History of Psychopharmacology

The history of psychopharmacology began with the cultivation of mind-altering substances that were used by tribes and varying cultures to dissociate with reality. Plants and other naturally-grown substances were shown to have properties that directly affected the human brain. Moving forward in history, psychopharmacology focused more on sedating patients until the 1950s, when more precise applications arose. During this time period, treatments for mania and psychosis became prominent, which lead to further studies in the effects of these drugs on patients.

Studies of these medications and their effects became more common during this time period. This contributed to more advanced methods of clinical trials and experimentation. As the methods for testing drugs for use became more ethical, medications for depression and anti-psychotic medications became widely available. As the modern era of psychopharmacology has moved in, it is not uncommon to find medications that are used for multiple mood disorders, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. It is critical to the field of Psychology that professionals are constantly monitoring the effects of these medications on the general public.

Psychopharmacology Careers

Having an interest in psychopharmacology can assist you with finding careers in many relevant fields. With your knowledge of psychology, biology, physiology, and pharmacology, you may find yourself in some of these fields listed below. There are plenty of options available for you to pursue, depending on what your stated purpose as a professional is, and what group you desire to work with. Our team of researchers has provided some information on each career in order to give you the best insight possible.


Psychologists can work with a wide range of patients. Adults, children, couples, and even businesses rely on psychologists to assist them with bringing meaning to their behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. In turn, patients can learn better methods of dealing with unexpected events and changing their lives for the better. With knowledge in psychopharmacology, professionals in this field can provide an even more helpful opinion in terms of medication and its helpfulness in times of need.

In order to become a psychologist, you may be expected to pursue specific degree programs and obtain a license in your desired state of employment.

Explore Master’s degrees in Psychology.


Psychopharmacologists learn the functions, effects, and maintenance of medications prescribed for mental illness. For individuals that have an interest solely in medication, becoming a pharmacist may be a great option. Learning to apply your knowledge of psychopharmaceuticals alongside general medications can provide for an even more knowledgeable experience while working in the field.

The requirements for this position include obtaining a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and becoming licensed, but can result in having extensive knowledge in medicines for all purposes rather than for just mental illness alone.

Child Psychologist

Child psychologists work specifically with children under the age of majority. If you are interested in both the medicinal effects of therapy as well as providing support and guidance to children suffering from mental illness or disease, this is the place to start. In this field, you may be required to shift your focus to the effects of drugs on children as well as different therapeutic methods for increasing the mental health of your patients. Specific degree requirements and licensing is required to work in this field.

Explore Master’s degrees in Child Psychology.

Clinical Researcher

If you are more interested in the research applications of psychopharmacology, clinical research may be a better option. In this field, you may be responsible for conducting pharmaceutical trials or designing experiments. This field provides heavy insight into whether or not medications and treatments should be released to the public, while focusing on the health and safety of patients involved. This field may not require licensure, and can be pursued with a degree that focuses on psychopharmacology.

Explore Master’s degrees in Experimental Psychology.

Common Courses In Psychopharmacology

In terms of the degree program, you may find that each is unique to the desired outcome of the student. Some master’s programs focus more on the clinical aspects of psychopharmacology, which includes courses that are designed to help professionals better treat patients. Degree programs such as this one are a great companion to previously acquired applied psychology degrees. Students that are involved in clinical degree programs are more likely to find application methods, treatment process, and patient monitoring as part of their studies.

Specific master’s programs such as substance abuse or child psychopharmacology may have courses that are slightly different than the clinical or generalized path, which provides for a more focused professional for the chosen field. If you are planning to work with children primarily, you may see courses that provide you with insight into the effects of pharmaceuticals on children rather than for the entire population. The general psychopharmacology program provides a more generalized approach to the theories of pharmacology for mental illness, which may include a more research-oriented result than that of the clinical option. Depending on which route you plan to take in your career, you may find that the curriculum changes depending on the focus.

Estimated Salary Information

As you browse through this guide to better understand the field of psychopharmacology, you probably wonder what is available to you after you have completed all of the steps required for graduation. Choosing a degree program can be a difficult decision without the knowledge of your future salary and the likelihood that your career will last a lifetime. Our experts have researched some of these factors to possibly bring you peace of mind as you make your decision. Working as a psychopharmacologist in the United States, you have the potential to earn from $41,830 to $120,320 per year based on averages (BLS; 2015). The ability to earn for this field depends on the field in which you plan to work as well as the city or region that you plan to reside.

Common Psychopharmacologist Job Options

You can find careers in schools, private offices, or hospitals and treatment centers. Some professionals choose to work for pharmaceutical companies or research facilities that focus on drug interaction with the general population. In the event that your aspirations go beyond the master’s degree level, you could even move forward to a doctor of medicine, specializing in the treatment of mental illness.

In terms of continuation, this field has the potential for growth in the future. Society has become more accepting of medicinal treatment of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, making the market for pharmaceuticals more prominent. The pharmaceutical field continues to develop new and innovative medications that are meant to treat mental illness and disorders, making it necessary for knowledgeable professionals to be available for testing and experimentation. If you are more interested in the clinical aspect of psychopharmacology, your expertise in the field of medicine as well as your history in psychology may provide for a great combination for applied psychologist positions in your area.