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I love psychology but I don't know which area I would be interested in. How should I narrow down the options.

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9 answers

Gary’s Answer

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Hi, good question. If you study Psychology in college, you will take a lot of different required and elective psychology courses. This will help you decide what area you want to focus on. Psychology is a big field with a lot of options, this is one of the reasons I minored in Business and Psychology and majored in Liberal Studies. I have found that both Psychology and Business really helped me in a sales career when I was younger.
You could also do your own research online into psychology subjects and see if anything interests you...Psychology Today magazine is a good place to start or if you have a used book store near you, you can probably find some used Psychology text books.
good luck.
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Jenna’s Answer

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Hi! This is definitely THE question I faced while I was starting my undergraduate education.
As others have stated, while in undergrad, you will be required to take psychology classes related to different disciplines (abnormal psych, social psych, child psych, etc) and the topics usually become more narrowed the higher you go in course level (introductory being 100-level, advanced being 400-level). I recommend taking all of your psychology courses seriously so that you can figure out which field most interests you.
I also recommend seeking out research opportunities with psychology faculty. Conducting research in a certain area may make you more interested in that field. For example, I worked in a pediatric psychology lab where we administered a psychoeducational test, and I loved that. Turns out school psychology involves a lot of psychoeducational testing and counseling, which are two things very important to me! I would say working in that lab really opened up my choices.
Also talk to your professors during their office hours. They are specialized within certain fields/areas and you can ask them questions about why they chose their fields, etc.
Thankfully you don't really need to make a choice until your junior year of undergrad, as you will be applying the fall semester of your senior year. So if you are just starting college, you definitely have time to figure this out!
Hope that helps!
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Reyaadh’s Answer

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Hi Sabrina,

I myself could not decide. So, my undergrad degree is in Psychology and Sociology.

As you go through an undergraduate program, you will get an overview of all the different types of study. This will allow you to narrow down what you want to focus on. What you focus on will not necessarily be what your career may be.

My career for the past 30 years in corporate has been in management. I have used this knowledge extensively over the years and it has made me a better manager. While it seems that this liberal arts degree may not be applicable to business, it is exactly the type of diversity that is needed.

So you see, diversity in knowledge can work in your favor. Having a positive outlook on learning will make you versatile. Study what you like, and use it to your benefit. I have found that this versatility is what most employers are looking for.

Bottom line: Studying human behavior is applicable to almost all career types, including AI (artificial intelligence).

Best of luck. Hope you find this helpful.
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Todd’s Answer

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Good question. My answer would work for Psychology as well as other interests when you don't have a specific direction, just a general one.

You didn't mention if you're in high school or college, but assuming you're entering college, you'd want to consider taking a few 101 classes in Psychology (Psych 101, Social Psychology, Child Psychology, etc.). By taking the initial courses you'll have a better sense of which direction "speaks to you". I was originally a Psychology major and took those classes. The Social Psychology course turned my interest to Sociology, which eventually became my major.

While it would be nice and convenient to know exactly where your interests lie, now's the time to explore and take a taste of the variety of disciplines so you can find the one that fits you.

Best of luck!

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George’s Answer

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First, get honest with yourself. Is it about following a passion or following the money? In some areas in this field the financial compensation might not be the greatest, so following your passion is what might give you the true satisfaction in life. How to interpret your passion in helping others? Think about your own life, life growing up, life with your family, life within your community and around your peers. How do you wish you might had been help in your own struggles? How were your experiences in finding answers to your questions and solving the "riddles of life"?
Diving into those thoughts might lead you to what you'd be best at.

George recommends the following next steps:

  • Feel free to contact me if you need more info.
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Antonios’s Answer

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Hi Sabrina! If you want to move away from therapy towards business, Work and Occupational psychology is the path for you. If you enjoy talking to people and understand them HR is a good career path that follows this type of psychology. If you are more on the talkative or even "sale" side, being a recruiter can be an option and you still help people achieve their dreams.

It all comes down to how do you see your working life, do you prefer to make people feel comfortable or help achieve their dreams, or even improve their working environment through learning and development practices that you learn from Industrial psychology. Find what makes you feel happy and express yourself as a person.

Antonios recommends the following next steps:

  • Study some Work and Occupational Psychology books
  • Have an internship to see if you like the environment and the actual work involved
  • Master is not required to find a job in these areas but can help to specialise
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Alexis’s Answer

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I recommend a book called Career Paths in Psychology, reading up online in Psychology today, getting involved and volunteer for research projects as an intern, and speaking with one of your professors. It may seem intimidating at first, but most professors really do want to help you and find it gratifying to help someone that was once in your shoes. Good luck! There are lots of fields to chose from and you will start to notice classes that interest you more than others, so lean in toward that.
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Rachel’s Answer

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I would recommend taking advantage of any shadowing or volunteering opportunity you can find. The difference between a school psychologist and a clinical psychologist working in an inpatient psychiatric hospital is enormous. The more experience you get, the better you will be able to determine the best path for you.
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Dwight’s Answer

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It is awesome that you're interested in this field. I work in public education so depending on the grade level you could be doing very different things. You do a lot of group counseling in the lower grade levels. Kids needs to learn proper social skills and how to deal with problems. In middle and high school you'll do a lot of 504 Plan and Special Education assessments. From my experience in high school, I can tell you that school psychologists spend a majority time testing kids for IEPS and attending meetings for possible evaluations for 504 Plans. They rarely have the time to do actual counseling. Even the counseling do you in schools is not therapy. Schools psychologists and counselors mostly to "triage counseling." They try to help kids who are having bad days with a short session in counseling but will often refer these kids out to more professional services if the problem is too severe.

If you decide to be a professional therapist you'll get to focus on certain types of clients and you'll see these clients over a long period of time.
No matter what course you choose you've got years ahead you of in grad school and working your hours before you can be fully licensed.

Good luck to you.
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