What Are the Major Psychology Careers?

Read about top psychology and counseling careers in a nutshell.


The blanket term “psychology” encompasses so much so we have to be more specific when talking about the field. Just look below to see the scope of psychology careers, and the related fields of social work, counseling and therapy.

Psychology means different things to different people: the clinical psychologist and the substance abuse counselor might look at it in different ways. We, as consumers, need to seek out the right expert depending on our particular needs. And students also need to know which career they want to pursue before beginning their studies. Read the following overview of careers in psychology, social work and counseling.

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychologists diagnose and treat people to help improve clients’ mental health and sense of well-being. They teach people how to cope with stressful situations, overcome addictions, improve their relationships with their husband, wife or parents, and break through barriers that keep people from reaching their potential. It’s a highly practical and solution-oriented specialty for people who want to help others help themselves.

Counseling and Therapy

Counselors and therapists use time-tested therapies to help clients overcome depression and anxiety, grief and loss, trauma, substance abuse, and difficult interpersonal human relationships. Today, many counselors approach their work holistically, using a “wellness” model which highlights and stresses their clients’ strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychologists are licensed psychologists who apply their knowledge of the mind and human behavior to civil and criminal law. They assess competency to stand trial, help with jury selection, and more. Many forensic psychologists work with children who are caught in custody battles between their parents or other relatives, with the goal of keeping children as safe as possible.

General Psychology

If you’re not sure which subfield of psychology is right for you, a degree in general psych may be the best way to start. You’ll get the background you need to help others, and learn what additional education you need to go into the field that sparks your interest the most.

Human Services

People who work in human services help people overcome obstacles and get access to services such as counseling, therapy and rehabilitation. They work to improve the lives of people in need who need these services the most. The field of human services is a broad one, with jobs such as human services assistant, social worker, school psychologist, mental health counselor, and childcare worker.

Marriage and Family Therapy

Couples therapy and marriage counseling are two names for the same thing: helping people work on their relationships. Marriage and family therapists offer guidance to couples and families who are dealing with issues that affect their mental health and the well-being of the whole family. They observe how people behave within the family and identify relationship problems. They then come up with treatment plans so that each individual has his or her needs met and the family unit can work for the benefit and happiness of all.

Mental Health Counseling

Mental health counselors are often the first helping professionals available to people in need of emotional and psychological support. They help their clients learn how to make healthy decisions about themselves, their relationships and their futures. Their approach depends on their education and professional experience, but like psychologists, they may primarily practice psychodynamic therapy, cognitive- behavioral therapy, humanistic therapy, or have a holistic, integrative approach.

Organizational Psychology

For a company to be successful, it must operate smoothly and efficiently. When employees are happy and healthy at work, everyone wins. Conflicts, when they arise, are resolved quickly. And all this is at the heart of organizational psychology. Organizational psychologists get a feel for the personality of a company and the morale of its employees, and they develop plans so that employees and managers can work effectively toward company goals.

School Counseling

School kids need guidance and support, especially when it comes to dealing with academic, personal, parental and societal pressures. Helping them reach their potential is the goal of every good school counselor. Counselors help students with issues such as bullying, low self-esteem, poor academic performance and relationship problems. They refer students to a school psychologist for further treatment, if necessary.

School Psychology

Kids today have more hectic lives than ever before, and some face additional challenges at home, with friends, or in their studies. School psychologists are there to help students navigate their formative years with confidence. School psychologists may do one-on-one therapy with students, or work in groups with family members or peers to understand and overcome psychological problems.

Social Work

Social workers are advocates for people who need help the most. They ensure the rights of underserved classes of people who may have difficulties speaking up for themselves or finding access to mental health and other healthcare services they need. They are tireless advocates for their target groups, and society would be worse off without these missionary-spirit human services workers.

Substance Abuse Counseling

Substance abuse counselors support people with drug and alcohol addictions, eating disorders and other behavioral issues. They teach clients how to alter their attitudes and beliefs, and develop strategies to overcome denial and rationalization in the hope of achieving full recovery. They are compassionate and patient problem-solvers, and there are many job opportunities and great projected job growth for this field.

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