Biological psychology or Behavioral Neuroscience is the scientific study of the biological substrates of behavior and mental states. Seeing all behavior as intertwined with the nervous system, biological psychologists feel it is sensible to study how the brain functions in order to understand behavior.
This is the approach taken in behavioral neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, and neuropsychology. Neuropsychology is the branch of psychology that aims to understand how the structure and function of the brain relate to specific behavioral and psychological processes.
Neuropsychology is particularly concerned with the understanding of brain injury in an attempt to work out normal psychological function. Cognitive neuroscientists often use neuroimaging tools, which can help them to observe which areas of the brain are active during a particular task.
MRI depicting the human brain.
The arrow indicates the position of the hypothalamus
Clinical psychology includes the study and application of psychology for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective well-being and personal development.
Central to its practice are psychological assessment and psychotherapy, although clinical psychologists may also engage in research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and program development and administration. Some clinical psychologists may focus on the clinical management of patients with brain injury—this area is known as clinical neuropsychology. In many countries, clinical psychology is a regulated mental health profession.
The work performed by clinical psychologists tends to be influenced by various therapeutic approaches, all of which involve a formal relationship between professional and client (usually an individual, couple, family, or small group).
The various therapeutic approaches and practices are associated with different theoretical perspectives and employ different procedures intended to form a therapeutic alliance, explore the nature of psychological problems, and encourage new ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving. Four major theoretical perspectives are psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, existential-humanistic, and systems or family therapy. There has been a growing movement to integrate the various therapeutic approaches, especially with an increased understanding of issues regarding culture, gender, spirituality, and sexual-orientation.
With the advent of more robust research findings regarding psychotherapy, there is evidence that most of the major therapies are about of equal effectiveness, with the key common element being a strong therapeutic alliance. Because of this, more training programs and psychologists are now adopting an eclectic therapeutic orientation.