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Discover Psychology

What is psychology? Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and how it dictates and influences behaviour, from communication and memory to thought and emotion.

Psychology is both a thriving academic discipline and a vital professional practice, one concerned with all aspects of behaviour and the thoughts, feelings, and motivations underlying it.

It's about understanding what makes people tick and how this understanding can help us address and solve many of the problems in society.

As a science psychology is dedicated to the study of human behaviour through observation, measurement, and testing, in order to form conclusions that are based on sound scientific methodology.

The British Psychological Society is the representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK, and is made up of members from all walks of life whose primary interest is in the development and application of psychology for the greater public good.

The Society comprises several divisions, each dedicated to a specific specialty, and is responsible for the promotion of excellence and ethical practice in the science, education, and practical applications of psychology as a discipline.

The structure of the BPS incorporates many different areas of psychology. Currently our largest divisions are:

Clinical psychology deals with a wide range of mental and physical health problems including addiction, anxiety, depression, learning difficulties and relationship issues.

Cognitive psychology is a sub-discipline of psychology exploring internal mental processes. It is the study of how people perceive, remember, think, speak, and solve problems.

Counselling psychology deals with a wide range of mental health problems concerning life issues including bereavement, domestic violence, sexual abuse, traumas and relationship issues.

Educational psychology tackles challenges such as learning difficulties, social and emotional problems, issues around disability as well as more complex developmental disorders.

Forensic psychology applies psychological theory to criminal investigation, understanding psychological problems associated with criminal behaviour, and the treatment of those who have committed offences.

Health psychology uses knowledge of psychology and health to promote general well-being and understand physical illness.

Neuropsychology is concerned with the assessment and rehabilitation of people with brain injury or other neurological disease.

Occupational psychology applies the science of psychology to work, including psychometrics and assessment, learning and development, stress-management, organisational change, coaching and job design.

Research underpins much of the teaching and practice of psychology as it provides the evidence-base for psychological theory and the effectiveness of treatments, interventions, tests and teaching methods.

Sport/Exercise psychology has two primary focuses, one is to help athletes prepare psychologically for the demands of competition and training, and the other is to apply psychology to increase exercise participation and motivational levels in the general public.


However we also represent multiple other areas, including:

  • Coaching Psychology
  • Community Psychology
  • Consciousness and Experiential Psychology
  • Crisis, Disaster, and Trauma Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • History and Philosophy of Psychology
  • Independent Practice
  • Mathematical, Statistical, and Computing Psychology
  • Psychobiology
  • Psychology and Social Care
  • Psychology of Education
  • Psychology of Sexualities
  • Psychology of Women
  • Psychotherapy
  • Qualitative Methods in Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Transpersonal Psychology


Psychologists employ their knowledge and expertise in many areas of society, such as:

  • helping us prevent and overcome depression, stress, and trauma
  • speeding up recovery from brain injury
  • helping to stop or prevent bullying and improve performance both at school and in the workplace
  • assisting the police, courts, and prison services in the operation of their duties
  • analysing and improving athletic performance
  • coping with bereavement

People seek the help and support of psychologists for all sorts of problems. If you feel that a psychologist may be able to help you we recommend that you discuss this with your GP.

If you'd like to know more about specific areas of psychology and how they might benefit you, please take a look at our Find a Psychologist section, where you'll find more information about specific types of psychologists, the issues they deal with, and how to locate and contact one near you.

It is also possible to see a psychologist on a private basis, though in this case you will be required to pay a fee. Please consult our Directory of Chartered Psychologists to help you find a suitable professional.

There are several other organisations which also offer help and surpport to people with mental health problems, including:

For a wider-ranging look at some of the various topics and issues covered by psychology as a discipline, why not check out our A-Z of Psychology page, which has been designed to give you an overview of some of the more common psychological terms and definitions, as well as providing links to help you dig a little deeper and find out even more about your chosen subject.

You may also wish to take a look at one of our many publications.

Currently we publish 11 journals, a monthly magazine (The Psychologist), and our award-winning Research Digest blog.

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