Operational Psychology

A New Field to Support National Security and Public Safety

by Mark A. Staal and Sally C. Harvey, Editors, Foreword by Colonel (Ret.) Thomas J. Williams, PhD


Psychological experts are increasingly being sought to assist domestic police, as well as U.S. military forces throughout the world.

Print Flyer
Cover image for Operational Psychology

June 2019


Pages 380
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Psychology/General
  Security Studies/U.S. Homeland Security

Details the growth, roles, and applications of this new specialty aiming to protect American national and public well-being in the face of increasing and novel threats both inside and outside the United States.

In this age of asymmetric warfare, increasing home-grown terrorism, and continuing threats from abroad, a new specialty has emerged and expanded—operational psychology.

Operational psychology plays a unique role in supporting issues of national security, national defense, and public safety. In this book, authors Mark A. Staal and Sally C. Harvey, both operational psychologists and retired military colonels, lead a team of experts explaining the field, its many roles, and how it is expanding. Topics include its application in intelligence, counterintelligence, and counterterrorism activities, consultation in high-risk training, criminal investigations including those of internet crimes against children, threat assessment, interrogations, aviation, personnel selection, and leadership development.

The text addresses the ethical questions and controversies that surround some of these roles, such as those associated with interrogation techniques. It also describes the role of operational psychologists in activities ranging from assessing and training people for maximum resiliency and hardiness to profiling people and groups of concern in national security investigations.


  • Explains operational psychologists' roles in preventing and acting against terrorism, intelligence and counterintelligence, propaganda efforts, and Influence Operations
  • Details operational psychologists' roles in undercover domestic investigations such as internet crimes against children and the Safeguard program to reduce the impact of exposure to violent crimes
  • Addresses the controversy around operational psychologists assisting civilian and military interrogations
Author Info

Sally C. Harvey, PhD, is a retired Colonel and clinical psychologist at Darnall Army Medical Center, Fort Hood, TX. In previous roles, she was command psychologist for the Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Meade, MD; Chief of Psychology Services at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany; and chief of psychology services at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, NC, and at the 121st Evacuation Hospital in South Korea. She was president of the APA division for Military Psychology in 2017. She has earned 15 military awards including the Military Intelligence Knowlton Award.

Mark A. Staal is the owner of OSS Consulting, LLC in Southern Pines, NC, and previous command psychologist for the Air Force's Special Operations Command. He previously served as a NASA Aerospace Psychology Fellow and the senior Air Force operational psychologist. He is board certified under the National Security Psychology Exam and serves as the 2018 president of the American Psychological Association's Society for Military Psychology.

Look Inside

Other Titles of Interest

A New Counterterrorism Strategy cover imageTerrorism, Political Violence, and Extremism cover imageHomeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection, 2nd Edition cover image
Inside Forensic Psychology cover imageCriminal Psychology cover imagePolice Psychology cover image

Product Search

Product Search

Publication Year



Need Help? Try our Search Tips