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Types Of Jobs In Abnormal Psychology

What can be classified as normal? Who has the power and the authority to decide what is normal and what is abnormal? These are questions that are so often asked in the field of psychology because people have dedicated their lives work to determining what is normal and abnormal.

There are certain societal standards to which we need to conform, and deviation, whether explicit and portrayed for all to see, or internal and only experienced by oneself, is considered abnormal. There are two extremes of "abnormal," which are either feeling everything in the extreme form or feeling nothing at all. Normal is a perfectly struck balance between the two.

It is for this reason that the field of abnormal psychology has been formed.

Abnormal psychology focuses on abnormal behavior and psychopathology in a clinical setting. Within this field, the jobs you could consider are clinical social work, clinical psychology, research psychology, forensic psychology, and neuropsychology.

Each job takes a different approach to understand, analyzing, assessing, and treating abnormal behavior. They also work with patients that form different facets of society, from convicted criminals to civil society.

What Is Abnormal Psychology?

Abnormal psychology focuses on an individual's deviation from the behavior of the general population. But it is important to note that abnormal psychology doesn't necessarily mean that this field of psychology is focused on the negative deviations only.

It will be found that these psychologists work closely with patients who have savant syndrome and other gifted capabilities as well.

While abnormal psychology does encompass psychological practices that deal with deranged, sociopathic, and psychopathic criminals, this field also encompasses psychological practices that involve anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, stress, and even depression.

This means that despite how severely or slightly a person may deviate from societal norms, a psychologist specializing in abnormal psychology will provide diagnosis and treatment for those individuals.

Psychologists who work in the field of abnormal psychology will work closely with patients, observing their habits and behavior, and they will devise treatment plans and solutions that may work in easing or curing the patient's mental health afflictions.

As with all other psychology career paths, the main goal of a psychologist in the field of abnormal psychology is to find the best and safest way to get the patient to a place of mental health where they can contribute to society once more.

In order to be aware if the patient presents with any behavioral deviations from societal norms, the practicing psychologist needs to have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the pillars on which society is built. They will need to know what the expected standard is, and when it is not adhered to.

In such cases, it is often found that those studying abnormal psychology will also pursue coursework in the subject matter pertaining to sociology and philosophy.

Types Of Jobs In Abnormal Psychology

Clinical Social Worker

In the field of abnormal psychology, there is the career path of clinical social workers who diagnose and treat mental illnesses in individuals while also playing an active role in advocating for these individuals in societal and community structures to help get them the resources they need, either to overcome their mental illnesses or to integrate back into society.

Clinical social workers play a direct role in helping individuals get reacquainted with society once they are in a safe enough space and have overcome any disorders they have previously been diagnosed with.

From an education perspective, those hoping to pursue a career in clinical social work would need to complete a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in either psychology or social work, and they would then need to obtain a license to practice in the state they are hoping to work.

While they may be employed in hospitals and clinical facilities, they are also employed by a number of government organizations.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers earn a median annual salary of $50,390.

Clinical Psychologist

Working either in hospitals, clinics, or private practices, clinical psychologists work closely with patients to diagnose and treat behavioral, mental, and emotional illnesses and disorders. These professionals play an extremely hands-on role in assessing and determining the severity and treatment of a patient's disorders.

They will provide counseling and psychotherapy to those in need, and they will be the ones to determine the best course of action for the patient.

Clinical psychologists would need to obtain a master's degree or a doctoral degree at the very least before obtaining a state license and certification to practice as clinical psychologists.

According to the BLS, clinical and counseling psychologists earn a mean annual wage of $99,640, and a median annual wage of $82,510.

Research Psychologist

As mentioned before, in order to know that there is a deviation from societal norms, one must know what the societal norms are, and one must know what could be considered a deviation, along with the severity of such deviation.

To develop these standards, research psychologists become key players.

Research psychologists will study why people behave the way they do, what triggers them, and why. They will also look at the reasoning and thought processes behind why people make the decisions that they do.

Research psychologists can also work in academics both conducting research as well as lecturing.

As with all other fields of psychology, a Ph.D. in psychology is required, as well as coursework pertaining to research methods and data analysis.

Forensic Psychologist

Specifically linked to law enforcement, forensic psychologists study the minds and motives of criminals, and they delve into the motives that may lead to someone committing heinous crimes. However, over and above that, they conduct extensive assessments of those who are suspected of committing crimes to assess if they are fit to stand trial.

Forensic psychologists would need a degree in criminal justice as well as a Ph.D. in psychology before they begin practicing in this role.

Directly linked to the role of forensic psychology is the role of psychologists who work with inmates, also referred to as correctional psychologists. These are the psychologists who work with patients through rehabilitation programs to ensure that they are fit to reintegrate back into society after they have committed and been convicted of crimes.

Over and above that, their role is to ensure that inmates do not become a danger to themselves and others, and these psychologists have a keen focus on treating inmates who may suffer from mental illnesses, whether these illnesses and disorders were diagnosed before or after conviction.


Neuropsychologists play an interesting role in learning how brain illnesses may affect an individual's mental health. They also seek treatment for these mental disorders that are specifically a result of a brain illness.

For example, if a person has a brain tumor or a brain lesion, neuropsychologists will assess the potential danger this may pose to the patient if the tumor is removed or if it is left untouched in the brain. They will also implement rehabilitation and treatment plans to ensure that patients heal well and are correctly integrated back into society.

Neuropsychologists will need to earn a doctoral degree and they are often required to complete internships in a clinical setting.

Substance Abuse Counselor

These are the counselors that assess why someone would form an addiction to illegal or prescription drugs. They delve into the mind of these individuals to determine if there are underlying triggers or personality disorders that may have prompted the individual to try, and later become dependent, on substances.

From group therapy sessions to one-on-one sessions, substance abuse counselors aim to provide support for multiple individuals, and they aim to provide solutions that will cater to each person's unique needs.

According to the BLS, substance abuse counselors earn a median annual salary of $48,520.


The role of abnormal psychologists is paramount in maintaining a symbiotic and balanced society. The reality is that each individual has unique needs that may affect their integration. Without abnormal psychologists, society would have nothing to strive toward and conform to, which leads to it falling apart at the seams.

It is therefore extremely important to follow this career path if this is what your calling is.

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