual side of human existence. Topics

such as meditation and peak experiences are often studied in this field.

Page 2: Branches of Psychology

Counseling psychology is a psychological specialty that encompasses research and applied work in several

broad domains: counseling process and outcome; supervision and training; career development and counseling;

and prevention and health. Some unifying themes among counseling psychologists include a focus on assets and

strengths, person–environment interactions, educational and career development, brief interactions, and a focus

on intact personalities.[1] In the United States, the premier scholarly journals of the profession are the Journal of

Counseling Psychology[2] and The Counseling Psychologist.[3]

In Europe, the scholarly journals of the profession include the European Journal of Counselling Psychology (under

the auspices of the European Association of Counselling Psychology)[4]and the Counselling Psychology

Review (under the auspices of the British Psychological Society).[5] Counselling Psychology Quarterly is an

international interdisciplinary publication of Routledge (part of the Taylor & Francis Group).[6]

In the U.S., counseling psychology programs are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), while

counseling programs are accredited through the Counsel for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational

Programs (CACREP). To become licensed as a counseling psychologist, one must meet the criteria for licensure as

a psychologist (4-7 year doctoral degree post-bachelors, 1 year full-time internship, including 3,000 hours of

supervised experience and exams). Both doctoral level counseling psychologists and doctoral level counselors can

perform both applied work, as well as research and teaching.


Counseling psychology, like many modern psychology specialities, started as a result of World War II. During the

war, the U.S. military had a strong need for vocational placement and training. In the 1940s and 1950s

the Veterans Administration created a specialty called "counseling psychology," and Division 17[7] (now known as

the Society for Counseling Psychology) of the APA was formed.[8] This fostered interest in counselor training, and

the creation of the first few counseling psychology PhD programs. The first counseling psychology PhD programs

were at the University of Minnesota; Ohio State University, University of Maryland, College Park; University of

Missouri; Teachers College, Columbia University; and University of Texas at Austin.[9]

Employment and Salary

Counseling psychologists are employed in a variety of settings depending on the services they provide and the

client populations they serve. Some are employed in colleges and universities as teachers, supervisors,

researchers, and service providers. Others are employed in independent practice providing

counseling, psychotherapy; assessment; and consultation services to individuals, couples/families, groups, and

organizations. Additional settings in which counseling psychologists practice include community mental health

centers, Veterans AdministrationMedical Centers and other facilities, family services, health maintenance

organizations, rehabilitation agencies, business and industrial organizations and consulting within firms.

Median salary for US counseling psychologists is US$64,000 [10]

Process and outcome

Counseling psychologists are interested in answering a variety of research questions about the counseling process

and outcome. Counseling process might be thought of as how or why counseling happens and progresses.

Counseling outcome addresses whether or not counseling is effective, under what conditions it is effective, and

what outcomes are considered effective—such as symptom reduction, behavior change, or quality of life

improvement. Topics commonly explored in the study of counseling process and outcome include therapist

variables, client variables, the counseling or therapeutic relationship, cultural variables, process and outcome

measurement, mechanisms of change, and process and outcome research methods.

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Therapist variables

Therapist variables include characteristics of a counselor or psychotherapist, as well as therapist technique,

behavior, theoretical orientation and training. In terms of therapist behavior, technique and theoretical orientation,

research on adherence to therapy models has found that adherence to a particular model of therapy can be

helpful, detrimental, or neutral in terms of impact on outcome (Imel & Wampold, 2008).

Research on the impact of training and experience is still somewhat contradictory and even counter-intuitive. For

example, a recent study found that age-related training and experience, but not amount or quality of contact with

older people, is related to older clients.[11] However, a recent meta-analysis of research on training and experience

suggests that experience level is only slightly related to accuracy in clinical judgment.[12] Higher therapist

experience has been found to be related to less anxiety, but also less focus.[13] This suggests that there is still work

to be done in terms of training clinicians and measuring successful training.

Client variables

Client characteristics such as help-seeking attitudes and attachment style have been found to be related to client

use of counseling, as well as expectations and outcome. Stigma againstmental illness can keep people from

acknowledging problems and seeking help. Public stigma has been found to be related to self-stigma, attitudes

towards counseling, and willingness to seek help.[14]

In terms of attachment style, clients with avoidant styles have been found to perceive greater risks and fewer

benefits to counseling, and are less likely to seek professional help, than securely attached clients. Those with

anxious attachment styles perceive greater benefits as well as risks to counseling.[15] Educating clients about

expectations of counseling can improve client satisfaction, treatment duration and outcomes, and is an efficient

and cost-effective intervention.[16]

Counseling relationship

The relationship between a counselor and client is the feelings and attitudes that a client and therapist have

towards one another, and the manner in which those feelings and attitudes are expressed.[17][18] The relationship

may be thought of in three parts: transference/countertransference, working alliance, and the real- or personal-


Transference can be described as the client's distorted perceptions of the therapist. This can have a great affect on

the therapeutic relationship. For instance, the therapist may have a facial feature that reminds the client of their

parent. Because of this association, if the client has significant negative/positive feelings toward their parent, they

may project these feelings onto the therapist. This can affect the therapeutic relationship in a few ways. For

example, if the client has a very strong bond with their parent, they may see the therapist as a father/mother

figure and have a strong connection with their therapist. This can be problematic because as a therapist, it is not

ethical to have a more than "professional" relationship with a client. It can also be a good thing, because the client

may open up greatly to the therapist. In another way, if the client has a very negative relationship with their

parent, the client may feel negative feelings toward the therapist. This can then affect the therapeutic relationship

as well. For example, the client may have trouble opening up to the therapist because he/she lacks trust in their

parent (projecting these feelings of distrust onto the therapist).[20]

Another theory about the function of the counseling relationship is known as the secure-base hypothesis, which is

related to attachment theory. This hypothesis proposes that the counselor acts as a secure-base from which clients

can explore and then check in with. Secure attachment to one's counselor and secure attachment in general have

been found to be related to client exploration. Insecure attachment styles have been found to be related to less

session depth than securely attached clients.[21]

Cultural variables

Counseling psychologists are interested in how culture relates to help-seeking and counseling process and

outcome. Helms' racial identity model can be useful for understanding how the relationship and counseling process

might be affected by the client's and counselor's racial identity.[22] Recent research suggests that clients who are

Black are at risk for experiencing racial micro-aggressions from counselors who are White.[23]

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Efficacy for working with clients who are lesbians, gay men, or bisexual might be related to therapist

demographics, gender, sexual identity development, sexual orientation, and professional experience.[24] Clients

who have multiple oppressed identities might be especially at-risk for experiencing unhelpful situations with

counselors, so counselors might need help with gaining expertise for working with clients who are transgender,

lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people of color, and other oppressed populations.[25]

Gender role socialization can also present issues for clients and counselors. Implications for practice include being

aware of stereotypes and biases about male and female identity, roles and behavior such as emotional expression.[26] The APA guidelines for multicultural competence outline expectations for taking culture into account in practice

and research.[27]

Counseling Ethics

Perceptions on ethical behaviors vary depending upon geographical location. Although, ethical mandates are

similar throughout our global community. The standard ethical behaviors are centered on "doing no harm" and

preventing harm. As counselors, it is standard that a counselor should take appropriate action to prevent harm.

Ethical standards are similar in that you should shall not share information that is obtained through the counseling

process without specific written consent by the client or legal guardian except to prevent clear, imminent danger

to the client or others or when required to do so by a court order.

Counselors are held to a higher standard that most professionals because of the intimacy of their therapeutic

delivery. Counselors are not only to avoid fraternizing with their clients. They should avoid dual relationships, and

never engage in sexual relationships.

