Although there is still improvements to be made, psychology has grown increasingly inclusive over the years. Trail Blazers such as Ken Clarke, the first black president of the APA, and Maragret Floy Washburn, the first woman president of the APA, have contributed greatly to the advancement of diversity & inclusivity within the field of psychology. Embracing a more relativistic approach allows for psychology to better understand the issues facing marginalized communities by better understanding the sociocultural context in which they live in instead of applying a “one size fits all” interpretation of psychology.
Clinical psychology, the use of psychotherapy for the diagnosis and treatment of psychological conditions, is practiced by psychologists who have obtained a doctoral education in clinical psychology (either a PsyD or PhD).
Counseling psychology is similar, but the practice of counseling is a less medicalized approach, focusing on assisting patients in coping with personal difficulties, and can be practiced by those who have obtained a master’s level degree in social work in addition to doctoral degree options.
Educational psychologists serve a vital role in many schools, and focuses on the evaluation of learning and providing of assistance to those with learning difficulties. Industrial psychologists work in businesses, applying their knowledge of psychology to occupational issues, and can offer employers guidance on human factors issues such as how to convince their employees not to join those pesky labor unions or the improvement of morale. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory did overturn stones that previous psychologist had chosen to leave unturned, such as ego, drives, and unconsciousness, but it also took its approach of analyzing sexuality to the extreme – ignoring the scientific method,making many people uncomfortable and misattributing the origins of some behaviors.
Psychoanalysis was also an inherently pessimistic form of psychology.
A common critique, usually made by those who chose to approach psychology from a humanistic standpoint, was that psychoanalytic theory encouraged the psychologist to serve as a domineering figure, who towered over the patient in their vulnerable position on the couch. This placed patients, many of whom who likely experinced some trauma at any point, in a position where they felt unsafe and were not able to open up about who they truly were. Rummaging around in the dark is rarely a pleasant experience, and this consequence serves as a negative reinforcement that conditions us to avoid repeating the same behavior in the future. It’s disorienting, reduces our awareness of the immediate area, and exposes us to real or imagined harms. From an evolutionary perspective, there is also a good reason to be scared of the dark. Humans eyes don’t work very well at night, and running around at night where a wild animal could sneak up on you or you could trip and fall would probably spell inevitable doom for our ancestors who lived in the wilderness. Someone who stays put during the night is more likely to live as a result of not encountering those hazards and would enjoy increased evolutionary fitness as a result of natural selection.
Although humanism and behaviorism both share the same goal of maximizing human potential, they go about this monumental task in two very different ways. Behavorism places the conditioner, the person who is reinforcing the behavior of others, on a pedestal and envisions them as a domineering central force of control that can do no harms. B.F. Skinner’s utopian visions that would errode free will provide a particularly striking vision of the level of control many behaviorists envisioned. On the other hand, humanism views the patient (which they prefer to call the client) as the controller of their own destiny and has the psychologist provide assistance to their patient on their journey to achieve their maximum potential. The patient is seen as the controller of their life, which is even seen in how humanistic psychologists prefer to refer to their patients as their clients, and the power that acts upon them has been completely decentralized.