We have been contemplating, questioning, arguing is psychology science or Arts? Let it be a chicken and egg problem, the fact is that psychologist are involved in all aspects of our fast-paced world. Some focus on health-related problems that are centered on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness. Others focus on research on brain, memory, attention etc., and many psychologists work in areas that allow them to solve real-world problems.
Psychologists are frequently innovators, evolving new approaches from established knowledge to meet the changing needs of people, organizations and societies. They develop theories and test them through their research. This research yields new information, these findings become part of the body of knowledge that practitioners call on in their work with clients and patients, as well as with organizations and communities (APA).
Educational & Training Requirements
As a psychologist, your education never ends, you need to keep up with what is happening all around us. Thus, becoming a psychologist can be a long, challenging and sometimes cumbersome process, but the rewards can be well worth the efforts. After putting in long hours studying, training and working towards acquiring your degree and becoming a psychologist, you can finally begin putting the skills and knowledge you have acquired to good use. Although an undergraduate degree in psychology can provide an excellent background for different entry-level jobs. But, if you are seriously planning this career a post graduate and Ph.D. would fulfil your dream!
Start Planning Early- after 10th
Psychology is not necessarily a common course offered at most schools, but increasing numbers are beginning to offer Psychology classes. It would definitely be a good idea to add psychology to your subject choice. Knowledge about general psychology can really be helpful during your first year of college. Statistics is a core component of any psychology curriculum, so having a background in mathematics is certainly helpful. Beyond this taking courses in history, and language can also be beneficial. By learning more about human history and behaviour would help you to understand human behaviour, the environment and occurrence of various issues. Finally, remember to maintain good grades in all of your courses. University admissions can be competitive, so it is important to have a strong CGPA or percentage.
When you are in College:
Once you have been accepted to the college of your choice, it is time to begin studying psychology intensely. At this level you start with general psychology, but gradually try to identify certain areas which interest you most. Do not neglect statistics and research methodology besides other papers. Not only getting good marks is important, many premier university conducts entrance examination to select post graduate students. Plan your study well, as you will have practical, field visits, small thesis/case study reports to be written. Seek out research opportunities and participate in experiments and workshops whenever possible. Start looking at post graduate programs as early as your completion of second year as next big question you need to ask yourself is what type of post graduate degree you plan to receive?
When you are in University:
In your first year you will be studying all subjects. Many university also start with induction program, where the department takes you to different setting where psychologist work, you will get an idea. As exact educational and training requirements vary depending upon your chosen specialty area, spend some time researching your options and investigate specialization that will be a good match for your future dream career. While each specialization may provide a strong background in psychology, each one differs in terms of its scope and focus. You need select a specialization that will let you both focus on your specialty area and work in your chosen career once you complete your study.
As part of your post graduate study, you will also be required to complete an internship in a different setting-clinical, educational, counselling, corporate etc. This is a great opportunity to gain practical experience in your field, receive mentoring from experienced psychologists and learn more about where you would like to work after completing all of your educational and training requirements.
After Post graduation you may consider for PhD in psychology or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree. The Ph.D. degree tends to focus more on a scientific model and places a lot of emphasis on experimental methods and research. The Psy.D. degree is a newer option that focuses more on a practitioner model and emphasizes clinical work. If you are interested in becoming a clinical psychologist in USA, you need to complete an accredited doctorate program in clinical psychology, complete an internship, and pass state licensing examinations.
Different specialization leads to different career in Psychology, know them well:
Psychology is a diverse field and careers can range from those that focus on mental health to those centered on research. You must spend time carefully researching your options in order to determine which specialty area is right for your needs, interests, and goals. Read all the specialization well, some may not be available in India, but if you select the specialization which are not available here, take authentic information on educational and training requirement, know the career prospect well and go ahead!
Clinical psychology is one of the most popular specialization amongst the students who wish to assess, diagnose, and treat people living with psychological or psychiatric disorders. These range from short-term crises, such as difficulties resulting from adolescent conflicts, to more severe, chronic conditions, such as schizophrenia. Some clinical psychologists also prefer to focus on youths, families or couples, or older people. They also work with physicians on physical problems that have underlying psychological causes. Clinical psychologists work in hospitals, mental health clinics, or do private practices. In order to become a clinical psychologist, it is essential to have a doctoral-level degree in clinical psychology. Central Institute of Psychiatry (CIP) in Ranchi (Jharkhand), National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore (Karnataka), Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) in New Delhi are premier institute in India to be considered for Ph.D. program and training facility.