Counselors are to avoid receiving gifts, favors, or trade for therapy. In some communities, it may be avoidable

given the economic standing of that community. In cases of children, children and the mentally handicap may feel

personally rejected "if" an offering is something such as a "cookie." As counselors, a judgement call must be made,

but in a majority of cases, avoiding gifts, favors, and trade can be maintained.

The National Board for Certified Counselors states that "...important considerations to avoid exploitation before

entering into a non-counseling relationship with a former client. Important considerations to be discussed include

amount of time since counseling service termination, duration of counseling, nature and circumstances of client’s

counseling, the likelihood that the client will want to resume counseling at some time in the future; circumstances

of service termination and possible negative effects or outcomes." [28]

Ethical standards are created to help practitioners, clients and the community avoid any possible harm or potential

for harm. Ethical standards are a guideline, but for specific standards they are mandates. Recognizing the

differences is clear in a majority of organizational codes of ethics.

Outcome measurement

Counseling outcome measures might look at a general overview of symptoms, symptoms of specific disorders, or

positive outcomes, such as subjective well-being or quality of life. The Outcome Questionnaire-45 is a 45-item self-

report measure of psychological distress.[29] An example of disorder-specific measure is the Beck Depression

Inventory. The Quality of Life Inventory is a 17-item self-report life satisfaction measure.[30]

Process and outcome research methods

Research about the counseling process and outcome uses a variety of research methodologies to answer questions

about if, how, and why counseling works. Quantitative methods include randomly controlled clinical trials,

correlational studies over the course of counseling, or laboratory studies about specific counseling process and

outcome variables. Qualitative researchmethods can involve conducting, transcribing and coding interviews;

transcribing and/or coding therapy sessions; or fine-grain analysis of single counseling sessions or counseling


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Training and supervision

Professional training process

Counseling psychologists are trained in graduate programs. Almost all programs grant a PhD, but a few grant

a MCouns, M.Ed, MA, PsyD or EdD. Most doctoral programs take 5–6 years to complete. Graduate work in

counseling psychology includes coursework in general psychology and statistics, counseling practice, and research.[31] Students must complete an originaldissertation at the end of their graduate training. Students must also

complete a one-year full-time internship at an accredited site before earning their doctorate. In order to be

licensed to practice, counseling psychologists must gain clinical experience under supervision, and pass a

standardized exam.

Training models and research

Counseling psychology includes the study and practice of counselor training and counselor supervision. As

researchers, counseling psychologists may investigate what makes training and supervision effective. As

practitioners, counseling psychologists may supervise and train a variety of clinicians. Counselor training tends to

occur in formal classes and training programs. Part of counselor training may involve counseling clients under the

supervision of a licensed clinician. Supervision can also occur between licensed clinicians, as a way to improve

clinicians' quality of work and competence with various types of counseling clients.

As the field of counseling psychology formed in the mid-20th century, initial training models included Human

Relations Training by Carkuff, Interpersonal Process Recall by Kagan, and Microcounseling Skills by Ivey. Modern

training models include Egan's Skilled Helper model, and Hill's three stage (exploration, insight, and action) model.

A recent analysis of studies on counselor training found that modeling, instruction, and feedback are common to

most training models, and seem to have medium to large effects on trainees.[32]

Supervision models and research

Like the models of how clients and therapists interact, there are also models of the interactions between therapists

and their supervisors. Bordin proposed a model of supervision working alliance similar to his model of therapeutic

working alliance. The Integrated Development Model considers the level of a supervisee's motivation/anxiety,

autonomy, and self and other awareness. The Systems Approach to Supervision views the relationship between

supervisor and supervisee as most important, in addition to characteristics of the supervisee's personal

characteristics, counseling clients, training setting, as well as the tasks and functions of supervision. The Critical

Events in Supervision model focuses on important moments that occur between the supervisor and supervisee.[33]

Problems can arise in supervision and training. First, supervisors are liable for malpractice of their supervisee. Also,

questions have arisen as far as a supervisor's need for formal training to be a competent supervisor.[34] Recent

research suggests that conflicting, multiple relationships can occur between supervisors and supervisees, such as

that of evaluator, instructor, and clinical supervisor.[34] The occurrence of racial micro-aggressions against Black

supervisees[35] suggests potential problems with racial bias in supervision. In general, conflicts between a counselor

and his or her supervisor can arise when supervisors demonstrate disrespect, lack of support, and blaming (Ladany

& Inman, 2008).

Vocational development and career counseling

Vocational theories

There are several types of theories of vocational choice and development. These types include trait and factor

theories, social cognitive theories, and developmental theories. Two examples of trait and factor theories, also

known as person–environment fit, are Holland's Theory and Theory of Work Adjustment. Holland hypothesized six

vocational personality/interest types and six work environment types: realistic, investigative, artistic, social,

enterprising, and conventional. When a person's vocational interests match his or her work environment types, this

is considered congruence. Congruence has been found to predict occupation and college major.[36] The Theory of

Work Adjustment (TWA), as developed by Dawis and Lofquist,[citation needed]hypothesizes that the correspondence

between a worker's needs and the reinforcer systems predicts job satisfaction, and that the correspondence

between a worker's skills and a job's skill requirements predicts job satisfactoriness. Job satisfaction and

satisfactoriness together should determine how long one remains at a job. When there is a discrepancy between a

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worker's needs or skills and the job's needs or skills, then change needs to occur either in the worker or the job


Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) has been proposed by Lent, Brown and Hackett. The theory takes Albert

Bandura's work on self-efficacy and expands it to interest development, choice making, and performance. Person

variables in SCCT include self-efficacy beliefs, outcome expectations and personal goals. The model also includes

demographics, ability, values, and environment. Efficacy and outcome expectations are theorized to interrelate

and influence interest development, which in turn influences choice of goals, and then actions. Environmental

supports and barriers also affect goals and actions. Actions lead to performance and choice stability over time. [37]

Career development theories propose vocational models that include changes throughout the lifespan. Super's

model proposes a lifelong five-stage career development process. The stages are growth, exploration,

establishment, maintenance, and disengagement. Throughout life, people have many roles that may differ in terms

of importance and meaning. Super also theorized that career development is an implementation of self-concept.

Gottfredson[citation needed] also proposed a cognitive career decision-making process that develops through the

lifespan. The initial stage of career development is hypothesized to be the development of self-image in childhood,

as the range of possible roles narrows using criteria such as sex-type, social class, and prestige. During and

after adolescence, people take abstract concepts into consideration, such as interests.

Career counseling

Career counseling may include provision of occupational information, modeling skills, written exercises, and

exploration of career goals and plans.[38] Career counseling can also involve the use of personality or career

interest assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is based on Carl Jung's theory of

psychological type, or the Strong Interest Inventory, which makes use of Holland's theory. Assessments of skills,

abilities, and values are also commonly assessed in career counseling.

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Industrial and organizational psychology (also known as I-O psychology or work psychology) is the scientific

study of employees, workplaces, and organizations. Industrial and organizational psychologists contribute to an

organization's success by improving the performance, satisfaction, safety, health and well-being of its employees.

An I-O psychologist conducts research on employee behaviors and attitudes, and how these can be improved

through hiring practices, training programs, feedback, and management systems.[1] I-O psychologists also help

organizations transition among periods of change and development. Industrial and organizational psychology is

related to organizational behavior and human capital.

