The article was last updated by Emily (Editor) on February 23, 2024.

Are you curious about the different major fields in psychology? From clinical psychology to social psychology, there are numerous areas of specialization within the field.

But what about the practices that don’t quite fit the bill? In this article, we’ll explore the major fields in psychology, as well as what doesn’t make the cut. Get ready to dive into the fascinating world of psychology and gain a better understanding of its diverse subfields.

Key Takeaways:

  • Parapsychology, astrology, hypnotherapy, psychic reading, dream analysis, personality tests, and life coaching are not considered major fields in psychology.
  • A major field in psychology involves the scientific study of human behavior and mental processes, and follows ethical and empirical research methods.
  • The major fields in psychology include clinical, counseling, developmental, educational, experimental, forensic, health, industrial-organizational, neuropsychology, and social psychology.

What is a Major Field in Psychology?

Psychology encompasses a wide range of major fields that specialize in understanding human behavior, cognitive processes, and mental health.

One of the major fields within psychology is clinical psychology. This field focuses on the assessment and treatment of mental illness and psychological disorders.

Another significant area is cognitive psychology. This field studies mental processes such as perception, attention, memory, and problem-solving.

Additionally, developmental psychology explores human growth and development across the lifespan.

Moreover, social psychology examines how individuals’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the presence of others and by social and cultural contexts.

What are the Different Major Fields in Psychology?

The different major fields in psychology, such as clinical psychology, counseling psychology, and developmental psychology, offer specialized approaches to understanding human behavior, mental processes, and the role of mental health professionals.

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology focuses on the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illnesses and psychological disorders, utilizing scientific methods and cognitive functions to support mental health professionals in clinical settings.

Clinical psychologists delve into the complexities of behavior, emotions, and cognitive processes to understand the human mind. They use comprehensive assessments to gather valuable data for accurate diagnoses and tailored treatment plans.

These professionals employ a wide range of therapeutic techniques, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, and humanistic approaches, to address diverse mental health concerns.

They work in various settings such as hospitals, private practices, and community mental health centers, providing support to individuals, families, and groups facing psychological challenges.

Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychology is dedicated to helping individuals cope with emotional challenges and mental health disorders, providing support and interventions through the expertise of mental health professionals.

These professionals are trained to assess, diagnose, and recommend evidence-based treatment plans to address a wide range of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationship issues.

Counseling psychologists offer a safe and non-judgmental space for individuals to explore their thoughts and feelings, fostering self-awareness and give the power toment.

They utilize various therapeutic techniques, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness practices, and experiential approaches to help individuals navigate the complexities of their emotions.

Developmental Psychology

Developmental psychology examines human growth and development across the lifespan, focusing on cognitive processes and addressing developmental delays through the lens of cognitive psychology.

This field of psychology studies the patterns of behavior, thoughts, and emotions from infancy through old age. It delves into the ways in which individuals acquire language, problem-solving skills, and social understanding.

Cognitive processes are central to this study, looking at how children and adults think, learn, and remember. Developmental psychologists also explore developmental delays, such as learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders, to understand their causes and develop effective interventions.

By drawing on cognitive psychology, researchers gain insights into how people’s mental processes evolve, react to stimuli, and adapt to their environment as they mature.

Educational Psychology

Educational psychology delves into understanding educational issues and enhancing learning outcomes, with educational psychologists playing a pivotal role in applying psychological principles to educational settings.

Educational psychologists offer valuable insights into how people learn in various educational settings. They study cognitive, social, and emotional factors that influence learning and use this knowledge to create effective teaching methods, interventions, and assessments for diverse learning needs.

Their research also helps design inclusive learning environments and identify barriers that hinder student progress. By collaborating with educators and policymakers, educational psychologists implement evidence-based practices that foster positive educational experiences and support students’ academic and personal development.

Experimental Psychology

Experimental psychology employs a wide range of experimental techniques and scientific methods to investigate human behavior, cognition, and biological processes.

Researchers in this field often conduct controlled laboratory experiments to explore the underlying mechanisms of various psychological phenomena. Through carefully designed studies, they manipulate independent variables to observe their impact on dependent variables.

Observational studies and correlational research are used to identify associations and patterns, providing valuable insights into human behavior and mental processes.

Cutting-edge technologies such as brain imaging and neuroimaging enable psychologists to examine the biological underpinnings of cognition and emotion. These tools allow for in-depth analysis of neural activity and structural changes, contributing to an enhanced understanding of the brain-behavior relationship.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology focuses on the intersection of psychology and law, addressing mental competence and providing expertise in clinical settings within legal contexts.

