Psychology, which can be defined as an applied science that examines human behavior and mental processes, is an important field of study as an estimated 1 in 4 people in the world are affected by mental disorders1. It seeks to explore what factors may lead to mental illnesses and how to treat those disorders, as well as how to promote mental health and wellbeing in order to prevent mental illnesses in the population.
The field of psychology can be broken down into many different branches, including abnormal psychology, biopsychology, cognitive psychology, cross-cultural psychology, developmental psychology, evolutionary psychology, health psychology, social psychology, positive psychology, and pharmacology. More information on these branches of psychology can be found in their respective categories here on BrainMass.
Some topics in psychology include the role of genetics and neurotransmitters in mental illness, how our thoughts and cognitions influence our behavior, and how group processes and cultural differences can impact us. Psychologists may not only research such topics but also be involved in academic settings or clinical settings by working in private practice and hospitals. Some psychologists are also employed in businesses or as forensic psychologists, showing the vast range of areas in which psychology can be applied. The field of industrial and organizational psychology is where the study of interactions within the workplace and how they apply to psychological theories.
In all psychological fields and professions, ethics are an extremely essential component. Research studies must be safe in terms of not causing any physical or psychological harm to the participant, and informed consent must be given by the participant after approval from an ethics board for the study to take place. In applied settings, the psychologist is responsible for treating the client through accepted and ethical treatments, and information provided by the client must remain confidential. The clinician-client relationship must also remain professional and provide healthy support and mutual respect in order to encourage the treatment process.
1. WHO (2001). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/whr/2001/media_centre/press_release/en/
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