An applied science, I–O psychology is represented by Division 14 of the American Psychological Association (APA),

known formally as the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). In the UK, industrial and

organizational psychologists are referred to as occupational psychologists and this 'protected title' is regulated by

the Health and Care Professions Council.[2] In Australia, the title organizational psychologist is also protected and is

regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).[3]


In classic overviews of the field, Guion (1965) defines I–O psychology as "the scientific study of the relationship

between man and the world of work: ... in the process of making a living" (p. 817). Blum & Naylor (1968) define it

as "simply the application or extension of psychological facts and principles to the problems concerning human

beings operating within the context of business and industry" (p. 4).

Research and practice areas of I–O psychologists include, but are not limited to the following:

Governing Boards' Professional Development

Job performance appraisal system(s)

Job analysis/competency modeling

Personnel recruitment and selection

Student/educational selection (admissions) and assessment (testing)

Judgment and decision making

Performance appraisal/management

Individual assessment (knowledge, skills, and ability testing, personality assessment, work sample tests,

assessment centers)



Professional Staff, Faculty, and Administrators Training Design, Development, Implementation, and evaluation

Laws and regulations applicable to personnel decisions

Work motivation

Job attitudes (e.g., job satisfaction, commitment, organizational citizenship, and retaliation)

Occupational health and safety

Work/life balance

Human factors and decision making

Organizational culture/climate

Organizational surveys

Leadership and executive coaching



Job design

Human resources

Organizational development (OD)

Organizational Research Methods

Technology in the workplace

Group/team performance

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Team composition

The formal academic training at U.S. accredited institutions can, for an individual who graduates a university with a

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., or a Psy.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, have focused on either the scientific side

for those who want to pursue research or university teaching as a career, or have concentrated on a practitioner

system, which is suitable for individuals whose major career target is not academic teaching or scientific research.

The latter is a good appointment for individuals who prefer the hands-on application of the scientific theory

developed in academia.

The expertise of I–O Psychologists allows them to employ scientific principles and research-based designs to

generate new knowledge and applications for improving organizations. The latter are often in an employer role or

at least in a role as close advisers to or influencers of employers' systems in many industries and sectors of the


They also work within organizations, often as advisers to or members of human resources departments, corporate

boards, government legislative bodies, and government agencies.

What are some of the pros and cons of a career in Industrial and Organizational Psychology?

Pros of a Career in I-O Psychology: Many career opportunities with a Master’s-level degree.

Diverse career paths (i.e. private sector, consulting, government, education.)

Opportunities for self-employment.

Cons of a Career in I-O Psychology:

Clients and projects change often.

Research can often be tedious and burnout can occur.

Many positions require doctoral degrees.[86]

What is an Industrial/Organizational consultant and what does an I/O consultant do?


An Industrial/Organizational consultant helps clients and organizations improve productivity and create an optimal

working environment through human capital consulting and strategies. Areas of consulting include but are not

limited to selection and recruiting, training, leadership, and development, compensation and benefits, employee

relations, performance management, succession planning, and executive coaching.[87]

Types of consultants

Consultants can be categorized as internal or external to an organization. An internal consultant is someone who is

working specifically for an organization that he or she is a part of whereas an external consultant can be either a

sole proprietor or an employee of a consulting firm who is hired by another organization on a project basis or for a

certain period of time. There are different types of I/O consultants: (1) internal corporate consultant, (2)

independent external consultant, (3) external consultant in a small firm, (4) external consultant in a large firm, (5)

external consultant in a research group, (6) internal consultant in a research unit within a large firm, and (7)

internal consultant in a large government organization.[88]

Services consultants offer

Kurpius (1978; as cited in Hedge & Borman, 2009) [89] gave four general types of consultation: (1) services and

products (e.g., selection tools); (2) collecting information and helping the organization identify and solve the

problem; (3) collaborating with the client to design and plan changes in the organization; and (4) helping the client

implement the changes and incorporate them into the organizational culture. Consultants offer these consulting

services to all kinds of organizations, such as profit and nonprofit sectors, public and private sectors, and a

government organization.

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Pros and cons

Like any other careers, there are many benefits and downsides of consulting.[90] Some advantages are substantial

material rewards, trust and respect from clients, and personal satisfaction. Some disadvantages are traveling (the

number one complaint of all I/O consultants), uncertainty in business especially for external consultants, and

marginality which is not belonging to any group or organization that the consultant works for.

Competencies of an I/O consultant

There are many different sets of competencies for different areas of consulting and different types of consultants.

For example, a consultant specializing in selection and recruiting should have expertise in finding the best talent

for the organization and getting everyone on board while he or she might not need to know much about executive

coaching. Some consultants tend to specialize in specific areas of consulting whereas others tend to generalize

their areas of expertise. However, Cummings and Worley (2009) [90] claimed that there are basic skills and

knowledge, which most consultants agree, needed to be effective consultants: (1) intrapersonal skills, (2)

interpersonal skills, and (3) general consultation skills. Intrapersonal skills include knowing consultants’ own values

and goals, integrity to work responsibly and ethically, and active as well as continuous learning. Interpersonal skills

include listening skills, facilitating skills, and building and maintaining relationships. These interpersonal skills are

especially important because regardless of how innovative the consultant’s idea is, if the client does not

understand it or does not trust the consultant, the client is not going to accept that idea. General consulting skills

are those being able to execute different stages of consulting which will be discussed in the following section titled

"Stages of I/O Consulting".

Stages of I/O consulting

Block (2011) [91] identified five stages of consulting: (1) entry and contracting, (2) discovery and diagnosis, (3)

analysis and planning, (4) engagement and implementation, and (5) extension or termination.

Entry and contracting

This stage is where the consultant makes the initial contact with the client about the project, and it includes setting

up the first meeting, exploring more about the project and the client, roles, responsibilities, and expectations about

the consultant, the client, and the project, and whether the consultant’s expertise and experience fit with what the

client wants out of the project. This is the most important part of the consulting, and most consultants agree that

most mistakes in the project can essentially be traced back to the faulty contracting stage.[91]

Discovery and diagnosis

This stage is where the consultant makes his or her own judgment about the problem identified by the client and

about the project. Sometimes, the problem presented by the client is not the actual problem but a symptom of a

true cause. Then, the consultant collects more information about the situation.[91]

Analysis and planning

This stage is where the consultant analyzes the data and presents the results to the client. The consultant needs to

reduce a large amount of data into a manageable size and present them to the client in a clear and simple way.

After presenting the results, the consultant helps the client make plans and goals for actions to be taken as a next

step to solve the identified problem.[91]

Engagement and implementation

This stage sometimes falls entirely on the client or the organization, and the consultant’s job might be completed

at the end of third stage. However, it is important for the consultant to be present at the fourth stage since without

implementing the changes suggested by the consultant, the problem is not likely to be solved. Moreover, despite

how good the consultant’s advice might be, employees are actually the ones who need to live the changes. So, in

this fourth stage, the consultant needs to get everyone on board with the changes and help implement the


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Extension or termination

This final stage is where the consultant and the client evaluate the project, and it is usually the most neglected yet

important stage. Then, the project is completed or extended depending on the client’s needs.[91]

Ethics of an I/O Consultant

In the consulting field, it is important for the consultant to maintain high ethical standards in all aspects of

relationships: consultant to client, consultant to consultant, and client to consultant.[92] After all, all decisions made

and actions taken by the consultant will reflect what kind of consultant he or she is. Although ethical situations can

be more intricate in the business world, American Psychology Association (APA)’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists

and Code of Conduct can be applied to I/O consultants as well. For example, the consultant should only accept

projects for which he or she is qualified; the consultant should also avoid all conflicts of interest and being in

multiple relationships with those he or she is working with. On the other hand, some might disagree that it is the

consultant’s responsibility to actively promote the application of moral and ethical standards in the consultation

and examine ethical issues in organizational decisions and policies. It is an ongoing controversial issue in the

consulting field.[93] In addition, as more and more organizations are becoming global, it is imperative for

consultants working abroad to quickly become aware of rules, regulations, and cultures of the organizations and

countries they are in as well as not to ignore ethical standards and codes just because they are abroad.[94]

