October 21, 2013,
There was a time when seeking psychological assistance was considered an extreme step and only for those who were “mental”. Today, although still considered stigmatic, more and more people are opening up to the fact that ANY of us may need psychological help in any phase in life and it may be beneficial to seek help in time. Increased competition, work pressures and a fast-paced life have contributed to stress levels that only seem to be on the rise.
The field of psychology has grown tremendously over the years and there is help at hand for those who need it. Let us consider all the careers that a graduate in psychology can pursue.
A graduation in psychology is a quite generalized degree and one may be in a better position to negotiate work offers if one has further specialization. Several universities offer diplomas and certification courses in counseling, that one can do after graduation/post-graduation, depending on interest.
A prerequisite for a successful career in psychology is patience and an appealing personality. More often than not, a psychology professional may have to calm a frustrated individual, reassure a depressed person and /or hear out a lonely soul. People are comfortable with someone that they feel they can open up to, who will not judge them and will keep their details confidential.
Let us look at some careers that one can embark on after courses in psychology.
Career counseling is becoming an increasingly sought after service these days due to an increased awareness on the importance of choosing one’s field of study and subsequently career, on the basis of one’s aptitude and interest. As a career counselor, you will administer aptitude test and personality tests, usually to high school children and help them understand (also their parents) their inherent strengths and abilities. On the basis of this evaluation you will be able to suggest a number of career options that they can choose from, the scope of choosing them, courses/universities/colleges that they can pick, entrances if any, financial implications of the choice etc.
While this may usually be the case, at times you may also have to counsel people who may have chosen a wrong career path, have failed or are struggling with it and have decided to seek help. Such people may be low and have poor self-esteem. These situations will have to be handled more delicately with having to point out to the individual that s/he needs to completely overhaul their career while at the same time reassuring them of their strengths.
NGOs work in several sectors and with several groups. Those NGOs that work with special children, victims of abuse, on addiction, with elders etc may employ full-time counselors. An individual must be ready for all kinds of scenarios while working in settings like these. Several universities offer advanced diplomas in clinical/counseling/social psychology which can be pursued after a Masters. It would be ideal to begin working with NGOs in various sectors after graduation and decide what kind of groups you would like to and then choose to do a Masters and/advanced diploma accordingly. Although true for any career related to psychology, one has to have an extremely sensitive attitude towards individuals being counseled.
Several organisations, right from education boards such as CBSE to ones like the National Population Stabilisation Fund have helplines where students/individuals can dial with queries/anxieties and get a listening ear to solve their doubts. A psychology graduate can consider applying for such kind of jobs. As mentioned earlier, a post-graduation and/or a diploma with a specialisation in clinical/counseling/social psychology will be extremely beneficial and enhance career prospects.
Correction Homes/Juvenile Homes/Prisons
Juveniles (below the age of 18) charged with crimes are not sent to prisons but to correction homes/juvenile detention facilities. An individual, having done a course in counseling/social psychology can choose to work with these individuals. Similarly, prisons across the country may employ counselors on a full-time/part-time basis to work with inmates/organise special counseling sessions for them.
After a Masters and/or an advanced diploma in Clinical Psychology an individual can work with hospitals in the capacity of a counselor.
More and more schools are waking up to the realisation that they may need to employ full-time/part-time counselors to help students deal with everyday issues with school life. As a school counselor you may also come across children with attention deficit disorders, hyperactivity, learning disabilities, violent behaviour, attention-seeking behaviour etc to name a few. A specialisation in counseling psychology at the Masters level will be extremely beneficial.
Independent Clinical Practise
With a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, one can also consider practising independently (along with a psychiatrist) as a psychologist. Since a psychologist practising independently may also have to treat patients suffering from depression, schizophrenia etc which may require medication along with counseling, they need to work with a licensed psychiatrist (a doctor who has chosen to specialise in psychiatry) to be able to prescribe medicines.
By specialising in industrial psychology, one can work for organisations, especially those that employ a large workforce, to help them keep employees motivated, enhance productivity and ensure high job satisfaction, lower attrition among them.
A family counselor typically has a masters in social psychology after which s/he can practise. One can choose to set up one’s own clinic or work in a hospital providing these services.
Good old Teaching!
With a Masters/Doctorate in Psychology and after having cleared the NET examination (not necessarily a requirement if you have a doctorate), you can choose to teach future psychologists/counselors at the college/university level.
Although avenues in India have been opening up, scope for psychology and it’s practitioners is much broader abroad. Countries like USA and UK have universities offering many courses in psychology with a wide range of specialisations. These countries require the individual to possess a license to practise.