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What is the Difference Between Psychology and Counseling Psychology?

counseling-psychologyAlthough the field of psychology has been around since the time of Sigmund Freud, there is a lot of ambiguity and confusion about it. Much of this misconception has arisen due to the public interpretation of psychology through popular entertainment venues like movies, television shows and novels. Entertainment media have romanticized the image of psychology, making it appear that psychologists are highly astute observers of human behavior and can follow invisible clues about hidden human motives.

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Psychology Is an Academic Discipline

In reality, psychology is an academic study of human behavior, and unlike physics or chemistry, it is classified as a “soft science” because it is not entirely empirical. Research focuses on why people behave the way they do. Psychologists want to know how people think, feel, and act.

Different Schools of Thinking

Psychology, then, is a broad term, for the study of the human mind and human behavior. There are numerous different schools of thinking about how to approach and interpret psychological data. Some popular schools, for example, are structuralism, functionalism, psychoanalysis, behaviorism, humanism, and cognitivism.

Different Psychological Disciplines

Besides a variety different schools of thinking, within a university or college setting, there are different psychological disciplines that one can focus on. These are specializations within the broad field of psychology. So, for example, when deciding to study psychology, you also have to decide what type of psychologist you want to become.

Here, for example, is a brief listing of some popular psychological disciplines that one might specialize in:

• Abnormal Psychology
• Biological Psychology
• Clinical Psychology
• Counseling Psychology
• Cognitive Psychology
• Comparative Psychology
• Developmental Psychology
• Forensic Psychology
• Industrial Psychology
• Personality Psychology
• School Psychology
• Social Psychology

What Is Counseling Psychology?

Counseling psychology is one form of psychology. It is interested in detecting symptoms and then finding a way to heal the abnormal psychological condition. In other words, like medicine, it is concerned with diagnosis and therapeutic treatments; however, a counseling psychologist is seeking to heal the mind and not the body. A diagnosis is based on evaluating how a person is doing emotionally, socially, vocationally, educationally, developmentally and organizationally. A psychologist wants to know if the person within the norm of behavior within these categories.

Counseling Psychologists Specialize In Neurosis

Counseling psychologists, generally speaking, work with neurotic rather than psychotic people and refer psychotic people to psychiatrists, who are medical doctors who have specialized in psychological theories and are able to prescribe mood-altering drugs.

Counseling Psychology Requires a Doctorate

A counseling psychologist requires a doctorate, and this can be a Doctor of Psychology or Doctor of Philosophy. So a counseling psychologist will be a Psy.D, Ph.D, or Ed.D. These programs are offered by the psychology department of a university and these programs must be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

In summary, then, psychology is a broad field. It is an academic study that can be broken down into different schools of thinking, with each school offering a different perspective about the meaning of psychology. Furthermore, in a university, a person can choose between a number of different psychological disciplines to specialize in. Counseling psychology, then, is one type of psychology. This discipline focuses on providing therapy for those with a neurosis.