Future trends of I/O consulting

Teachout and Vequist (2008)[95] identified driving forces affecting future trends in the business consulting: (1)

changes in the market conditions, (2) competition for market share and talent, (3) changes in customer demands,

(4) changes in technology and innovation, (5) increase in costs, especially in energy and health sectors, and (6)

globalization. They also discussed three trends in the field as a result of these forces – people, process, and


Human capital or people

In terms of human capital or people consulting, there are major forces for future trends: (1) lack of competencies in

STEM and communication fields, (2) aging of workforce, resulting in the loss of experience and expertise in

organizations, (3) increasing and aggressive competition for talent, (4) increase in project- or contract-based

workforce instead of hiring permanent employees, and (5) globalization. As a result, trends, such as major talent

management, selection and recruiting, workplace education and training, and planning for next generation, have

emerged. In addition, change management also becomes important in organizations in order to innovate and

implement new technology, tools, and systems to cope with changes in the business.[95]


In terms of process consulting, because of an increase in competition, it becomes important to identify and

improve key processes that meet customer values and demands as well as that are faster and cheaper.[95]


In terms of technology consulting, there is an increased need to automate processes or data so that employees

can focus on actually doing work and focusing on business rather than doing the manual labor. The consultant can

add value to these technologies by providing training, communication plan, and change management as well as to

incorporate these technologies into organizational culture. So, regardless of how advanced technology is,

consultants are still needed in making sure that these advanced technologies have positive effects on employees

and organizations in both technical and social aspects.[95]

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Clinical psychology is an integration of science, theory and clinical knowledge for the purpose of understanding,

preventing, and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective well-being and

personal development.[1][2] Central to its practice arepsychological assessment and psychotherapy, although clinical

psychologists also engage in research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and program development and

administration.[3] In many countries, clinical psychology is regulated as a health care profession.

The field is often considered to have begun in 1896 with the opening of the first psychological clinic at

the University of Pennsylvania by Lightner Witmer. In the first half of the 20th century, clinical psychology was

focused on psychological assessment, with little attention given to treatment. This changed after the 1940s when

World War II resulted in the need for a large increase in the number of trained clinicians. Since that time, two main

educational models have developed—the Ph.D. scientist–practitioner model (requiring a doctoral dissertation and

therefore research as well as clinical expertise) and, in the U.S. the Psy.D. practitioner–scholar model.

Clinical psychologists provide psychotherapy, psychological testing, and diagnosis of mental illness. They generally

train within four primary theoretical orientations—psychodynamic, humanistic, behavior therapy/cognitive-

behavioral, and systems or family therapy. Many continue clinical training in post-doctoral programs in which they

might specialize in disciplines such as psychoanalytic approaches or child and adolescent treatment modalities.

Cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes such as "attention, language use, memory, perception, problem solving, and thinking."[1]Much of the work derived from cognitive psychology has been integrated into various other modern disciplines of psychological study including social psychology, personality psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, and educational psychology.

Modern cognitive psychology

Modern perspectives on cognitive psychology generally address cognition as a dual process theory, introduced

by Jonathan Haidt in 2006, and expounded upon by Daniel Kahneman in 2011.[20] Kahneman differentiated the two

styles of processing more, calling them intuition and reasoning. Intuition (or system 1), similar to associative

reasoning, was determined to be fast and automatic, usually with strong emotional bonds included in the

reasoning process. Kahneman said that this kind of reasoning was based on formed habits and very difficult to

change or manipulate. Reasoning (or system 2) was slower and much more volatile, being subject to conscious

judgments and attitudes.[20]

Applications of cognitive psychology

Abnormal psychology

Following the cognitive revolution, and as a result of many of the principle discoveries to come out of the field of

cognitive psychology, the discipline of cognitive therapy evolved. Aaron T. Beck is generally regarded as the father

of cognitive therapy.[21] His work in the areas of recognition and treatment of depression has gained worldwide

notoriety. In his 1987 book titledCognitive Therapy of Depression, Beck puts forth three salient points with regard

to his reasoning for the treatment of depression by means of therapy or therapy and antidepressants versus using

a pharmacological-only approach:

1. Despite the prevalent use of antidepressants, the fact remains that not all patients respond to them. Beck cites

(in 1987) that only 60 to 65% of patients respond to antidepressants, and recent meta-analyses (a statistical

breakdown of multiple studies) show very similar numbers.[22]

2.Many of those who do respond to antidepressants end up not taking their medications, for various reasons. They

may develop side-effects or have some form of personal objection to taking the drugs.

3. Beck posits that the use of psychotropic drugs may lead to an eventual breakdown in the individual's coping

mechanisms. His theory is that the person essentially becomes reliant on the medication as a means of improving

mood and fails to practice those coping techniques typically practiced by healthy individuals to alleviate the effects

of depressive symptoms. By failing to do so, once the patient is weaned off of the antidepressants, they often are

unable to cope with normal levels of depressed mood and feel driven to reinstate use of the antidepressants.[23]

Page 12: Branches of Psychology

Social psychology

Many facets of modern social psychology have roots in research done within the field of cognitive

psychology. Social cognition is a specific sub-set of social psychology that concentrates on processes that have

been of particular focus within cognitive psychology, specifically applied to human interactions. Gordon B.

Moskowitz defines social cognition as "...the study of the mental processes involved in perceiving, attending to,

remembering, thinking about, and making sense of the people in our social world".[24]

The development of multiple social information processing models (SIP) has been influential in studies involving

aggressive and anti-social behavior. Kenneth Dodge's SIP model is one of, if not the most, empirically supported

models relating to aggression. Among his research, Dodge posits that children who possess a greater ability to

process social information more often display higher levels of socially acceptable behavior. His model asserts that

there are five steps that an individual proceeds through when evaluating interactions with other individuals and

that how the person interprets cues is key to their reactionary process.[25]

Developmental psychology

Many of the prominent names in the field of developmental psychology base their understanding of development

on cognitive models. One of the major paradigms of developmental psychology, the Theory of Mind (ToM), deals

specifically with the ability of an individual to effectively understand and attribute cognition to those around them.

This concept typically becomes fully apparent in children between the ages of 4 and 6. Essentially, before the child

develops ToM, they are unable to understand that those around them can have different thoughts, ideas, or

feelings than themselves. The development of ToM is a matter of metacognition, or thinking about one's thoughts.

The child must be able to recognize that they have their own thoughts and in turn, that others possess thoughts of

their own.[26]

One of the foremost minds with regard to developmental psychology, Jean Piaget, focused much of his attention on

cognitive development from birth through adulthood. Though there have been considerable challenges to parts of

his stages of cognitive development, they remain a staple in the realm of education. Piaget's concepts and ideas

predated the cognitive revolution but inspired a wealth of research in the field of cognitive psychology and many of

his principles have been blended with modern theory to synthesize the predominant views of today.[27]

Educational psychology

Modern theories of education have applied many concepts that are focal points of cognitive psychology. Some of

the most prominent concepts include:

Metacognition : Metacognition is a broad concept encompassing all manners of one's thoughts and knowledge

about their own thinking. A key area of educational focus in this realm is related to self-monitoring, which

relates highly to how well students are able to evaluate their personal knowledge and apply strategies to

improve knowledge in areas in which they are lacking.[28]

Declarative knowledge  and procedural knowledge: Declarative knowledge is a persons 'encyclopedic'

knowledge base, whereas procedural knowledge is specific knowledge relating to performing particular tasks.