Forensic psychologists play a crucial role in evaluating a defendant’s mental state at the time of the offense and their competency to stand trial. This is achieved through the use of psychological assessments and evaluations.

These assessments inform legal and clinical decisions, aiding in determining appropriate treatment and sentencing. They also provide critical insights into witness credibility, jury selection, and trial strategies, contributing to fair legal proceedings.

In clinical settings, the expertise of forensic psychologists supports the understanding and treatment of individuals involved in legal cases. This ensures comprehensive and informed care for those in need.

By utilizing psychological assessments and evaluations, forensic psychologists play a vital role in the legal system and in providing quality care for individuals involved in legal cases.

Health Psychology

Health psychology explores the interaction between biological processes, behavioral patterns, and mental health, with a focus on the roles of mental health professionals and facilities in promoting well-being.

The interdisciplinary approach of health psychology draws from fields such as psychology, medicine, biology, and public health to gain a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted aspects of human health.

Through this integrated framework, it delves into the complex interactions between physiological processes, emotional states, and behaviors, shedding light on how these elements influence one another and contribute to overall well-being.

Health psychology emphasizes the prevention of health issues and the promotion of healthy behaviors, with mental health professionals playing a crucial role in providing support, therapy, and education to individuals in diverse settings such as hospitals, clinics, community centers, and corporate workplaces.

Industrial-Organizational Psychology

Industrial-organizational psychology centers on understanding organizational processes, individual differences, and the application of psychological principles to enhance workplace dynamics and employee well-being.

Industrial-organizational psychology delves into areas such as employee attitudes, motivation, leadership, and team dynamics to provide valuable insights for organizations. Its focus is on fostering a productive and healthy work environment, adapting to market demands and technological advancements, and promoting employee satisfaction and well-being.

This field utilizes evidence-based research and interventions to bring about positive changes at both individual and organizational levels. Ultimately, it aims to enhance productivity and job satisfaction for employees.


Neuropsychology investigates the relationship between brain function, behavior, and cognitive processes, drawing on insights from neuroscience to understand the complexities of the human brain.

Neuropsychologists aim to understand how different areas of the brain influence an individual’s thoughts, emotions, and actions. They use various assessment techniques and imaging technologies to study brain-behavior relationships and the impact of neurological disorders.

This understanding enables the development of targeted interventions and treatments for conditions like traumatic brain injury, stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Social Psychology

Social psychology explores the dynamics of social behavior, interactions, and their impact on human behavior, shedding light on the complexities of social interactions and their influence on individual behaviors.

Social psychology delves into how individuals are influenced by the presence, actions, and characteristics of others. It also explores how these factors can shape their attitudes, perceptions, and responses.

This field of study also addresses the impact of social norms, roles, and group dynamics on behavior, providing valuable insights into the complexities of human social behavior.

By examining topics such as conformity, obedience, and groupthink, social psychologists offer comprehensive analyses of the intricacies of social influence. They provide valuable insights into how it molds individual and collective behaviors.

What is Not a Major Field in Psychology?

While psychology encompasses diverse major fields, certain areas such as parapsychology, astrology, hypnotherapy, psychic reading, dream analysis, personality tests, and life coaching do not fall under the category of major fields in psychology.

Parapsychology delves into the study of paranormal phenomena, focusing on extrasensory perception and psychokinesis, which stand outside the traditional boundaries of psychology.

Similarly, astrology pertains to the belief in the influence of celestial bodies on human affairs, differing significantly from psychology’s empirical approach.

Hypnotherapy, psychic reading, dream analysis, personality tests, and life coaching, while valuable in their own right, are distinct from the rigorous scientific methodologies employed in mainstream psychological research and practice.


Parapsychology, while a subject of study, does not represent a major field in psychology, as it focuses on phenomena beyond the scope of traditional psychological research and behavior study.

This specialized branch of psychology explores phenomena such as extrasensory perception, telepathy, clairvoyance, and psychokinesis.

Unlike mainstream psychology, which primarily examines the human mind and behavior through empirical research and clinical observation, parapsychology delves into paranormal experiences and abilities that defy conventional scientific explanation.

Research within parapsychology seeks to understand and investigate these unconventional phenomena and their potential effects on individuals and society at large.


Astrology, while a belief system related to celestial influences, falls outside the domain of psychology and its focus on human behavior, cognitive processes, and scientific methods.

