Becoming a psychologist

Becoming a psychologist
Highlights

Psychology is the study of human mind and behaviour and has a systematic approach towards understanding people. In the recent past with the increasing issues like stressful workplaces, increasing crime, global issues and many real life complexities, the field of psychology is gaining more attention and catching up as a career choice.

Psychology is the study of human mind and behaviour and has a systematic approach towards understanding people. In the recent past with the increasing issues like stressful workplaces, increasing crime, global issues and many real life complexities, the field of psychology is gaining more attention and catching up as a career choice.

“Initially, mental illness or ‘abnormal behaviour’- as it was called then- was believed to be an intrusion of the evil spirits into the human body thus forcing the person to behave abnormally, people thought it was contagious and so the sufferers were treated as untouchables. Yes, mental illness is a taboo subject, even today as there are many cases reported where people feel reluctant to accept or reveal their mental disorder. They also find it difficult to empathise with sufferers which eventually lead to stigmatisation and discrimination. But, thanks to the humungous exposure and awareness we have through the internet; in the past five years there has been a positive approach and empathy towards mental health issues. Also today almost everyone is suffering from some mental disorder or the other,” says Deepthi Kommidi, HOD of the psychology department at Koti Women’s College.

India is exploring the idea of having mental health professionals in almost all job settings. The government’s new rule making it mandatory for all schools and colleges to have a counsellor on campus has led to a rise in the demand for quality psychologists.

“Compassion, patience, empathy and a keen sense of observation are the qualities for an aspiring psychologist,” adds Deepti. Psychologists apply the principles and theories of human behaviour in solving real life problems through experiments, theories, personality tests, methods and techniques of identification of human problems, guidance and counselling, etc. They are involved in every aspect of human thought, feeling and behaviour. They work to understand and improve the functioning of human beings at home, school, work, play, spiritually and in the society in general.

The field of psychology is a broad one with a wide range of options. The path to become a psychologist depends on the specialisation one chooses to pursue. Choosing the best psychology programme starts with knowing what is your field of interest. In India, it starts right after intermediate or +2 where a minimum of BA (psychology) + MA psychology/ specialisation would fetch one a job as psychologist based on their speciality area. There is much diversity in psychology professions, and hence, the remuneration varies greatly depending upon factors such as speciality area, the degree held and the sector of employment.

“Psychology is an interesting and challenging field, if one wants to satisfy their heart then psychology it is,” concludes Kommidi.

Different fields of applied psychology:-

Clinical Psychologists: Work in hospital settings and are equipped to deal with the non medical aspects of patient care – more specially psychotherapy.

Counselling Psychologists: Help people recognise their strengths and resources to cope with everyday problems and serious adversity. They do counselling/psychotherapy, teaching and scientific research with individuals of all ages, families and organisations (e.g., schools, colleges, career counselling, children with special needs etc).

Social Psychologists: Work for social welfare organisations. They can also specialise in women and child welfare, or educational psychology and be employed in NGOs or even work with the police.

Forensic Psychologists: Apply psychological principles to legal issues. Their expertise is often essential within the judicial system. They can, for example, help a judge decide which parent should have custody of a child or evaluate a defendant's mental competence to stand trial. They also conduct research on jury behaviour or eyewitness testimony.

Criminal Psychologists: Help law enforcement officials determine motives, attitudes and techniques in criminal behaviour by using research-based techniques to investigate criminal cases. They can work at community mental health centers, state psychiatric hospitals, forensic hospitals, probation offices, correctional facilities and academic institutions.

Health Psychology: Health psychology is a new and rapidly evolving area, and can be defined as the practice and application of psychological methods to the study of behaviour relevant to health, illness and healthcare.

Industrial Psychologists: Conduct training programmes for employees on stress management, team building, leadership abilities etc. Some psychologists also assist HR professionals in the recruitment process or for employee development.

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