The application of these cognitive paradigms to education attempts to augment a student's ability to integrate

declarative knowledge into newly learned procedures in an effort to facilitate accelerated learning.[28]

Knowledge organization : Applications of cognitive psychology's understanding of how knowledge is organized

in the brain has been a major focus within the field of education in recent years. The hierarchical method of

organizing information and how that maps well onto the brain's memory are concepts that that have proven

extremely beneficial in classrooms.[28]

Personality psychology

The Big 5 personality traits are five broad domains or dimensions of personality that are used to describe human

personality. Those five traits include neuroticism, extraversion, openness,conscientiousness, and agreeableness.

Cognitive therapeutic approaches have received considerable attention in the treatment of personality disorders in

recent years. The approach focuses on the formation of what it believes to be faulty schemata, centralized on

judgmental biases and general cognitive errors.[29]

Page 13: Branches of Psychology

Cognitive psychology vs. cognitive science

The line between cognitive psychology and cognitive science can be a blurry one. The differentiation between the

two is best understood in terms of cognitive psychology's relationship toapplied psychology, and the understanding

of psychological phenomena. Cognitive psychologists are often heavily involved in running psychological

experiments involving human participants, with the goal of gathering information related to how the human mind

takes in, processes, and acts upon inputs received from the outside world.[30] The information gained in this area is

then often used in the applied field of clinical psychology. One of the paradigms of cognitive psychology derived in

this manner, is that every individual develops schemata which motivate the person to think or act in a particular

way in the face of a particular circumstance. E.g., most people have a schema for waiting in line. When

approaching some type of service counter where people are waiting their turn, most people don't just walk to the

front of the line and butt in. Their schema for that situation tells them to get in the back of the line. This then

applies to the field of abnormal psychology as a result of individuals sometimes developing faulty schemata which

lead them to consistently react in a dysfunctional manner. If a person has a schema that says "I am no good at

making friends", they may become so reluctant to pursue interpersonal relationships that they become prone to

seclusion.[citation needed]

Cognitive science is better understood as predominantly concerned with gathering data through research.

Cognitive science envelopes a much broader scope, which has links to philosophy, linguistics, anthropology,

neuroscience, and particularly with artificial intelligence. It could be said that cognitive science provides the

database of information that fuels the theory from which cognitive psychologists operate.[31] Cognitive scientists'

research mostly involves non-human subjects, allowing them to delve into areas which would come under ethical

scrutiny if performed on human participants. I.e., they may do research implanting devices in the brains of rats to

track the firing of neurons while the rat performs a particular task. Cognitive science is highly involved in the area

of artificial intelligence and its application to the understanding of mental processes.[citation needed]


In its early years, critics held that the empiricism of cognitive psychology was incompatible with its acceptance of

internal mental states. However, the sibling field of cognitive neurosciencehas provided evidence of physiological

brain states that directly correlate with mental states - thus providing support for the central assumption of

cognitive psychology.[32]

As cognitive psychology gained momentum as a movement, through the 1970s, the complexity of the processes

involved in human thought, in the opinion of many, fractured studies of cognition so greatly that the field lost

cohesion. John C. Malone poses the assertion, in his book: Psychology: Pythagoras to Present, that "Examinations

of late twentieth-century textbooks dealing with 'cognitive psychology', 'human cognition', 'cognitive science', and

the like quickly reveals that there are many, many varieties of cognitive psychology and very little agreement

about exactly what may be its domain".[3]

The information processing approach to cognitive functioning is currently being questioned by new approaches in

psychology, such as dynamical systems, and the embodimentperspective.

Developmental psychology is the scientific study of changes that occur in human beings over the course of their

life. Originally concerned withinfants and children, the field has expanded to include adolescence, adult

development, aging, and the entire lifespan. This field examines change across a broad range of topics

including motor skills and other psycho-physiological processes; cognitive development involving areas such

as problem solving, moral understanding, and conceptual understanding; language acquisition; social, personality,

and emotional development; and self-concept and identity formation.

Developmental psychology examines issues such as the extent of development through gradual accumulation

of knowledge versus stage-like development—and the extent to which children are born with innate mental

structures, versus learning through experience. Many researchers are interested in the interaction between

personal characteristics, the individual's behavior, and environmental factors including social context, and their

impact on development; others take a more narrowly-focused approach.

Developmental psychology informs several applied fields, including: educational psychology, child

psychopathology, and forensic developmental psychology. Developmental psychology complements several other

Page 14: Branches of Psychology

basic research fields in psychology including social psychology, cognitive psychology, ecological psychology,

and comparative psychology.

Cognitive development

Cognitive development is primarily concerned with the ways that infants and children acquire, develop, and use

internal mental capabilities such as problem solving, memory, and language. Major topics in cognitive

development are the study of language acquisition and the development of perceptual and motor skills. Piaget was

one of the influential early psychologists to study the development of cognitive abilities. His theory suggests that

development proceeds through a set of stages from infancy to adulthood and that there is an end point or goal.

Other accounts, such as that of Lev Vygotsky, have suggested that development does not progress through stages,

but rather that the developmental process that begins at birth and continues until death is too complex for such

structure and finality. Rather, from this viewpoint, developmental processes proceed more continuously. Thus,

development should be analyzed, instead of treated as a product to obtain.

K. Warner Schaie has expanded the study of cognitive development into adulthood. Rather than being stable from

adolescence, Schaie sees adults as progressing in the application of their cognitive abilities.[18]

Modern cognitive development has integrated the considerations of cognitive psychology and the psychology

of individual differences into the interpretation and modeling of development.[19]Specifically, the neo-Piagetian

theories of cognitive development showed that the successive levels or stages of cognitive development are

associated with increasing processing efficiency and working memory capacity. These increases explain

differences between stages, progression to higher stages, and individual differences of children who are the same-

age and of the same grade-level. However, other theories have moved away from Piagetian stage theories, and are

influenced by accounts of domain-specific information processing, which posit that development is guided by

innate evolutionarily-specified and content-specific information processing mechanisms.

Social and emotional development

Developmental psychologists who are interested in social development examine how individuals develop social

and emotional competencies. For example, they study how children form friendships, how they understand and

deal with emotions, and how identity develops. Research in this area may involve study of the relationship

between cognition or cognitive development and social behavior.

Emotional regulation or ER refers to an individual's ability to modulate emotional responses across a variety of

contexts. In young children, this modulation is in part controlled externally, by parents and other authority figures.

As children develop, they take on more and more responsibility for their internal state. Studies have shown that

the development of ER is affected by the emotional regulation children observe in parents and caretakers, the

emotional climate in the home, and the reaction of parents and caretakers to the child's emotions.[20]

Physical development

Physical development concerns the physical maturation of an individual's body until it reaches the adult stature.

Although physical growth is a highly regular process, all children differ tremendously in the timing of their growth

spurts.[21] Studies are being done to analyze how the differences in these timings affect and are related to other

variables of developmental psychology such as information processing speed. Traditional measures of physical

maturity using x-rays are less in practice nowadays, compared to simple measurements of body parts such as

height, weight, head circumference, and arm span.[21]

A few other studies and practices with physical developmental psychology are the phonological abilities of mature

5- to 11-year-olds, and the controversial hypotheses of left-handers being maturationally delayed compared to

right-handers. A study by Eaton, Chipperfield, Ritchot, and Kostiuk in 1996 found in three different samples that

there was no difference between right- and left-handers.[21]

Page 15: Branches of Psychology

Memory development

Researchers interested in memory development look at the way our memory develops from childhood and onward.

