Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and its influence on human development, behaviours and processes such as thoughts and emotions, as well as relationships, interactions and communication.
It is a multifaceted and diverse discipline with numerous sub-fields focusing on deep understanding of human nature, as well as the biological and neurological processes.
Psychology helps us with our personal insights and comprehension of our own actions and assists to address and solve our personal problems aswell as health challenges.
Psychology is both an applied and academic field, benefiting not only the individual, but holding an important role in our society. Dedicated to the study of social behaviour and motivations behind it, it helps to form conclusions based on sound scientific methodology, which can then be applied to professional practice across all sectors of our society and used in most areas of our life.
There are numerous branches of psychology. Each branch has a different focus and looks at problems or questions from a different perspective, yet they share following common goals
The main branches for health and wellness are
Clinical Psychology: Deals with a broad range of mental and physical health issues including abnormal behaviour, addiction, emotional stress, mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, psychiatric disorders and more. A variety of methods is used for assessments in order to investigate client’s current situation consisting of interviews, psychometric tests and in some cases direct observation of behaviour to ascertain the best way forward.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Focuses on internal mental states and helps to systematically resolve numerous mental health and behavioural issues such trauma, PTSD, OCD, phobias, eating disorders, decision making, problem solving and more, using specific techniques designed to help with changing thought patterns (cognitive) and actions (behaviour), and centres on memory and learning. CBT helps to make sense of seemingly overwhelming problems by breaking them down into simple and manageable steps to follow.
Counselling Psychology: One of the largest subfields, focusing on treatment of mental distress, suitable for adults, teens, children, couples as well as families, helping with diverse range of issues such as relationships, bereavement, mental health problems, work related issues, social interaction, confidence, bullying, self-harm etc, and aims to explore the underlying root cause.It brings about deeper understanding of self and others, helping to resolve any highlighted issues.
Health Psychology: Aims to help and support patients with fears, attitudes and thoughts pertaining to health issues, and to assist people who are coping with serious illness, disease or intrusive or unpleasant medical treatments.
Neuropsychology: A specialist field, focusing on the relationship between the physical brain and its various functions, dealing with health challenges such as memory, sensory perception, and the biological reasons for conditions like depression. Psychologists within this sector also help with assessments and rehabilitation of patients with brain injury, stroke, and neurological conditions such as dementia as well as other degenerative brain diseases.
Other specialist disciplines and major areas of research are Social Psychology, Education Psychology, OccupationalPsychology, Industrial or Organisational Psychology, Forensic Psychology, BehaviouralPsychology, Biological Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology,Cross-Cultural Psychology and more….
Other applications of using psychology: Developing educational programs, informing public policy, performance enhancement in leadership roles and sports, personal health and well-being, self-help, understanding child development, and more….
Psychology is a relatively new science, with the greatest advancement made in the last couple of centuries, but its origins can be traced back to ancient Greece 400-500BC. Great philosophers of the time discussed many topics currently researched by modern psychology, and these profound thinkers influenced those that came after them. For example, Socrates influenced Plato, who influenced Aristotle etc.
In the early19th century, two dominant theoretical perspectives led the way – Structuralism and Fuctionalism.
Structuralism, an approach pioneered by Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) was unique for its time, as it separated psychology from philosophy for the first time. It focused on analysing the workings of the mind in a structured way, using the method of trained introspection, where test subjects related their inner thoughts while performing a given task. However, this method eventually proved unreliable, due to the fluctuations of individuals’ experiences, and reports of the findings were too varied. Despite its failure, Wundt’s work is considered very important in the development of psychology.
Functionalism was developed by William James (1842-1910) who disagreed with Structuralism, highlighting that the mind is constantly changing, and it would be futile to look for a structure in a constantly changing conscious experience. His approach rather focused on the understanding the how and why a person behaves in a certain way, suggesting that psychologists should look for the underlying cause of behaviour, as well as the mental processes involved. This approach of the cause and consequences concept has influenced psychology of today.