These professionals uses psychological principles to increase worker productivity, improve health and the quality of work life in an organization. They also help the employer to select employees that are best-suited for particular jobs. In addition, they also train and assess employees in promotion processes. To be specific they serve as human resources specialists, helping organizations with staffing, training and employee development. Quite a few work as management consultants in the areas such as strategic planning, quality management and coping with organizational change.
These psychologist are engaged in the delivery of comprehensive psychological services to children, adolescents and families in schools. They assess and counsel students, consult with parents and school staff, and conduct behavioural interventions when needed. They also deal with emotional, academic, and social problems.
Counsellors deal with variety of problems, including marriage, family, emotional, educational, and substance abuse issues. They either work in K-12 schools, or colleges and universities, may be in hospitals, mental health clinics, besides private practice. They do help people recognize their strengths and resources to cope with everyday problems and in serious adversity. They do counselling, conduct psychotherapy and scientific research with individuals of all ages, families and organizations. Counselling psychologists also help people understand and take action on career and work problems, they pay attention to how problems and people differ across the lifespan, and they have great respect for the influence of differences among people or on psychological well-being.
Cognitive and perceptual psychologists
If you are interested to study human perception, thinking and memory, you may consider to become cognitive psychologist. These professional also study reasoning, judgment and decision making. In collaboration with behavioural neuroscientists, cognitive psychologist also study the biological bases of perception or cognition.
Community psychologists work to strengthen the abilities of communities, settings, organizations and broader social systems to meet the various needs of people. They help people access resources and collaborate with others to improve their lives and communities. Instead of helping individuals cope with negative circumstances these professionals empower people to change those circumstances, prevent problems and develop stronger communities. The profession of community psychologists blend research and practice, partnering with diverse citizens to plan and implement community changes, advance social justice and use research to inform and evaluate this work.
They study the psychological development of the human being that takes place throughout life. These professional do focus on the formatives years-childhood and adolescence. Since the life expectancy around the world is increasing, developmental psychologists are becoming increasingly interested in aging, especially in researching and developing ways to help older people stay as independent as possible.
As the name suggested these professionals concentrate on how effective teaching and learning take place. They consider human abilities, student motivation and the effect on the classroom of the diverse races, ethnicities and cultures etc.
These psychologist have a broad and inherently multidisciplinary focus. They built environments, social settings, cultural groups and informational environments and examine behaviour evolving at various scales and from various processes. They are found to be working along with researchers and practitioners in the other fields of psychology, in related disciplines- sociology, anthropology, biology, ecology, as well as in the design fields- regional, urban and community planner, landscape architecture; architecture and engineering. Environmental psychologists may explore issues in resource management, the effect of environmental stress on human effectiveness and well-being, the characteristics of restorative environments and human information processing.
Are you interested to study how evolutionary principles such as mutation, adaptation and selective fitness influence human thought, feeling and behaviour, you may choose to be an evolutionary psychologist. Because of their focus on genetically shaped behaviours that influence an organism’s chances of survival, these professionals study mating, aggression, helping behaviour and communication. Evolutionary psychologists are particularly interested some behaviours that were highly adaptive in our evolutionary past may no longer be adaptive in the modern world.
Experimental psychologists are mostly interested in a wide range of psychological phenomena, including cognitive processes, comparative psychology, and learning and conditioning. They study both human and animals with respect to their abilities to detect what is happening in a particular environment and to acquire and maintain responses to what is happening. They collect empirical data and the manipulate variables within the laboratory as a way of understanding certain phenomena and advancing scientific knowledge. They do work in academic settings, manufacturing settings, zoos and engineering firms.
Forensic psychologists apply psychological principles to legal issues, to be specific apply psychological principle to the fields of criminal investigation and law. They may consider to get the training both in psychology and the law. Forensic psychologists often work in the legal system with other experts to deal with family, civil, or criminal issues. They may be involved in child custody assessments, scrutinize insurance claims, evaluate mental health issues in criminal cases, and provide expert testimony. They do conduct research on jury behaviour or eyewitness testimony.
Engineering psychologists, often known as human factors specialists conduct research on how people work best with machines. For example, how can a computer be designed to prevent fatigue and eye strain in people? What arrangement of an assembly line makes production most efficient? What is a reasonable workload? These professionals use their understanding of the human mind and behaviour to help design and improve technology, consumer products, work settings, and living environments. Most engineering psychologists work in industry or government.