According to Fuzzy-trace theory, we have two separate memory processes: verbatim and gist. These two traces

begin to develop at different times as well as at a different pace. Children as young as 4 years-old have verbatim

memory, memory for surface information, which increases up to early adulthood, at which point it begins to

decline. On the other hand, our capacity for gist memory, memory for semantic information, increases up to early

adulthood, at which point it is consistent through old age. Furthermore, our reliance on gist memory traces in

reasoning increases as we age.[22]

Abnormal psychology is the branch of psychology that studies unusual patterns

of behavior, emotion and thought, which may or may not be understood as precipitating a mental disorder.

Although many behaviours could be considered as abnormal, this branch of psychology generally deals with

behavior in a clinical context.[1] There is a long history of attempts to understand and control behavior deemed to

be aberrant or deviant (statistically, morally or in some other sense), and there is often cultural variation in the

approach taken. The field of abnormal psychology identifies multiple causes for different conditions, employing

diverse theories from the general field of psychology and elsewhere, and much still hinges on what exactly is

meant by "abnormal". There has traditionally been a divide between psychological and biological explanations,

reflecting a philosophicaldualism in regards to the mind body problem. There have also been different approaches

in trying to classify mental disorders. Abnormal includes three different categories, they

are subnormal, supernormal and paranormal.[2]

The science of abnormal psychology studies two types of behaviors: adaptive and maladaptive behaviors.

Behaviors that are maladaptive suggest that some problem(s) exist, and can also imply that the individual is

vulnerable and cannot cope with environmental stress, which is leading them to have problems functioning in daily

life.[3] Clinical psychology is the applied field of psychology that seeks to assess, understand and treat

psychological conditions in clinical practice. The theoretical field known as 'abnormal psychology' may form a

backdrop to such work, but clinical psychologists in the current field are unlikely to use the term 'abnormal' in

reference to their practice. Psychopathology is a similar term to abnormal psychology but has more of an

implication of an underlying pathology (disease process), and as such is a term more commonly used in the

medical specialty known aspsychiatry.

Problem-solving consists of using generic or ad hoc methods, in an orderly manner, for finding solutions to problems. Some of the problem-solving techniques developed and used inartificial intelligence, computer science, engineering, mathematics, medicine, etc. are related to mental problem-solving techniques studied in psychology.

The term problem-solving is used in many disciplines, sometimes with different perspectives, and often with

different terminologies. For instance, it is a mental process in psychology and a computerized process in computer

science. Problems can also be classified into two different types (ill-defined and well-defined) from which

appropriate solutions are to be made. Ill-defined problems are those that do not have clear goals or solution paths,

while well-defined problems have specific goals and clearly defined solution paths.[1]


In psychology, problem solving refers to a state of desire for reaching a definite 'goal' from a present condition that

either is not directly moving toward the goal, is far from it, or needs morecomplex logic for finding a missing

description of conditions or steps toward the goal.[2] In psychology, problem solving is the concluding part of a

larger process that also includes problem finding and problem shaping.

Considered the most complex of all intellectual functions, problem solving has been defined as a higher-

order cognitive process that requires the modulation and control of more routine or fundamental skills.[3] Problem

solving has two major domains: mathematical problem solving and personal problem solving where, in the second,

some difficulty or barrier is encountered.[4]Further problem solving occurs when moving from a given state to a

desired goal state is needed for either living organisms or an artificial intelligence system.

Page 16: Branches of Psychology

While problem solving accompanies the very beginning of human evolution and especially the history of

mathematics,[4] the nature of human problem solving processes and methods has been studied

by psychologists over the past hundred years. Methods of studying problem solving

include introspection, behaviorism, simulation, computer modeling, and experiment. Social psychologists have

recently distinguished between independent and interdependent problem-solving (see more).[5]

Characteristics of Difficult Problems

As elucidated by Dietrich Dörner and later expanded upon by Joachim Funke, difficult problems have some typical

characteristics that can be summarized as follows:

Intransparency (lack of clarity of the situation)

commencement opacity

continuation opacity

Polytely (multiple goals)




Complexity (large numbers of items, interrelations and decisions)


connectivity (hierarchy relation, communication relation, allocation relation)


Dynamics (time considerations)

temporal constraints

temporal sensitivity

phase effects

dynamic unpredictability

The resolution of difficult problems requires a direct attack on each of these characteristics that are encountered.[11]

Problem-Solving Strategies

Problem-solving strategies are the steps that one would use to find the problem(s) that are in the way to getting to

one’s own goal. Some would refer to this as the ‘problem-solving cycle’. (Bransford & Stein, 1993) In this cycle one

will recognize the problem, define the problem, develop a strategy to fix the problem, organize the knowledge of

the problem, figure-out the resources at the user's disposal, monitor one's progress, and evaluate the solution for

accuracy. Although called a cycle, one does not have to do each step in order to fix the problem, in fact those who

don’t are usually better at problem solving.[citation needed] The reason it is called a cycle is that once one is completed

with a problem another usually will pop up. Blanchard-Fields (2007) looks at problem solving from one of two

facets. The first looking at those problems that only have one solution (like math problems, or fact based

questions) which are grounded in psychometric intelligence. The other that is socioemotional in nature and are

unpredictable with answers that are constantly changing (like what’s your favorite color or what you should get

someone for Christmas).

The following techniques are usually called problem-solving strategies:[citation needed]

Abstraction: solving the problem in a model of the system before applying it to the real system

Analogy: using a solution that solves an analogous problem

Brainstorming: (especially among groups of people) suggesting a large number of solutions or ideas and

combining and developing them until an optimum solution is found

Divide and conquer: breaking down a large, complex problem into smaller, solvable problems

Page 17: Branches of Psychology

Hypothesis testing: assuming a possible explanation to the problem and trying to prove (or, in some contexts,

disprove) the assumption

Lateral thinking: approaching solutions indirectly and creatively

Means-ends analysis: choosing an action at each step to move closer to the goal

Method of focal objects: synthesizing seemingly non-matching characteristics of different objects into

something new

Morphological analysis: assessing the output and interactions of an entire system

Proof: try to prove that the problem cannot be solved. The point where the proof fails will be the starting point

for solving it

Reduction: transforming the problem into another problem for which solutions exist

Research: employing existing ideas or adapting existing solutions to similar problems

Root cause analysis: identifying the cause of a problem

Trial-and-error: testing possible solutions until the right one is found

Environmental psychology is an interdisciplinary field focused on the interplay between humans and their

surroundings. The field defines the term environment broadly, encompassing natural environments, social

settings, built environments, learning environments, and informational environments.

Since its conception, the field has been committed to the development of a discipline that is both value oriented

and problem oriented, prioritizing research aiming at solving complex environmental problems in the pursuit of

individual well-being within a larger society.[1] When solving problems involving human-environment interactions,

whether global or local, one must have a model of human nature that predicts the environmental conditions under

which humans will behave in a decent and creative manner. With such a model one can design, manage, protect

and/or restore environments that enhance reasonable behavior, predict what the likely outcome will be when these

conditions are not met, and diagnose problem situations. The field develops such a model of human nature while

retaining a broad and inherently multidisciplinary focus. It explores such dissimilar issues ascommon property

resource management, wayfinding in complex settings, the effect of environmental stress on human performance,

the characteristics of restorative environments, human information processing, and the promotion of durable

conservation behavior.

This multidisciplinary paradigm has not only characterized the dynamic for which environmental psychology is

expected to develop, but it has been the catalyst in attracting other schools of knowledge in its pursuit as well

aside from research psychologists. Geographers, economists, landscape architects, policy-

makers, sociologists, anthropologists, educators, and product developers all have discovered and participated in

this field.[1] Although "environmental psychology" is arguably the best-known and most comprehensive description

of the field, it is also known as human factors science, cognitive ergonomics, environmental social sciences,

architectural psychology, socio-architecture, ecological psychology, ecopsychology, behavioral geography,

environment-behavior studies, person-environment studies, environmental sociology, social ecology, and

environmental design research.

