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Clinical Psychology Research Topics

Ideas for Papers, Experiments, and Other Projects

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Clinical Psychology Topics
Image: Sanja Gjenero

Clinical psychology is one of the most popular subfields within psychology. With such a large topic to cover, figuring out a specific subject for a research paper, presentation, or experiment can be tricky.

Here are just a few ideas that you might want to explore:

  • Compare two different psychological disorders. What are the symptoms of each disorder? How are these disorders diagnosed and treated?

  • Compare and contrast two different types of therapy. When is each type best used? Are there any disorders that are best treated with one of these particular forms of therapy? What are the possible limitations of each type of treatment?

  • What are some of the risk factors for depression? Explore the potential risks as well as any preventative strategies that can be used.

  • Explore the factors that influence adolescent mental health. Self-esteem and peer pressure are just a couple of the topics you might investigate in greater depth.

  • Look at how people's lives are affected by anxiety disorders. What impact do these disorders have on daily functioning? How do symptoms affect a person's family, social life, school, and work?

  • What are the long-term effects of childhood trauma? Do children who have suffered from an emotional or physical or trauma continue to experience the effects later in adulthood?

  • Investigate the current research on the impact of media violence on children's behavior. What do researchers have to say about the effects of violence portrayed in television, movies, and video games?

  • Do "pro-ana" and "pro-mia" websites contribute to eating disorders? What can people do to help overcome the influence of these sites?

  • Are people getting addicted to Facebook and social media? How do these social websites influence how people interact and behave?

  • Explore the use and effectiveness of online therapy. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of this type of therapy? Are there an special concerns that clients and therapists must observe?

  • What types of therapy are most effective for treating childhood behavioral disorders?

  • What impact does drug use have on other members of the family unit? What role can family members play in the treatment of alcohol and substance abuse?

  • Explore how the aging process influence mental illness. What special concerns are there for aging individuals suffering from mental illness?

Things to Consider Before You Pick a Topic

Picking a good topic is one of the most important steps of the research process. You don't want to pick a topic that is so general that you feel overwhelmed, but you also don't want to select a topic that is so specific that you feel limited or unable to find information about it. Spend a little time reading online or exploring your school library to make sure that there are plenty of available sources to support your paper, presentation, or experiment.

Once you have chosen a topic that interests you, run the idea past your course instructor. In some cases, this might be a requirement before you go any further. Even if you are not required to get permission from the instructor, it is always a good idea to get feedback before you delve into the research process. Your instructor can offer some good suggestions that you might not have thought of previously.

If you are doing an experiment, however, checking with your instructor is an absolute must. In many cases, you might have to put together a proposal to be submitted and approved by your school's human subjects committee.

Next Step: Start Your Research

Once you've finalized the topic for your clinical psychology project, the next step is to start researching. This often involves both library and online research, so it's a good idea to be familiar with the resources available at your school. If you are not sure where to begin, ask your school librarian who will be able to point you toward books, databases, and online journals that are available.

If you need more help, be sure to check out the links below for useful information on how to write your paper or conduct your experiment.

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