Abnormal psychology involves the study of unusual or atypical emotions, social interactions and behaviors. Clinical psychology is the branch of psychology that involves the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of these abnormalities. You might also consider a career in research or teaching. A career in the field of abnormal psychology can help you make a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals, families and groups.
About Abnormal Psychology
Abnormal psychology is the study and treatment of psychological disorders. It also involves the study of maladaptive or dysfunctional behaviors, emotions and social interactions in normal people. Normally-functioning people may have certain maladaptive behaviors, but it does not necessarily mean they meet criteria for a psychological disorder. To be classified as abnormal, the behavior or emotion must cause significant distress and dysfunction and fall outside the range of what is considered "normal, " according to David H. Barlow and V. Mark Durand in their book, "Essentials of Abnormal Psychology."
The education you need to enter the field of abnormal psychology depends on the type of job you'd like to have. For example, a clinical psychologist who diagnoses and treats patients with psychological disorders needs to have a doctorate in clinical psychology - a Ph.D or Psy.D. Most master's level counselors, psychotherapists and clinical social workers are also specialists in abnormal psychology. However, you can also work in certain positions in abnormal psychology with a bachelor's degree, such as becoming an alcohol and drug counselor, psychiatric technician or case manager.
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People who specialize in abnormal psychology work in a variety of settings. Clinical psychologists, counselors, clinical social workers and psychotherapists often work in solo or group private practices. To work in private and group practice, you generally need to have a license to practice in your state. Some master's and doctoral level practitioners work in mental health clinics, correctional facilities, juvenile detention centers, in- and out-patient substance abuse facilities, schools and residential homes. Bachelor's level practitioners may also work in these settings, though they are not eligible to work in private practice.
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