Health psychology is the study of psychological and behavioral processes in health, illness and healthcare.[1] It is

concerned with understanding howpsychological, behavioral and cultural factors are involved in physical health

and illness, in addition to the biological causes that are well understood bymedical science. Psychological factors

can affect health directly (such as stress causing the release of hormones such as cortisol which damage the body

over time) and indirectly via a person's own behavior choices which can harm or protect health (such as smoking

or taking exercise).[2] Health psychologists take a biopsychosocial approach - this means that they understand

health to be the product not only of biological processes (e.g. a virus, tumour, etc.) but also of psychological

processes (e.g. stress, thoughts and beliefs, behaviours such as smoking and exercise) and social processes (e.g.

socioeconomic status, culture and ethnicity).[2]

By understanding and harnessing psychological factors, health psychologists can improve health by working

directly with individual patients, indirectly in large-scale public health programs, and by training healthcare

professionals (e.g. physicians and nurses) to take advantage of this knowledge when working with their patients.

Health psychologists work in a variety of settings: alongside other medical professionals in hospitals and clinics,

Page 18: Branches of Psychology

in public health departments working on large-scale behavior change and health promotion programs, and in

universities and medical schools where they teach and conduct research.

Although its early beginnings can be traced to the kindred field of clinical psychology, four different divisions within

health psychology and one allied field have developed over time. The four divisions include clinical health

psychology, public health psychology, community health psychology, and critical health psychology.[3] The allied

field is occupational health psychology. Professional organizations for the field of health psychology includeDivision

38 of the American Psychological Association, the Division of Health Psychology of the British Psychological

Society, and theEuropean Health Psychology Society. Advanced credentialing in the U.S. as a Clinical Health

Psychologist is provided through the American Board of Professional Psychology.

Recent advances in psychological, medical, and physiological research have led to a new way of thinking about

health and illness. This conceptualization, which has been labeled thebiopsychosocial model, views health and

illness as the product of a combination of factors including biological characteristics (e.g., genetic predisposition),

behavioral factors (e.g., lifestyle, stress, health beliefs), and social conditions (e.g., cultural influences, family

relationships, social support).

Psychologists who strive to understand how biological, behavioral, and social factors influence health and illness

are called health psychologists.Health Psychologists use their knowledge of psychology and health to promote

general well-being and understand physical illness.[4] They are specially trained to help people deal with the

psychological and emotional aspects of health and illness. The term "health psychology" is often used

synonymously with the terms "behavioral medicine" and "medical psychology". Health psychologists work with

many different health care professionals (e.g., physicians, dentists, nurses, physician's assistants, dietitians, social

workers, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists, and chaplains) to conduct research and provide clinical

assessments and treatment services. Many health psychologists focus on prevention research and interventions

designed to promote healthier lifestyles and try to find ways to encourage people to improve their health. For

example, they may help people to lose weight or stop smoking.[4] Health Psychologists also use their skills to try to

improve the healthcare system. For example, they may advise doctors about better ways to communicate with

their patients [4] Health Psychologists work in many different settings including the NHS, private practice,

universities, communities, schools and organisations. While many health psychologists provide clinical services as

part of their duties, others function in non-clinical roles, primarily involving teaching and research. Leading journals

include Health Psychology, the Journal of Health Psychology, the British Journal of Health Psychology, and Applied

Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Health Psychologists can work with people on a one-to-one basis, in groups, as

a family, or at a larger population level.[4]

Clinical health psychology (ClHP) is a term that refers to the application of scientific knowledge, derived

from the field of health psychology, to clinical questions that may arise across the spectrum of health care.

ClHP is one of many specialty practice area for clinical psychologists. It is also a major contributor to the

prevention focused field of behavioral health and the treatment oriented field of behavioral medicine. Clinical

practice includes education, the techniques of behavior change, and psychotherapy. In some countries, a

clinical health psychologist, with additional training, can become a medical psychologist and, thereby, obtain

prescription privileges.

Public health psychology (PHP) is population oriented. A major aim of PHP is to investigate potential causal

links between psychosocial factors and health at the population level. Public health psychologists present

research results to educators, policy makers, and health care providers in order to promote better public

health. PHP is allied to other public health disciplines

including epidemiology, nutrition, genetics and biostatistics. Some PHP interventions are targeted toward at-

risk population groups (e.g., undereducated, single pregnant women who smoke) and not the population as a

whole (e.g., all pregnant women).

Community health psychology (CoHP) investigates community factors that contribute to the health and

well-being of individuals who live in communities. CoHP also develops community-level interventions that are

designed to combat disease and promote physical and mental health. The community often serves as the level

of analysis, and is frequently sought as a partner in health-related interventions.

Page 19: Branches of Psychology

Critical health psychology (CrHP) is concerned with the distribution of power and the impact of power

differentials on health experience and behavior, health care systems, and health policy. CrHP prioritizes social

justice and the universal right to health for people of all races, genders, ages, and socioeconomic positions. A

major concern is health inequalities. The critical health psychologist is an agent of change, not simply an

analyst or cataloger. A leading organization in this area is the International Society of Critical Health


Health psychology is both a theoretical and applied field. Health psychologists employ diverse research methods.

These methods include controlled randomized experiments, quasi-experiments, longitudinal studies, time-

series designs, cross-sectional studies, and case-control studies as well as action research. Health psychologists

study a broad range of variables including genotype, cardiovascular disease (cardiac

psychology), smoking habits, religious beliefs, alcohol use, social support, living conditions, emotional state, social

class, and much more. Some health psychologists treat individuals with sleep problems, headaches, alcohol

problems, etc. Other health psychologists work to empower community members by helping community members

gain control over their health and improve quality of life of entire communities.

Objectives of health psychology

Understanding behavioral and contextual factors

Health psychologists conduct research to identify behaviors and experiences that promote health, give rise to

illness, and influence the effectiveness of health care. They also recommend ways to improve health care and

health-care policy.[15] Health psychologists have worked on developing ways to reduce smoking[16] and improve

daily nutrition[17] in order to promote health and prevent illness. They have also studied the association between

illness and individual characteristics. For example, health psychology has found a relation between the personality

characteristics of thrill seeking, impulsiveness, hostility/anger, emotional instability, and depression, on one hand,

and high-risk driving, on the other.[18]

Health psychology is also concerned with contextual factors, including economic, cultural, community, social, and

lifestyle factors that influence health. The biopsychosocial model can help in understanding the relation between

contextual factors and biology in affecting health. Physical addiction plays an important role in smoking cessation.

Some research suggests that seductive advertising also contributes to psychological dependency on tobacco,[19] although other research has found no relationship between media and smoking in youth.[20] Research in

occupational health psychology indicates that people in jobs that combine little decision latitude with a high

psychological workload are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.[21]Other OHP research reveals a relation

between unemployment and elevations in blood pressure.[22] OHP research also documents a relation between

social class and cardiovascular disease.[23]

Health psychologists also aim to change health behaviors for the dual purpose of helping people stay healthy and

helping patients adhere to disease treatment regimens (also see Health Action Process Approach). Health

psychologists employ cognitive behavior therapy and applied behavior analysis (also see behavior modification) for

that purpose.

