“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow” ~Caroline Myss
Want to pursue a career in psychology? How to acquire information or resources to enhance a career in psychology?
The study of the human brain and behavior; emerged as a field in the late 1870s. In particular, psychologists, counselors, psychotherapists, all are commonly known as health care providers. Their expertise involves observing, assessing behaviors, mental health function, emotional regulation, relationship with other social beings, and thereby formulate, generate interventions. Psychology isn’t a standalone subject, the subject matter spans from biology to sociology, hence its presence is extensive.
There are about 16 disciplines in the psychology field, to name the top few would be: Abnormal psychology, behavioral psychology, developmental psychology, and business psychology. Also while considering the career scope in India, according to a news report, India needs about 55,000 mental health workforce and currently has only 7000 professionals (Sharma, 2018). Hence, suggesting a huge gap between demand and supply, stressing the need of the hour.
There are a lot of career options in psychology ranging from industry to clinical fields, however, the most eminent pathways or sub-fields are:
Clinical Psychologist: Trained to support individuals with severe behavioral, emotional social issues. The issues could range from short-term emotional crisis, schizophrenia, long term depression to any clinically diagnosed mental health concerns. Clinical psychologists may focus on a particular issue alone or get trained for a specific population such as adolescents, married individuals, etc. A minimum of a Mphil degree is mandatory to practice as a clinical psychologist* (as per the norms).
Counseling Psychologist: Guides the individual in coping with everyday emotional or behavioral issues through rightly formulated interventions. They strongly believe that each one has a very unique belief system, hence the treatment plan should be specific and considering the cultural, individual differences as well. The basic notion is that the issues are majorly influenced by internal factors such as thought process, faulty emotional regulations, unhelpful pre-assumptions, and external factors i.e. family/social relationships, work environment, and stressors. A minimum of a master’s degree in counseling psychology is mandatory to practice as a counseling psychologist.
Industrial/ Organisational psychologist: Trained specialists in providing quality services such as training, workshops, strategies in a workplace environment for improving overall employee productivity, better well-being of the working professionals. And also provide consultation in the human resource management for recruitment and employee training purposes. They are trained to administer various psychometric tests to assess employees' skills and personality and thereby plan strategically for better outcomes. Business psychologists can also provide valuable plans or approaches during an organizational change. A minimum of a master’s degree in business psychology is mandatory to practice as an organizational psychologist.
School Counsellor: Expertise in handling situations concerning teenagers' mental health, student’s well-being, parent-student relationships, and enhancing student’s overall performance. They conduct timely behavioral assessments when required and facilitate consultations with the students individually or in groups when necessary. A minimum of a master’s degree in counseling is mandatory to practice, however, can vary depending on the place and school of placement.
Rehabilitation Psychologist: Expertise in handling accident-related cases in helping the individuals cope with the trauma. Also trained in supporting individuals diagnosed with developmental disorders such as autism, epilepsy. They support interpersonal issues, pain management, and forming social relationships. In most cases, they are seen working with other mental health care professionals to provide the best quality intervention for the client. A minimum of a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling is mandatory to practice as a rehabilitation psychologist.
Though master's level education is required for the majority of fields in psychology, students can definitely seek further education at Ph.D. or PsyD level, abroad or in India, depending on the scope of that branch in the particular country. For students’ interest in the research aspect or teaching field of psychology, Ph.D. is the better option and PsyD is perfect for students wanting to focus on practicing/providing psychological services. However, PsyD options in India are limited and one needs to make a thoughtful decision when planning to do doctorate programs.
One needs to be well-informed about the scope of various courses, sub-fields, career prospects pertaining to the country, job opportunities, and much more. This could be possible by the following:
Networking with established mental health professionals.
Attending webinars/informational sessions regarding career opportunities.
Pro-active in gaining insight through valid social media platforms.
Seeking guidance from mentors, lecturers.
Attending job fairs, conferences
Career counseling services
“Your career is your business. It’s time for you to manage it as a CEO.”
Careers in Psychology. (2021). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/careers
The Major Branches of Psychology. (2020, May 5). King University Online. https://online.king.edu/news/major-branches-of-psychology-guide/#:%7E:text=Disciplines%20of%20Psychology,psychologist%20you%20want%20to%20be.
Sharma, K. (2018, October 10). “We need more mental health care professionals in India” - Times of India. The Times of India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health-news/we-need-more-mental-health-care-professionals-in-india/articleshow/66146320.cms
Stahl, A. (2018, September 29). 5 Steps To Finding The Right Career For You. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2018/09/27/5-steps-to-finding-the-right-career-for-you/?sh=57207ecd5abb
Michalski, D. S., & Fowler, G. (2016, January). Doctoral degrees in psychology: How are they different, or not so different? Psychology Student Network. http://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/psn/2016/01/doctoral-degrees