Research Paper Topics In Counseling Psychology

Are you searching for a great topic for your psychology paper? Sometimes it seems like coming up with a good idea for a paper is more challenging than the actual research and writing. Fortunately, there are plenty of great places to find inspiration and the following list contains just a few ideas to help get you started.

Finding a solid topic is one of the most important steps when writing any type of paper. It can be particularly important when you are writing a psychology research paper or essay. Psychology is such a broad topic, so you want to find a topic that allows you to adequately cover the subject without becoming overwhelmed with information.

As you begin your search for a topic for your psychology paper, it is first important to consider the guidelines established by your instructor. In some cases, such as in a general psychology class, you might have had the option to select any topic from within psychology's broad reaches. Other instances, such as in an abnormal psychology course, might require you to write your paper on a specific subject such as a psychological disorder.

Focus on a Topic Within a Particular Branch of Psychology

The key to selecting a good topic for your psychology paper is to select something that is narrow enough to allow you to really focus on the subject, but not so narrow that it is difficult to find sources or information to write about.

One approach is to narrow your focus down to a subject within a specific branch of psychology. For example, you might start by deciding that you want to write a paper on some sort of social psychology topic. Next, you might narrow your focus down to how persuasion can be used to influence behavior.

Other social psychology topics you might consider include:

Write About a Disorder or Type of Therapy

Exploring a psychological disorder or a specific treatment modality can also be a good topic for a psychology paper. Some potential abnormal psychology topics include specific psychological disorders or particular treatment modalities, including:

Choose a Topic Related to Human Cognition

Some of the possible topics you might explore in this area include thinking, language, intelligence, and decision-making. Other ideas might include:

Consider a Topic Related to Human Development

In this area, you might opt to focus on issues pertinent to early childhood such as language development, social learning, or childhood attachment or you might instead opt to concentrate on issues that affect older adults such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

Some other topics you might consider include:

Critique a Book or Academic Journal Article

One option is to consider writing a psychology critique paper of a published psychology book or academic journal article. For example, you might write a critical analysis of Sigmund Freud's Interpretation of Dreams or you might evaluate a more recent book such as Philip Zimbardo's The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.

Professional and academic journals are also a great place to find materials for a critique paper. Browse through the collection at your university library to find titles devoted to the subject that you are most interested in, then look through recent articles until you find what that grabs your attention.

Analyze a Famous Experiment

There have been many fascinating and groundbreaking experiments throughout the history of psychology, providing ample material for students looking for an interesting term paper topic. In your paper, you might choose to summarize the experiment, analyze the ethics of the research, or evaluate the implications of the study. Possible experiments that you might consider include:

Write a Paper About a Historical Figure

One of the simplest ways to find a great topic is to choose an interesting person in the history of psychology and write a paper about them. Your paper might focus on many different elements of the individual's life, such as their biography, professional history, theories, or influence on psychology.

While this type of paper may be historical in nature, there is no need for this assignment to be dry or boring. Psychology is full of fascinating figures rife with intriguing stories and anecdotes. Consider such famous individuals as Sigmund Freud, B.F. Skinner, Harry Harlow, or one of the many other eminent psychologists.

Write About a Specific Psychology Career

​Another possible topic, depending on the course in which you are enrolled, is to write about specific career paths within the field of psychology. This type of paper is especially appropriate if you are exploring different subtopics or considering which area interests you the most. In your paper, you might opt to explore the typical duties of a psychologist, how much people working in these fields typically earn, and different employment options that are available.

Create a Case Study of an Individual or Group of People

One potentially interesting idea is to write a psychology case study of a particular individual or group of people. In this type of paper, you will provide an in depth analysis of your subject, including a thorough biography. Generally, you will also assess the person, often using a major psychological theory such as Piaget's stages of cognitive development or Erikson's eight-stage theory of human development. It is also important to note that your paper doesn't necessarily have to be about someone you know personally. In fact, many professors encourage students to write case studies on historical figures or fictional characters from books, television programs, or films.

Conduct a Literature Review

KEEP IN MIND: It's always easier to write about a topic that interests you in some way.

1. Write down one or two specific topics of interest to you in your discipline (e.g. in P.T., Nursing, O.T., Athletic Training, Mental Health, etc.).


  • In medicine, there may be discrepancies about the best practices for reducing X condition in a certain type of patients. (E.g. pneumonia in patients with Y disease or health condition).
  • Obesity is a national problem, particularly among children of various ethnic/racial backgrounds. You may be interested in learning the best preventive interventions for a particular population to reduce the prevalence of obesity among children of that group.
  • A particular type of musculoskeletal injury may be common in athletes in X sport. You are interested in the most effective rehabilitation methods for that type of injury, or a comparison of two methods.
  • Are you interested in school social work? Examine the differing roles of a school social worker in rural and urban settings, or in primary vs. secondary schools.

2. If you have not been working in the health care field yet, perhaps there’s a disease or condition that interests you, through friends, family or personal experience. Or, is there a disease in your heredity and you are interested in the risk factors for that condition/disease and what primary prevention methods could be employed to reduce the risk of developing it? Or, you are interested in the best secondary or tertiary prevention for that condition?

3. Perhaps there is a particular health issue that interests you and that drew you to enter the profession for which you are studying.

4. There may be recent news articles about health issues that interest you, related to your hometown or in Florida. FloridaChartsfrom the Florida Dept. of Health provides an informative statistical picture of the health status of Floridians.

5. Browse the table of contents of the publication Nation's Health, found in the FGCU Library's eJournals for ideas.

6. Review topics covered in textbooks of other courses you are currently taking.

7. Is there a particular aspect or problem within health care management that interests you?

8. You can also combine interests: Is there a particular racial or ethnic group that you want to learn more about? What are some of the socio-economic challenges that they face in this country? Are there health disparities between them in their access to health services compared to mainstream America? 

9. Sometimes controversial issues can be interesting to explore. For instance, is medical marijuana a valid treatment for anxiety disorders? Are there legitimate reasons to consider the legalization of currently illegal narcotics?  What are the legal implications of cloning human beings?

Once you have jotted down a few topics, conduct a preliminary literature search in a database: either CINAHL orProquest Health & Medical. Alternatively, look in theFGCU Library's catalogfor a book on your subject. Look for research that has been done. Then begin to narrow your topic to be more specific: for example, to a particular condition among a certain population or setting. CHOOSE a topic that interests you!

The best source for specific research topics? Recent research studies, because a good research article identifies at the end the implications or recommendations for future research on the topic.

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