There are areas where psychological principles and techniques are applied in finding solution to human and societal problems. This aspect of psychology has to do with the various specialities and branches of psychology where special skills and practical expertise come to play.
Branches Of Applied Psychology
The following are some examples of such specialities and branches where psychologists apply their various skills and training to different problems of life:
1. Clinical Psychology
This branch of speciality of applied psychology stands out prominently in the practical application of psychological principles to human problems.
The clinical psychologists mostly practise in mental hospitals, community health centres and such other health institutions, where they diagnose behaviour disorders and emotional problems, apply psychological techniques generally known as “psycho-therapy” for their treatment. Some of them engage in private practice as consultants in advanced countries like Britain, U.S.A. And Germany.
A clinical psychologist is not trained to use or prescribe drugs. He uses purely psychological procedures and techniques. The prescription and application of drugs is for the psychiatrists, who specialize in psychiatry, after studying general medicine.
2. Counselling Psychology
The training and work done by clinical and counselling psychologists are very similar such that their functions overlap sometimes. The basic difference in their functions is that counselling psychologists handle milder or more minor emotional problems and personality disorders, while clinical psychologists treat more complex ones. Conselling psychologists work at vocational centres, at schools, colleges, and universities, where they help students that have certain psychological problems.
3. Industrial/Organizational Psychology
This is a specialty in the field of applied psychology where psychological techniques and principles are applied to practical problems of work in industries and other organizational work settings. In the words of Prof. M.L. Blum, “Industrial psychology is the application or extension of psychological facts and principles to problems concerning human relations in business and industry”.
The first use of psychological principles to the problems of work started with the use of aptitude tests for selection and placement of workers. Many modern companies today use the modern and improved versions of such aptitude tests in their personnel selection and job placement of their workers for efficiency and high productivity. Most of the time, job and workers analysis techniques are adopted to establish the requirements of a particular job and those who meet such requirements of a particular job and those who meet such requirements to perform the job. This branch of applied psychology is sometimes referred to as organizational psychology.
Generally, the concern of industrial psychologists include the following:
1. Creating conducive environment by improving human relations and good conditions of work at work settings.
2. Job satisfaction of workers, high morale and industrial harmony both among workers and between management and staff.
3. Increase in efficiency and productivity.
4. Removal of fatigue, boredom, prevention of industrial accidents and resolution of conflicts in industries and other work places.
In fact, industrial psychology has developed some other sub-branches like personnel psychology, consumer psychology, psychology of marketing and advertising.
4. Educational And School Psychology
These two distinct but related specialities of applied psychology are concerned with the problems of personality development of individuals through the process of learning. In this case, their major objective is to apply psychological researches and techniques in developing young people to balanced personalities. No sharp line exists between the two specialities.
However, Educational psychology is basically concerned with the problems of teaching, learning and personality development and improvement of young people. The psychologists in this field usually work in university departments of education or psychologu, where they develop educational tests and evaluate educational programmes designed for different categories of students and standards.
On the other hand, school psychologists perform psychological tests, administer and evaluate examination questions. They also advise students on their educational plans, detect and treat learning disabilities. They seek to improve learning conditions in classrooms through motivation. Besides, they also assist students with emotional problems that may likely affect their academic work.
Both the educational and school psychologists plan and develop special programmes for the mentally retarded persons, so as to enable them learn and develop according to their own level of intellectual capacity.
The mentally retarded are those formerly tagged as morons, imbeciles and idiots, whose intelligence level range approximately between 0 – 69, that they find it difficult to develop mentally like others due to chronic defecrs in their cognitive capacity such that they cannot profit from educational opportunities and other experiences of learning like every other average person within the same chronological (age) group. That means that their intelligience quotient (IQ) is desperately below average.
5. Social Psychology
Social psychologists primarily concern themselves in studying the influence of group membership on the behaviour of individuals. Sometimes, too, their attention may be focused on how an individual influences or affects the behaviour of other group members, as in the study of leadership and group dynamism.
Thus, the influence of the family, peer group and other social groups to which we belong on our personalities, are all within the scope of social psychology. In the time of war, social psychologists may study the morale of defence workers, the influence of propaganda, the spread of rumours and the attitude of the public toward the war efforts of the government.
6. Development Psychology
The psychologists in this sub-field of applied psychology carry out pure and applied researches on child development, adult developmental trends and aging. They also do clinical work on disturbed children, act as consultants to pre-schools; programme for the aged, etc. Developmental psychologists trace the changes in behaviour and in mental processes, which occur through the life span, of individuals from conception, through adulthood to death. This makes this field of psychology the braodest branch of psychology because it covers all other basic areas such as perception, physiology, learning, and cognition, focusing on the kind of changes that take place overtime as the individual matures.
7. Medical Psychology
Medical psychology is relatively a new sub-field of applied psychology. The medical psychologists study the relationship between stress, personality and disease, including heart attack, high blood pressure, ulcers, etc. They manage emotional problems associated with illness and (or) disability.
8. Forensic Psychology
The forensic psychologists carry out applied researches on the problems of crime and crime prevention, rehabilitation programmes in prisons, courtroom dynamics, psychology and law. They also work in the police force and help in selecting the right candidates for police work.
9. Experimental and Physiological Psychology
The psychologists in these sub-fields of psychology carry out studies to understand the fundamental causes of behaviour. They engage in what is sometimes referred to as “basic or pure research” in which they study fundamental processes as learning and memory, sensation and perception, and motivation.
The experimental psychologists study how behaviour is modified and how these modifications are retained; how human sensory systems work to allow people to experience what is going on around them and the factors that urge or motivate them and give them direction to a particular behaviour.
The physiological psychologists are concerned with the relationship of the brain and other biological processes and activities to behaviour. Experimental and physiological psychologists employ the method of controlled experiments in their studies.
The sub-fields of applied psychology as discussed above are by no means exhaustive to cover all the areas where psychologists apply their skills. However, they cover most of the major work, which psychologists do. There are some sub-fields which are the direct off-shoot of major sub-fields. For instance, consumer and Engineering psychology are both the extension of Industrial Psychology; just as community psychology is an expansion of clinical psychology.
Consequently, the various and growing activities of psychologists cannot be so rigidly classified into clear-cut categories. The varieties of work psychologists do overlap because there is no much fundamental difference in most of the sub fields of applied psychology. In terms of training and oreintation, every applied psychologist is a general psychologist first, and an applied specialist secondarily.