Psychology and Other Professions
A broad knowledge of psychology is useful for careers in many other areas, such as teaching, social work, business, medicine, law, recreation and community studies. Potential teachers, for example, can take courses in developmental psychology or courses which cover processes involved in learning. Those interested in government or business should study the social psychology of small groups. People interested in law have an opportunity to study abnormal personalities and the psychology of persuasion. Individuals interested in the health professions can examine the perceptual processes involved in pain or the use of biofeedback techniques with stroke patients. Those interested in social service professions might study the impact of different family patterns on moral development or alternative approaches to personal counselling. These are but a few of the psychological topics relevant to different fields but they serve to illustrate the general nature of psychology.
Psychology as a Profession
Professional psychology can be divided into two main areas – academic and applied. Academic psychologists, who make up about 40% of the total, teach in the universities and carry out basic research. Applied psychologists are concerned primarily with the application of findings from basic research and share the common goal of helping people to function as effectively as possible. The field of applied psychology includes diverse areas of specialization including clinical psychology, counselling, consulting, sports psychology, environmental psychology, engineering psychology, and industrial/organizational psychology. Applied psychologists work in educational, government, health, community, business, industrial, correctional, and justice settings. The area of psychology that a person goes into will often determine the level of education required. A Bachelor’s degree, which requires three or four years of undergraduate study, is usually not sufficient for a career in psychology. The aim of the undergraduate program is to provide a broad, general background for those going on to graduate work and for those entering other professions. Individuals wishing to go into certain applied areas of psychology will usually require at least a Master’s degree, which demands two years of additional study. A Doctoral degree (PhD) takes several more years of graduate study and is usually required for those wishing to go into academic or clinical psychology.
What Can A Psychologist Do?
Psychologists can be categorized into two types depending on their major activity: research psychologists and clinical psychologists. Most psychologists work in one of the following settings:
- Universities: Psychologists in universities have a twofold role: to teach what is known, and, through research, to add to what is known.
- Schools: School psychologists are primarily involved with testing, assessments, and counselling.
- Hospitals/Clinics and Private Practice: Most psychologists who work in these settings are clinical psychologists whose major activity is diagnoses and treatment of disorders.
- Business, Government and Industry: A variety of employment opportunities exist in these settings for psychologists – the types of responsibilities they assume include: job satisfaction and employee assessments, workplace stress, advertising, and environmental concerns.
- Community Health and Forensics: The primary responsibilities for psychologists working in a community setting are in areas such as programme design and evaluation (usually in Mental Health/Family Centres): drug rehabilitation, sex counselling, and assisting lawyers—with jury selection, custody disputes, and assessing the mental competency of defendants.
To become a psychologist you must first complete either a BA or BSc with a major in psychology and then go to graduate school for approximately 5 years to complete a PhD. specializing in the area of your choice. Many of our undergraduate students have been accepted at the best graduate schools in North America, completed their PhDs, and gone on to satisfying and successful careers in research, hospitals, schools, and business.