In-Depth Jobs

Volume-15, 14-20 July, 2018

Careers in Psychology

Vijay Prakash Srivastava

There are multiple subjects and disciplines of study with their own distinct features. Each one of these subjects has some association with human beings. But there is one subject which is completely about human beings. Yes, we are talking of Psychology. Psychology is considered to be a subject under humanities. It delves into human minds to find out how people think and behave and how they grow emotionally and socially.
There are different kinds of living beings on this earth. Of these, human beings are considered to be the most intelligent species. This is reflected in the progress this species has made which is there for all of us to see. Not all human beings are alike physically. In the same way people differ in their thinking processes and how they adapt to thinking of others.
Psychology tries to explain what makes people think differently, how perceptions are formed and in what way we can be a better thinker and doer. So, in simple terms the purpose of psychology is betterment of human lives by working on mental models. This betterment is also expected to bring positive changes in society which is always required.
Human life is getting complicated day by day. There is more stress, people have more challenges to face and competition is spreading in all walks of life. In such a situation the role of psychologists assumes more significance. Psychologists help people to cope with stress, assist people suffering from trauma, mental difficulties and disorders. They may be required to work with individual clients and also group of people to understand real causes of these issues and offer possible solutions. If this description interests you and you want to become such a solution provider, consider choosing psychology as your career.
Study of Psychology
Psychology can be chosen as a subject of study at 10+2 level to learn the basics of the subject. To make an in depth study you need to study the subject at undergraduate level. So you may opt for B.A. (Honours), B. A. or B.Sc. in Psychology depending on the institution offering the course. However in order to make a solid career, post-graduation (M.A./M.Sc.) becomes a desirable qualifi-cation. Specialization opportunities are available at this level.
Psychology has many branches and you may choose to specialize in the one of your liking. Some of these are described below-
Cognitive Psychology: Cognitive Psychology is concerned with perception and problem solving capabilities of human brain. Under this branch effort is made to understand thinking process, development of thoughts and memory habits. This branch has bearing on all other branches like educational, social and industrial psychology etc.
Developmental Psycho-logy: As we grow there is change in our thought processes and our way of looking at things. Developmental Psychology examines such changes occurring from childhood to adolescence and then to old age. It also looks into possible implications of such changes. Both micro and macro issues related to psychology of people are studied under this.
Educational Psychology: This includes scientific study of how human beings think and behave in an educational setting and how they differ in terms of motivation, intelligence and self-concept when it comes to acquiring education. Under this branch you may be required to study theory and practical aspects of child and adult learning. Issues like learning disorders are also examined under this. The branch covers assessment methods, classroom management and ways to improve the learning outcome.
Organizational /Industrial Psychology: In organizations and industries, people work together for defined goals. How people perform depends on their skills and motives. Performance is also influenced by prevailing work environment. This branch of psychology explores ways to create an enabling environment, enhancing motivational levels of the workforce and promote job satisfaction. Many interview panels include expert of this branch of psychology.
Clinical Psychology: One of the most important branches of psychology, clinical psychology blends theory, research and clinical expertise to better understand, prevent and relieve people of psychological issues causing distress or discomfort. Psychotherapy plays a crucial role in Clinical Psychology.
Social Psychology: Social Psychology studies factors that make us to behave in a given way in presence of others and social settings. It looks at the conditions under which certain thoughts, feelings and behaviours occur. Some of the topics covered are social influences, group/inter-personal proce-sses and the aspects related to traits like aggression, prejudice etc.
Sport Psychology: This branch of psychology has evolved in the last few decades. It is an interdisciplinary field bringing together physiology, biomechanics and psychological factors. We all know that only physical strength is not enough to win in sports. One also needs the right mindset to put her best foot forward and persist. Building mental resiliency is the main concern of sports psychology. In many cases sport teams are accompanied by a sports psychologist. 
How Psychology and psychiatry are different?
In many cases the terms psychology and psychiatry are used interchangeably which is not correct. Psychology is a social science whereas psychiatry belongs to medical science. If you're studying medicine, psychiatry can be one of your specializations. A psychiatrist can prescribe medicines. Psychologists may solely provide psychotherapy involving cognitive and behavioural interventions. Psychiatrists are physicians that have specific training in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses. In case of need a psychologist may refer the client to a psychiatrist. Also in certain cases psychologists and psychiatrists may be required to work together to offer treatment to a mental patient. To become a psychiatrist one has to study for a longer period as is evident from duration of medical courses. While the two professions are distinct, psychologists and psychiatrists both play important roles in mental health treatment.
