10 New Fields and Specializations in Psychology

10 New Fields and Specializations in Psychology

Key Takeaways

  • Psychology has evolved over the years to adapt to changing societal dynamics, branching into various subfields, exploring different aspects of human behavior and mental processes.
  • Due to increased demand and workload for mental health services, telehealth services have gained prominence.
  • Everyone in the field of psychology, regardless of specialization, must stay updated on the emerging trends in the field to offer better mental health care services.

Psychology is one of the most studied majors that answers the question of why people do what they do. Despite being one of the oldest college majors — first appearing in the 1870s — its broad nature has allowed it to adapt to the evolving dynamics of society.

Over the years, psychology has branched out into various subfields, each exploring different facets of human behavior and mental processes, from clinical psychology, which delves into diagnosing and treating mental disorders, to advanced brain-computer interfaces that hold the promise of more profound insights into brain function and novel therapeutic interventions.

Psychology is a major with a promising future, its demand on the rise, and its relevance undiminished in the foreseeable future. Here are ten emerging and trending advances in psychology that will instill optimism and encouragement for those interested in studying psychology in the 21st century.

client meeting with a psychologist through teletherapy

Psychology and Its Emerging Fields in Recent Years

Students who pursue degree programs in psychology can explore a wide range of specializations. Students get a better idea of the career they want to follow as they receive more experience learning about a particular area of psychology.

Some of the specialties in psychology include:

  • Clinical/counseling psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Health psychology
  • Cultural psychology
  • Abnormal psychology
  • School psychology

But, as people and society evolve, so too will psychology. Clinical psychologists, or any mental health professionals in this matter, are required to keep up with the continuous evolution of the field.

In a survey conducted by Statitsa, 41.7 million adults in the US alone are seeking professional help to overcome mental and emotional disorders. Statista also reported that there are more white Americans receiving mental health treatment or medication than any other race and ethnicity.

All those offering mental health services are facing increased workloads as more people seek counseling for various mental disorders.

Clinics, private practice, and other mental health institutions, are finding it difficult to accommodate the rising number of people seeking professional help. The increased number of people requiring mental health services have resulted in the rise of telehealth services.

According to a study conducted by APA, 96% of participants said they thought telehealth was a useful therapeutic tool, and 93% said they planned to keep offering remote services even after the pandemic.

Patients can receive care more easily and without compromising their physical health by using remote mental health services. Additionally, it might be more practical for those with hectic schedules.

But technological advancements in psychology don’t stop there, especially now with the rise of Artificial Intelligence being used everywhere, from educational institutions to healthcare facilities.

Another significant advancement in the field involves using AI, which is expected to play a significant role in the years to come. However, AI use is not set to replace the traditional methods for counseling and therapy; it is set to help psychologists treat their patients.

AI-powered instruments can help therapies by examining written correspondence from suicide warning systems, providing daily cognitive behavioral treatment via mobile apps, and providing medically supervised video games aimed at treating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Many of the newest fields in psychology require a master’s degree. The
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10 New Fields and Specializations in Psychology


The specialty of neuropsychology has grown and changed dramatically in the last several years. New specializations within neuropsychology have evolved due to technological advancements and breakthroughs in the way we understand the brain.

Neuropsychology specializations are experiencing increasing demand across various industries and sectors, including healthcare and medicine, technology and research, and educational psychology. Furthermore, those interested in this relatively new field will be trained rigorously to develop neuroimaging techniques, technology integration, data analysis, and interpretation skills, among other psychological skills.

According to Zippia, the demand for neuropsychologists and clinical psychologists with neuropsychology skills is expected to grow at an average of 7.32 percent per year.

Coaching Psychology

Coaching and sports psychology are the two most commonly interchangeable terms. Although they have overlapping duties, they are two distinct fields. Sports psychologists maximize mental performance in sporting environments, whereas coaching psychologists assist with professional and personal growth.

Choosing coaching psychology as a major, typically at the master’s degree level, opens up a world of opportunities. This field intersects various psychology majors, including clinical, counseling, and industrial-organizational psychology. It piques students’ interest in business and organizational coaching and equips them with valuable executive, management, and personal coaching skills, making it a rewarding choice.

The Coach Foundation compared and contrasted the various results of the earning potential of coaching psychologists. According to their research, these psychology professionals earn an average of $47,000. This might seem low, but coaching psychologists can make millions.

Environmental Psychology

Environmental psychology was first introduced in the 1960s. Although this is not a “new” field, it is rapidly gaining more attention in the job market. This major offers an interdisciplinary approach to studying mental illness. This field focuses on environmental sustainability, resolving complex issues for individual well-being and societal well-being.