Astrology is primarily based on the notion that the positions and movements of celestial bodies can impact human affairs and natural phenomena.

In contrast, psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes, grounded in empirical evidence and critical analysis.

While psychology employs rigorous research methodologies and empirical testing to understand human behavior and cognition, astrology lacks such scientific principles and instead relies on ancient beliefs and traditions.


Hypnotherapy, while a therapeutic approach, is not considered a major field in psychology, as its focus on hypnosis and altered states of consciousness differs from the scope of established psychological domains addressing mental disorders and mental health professionals.

While hypnotherapy delves into the use of hypnosis to facilitate psychological healing and personal change, traditional psychology disciplines such as clinical psychology, counseling psychology, and neuropsychology primarily focus on the study and treatment of various mental health conditions, behavioral patterns, and cognitive processes.

Hypnotherapy typically integrates techniques meant to induce a heightened state of suggestibility and focused attention, enabling therapists to guide individuals towards exploring suppressed memories, altering negative thought patterns, and tapping into their subconscious to address diverse issues.

Psychic Reading

Psychic reading, often associated with metaphysical beliefs, does not align with the empirical study of cognitive processes and mental phenomena within established major fields in psychology.

Psychic readings are based on the idea of obtaining information through extrasensory perception or supernatural methods. On the other hand, empirical psychological research relies on the systematic study and analysis of observable human behavior, cognition, and emotions.

Psychological research utilizes established methodologies, including experiments, surveys, and observational studies, to examine and comprehend the intricacies of the human mind and behavior in a scientific manner. These methods enable the rigorous testing and validation of hypotheses, ensuring the credibility and accuracy of results.

Dream Analysis

Dream analysis, while a form of interpretation, does not constitute a major field in psychology, as its focus on subjective symbolism and interpretation differs from the empirical approach of cognitive psychology in studying mental processes.

Dream analysis typically involves examining the content of dreams and attributing meaning to symbols and events within them. This process often draws from personal experiences and emotions.

In contrast, cognitive psychology emphasizes the study of mental processes, such as perception, attention, and memory, through empirical research and scientific methods.

While dream analysis explores the subconscious and symbolic aspects of the mind, cognitive psychology focuses on observable behaviors and measurable cognitive functions.

Personality Tests

Personality tests, while tools for assessment, do not constitute a major field in psychology, as their focus on individual traits and behavioral patterns differs from the comprehensive study of personality and behavior within established psychological domains.

In psychology, the major fields encompass a wide range of areas such as clinical psychology, social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and more. These fields delve into understanding human behavior, cognition, emotions, mental processes, and interactions within various contexts.

On the other hand, personality tests serve the specific purpose of evaluating and categorizing individual traits, preferences, and tendencies. While they may draw on psychological theories, they are more specialized tools targeted at assessing specific aspects of an individual’s personality.

Life Coaching

Life coaching, while a form of guidance, falls outside the scope of major fields in psychology, as its focus on personal development and coaching differs from the intensive study and clinical expertise provided by established psychological domains and mental health professionals.

This distinction is crucial in understanding the roles of each discipline.

Life coaching predominantly centers on give the power toing individuals to achieve their goals, enhance their personal growth, and improve specific areas of their lives, such as career, relationships, and overall well-being.

In contrast, major fields in psychology, such as clinical psychology, counseling psychology, and psychiatry, are focused on diagnosing and treating mental health conditions, utilizing evidence-based practices and therapeutic interventions to address psychological distress and disorders.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is not considered a major field in Psychology?

Some examples of fields that are not typically classified as major in Psychology include neuroscience, sociology, and anthropology.

Can majors in other fields still take classes in Psychology?

Yes, students in other majors are often encouraged to take introductory Psychology courses as electives or to fulfill general education requirements.

Are there any subfields within Psychology that are not considered majors?

Yes, there are many subfields within Psychology that are not typically offered as standalone majors, such as industrial-organizational Psychology, forensic Psychology, and sports Psychology.

Is Psychology the only major that focuses on studying human behavior?

No, there are several other majors that also focus on studying human behavior, such as sociology, anthropology, and communication studies.

Do all Psychology departments offer the same majors?

No, the majors offered within Psychology can vary from department to department. Some may offer a more diverse range of majors while others may only offer a few.

Are there any majors that are closely related to Psychology but are not considered part of the field?

Yes, majors like social work, counseling, and education often have courses and concepts that overlap with Psychology, but they are not typically classified as majors within Psychology.

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