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The Diverse Nature of Psychology

The importance of psychology as an academic discipline is extremely relevant in the present age of economic, spiritual and environmental crises, owing to its applicability in various walks of life. By incorporating findings from disciplines such as natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, it addresses various issues of family and society, through a variety of applied procedures. The present essay is a brief analysis of psychology and its sub disciplines with reference to the impact of diversity on the same as well as its practical applications on certain other disciplines.

The term psychology literally means the “study of the mind” and as per generalized definitions by various authors, it deals with the mental processes and behavior in humans and other animals. A more ideal definition has been put forward in recent decades, which encompasses the nature of the discipline as a practice rather than a mere science by defining it as “the study of behavior and underlying mental phenomena. ” (“Psychology continues to redefine itself”, 1999).

Further, it is evident that the discipline can be defined in more significant ways, with reference to the particular area of interest, which also provide scope for several specialized sub disciplines such as clinical psychology, child psychology, educational psychology, sport psychology, social psychology, comparative psychology, forensic psychology, evolutionary psychology, industrial psychology and other upcoming fields. Of the above, some areas that are encountered frequently are clinical psychology, forensic psychology and education psychology.

Let us examine some aspects of each of them. The clinical psychologists work at different levels to diagnose and treat patients with mental disorders. Using various tools, they assess the nature, causes, and effects of personal distress, and the psychological factors associated with various dysfunctions. Assessment procedures include interviews, behavioral assessments, and the administration and interpretation of psychological tests (“About clinical psychology”, 2009).

The techniques involved in clinical psychology are psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, behavior therapy, marital and family therapy, group therapy, biofeedback, cognitive retraining and rehabilitation, social learning approaches, and environmental consultation and design- all of which aim at satisfaction, adaptation, social order, and health (“About clinical psychology”). Forensic psychology is another sub discipline of psychology that is closely related to the legal system.

Goldstein (2006) commented that in comparison to early decades, it has now matured as a specialty, and offers evaluation in traditional criminal cases. It is concerned with the collection, examination and presentation of evidences for judicial purposes or in short, provides psychological information for the purpose of facilitating a legal decision (“What is forensic psychology”? 2009). Educational psychology, a vital sub discipline, has numerous applications in the learning process, which have been documented as early as 1922 by Breitweiser et al. , who conducted a unique survey based on standard tests of psychology.

Educational psychology contributes to the education of teachers as well as learners, and finds application in planning, delivering, and evaluating teaching (Elliott, et. al. , 2000). These authors have also demonstrated that, with the knowledge of certain key concepts and their relationships to the instruction and learning process, this discipline could be of profound use to teachers. They are, understanding the meaning of teaching, knowledge of students, understanding the learning process and instructional strategies, and understanding the assessment strategies.

An important characteristic of psychology is its diversity which has been discussed by Ruben (2007), who opines that “the nature of psychology, its subject matter, its level of analysis, its scientific laws, its relationship with other disciplines, and its social relevance, has been a matter of great concern and interest”. The recognition that psychology is not only a science but a practice comprising an alliance of sub disciplines is the factor which makes the tools of psychology valid in various fields.

Despite the fact that the key interests of various sub disciplines are different, the diverse nature of psychology has in fact become the strength of the discipline, instead of acting as a barrier. The fact is supported by Melba & James (2007) who suggested that an increase in diversity in psychology promotes robust exchange of ideas that would be of value to all. It is also apparent that the increased number of specialties and diversity of the discipline demands an interdisciplinary approach. In the same manner, the applications of psychology to other disciplines are also diverse.

Forensic Psychology and legal psychology are applied in law and legal systems. An important application in this area is the trial consulting, wherein psychological tools are used for resolving disputes or legal issues. Various types of researches are being conducted by psycho-legal consultants including those relating to employment law, cognitive psychology, social psychology and clinical psychology (Psychology and the Law, 2009. ) In order to demonstrate the potential practical relevance of this discipline in emerging areas, application of psychology in a specialized field such as that in aviation may be considered.

The aviation psychologists can help in tackling air sickness and in managing anxiety. (Richmond, 2009). According to Green (1983), better understanding of the problems faced by crew members on the flight deck can be made use of to manage the workload of pilots. In summary, psychology and its diverse sub disciplines are considered promising fields that address various issues of real world. The core problems in all sectors are related to human behavior. Hence, in spite of the diversity and broadness of the discipline, psychological tools are reliable and are depended on to deal with them, thus promoting personal and social well being.

References About clinical psychology. (2009). American psychological association Division 12. Retrieved June 10, 2009, from www. apa. org/divisions/div12/aboutcp. html Breitwieser, J. V. (Ed. ). (1922). Applications of psychology to education. University of California. Department of Education. Bureau of Research in Education. Elliott, S. N. , Kratochwill, T. R. , Cook, J. L. & Travers, J. F. (2000). Educational psychology: Effective teaching, effective learning. 3rd Edition. The McGraw-Hill Companies. Goldstein, A. M. (Ed. ). (2006).

Goldstein Forensic Psychology: Emerging topics and expanding roles. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 819 pp. Green, R. (1983). Aviation psychology. II: Assessing workload and selecting pilots. British Medical Journal (Clin Res Ed). 286(6382): 947–1949. Melba, V. J. T. & James, J. M. (2007). Diversity is a compelling interest, and affirmative action is an important strategy for achieving it. American Psychologist, 62(8), 146-147. doi: 10. 1037/003-066X62. 2. 146 Psychology and the Law. (2009). Retrieved June 10, 2009, from www. lhup. edu/ tmitchel/research/

Psychology continues to redefine itself. (1999). APA Monitor Online, 30(11). Retrieved June 10, 2009, from www. apa. org/monitor/dec99/ss2. html Richmond, R. L. (2009). Other applications of psychology. A guide to psychology and its practice. Retrieved June 10, 2009, from http://www. guidetopsychology. com/ index. html Ruben, A. (2007). The nature of psychology: The great dilemmas. American Psychologist, 62(8), 906-912. doi: 10. 1037/0003-066X. 62. 8. 906 What is forensic psychology? (2009). All about forensic psychology. Retrieved June 10, 2009, from www. all-about-forensic-psychology. com

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