Environmental psychologists work in various sectors, including nonprofits, government agencies, and businesses. They often focus on urban planning, environmental design, and climate change. They investigate people’s responses to the environment, such as recycling and environmental behaviors. According to Zip Recruiter, these professionals earn an average median salary of $92,813.

Marketing or Consumer Psychology

Marketing or consumer psychology studies psychological factors influencing consumer behavior, such as demographics, personality, lifestyles, and behavioral variables. This major allows business professionals to understand several new research methods to understand consumer attitudes and market demands for better brand management.

This psychology major trains students to become proficient in analyzing statistics and developing marketing campaigns. Graduates can pursue roles in private businesses or government agencies, earning an average median salary of $95,648.

A psychology degree with a focus on how to market to consumers can be a stepping stone into a career in technology. Find out how.

psychologist meeting with a group of clients

Animal and Pet Psychology

Pet owners often face common issues with their pets, such as destructive behavior or aggression. Such issues can be resolved with patience, understanding, and possibly an animal psychologist.

Animal and pet psychology is a multidisciplinary field examining animal behavior and cognitive processes. This field integrates elements from ethics, general psychology, and evolutionary biology to enhance students’ understanding of psychological processes between species and humans. Animal and clinical psychologists can have their own private clinics or work in nature reserves, zoos, and other animal parks.

According to Zip Recruiter, animal and pet psychologists earn an average median annual salary of $92,813.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology is a combination of law and psychological knowledge. The rising crime rates may be the reason for the rise in demand for this type of psychologist. Forensic psychology examines the relationship between human behavior and the justice system, applying psychology to legal issues to improve relationships, assess offenders, and treat victims.

Forensic psychologists play a major role in the legal field and are knowledgeable about the court system, serving as expert witnesses and collaborating with investigative teams to deter crime and prevent repeat offenses. According to PayScale, forensic psychologists have an average median annual salary of $78,869.

Some of the best bachelor’s in psychology degree programs can be done completely online.

Positive Psychology

Positive psychology is a new branch that promotes happiness and well-being, complementing problem-focused psychology. It emphasizes strength, resilience, and a fulfilling life, all of which work together to enhance overall well-being.

Positive psychology transforms workplaces and education by promoting employee well-being, job satisfaction, and productivity. Moreover, this major aims to enhance students’ mental health, character development, and emotional intelligence in education.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI has significantly impacted psychology by providing new research, assessment, and therapy tools. It aids in diagnosing psychological disorders, recognizing emotions, providing virtual therapy, creating cognitive models, predicting outcomes, analyzing neuroimaging data, creating personalized treatment plans, and analyzing online behavior.

AI is also used in research, assistive technologies, and educational psychology, enhancing the understanding and treatment of psychological disorders. However, ethical concerns such as data privacy and bias persist.

Virtual Reality (VR) Therapy

VR therapy is a psychological approach that uses virtual reality simulations to create controlled environments aimed to address psychological challenges. It can be used for phobia treatment, PTSD, social anxiety, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and chronic pain.

VR therapy also promotes mindfulness and relaxation, aligning with positive psychology. As technology advances, VR therapy becomes more accessible and customizable.

child psychologist meeting with a young client


Teletherapy is not actually a major or specialization in psychology, but rather an emerging method of delivering mental health services via the Internet and telecommunications, typically conducted by licensed professionals. Teletherapy has gained significant traction in recent years, especially with the advancing digital technology and the widespread availability of high-speed Internet.

Based on studies, teletherapy is generally effective. In most situations, video conferencing is just as beneficial as in-person care. A study determined that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) online significantly reduced symptoms three months after treatment, proving equally effective as in-person CBT.

All types of psychologists, such as social psychologists, educational psychologists, health psychologists, developmental psychologists, engineering psychologists, counseling psychologists, and school psychologists, must adapt to this new healthcare advancement. According to APA, this delivery system is here to stay.

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Student Submitted Questions on the New Fields and Specializations in Psychology

Spencer asks, “How is technology being integrated into the new fields of psychology?”

Dr. James Barham’s answer: Technology is revolutionizing psychology through telepsychology, VR therapy, biometric monitoring, AI, neurofeedback, gamification of therapy, brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), and more. These advancements enable remote therapy, improved mental health services, and personalized treatment plans. These technologies also enhance motivation adherence to treatment plans and provide valuable insights into mental health.

Timothy asks, “How do students establish their networks and connections in these emerging psychology fields?”

Dr. Jed Macosko’s answer: There are several ways for students to establish connections within emerging fields, including attending workshops, joining professional organizations, pursuing online coursework, and even completing doctoral-level coursework.

Felicia asks, “What are some professional associations or organizations that are dedicated to these new psychology specializations?”

Dr. James Barham’s answer: Here are some relevant associations:

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