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Basic Psychology

Central Institute of Theological Studies
Course IDS 116

Defining Psychology


               Psychology is the academic discipline that involves the study of human behavior and human mental processes. The word “psychology” is derived from the Greek word “psyche” (transliterated) which is defined as the “soul” or “mind” of a person.  Psychology is also connected in application with the knowledge of diagnosing and treating mental illnesses in humans. There are also other related psychologies that deal with animal life also.

              Psychology is basically concerned with the interaction of mental processes, effects and behavioral responses on a systemic level. Up until the later half of the 19th century it was considered to be a branch of philosophy. While it continues to interact with the proponents of philosophy, it has probably become more closely related to the medical profession during the last quarter of the 20th century. The basic goal of psychological studies is to describe and explain consciousness, human behavior and human interaction. The intricate study of the brain and its function has continued to become more a part of psychology both in theory and in practice.  


Research and Application


            Psychology is a very wide field of study and practice. There are two general arenas of psychology. They are categorized as “fields of research” and “fields of applied psychology.”  The following is a list of several of the psychological disciplines:


Fields of Research Psychology (studying behavior in the academic arena)


Abnormal Psychology – The study of behavior that is considered to be abnormal by the society. It also includes studies on the psychopathological nature and its various causes and catalysts.


Biological Psychology – The sensible study of how the brain functions so that we may understand behavioral issues in humans.   


Cognitive Psychology – The study of the mental processes that define, support and trigger human behavior. The foundation is based in information processing. Other related research areas may include attention, language, learning, memory, perception and problem solving.  


Developmental Psychology – The study of the development of the human mind through a typical life span, determining how humans perceive life and the world, understand their purpose and reason, and thus, behave accordingly as the increase in age.


Personality Psychology – The study of the patterns of our behavior, emotions and thoughts, which in combination make up our personality. Our personality is generally broken down in traits so they can be easily analyzed and studied.


Quantitative Psychology – The study of statistical analysis and application to psychological research for explaining and for measuring various human behaviors. It is a combination of psychometrics and mathematical psychology. 


Social Psychology – the study of the causes and the nature of social behavior in humans. This study analyzes how people relate to each other and think about one another.


Fields of Applied Psychology (designed to help people overcome practical problems)


Clinical Psychology – The use of assessment and treatment of psychopathology (the study of a mental disorder) traditionally associated with psychotherapy. Psychologists do use many therapy models.


Counseling Psychology – This form of psychology is different from clinical psychology because it is more focused on normal developmental concerns and everyday problems, rather than the more serious disorders that are addressed in psychotherapy. Some of these issues would be emotional (often regarding grief and loss situations), social and organizational, vocational, and educational and even health related terms. A typical form of counseling is called relationship counseling, which is usually expedited through psychologists, psychiatrists and even social workers.


Educational Psychology – This form of psychology determines and assists those in learning and educational arenas. It encompasses the social psychology of schools and various educational institutions, and also teaching and student / teacher relationships.      


Psychologists and Counselors


             A psychologist is one who studies psychology as a scientist (generally one who obtains information on the human mind) or a clinician (one who is dispensing assessments and treatments to individuals). They would sequentially be categorized as in the areas of research or mental health care. Like previously mentioned, their work would be focused around the human mind, mental processes, behavior and cognition

            To become a psychologist, usually requires someone to obtain an advance degree (typically a doctorate or a Ph.D.) in some academic discipline related directly to psychology. The same applies to those who practice counseling, however most are only holders of a Masters degree. Psychologists, like counselors generally hold a professional license issued by the state in which they practice. There are over 150,000 practicing psychologists in the United States. There are several types of psychologists who specialize in the following arenas:


Clinical Psychologists – diagnose, evaluate and treat emotional and mental disorders. They use such things as psychotherapy and counseling procedures in such clinical environments.


Forensic Psychologists – work with the legal systems such as police departments, court systems and law firms. They also assess and treat criminal offenders,  


Medical Psychologists – work with medical professionals regarding the behavioral aspects of physical illnesses. They usually hold advanced educational degrees in areas such as rehabilitation, physiology, or psychopharmacology. 




Central Institute of Theological Studies
P.O. Box 750491
Dayton, Ohio    45475