Though psychology is closely linked with the broader spectrum of medical disciplines and fields, some people are led to wondering whether psychology is in fact a science. The question may arise out of a misunderstanding about the nature of psychology, or may be due to a personal or societal prejudice or exposure to limited interpretations of the field, such as popular culture television shows or cinematic representations. Psychology is a science that fully adheres to the principles of the scientific method and seeks to discover the reasons why humans act, think, and feel the way they do. Psychology is primarily concerned with the operation of the brain and its effects on emotions and behaviors; because the brain is one of the most complex yet poorly understood objects being investigated by science, psychology is an exciting field prone to startling discoveries, and is growing at a rapid pace.
Psychology is often though of as being interchangeable with the discipline of psychotherapy, in which trained mental health professionals assist clients in working past personal difficulties and improving their sense of mental well-being, usually through the mechanism of conversation. While most psychotherapists have a strong background in psychology, there are many other disciplines and applications within the purview of psychology as a science. Many involved in psychology study and treat issues concerning sleep, neurochemistry, cognitive science, and other topics, making the potential for research and discovery varied and abundant.
The field of psychology houses a number of specializations, many of which have distinct professional applications for various areas of human activity; psychologists may focus on the functioning of the human mind within the context of the workplace, the educational system, the environment, or even narrow and specific areas such as sports. A special field in its own right, developmental psychology studies the human brain as it matures from birth, and seeks to understand the mental, emotional, and behavioral environment of children.
Often, scientific research within the field of psychotherapy concerns itself with the treatment of specific mental health concerns such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or schizophrenia. Nevertheless, a great deal of research is also devoted to understanding how the mind operates, how different elements of life can impact this operation, and, perhaps most importantly, why such operation takes place in its specific forms. Psychological studies follow scientific guidelines as with any academic discipline, and results are presented in such a way as to allow for further research and practical application.
To understand psychology is to understand mankind's quest to recognize and improve itself through its most fascinating asset: the brain. With multiple schools of thought and a growing number of related practices, psychology is a scientific field that will likely have a profound impact on the way humans live well into the future. Though psychology may appear divergent from other scientific fields through the practices that it develops or the nature of what it seeks to explore and explain, it is nevertheless a valid science, and one that is bound to produce influential developments as it matures.