Human society has been accumulating vast knowledge in various spheres. This knowledge has been usually utilized to address numerous issues people face. The development of such studies as psychology and applied psychology illustrates this tendency. It is possible to look into the way the applied psychology helps people solve particular issues in many spheres of their lives. This paper includes a brief account of the peculiarities of applied psychology and focuses on the way it helps people address such problems as stress.
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First, it can be beneficial to understand the background of applied psychology and take a brief look at the wider study. Psychology is a study that focuses on human behavior. The study has its roots in philosophy and has been researched for centuries. Greek philosophers tried to understand the peculiarities of the human soul. Aristotle contemplated on memory, imagination, will, and reason in his famous essay De anima ‘Of the Soul’ (Bekerian & Levey, 2012). Philosophers also introduced the system of people’s temperaments that explained individuals’ behavior. Philosophers of the Enlightenment period were more specific.
Descartes with his scientific approach is regarded as one of the most influential figures in the history of psychological development. Modern researchers and later practitioners have tried to explain and shape people’s behaviors if necessary. It is possible to single out major theoretical themes that acquire the most attention. These topics of major interest are individual differences, motivation, knowledge acquisition, knowledge retention, information processing, habituation, task analysis, memory and so on (Bekerian & Levey, 2012). The accumulation of knowledge on these aspects has led to its application in various spheres.
It is possible to note that the development of applied psychology was a natural stage of the evolution of psychology as a field of study. Applied psychology can be referred to as “the professional application of psychological knowledge to the solutions of problems associated with human behavior” (Davey, 2011, p. 2). In other words, the theoretical knowledge available is applied to solving particular issues that arise in a variety of spheres.
Thus, psychology can be applied to personal problems through counseling and treatment of mental issues. It can also be used at the level of organizations. For example, occupational psychology involved the development of strategies to improve the work environment. More so, it can be used to address issues at the level of entire nations through the creation of a specific background to set particular health behaviors (Davey, 2011). To understand the extent to which applied psychology is instrumental in solving particular issues, it is necessary to focus on a specific problem many people face.
One of the most widespread issues modern people face is stress. This topic has acquired considerable attention, and many researchers, as well as practitioners, have worked on defining, describing stress and developing methods to prevent it or overcome the outcomes. The studies concerning stress are often associated with psychological, biological and environmental approaches (Dewe, O’Driscoll & Cooper, 2012).
According to one of the most common definitions, stress is “a process in which environmental demands tax or exceed the adaptive capacity of an organism, resulting in psychological and biological changes that may place persons at risk of disease” (as cited in Contrada, 2010, p. 1). Stress can be a result of the changing environment. It can trigger the development of various health issues including cardiovascular disorders, mental issues and so on. Hence, researchers have attempted to solve this issue.
It is noteworthy that applied psychology has played an essential role in defining stress and developing numerous strategies to mitigate its outcomes. Different types of stress have been defined and addressed. Psychological theories developed are employed to address particular issues in specific situations. Clearly, the methods used are consistent with the nature of stress and involve environmental, biological and psychological paradigms.
First, it is possible to focus on the nature of stress. The psychological stress is well-researched, and it has been acknowledged that gender, age, employment, income, and education are major factors affecting the development of stress. Cohen and Janicki-Deverts (2012) state that unemployed people reported significant levels of stress while those retired reported much lower levels of stress. The financial crisis had little impact on the majority of people, but “middle-aged, college-educated White men with full-time employment” reported high levels of stress (Cohen & Janicki-Deverts, 2012, p. 1320). People with lower income, younger generations as well as people who are at risk of losing wealth or status are often exposed to stress.
Clearly, these findings were beneficial for the development of particular strategies to address stress. The understanding of the nature of stress is instrumental in mitigating the outcomes, shaping the environments as well as people’s attitudes and behaviors. For example, Riva et al. (2010, p. 21) utilized the “inter reality” approach when treating stress. This paradigm involves the creation of the loop between the real and virtual worlds. Thus, the therapist helps the individual to learn emotional regulation and coping skills as well as identify basic stressors. This is an illustration of the implementation of a mix of psychological and environmental paradigms. The specific attention is paid to the influence of social support on the individual’s psychological state.
Several techniques are central to stress management. For instance, relaxation is a commonly used method (Jones, O’Connor, Abraham & Conner, 2011). Again, this is a mix of psychological, biological and environmental paradigms. The individual reduced tension in his muscles, which leads to his psychological and emotional relaxation. This holistic approach enables people to reduce anxiety levels, which is a good coping strategy.
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is also an example of the efficient application of psychological knowledge. CBT is often utilized to manage stress (Jones et al., 2011). Thus, it is well-known that people tend to engage in rather negatives ideas and thoughts when exposed to stressors. This is an automatic process, and people may be unaware of their ideas that are later manifested in their being stressed out. CBT approach involves training aimed at developing a more positive approach.
People are taught to find a positive (and usually more realistic) explanation for various situations and circumstances. This positive attitude is favorable as people are less stressed. Benefits finding is similar to the strategy mentioned above, but it is more precise. People try to find the positive side of any situation. For instance, Jones et al. (2011) state that a natural disaster can be seen as an opportunity to get closer to others, to make new friends. Even an illness of a close one can be associated with a positive aspect as people can learn to appreciate things they never noticed before.
Another illustration of the use of applied psychology is the scope of knowledge on stress management associated with work-related stress. It has been found that the working environment is seen as one of the most common stressors. Jones et al. (2011, p. 178) note that researchers have identified a number of “coping families” or types of strategies. These are problem-solving, information seeking, helplessness, escape, self-reliance, support seeking, delegation, isolation accommodation, negotiation, submission and opposition (Jones et al., 2011). All these methods are appropriate for particular situations as there can be no universal strategy.
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In conclusion, it is possible to state that applied psychology has been instrumental in developing stress management strategies. Of course, researchers are still working on the analysis of the nature of stress as well as the creation of efficient coping methods. The bulk of theoretical knowledge and various practices suggests that people will be able to overcome negative outcomes of stress. The way stress management approaches are evolving can be seen as an illustration of the way applied psychology affects many spheres of people’s lives. The scientific and theoretical knowledge is applied to address particular issues in individuals’ (or even communities’) lives.
Bekerian, D. & Levey, A. (2012). Applied psychology: Putting theory into practice. Oxford, UK: OUP Oxford.
Cohen, S. & Janicki-Deverts, D. (2012). Who’s stressed? Distributions of psychological stress in the United States in probability samples from 1983, 2006, and 2009. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42(6), 1320-1334.
Contrada, R.J. (2010). Stress, adaptation, and health. In A. Baum & R. Contrada (Eds.), The handbook of stress science: Biology, psychology, and health (pp. 1-11). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Davey, G. (2011). Introduction. In G. Davey (Ed.), Applied psychology (pp. 1-13). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
Dewe, P.J., O’Driscoll, M.P. & Cooper, C.L. (2012). Theories of psychological stress at work. In R.J. Gatchel & I.Z. Schultz (Eds.), Handbook of occupational health and wellness (pp. 23-38). New York, NY: Springer.
Jones, F., O’Connor, Abraham, C. & Conner, M. (2011). Stress, coping and health. In G. Davey (Ed.), Applied psychology (pp. 171-191). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
Riva, G., Raspelli, S., Pallavicini, F., Grassi, A., Algeri, D., Wiederhold, B.K. & Gaggioli. (2010). Interreality in the management of psychological stress: A clinical scenario. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 154(20), 21-25.