Which Area of Psychology Are You Best Suited For?

Psychology has a large number of specializations. Find your best fit.

Posted Sep 17, 2015

When most people think of the field of Psychology, they immediately picture the clinical psychologist—a counselor or therapist working with individual clients.  But that is only one specialty area within Psychology.  Along with Clinical Psychology, here are some of the additional specialty areas, some questions to help you decide which you might be best suited for, and career opportunities.

Clinical & Counseling Psychology.  Let’s start with the one most people know best.  This is a very broad area that includes a variety of clinical and counseling services for individuals and groups.  Briefly put, the focus is on providing psychological healthcare.  Although many clinical and counseling psychologists have earned a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.), there are clinicians and counselors who have Masters degrees.

Do you care about helping people with psychological problems and concerns? 

Are you able to be empathic, but still maintain some objectivity in dealing with others’ feelings and concerns?  Then Clinical or Counseling Psychology may be the path for you.

Industrial-Organizational Psychology.  This is the study of human behavior in the workplace.  I-O psychologists try to help workers and organizations function better.  Like Clinical/Counseling Psychology, there is both a research (think college professor) and practice side to I-O Psychology, with about 1/3 of I-O psychologists working in organizations, 1/3 as consultants, and 1/3 working as academics.

Are you interested in the business world, or in employee issues?  I-O Psychology might be for you.  More on I-O Psychology here.

Social Psychology.  The study of social issues and behavior is the realm of Social Psychology.  Most social psychologists are academics, but many are involved in applied social psychology, offering information that leads to attempts to solve social problems.  If you want to understand more about social behavior and issues, you should explore Social Psychology.

Educational Psychology.  Educational Psychology is the study of how people learn and retain information, particularly in classrooms and other formal settings.  Educational psychologists include both scholars/researchers, but also practitioners who create and administer educational programs, test their effectiveness, and work in schools.

School Psychology.  Are you interested in helping children in schools learn, overcome barriers to learning, and assisting children with issues of social adjustment?  If so, you might be interested in becoming a School Psychologist.  Working primarily in educational settings, school psychology is a combination of assessment of learning, learning difficulties, and also a sort of counseling role in helping children deal with stress, family issues, and overcoming learning disabilities.

This is just a very general overview of some of the many specialty areas within the broad discipline of Psychology, and some of the careers for psychologists.  Here is a more comprehensive website:


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