Focus Areas in the M.Sc. in Psychology

Clinical Psychology and Experimental Psychopathology

The M.Sc. program with the research focus Clinical Psychology and Experimental Psychopathology conveys knowledge, methodological techniques and abilities for an innovative and productive research and practice environment. It stands at the intersection between psychology, neuroscience, and those parts of the medical subdisciplines that deal with psychological disorders and various physiological disfunctions with psychological effects and mechanisms of perpetuation. The program integrates knowledge from the foundation courses of the bachelor program with special research methods, diagnostics, and clinical/psychological knowledge of intervention practice. It imparts ways in which these realisations can be used to explain the cause and the maintenance of psychological disorders and also, how to select, plan, and implement effective prevention and treatment measures. Because of its orientation on a bio-psychological model for psychological disorders, the program has an inter-disciplinary character and takes the methods, principles, and the findings of the neurosciences, epidemiology, psychiatry and further subdisciplines into account.

In its research-oriented part, the study program is focused on the empirical and, above all, with the experimental examination of assumptions regarding the psychopathology of psychological disorders. The conditional model for the psychopathology of affective disorders, phobias or substance-related disorders, to name just a few examples, are presently becoming more and more differentiated in relation to their possible causes, risk potentials and effects, so that, in accordance with current international research, paradigms for the investigation of disorders in informational processing, bio-psychological, and modern multivariate statistical methods will applied here in practice.
Students will be given the competence to understand and to critically assess the current state of research and its methods, and to contribute to its further development through their own research contributions. Students should especially profit in this respect from the elective module out of the M.Sc. Program, Cognitive Neurosciences. The practical parts of the training program are evidence based and derived here from the bio-psychosocial disorder model. On the one hand, students acquire interactional competence for dealing with patients with psychological disorders or those who might be jeopardized with one; while on the other hand, they learn practical skills for various fields of work. Cross-disorder and disorder specific strategies will be taught for the selection, planning, and implementation of diagnostic, preventative, therapeutic and rehabilitative treatments.

On the one hand, the study program prepares students for subsequent training to qualify as psychological psychotherapists. The research-based orientation of the program, which focuses on theoretical and methodological developments in explaining psychological disorders, lays the theoretical foundation for this additional training. On the other hand, students also acquire the intellectual tools that qualify them for all fields of activity, whose shared quality is that they are both involved with psychological disorders independent of whether or not they pursue further psychotherapeutic training. These include, on the one hand, research activities in and outside of the university environment, in which students are able to gather further qualifications in the pursuit their doctorate. On the other, this focus area also creates access to numerous fields of employment in that it acts as a desirable prerequisite for application even without further training in psychotherapy. Among these areas of professional employment are, among others, leading functions in:

  • Counseling institutions
  • The administrative areas of health care and planning (e.g., insurance companies)
  • Work in teams in psychosomatic clinics, rehabilitation clinics, and other medical institutions (alongside diagnostic-therapeutic occupations, also work in business evaluation and managerial leadership)
  • Jobs in corporate health-care and/or in risk reduction
  • Scientific journalism as a specialist in psychological disorders