Places of Study
Calcutta University was first in India to establish a Department of Psychology. This happened in the year 1915. Since then we have come a long way and now almost every University in the country offers Postgraduate and Doctoral courses in Psychology. Some of these well-known universities are-
Banaras Hindu University
University of Delhi
University of Pune
Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya, Indore
Maharaj Sayajirao University, Vadodara
Mohanlal Sukhadia University, Udaipur
Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
Osmania University, Hyderabad
University of Madras, Chennai
University of Hyderabad
Barakatullah University, Bhopal
University of Bangalore
Aligarh Muslim University
Allahabad University
Pondicherry University
Vishwa Bharati, Shantiniketan
Punjab University, Chandigarh
Utkal University, Bhubaneswar
Kurukshetra University
Dr. Hari Singh Gour University, Sagar
Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi
North Eastern Hill University, Shillong
Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University, Raipur
University of Rajasthan, Jaipur
Gujarat University, Ahmedabad
Calicut University
Many University affiliated colleges also have postgraduate psychology courses.
Last few years have seen a spate of private and deemed to be Universities in the country. Many of these offer Postgraduate level courses in psychology. Here you have to be discreet in selection of the University. The selection should be based on the reputation of  the Institute. Also make sure that the degree being offered carries the recognition of Universities Grants Commission.
If any private university is asking for an exorbitant fee, you may ignore it as the same course may be available at much lesser cost at some other good institute. For admission to courses in Psychology the competition is not as intense as may be  in case of courses relating to management and technology. This should not be taken to mean that a qualification in psychology has a lesser importance.
Banasthali Vidyapith (deemed to be University for women) in Rajasthan and Manipal Academy of Higher Education are among old private educational institutions having courses in psychology.
Specialized Institutes
National Institute of Mental Health Sciences at Bengaluru and Central Institute of Psychiatry at Ranchi are among well-known institutions for higher studies and research in subjects related to psychology and psychiatry.
Research opportunities
Psychology is a research oriented subject offering ample scope for higher study and research. Opportunities are available at Universities and specialized Institutes in India and abroad. To pursue a Ph.D., one needs to fulfill UGC requirements. Research psychologists use scientific methods to build on available studies, collect data, examine results, and then report findings in their research thesis/paper.
Combining qualifications
Human Resource Management/ Development (BBA/MBA with specialization in HR), Social Work (Bachelor/ Master in Social Work), Education (Bachelor/Master in Education) are few of the courses more aligned with psychology. It means if somebody is a graduate in psychology, she may go for courses like MBA (HR), MSW etc. and if someone has a degree like   M. Ed. / MSW etc., a theme from psychology may be chosen for doctoral study. These are only illustrations and a decision in the matter should be taken on the basis of your specific aptitude and resources and time available to you.
Career opportunities
As a psychologist you may get an opportunity to work with educational institutions (schools/ colleges/ universities/ Management/ Engineering Institutes etc.), hospitals, health clinics, juvenile homes, non-governmental organi-zations, advertising agencies, rehabilit-ation centres, HR consultancies, disaster management institutes etc. Teaching careers are widely available.
Working on your own
With a high qualification in psychology and possibly with some experience, it is possible to work on your own or work from home. Not many subjects offer such opportunity. If your specialization is in clinical psychology you may treat people suffering from mental disorders, trauma, depression etc. Others may work as family counselors, marriage counselors, career counselors etc. With dedication and professional integrity you may build your name and expand your reach. Opportunity is available to work as freelancer also by offering your services to schools, colleges, old age homes, advertising/market research agencies, hospitals and other institutions/organizations.
Traits for success
To have a successful career in psychology the required traits are keen observation, willingness to help people, strong communication skills, analytical ability, patience and perseverance among others. One also requires a basic sensitivity towards people and need to be ethical in approach. All such skills and traits can be developed with positive and sincere efforts.
Psychology is an area in which you derive satisfaction in helping people to lead good, balanced and peaceful life, overcome mental problems and enrich people’s social, family and workplace relationships. In general it is not a career of fancy designations and regular promotions. So if the subject genuinely interests you, only then you will enjoy your work and career in psychology. However your graduate qualification with psychology will work for other jobs like banking, civil services etc.
as well.
(The author is a career counsellor based in Mumbai) Email: v2j25@
Views expressed are personal.