Sports psychologist help athletes to refine their focus on competition, remain motivated to achieve their goals, and teach them how to deal with the anxiety and fear of failure that often accompany competition. The two major areas within sports psychology are centered on helping improve athletic performance and on using sports to improve mental and physical health. Sports psychologists work in a wide variety of settings including universities, hospitals, athletic centers, private consulting practices, and research facilities.
Are you interested in how mental, emotional, and social factors influence health and illness, you may consider a specialization in health psychology. These professionals investigate issues that affect a large segment of society and develop and implement programs to deal with these problems. They often work in hospital or government settings to help promote healthy behaviours and prevent illness. They study how patients handle illness, why some people don’t follow medical advice and the most effective ways to control pain or change poor health habits. They also develop health care strategies that foster emotional and physical well-being.
Neuropsychologists explore the relationships between brain systems and behaviour. This include studying the way the brain creates and stores memories, or how various diseases and injuries of the brain affect emotion, perception and behaviour. They design tasks to study normal brain functions with imaging techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Clinical neuropsychologists also assess and treat people. They are also working with health care teams to help brain-injured people resume productive lives.
Quantitative and measurement psychologists
They focus on methods and techniques for designing experiments and analyzing psychological data. They also develop new methods for performing analyses; create research strategies to assess the effect of social and educational programs and psychological treatment. A few are also involved in developing and evaluating mathematical models for psychological tests. They also propose methods for evaluating the quality and fairness of the tests.
Rehabilitation psychologists work with stroke and accident victims, people with mental disabilities and those with developmental disabilities caused by such conditions as cerebral palsy, epilepsy and autism. They continuously work with clients to adapt to their situation and improve their live. They deal with issues of personal adjustment, interpersonal relations, the work world and pain management. These psychologists are also involved in public health programs to prevent disabilities, including those caused by violence and substance abuse. And they testify in court as expert witnesses about the causes and effects of a disability and a rehabilitation needs of individuals.
Social psychologists are interested in all aspects of interpersonal relationships, including both individual and group influences, and seek ways to improve such interactions. They focus on the research on how people form attitudes toward others, when these are harmful in the case of prejudice, and provides insight into ways to change them. The work in a variety of settings- in academic institutions they teach and conduct research, at advertising agencies, they study consumer attitudes and preferences, in businesses and government agencies they help with a variety of problems in organization and management.
Psychologists either work independently or team up with other scientists, physicians, lawyers, school personnel, computer experts, engineers, policymakers and managers to contribute to every area of society. Thus, one can find psychologist in laboratories, hospitals, courtrooms, schools and universities, community health centers, prisons and corporate offices. They treat individuals with mental and emotional problems as well as concentrate on behaviours that affect the mental and emotional health and mental functioning of healthy human beings. They work with business executives, performers and athletes to reduce stress and improve performance. They advise lawyers on jury selection and collaborate with educators on school reform. Psychologists also help victims of plane crash or bombing to recover from the trauma, or shock. They team with law enforcement and public health officials to analyze the causes of such events and prevent their recurrence. But the job options depend primarily on factors such as the type of degree held, years of experience, and areas of specialty.
Psychologists are employed by government and in private enterprises in various positions such as Psychiatric Social Worker, Personnel Welfare Officer, Industrial Psychologist, Industrial Relations Officer, Labour Officer, Counsellor, Psychotherapist etc. There is a strong competition for all posts but once established as a psychologist there are opportunities for promotion in all fields.
Rehabilitation Centers, Psychological Research Centres, Advertising Industry, Welfare Organizations, Psychological assessment and testing centers, Research Establishments, Development of prevention programs, Forensics Institutes, Universities/College/schools, Child/ Youth Guidance Centers appoints psychologist.
Institutes/ Universities: Most of the University offer psychology as a course. The popular ones are:
University of Delhi
Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
Utkal University, Odisha
Sardar Patel University, Gujarat
Gurunanak Dev University, Amritsar
University of Calcutta, Kolkota
Barkhatullah Viswavidyalaya, Bhopal
Kuruskhetra University, Haryana
Mysore University, Mysore.
Apart from this The Rehabilitation Council of India and NCERT also conduct various diploma and certificate courses from time to time.
Central Institute of Psychiatry (CIP) in Ranchi (Jharkhand)
National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore (Karnataka)
Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) in New Delhi.
Dr. Itishree Misra is a Clinical Psychologist and a Career Counselor. She has close to 2 decades of experience in academia and industry. Dr. Misra has been recognized widely for her work in the field for education and psychometrics. She can be reached at email@example.com