*The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Department of Defense or other departments of the U.S. Government.
In the following brief article I discuss the unique contributions of embedded operational psychology. In doing so, the article attempts to highlight the diversity of applied psychological specialties and the demonstrable benefits of embedded psychology in general. The article focuses on a case example of one critically manned special operations community and their use of embedded operational psychologists to enhance the resiliency of their force and the mission performance of their personnel.
Introduction to Applied Psychology
Psychology is a diverse field of study. As the study of human behavior, the human mind, and much more, it contains many sub-disciplines or specialty areas of application. While each specialty leverages common elements associated with principles within behavioral science, each applies these elements in different ways and to different aspects of human experience. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “psychologists work independently and also team up with other professionals - for example, with other scientists, physicians, lawyers, school personnel, computer experts, engineers, policymakers and managers - to contribute to every area of society. Thus, we find them in laboratories, hospitals, courtrooms, schools and universities, community health centers, prisons and corporate offices.” (APA, 2015). On their “careers in psychology” webpage, the APA’s provides descriptions of 19 different sub-disciplines. Far from an exhaustive list, one finds a description of engineering psychologists, industrial/organizational psychologists, forensic, and social psychologists. In each case, these applied practitioners often operate with third-party clients and from within organizational or corporate settings. Their work is contrasted with psychologists in traditional healthcare roles whose primary activity is focused on health promotion and combating disease processes. The juxtaposition of these two disparate communities of American psychologists highlights the diversity of experience and perspective when considering the practice of applied psychology.