By Sharon Wiatt Jones
Psychology. Infant mental health is an emerging area in psychology, usually applying to children from birth to age 3 or age 5. Prenatal and perinatal psychologists can identify autism and depression in infants who are as young as four months. Problems with language acquisition and social interaction may be detected by the age of two. Early intervention can make a major impact on school readiness, adolescent adjustment, and even adult mental health. Risk factors for young children include premature birth and low birth weight, fetal alcohol syndrome, abuse or neglect, foster care, and maternal depression. More than three out of four childhood abuse or neglect fatalities are infants or toddlers.
A new specialty in industrial/organizational psychology is occupational health. This interdisciplinary field combines the study of psychology, public health, occupational health, human factors, organizational behavior, industrial engineering, and economics, among others. The goal of occupational health psychologists is to improve the health and safety of employees. Workplace health is broad enough to include prevention of stress, illness, injury, disease, sexual harassment, and violence. It also encompasses employee assistance and work-family programs.
Education. The child life specialist has expertise in helping children cope with stress or trauma, such as hospitalization or chronic illness. Other situations with potential for long-lasting effects on children include witnessing violence, suffering abuse, surviving natural disasters, and grieving the death of a loved one. As a member of the interdisciplinary treatment team at most children’s hospitals, the child life specialist works with medical staff, teachers, parents, and social workers. Training for this career includes courses in child development, education, and psychology. In addition to health care settings, child life professionals work in doctors’ and dentists’ offices, hospices, funeral homes, camps, schools, and the court system.
Social Work. Gerontological counselors are in a fast-growing specialty, dealing with subjects from pre-retirement to end-of-life. With the aging of the Baby Boom generation, 20% of the U.S. population will be at least 65 years old by the year 2030. Senior care resource centers are staffed with eldercare advisors to help families choose the assisted living facility or nursing home that best fits their needs. Adult protective services investigators respond to complaints of eldercare neglect and abuse.
Anthropology. Cultural resource specialists use their knowledge of history, archeology, and anthropology to ensure compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. These specialists protect the remnants of human history, such as landmarks, shipwrecks, gold rush towns, and sacred Indian lands.
Boones’ Wilderness Road is an example of a major restoration by the National Park Service and Federal Highway Administration. American Indians forged a rugged trail through the Appalachian Mountains and named it the Great Warrior’s Path. Daniel Boone was hired in 1775 by the Transylvania Company, with the help of more than 30 woodsmen, to mark and widen a trail for pioneers. It was renamed Boone’s Wilderness Road and used from 1780-1810.
Long after destruction by asphalt, roads, and tunnels, the federal government recognized the historical importance of the Wilderness Road and spent more than 20 years restoring it using an 1833 map. National park specialists evaluate objects and places for their significance according to the National Register of Historic Places. State and federal government agencies employ most cultural resource specialists; others work for environmental and natural resources management firms.