What are the types of psychologists?

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Psychologists are healthcare professionals who use scientific methods to understand the relationships between the brain, environment and behavior. Psychologists may focus on research — studying how the brain and various environments drive behaviors to better understand the issues that trouble patients and society as a whole — or they may focus on practice — interacting with people using therapeutic methods. The American Psychological Association shares some of the more prevalent types of psychologists:

  • Clinical psychologists assess and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders.
  • Cognitive and perceptual psychologists study human perception, thinking and memory.
  • Community psychologists work to strengthen the abilities of communities, settings, organizations and broader social systems to meet people’s needs — such as improving support for victims of natural disasters, or working to improve health policies.
  • Counseling psychologists help people understand and take action on everyday issues, career and work problems, and serious adversity.
  • Developmental psychologists study the psychological development of the human being throughout life.
  • Educational psychologists concentrate on how effective teaching and learning take place.
  • Engineering psychologists conduct research on how people work best with machines.
  • Environmental psychologists study the dynamics of how people interact with their environments.
  • Evolutionary psychologists study how evolutionary principles such as mutation, adaptation and selective fitness influence human thought, feeling and behavior.
  • Experimental psychologists study cognitive processes, comparative psychology (cross-species comparisons), and learning and conditioning.
  • Forensic psychologists apply psychological principles to legal issues.
  • Health psychologists specialize in how biological, psychological and social factors affect health and illness.
  • Industrial/organizational psychologists apply psychological principles and research methods to the workplace to improve productivity, health and the quality of work life.
  • Neuropsychologists and behavioral neuropsychologists explore the relationships between brain systems and behavior.
  • Quantitative and measurement psychologists focus on methods and techniques for designing experiments and analyzing psychological data.
  • Rehabilitation psychologists work with stroke and accident victims, people with mental disabilities, and those with developmental disabilities caused by such conditions as cerebral palsy, epilepsy and autism.
  • School psychologists assess and counsel students, consult with parents and school staff, and conduct behavioral interventions when appropriate.
  • Social psychologists study how a person’s mental life and behavior are shaped by interactions with other people.
  • Sport psychologists help athletes refine their focus on competition goals, become more motivated, and learn to deal with anxiety and fear of failure around competition.

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