Preventing illness

Health psychologists work towards promoting health through behavioral change, as mentioned above; however,

they attempt to prevent illness in other ways as well. Health Psychologists try to help people to lead a healthy life

by developing and running programmes which can help people to make changes in their lives such as stopping

smoking,reducing the amount of alcohol they drink, eating more healthily,and taking regular exercise.[4] Campaigns

informed by health psychology have targeted tobacco use. Those least able to afford tobacco products consume

them most. Tobacco provides individuals with a way of controlling aversive emotional states accompanying daily

experiences of stress that characterize the lives of deprived and vulnerable individuals.[24] Practitioners emphasize

education and effective communication as a part of illness prevention because many people do not recognize, or

minimize, the risk of illness present in their lives. Moreover, many individuals are often unable to apply their

knowledge of health practices owing to everyday pressures and stresses. A common example of population-based

attempts to motivate the smoking public to reduce its dependence on cigarettes is anti-smoking campaigns.[25]

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Health psychologists help to promote health and well-being by preventing illness.[4] Some illnesses can be treated

better if they are caught early.Health Psychologists have worked to understand why some people do not go for

screening or immunisations and are finding ways to encourage people to have health checks for illnesses such as

cancer or heart disease.[4]Health Psychologists are also finding ways to try to help people to avoid risky behaviours

that may affect their health and well-being, such as unprotected sex and can also help to encourage regular teeth

brushing or hand washing to prevent future ill health.[4]

Health psychologists also aim at educating health professionals, including physicians and nurses, in

communicating effectively with patients in ways that overcome barriers to understanding, remembering, and

implementing effective strategies for reducing exposures to risk factors and making health-enhancing behavior


There is also evidence from occupational health psychology that stress-reduction interventions at the workplace

can be effective. For example, Kompier and his colleagues[27] have shown that a number of interventions aimed at

reducing stress in bus drivers has had beneficial effects for employees and bus companies.

The effects of disease

Health psychologists investigate how disease affects individuals' psychological well-being. An individual who

becomes seriously ill or injured faces many different practical stressors. The stressors include problems meeting

medical and other bills; problems obtaining proper care when home from the hospital; obstacles to caring for

dependents; having one's sense of self-reliance compromised; gaining a new, unwanted identity as a sick person;

and so on. These stressors can lead to depression, reduced self-esteem, etc.[28]

Health psychology also concerns itself with bettering the lives of individuals with terminal illness. When there is

little hope of recovery, health psychologist therapists can improve the quality of life of the patient by helping the

patient recover at least some of his or her psychological well-being.[29] Health psychologists are also concerned

with identifying the best ways for providing therapeutic services for the bereaved.[30]

Critical analysis of health policy

Critical health psychologists explore how health policy can influence inequities, inequalities, and social injustice.

These avenues of research expand the scope of health psychology beyond the level of individual health to an

examination of the social and economic determinants of health both within and between regions and nations. The

individualism of mainstream health psychology has been critiqued and deconstructed by critical health

psychologists using newer qualitative methods and frameworks for investigating health experience and behavior.[3]

Applications of health psychology

Improving doctor–patient communication

Health psychologists attempt to aid the process of communication between physicians and patients during medical

consultations. There are many problems in this process, with patients showing a considerable lack of

understanding of many medical terms, particularly anatomical terms (e.g., intestines).[32] One main area of

research on this topic involves "doctor-centered" or "patient-centered" consultations. Doctor-centered

consultations are generally directive, with the patient answering questions and playing less of a role in decision-

making. Although this style is preferred by elderly people and others, many people dislike the sense of hierarchy or

ignorance that it inspires. They prefer patient-centered consultations, which focus on the patient's needs, involve

the doctor listening to the patient completely before making a decision, and involving the patient in the process of

choosing treatment and finding a diagnosis.[33]

Improving adherence to medical advice

Getting people to follow medical advice and adhere to their treatment regimens is a difficult task for health

psychologists. People often forget to take their pills or consciously opt not to take their prescribed medications

because of side effects. Failing to take prescribed medication is costly and wastes millions of usable medicines that

could otherwise help other people. Estimated adherence rates are difficult to measure (see below); there is,

however, evidence that adherence could be improved by tailoring treatment programs to individuals' daily lives.[34]

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Ways of measuring adherence

Health psychologists have identified a number of ways of measuring patients' adherence to medical regimens:

Counting the number of pills in the medicine bottle—although this has problems with privacy and/or could be

deemed patronizing or showing lack of trust in patients

Using self-reports—although patients may fail to return the self-report or lie about their adherence

Asking a doctor or health worker—although this presents problems on doctor–patient confidentiality

Using "Trackcap" bottles, which track the number of times the bottle is opened; however, this either raises

problems of informed consent or, if informed consent is obtained, influence through demand characteristics.[35]

Managing pain

Health psychology attempts to find treatments to reduce and eliminate pain, as well as understand pain anomalies

such as episodic analgesia, causalgia, neuralgia, and phantom limb pain. Although the task of measuring and

describing pain has been problematic, the development of the McGill Pain Questionnaire [36]  has helped make

progress in this area. Treatments for pain involve patient-administered analgesia, acupuncture (found by Berman

to be effective in reducing pain for osteoarthritis of the knee[37]), biofeedback, and cognitive behavior therapy.

Health Psychologist roles

Below are some examples of the types of positions held by Health Psychologists within applied settings such as the

NHS and privatepractice.

Consultant Health Psychologist: A Consultant Health Psychologist will take a lead for health psychology

within public health, including managing tobacco control and smoking cessation services and providing

professional leadership in the management of Health Trainers.[31]

Principal Health Psychologist: A Principal Health Psychologist could, for example lead the health

psychology service within one of the UK’s leading heart and lung hospitals, providing a clinical service to

patients and advising all members of the multidisciplinary team.[31]

Health Psychologist: An example of a Health Psychologist's role would be to provide health psychology input

to a centre for weight management. Psychological assessment of treatment,development and delivery of a

tailored weight management programme, and advising on approaches to improve adherence tohealth advice

and medical treatment.[31]

Research Psychologist: Research psychologists carry out health psychology research, for example exploring

the psychological impact of receiving a diagnosis of dementia, or evaluating ways of providing psychological

support for people with burn injuries. Research can also be in the area of health promotion, for example

investigating the determinants of healthy eating or physical activity or understanding why people misuse


Health Psychologist in Training/Assistant Health Psychologist: As an Assistant/in training, a health

psychologist will gain experience assessing patients, delivering psychological interventions to change health

behaviours and conducting research, whilst being supervised by a qualified Health Psychologist.[31]

Training in Health Psychology

In the United Kingdom, Health Psychologists are registered by the Health Professions Council (HPC) and have

trained to a level to be eligible for full membership of the Division of Health Psychology within the British

Psychological Society (BPS).[38] Registered Health Psychologists who are chartered with the British Psychological

Society (BPS) will have undertaken a minimum of six years of training and will have specialised in health

psychology for a minimum of three years.[31] Health Psychologists in training must have completed BPS stage 1

training and be registered with the BPS Stage 2 training route or with a BPS-accredited university doctoral Health

Psychology programme. Once qualified, Health Psychologists can work in a range of settings, for example the NHS,

universities, schools, private healthcare, research and charitable organisations.[31] A Health Psychologist in training

might be working within applied settings whilst working towards registration and chartered status.[31] A Health

Psychologist will have demonstrated competencies in all of the following areas:

professional skills (including implementing ethical and legal standards, communication and team work),

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research skills (including designing, conducting and analysing psychological research in numerous areas),

consultancy skills (including planning and evaluation),

teaching and training skills (including knowledge of designing,delivering and evaluating large and small scale

training programmes),

intervention skills (including delivery and evaluation of behaviour change interventions).[31]

All qualified Health Psychologists must also engage in and record their continuing professional development (CPD)

for psychology each year throughout their career.[38]