Psychologist Career Information
What a Psychologist does
Psychologists work with counselors and other mental health professionals to understand what constitutes normal brain function and behavior. They traditionally study both normal and abnormal functioning, and also treat patients with mental and emotional problems.
Today, Psychologist are increasingly concentrating on behaviors that affect the mental and emotional health and mental processes of healthy human beings. For example, they work with business executives, performers, and athletes to combat stress and improve performance.
Psychology is a vast field. Psychologists conduct both basic and applied research, serve as consultants to communities and organizations, diagnose and treat people, and teach future psychologists and other types of students.
Psychologist also test intelligence and personality. They assess behavioral and mental function and well-being. They study how human beings relate to each other and also to machines, and they work to improve these relationships.
In essence psychologists study the human mind and human behavior. Research psychologists investigate the physical, cognitive, emotional, or social aspects of human behavior. Psychologists in applied fields provide mental health care in hospitals, clinics, schools, or private settings.
Like other social scientists, psychologists formulate hypotheses and collect data to test their validity. Research methods may vary depending on the topic under study. They gather information through laboratory experiments, as well as through administering personality, performance, aptitude, and intelligence tests. Other methods include observation, interviews, questionnaires, clinical studies, and surveys.
Psychologists generally specialize in one of a number of different areas.
Clinical psychologists, who constitute the largest specialty generally, work in counseling centers, hospitals, or clinics. They assist mentally or emotionally disturbed people adjust to life and may help medical and surgical patients deal with their illnesses or injuries.
Some Psychologists work in physical rehabilitation centres, treating patients with spinal cord injuries, chronic pain or illness, stroke, arthritis, and neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Others help people deal with times of personal crisis, such as divorce or the death of a loved one. Some clinical psychologists work with physicians and other specialists to develop and implement treatment and intervention programs for patients.
Some areas of specialization within clinical psychology include health psychology, neuropsychology, and geropsychology.
Health psychologists promote good health by helping people to stop smoking or lose weight.
Neuropsychologists study the relation between the brain and behavior. They often work in stroke and head injury programs.
Geropsychologists deal with the problems faced by the elderly.
Cognitive psychologists deal with memory, thinking, and perceptions. Some conduct research related to computer programming and artificial intelligence.
Counseling psychologists use various techniques, including interviewing and testing, to advise people on how to deal with problems of everyday life. They work in school, university, hospital, and individual or group practices.
Developmental psychologists study the physiological development that takes place throughout life. Some specialize in behavior during infancy, childhood, and adolescence, changes that take place during maturity or old age, or developmental disabilities and their effects.
Experimental or research psychologists work in university and private research centers, and in business, nonprofit, and governmental organizations. They study behavior processes with human beings and animals such as rats, monkeys, and pigeons.
Industrial-organizational psychologists (I/O) apply psychological principles and research methods to the workplace for improving productivity and the quality of work life. They frequently act as consultants, brought in by management in order to solve a particular problem.
Educational psychologists are concerned with the teaching methodologies, learning pattern of students, testing of abilities, skills, and aptitudes acquired from teaching and learning, etc. The whole area of teaching, learning and evaluations of learning is his/her area of special interest. Educational psychologists work in schools and in research organizations. They are assigned to diagnostic and remedial work, though the main task is to engage primarily in preventive and development work.
Social psychologists examine people's interactions with others and with the social environment. They work in organisational consultation, marketing research, systems design or other applied psychology fields.
Sports psychologists job deals with how one’s mind can influence performance of a game. A sports psychologist can help reduce anxiety, build confidence, prevent burnout, sustain concentration, and enhance motivation and energy and endurance.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that 450 million people worldwide are affected by mental, neurological or behavioral problems at any given time. Thus the impetus towards the mental health profession has grown by leaps and bounds.
While most psychologists work directly with patients, they are increasingly being hired by corporates, various branches of government, and educational institutions. Some psychologists use their knowledge to design better products and services, based on the latest psychological theories.
Other Psychologists analyze marketing campaigns to understand why one venture was a hit and another flopped. Regardless of where they work, psychologists are interested in what people think, and why.
Some psychologists also team up with other professionals like physicians, scientists, lawyers, teachers, computer experts, engineers, policy makers, and managers to contribute to every area of society. Thus we find them in laboratories, hospitals, courtrooms, schools and universities, community health centers, prisons, and corporate offices.
Psychologists employed as faculty by colleges and universities divide their time between teaching and research, and some have administrative responsibilities as well. Many have part-time consulting practices. Most psychologists in government and industry have fixed hours.
Educational institutions employ psychologists in positions other than teaching, such as counseling, testing, research, and administration.
After several years of experience, some psychologists enter private practice or set up their own research or consulting firms. Over 40 percent of all psychologists are self-employed.
Opportunities for work in psychology are expanding in number and scope. The move toward preventing illness, rather than merely diagnosing and treating it, requires people to learn how to make healthy behavior a routine part of living.
Indeed, many of the problems facing society today are problems about behavior, for example, drug addiction, poor personal relationships, violence at home and in the street, and the harm we do to our environment. Psychologists contribute solutions to problems through careful collection of data, analysis of data, and development of intervention strategies--in other words, by applying scientific principles, the hallmark of psychology.
The study of psychology is also good preparation for many other professions. Many employers are interested in the skills that psychology majors bring to collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data, and their experience with statistics and experimental design.
Creating educational toys could be a good career option for a psychologist interested in behavioral issues of children.
Abilities & Traits Required
It is very important for a psychologist to be excellent communicator who can quickly assess and analyze emotions. You must be able to learn new methods and skills on an ongoing basis. The most important thing is to be interested in the people and in how the human mind functions.
Aspiring psychologists who are interested in patient care must be emotionally stable, mature, and able to deal effectively with people. Sensitivity, compassion, and the ability to lead and inspire others are particularly important qualities for clinical work and counseling.
Research psychologists should be able to do detailed work independently and as part of a team. Excellent communications skills are necessary to succeed in research. Patience and perseverance are vital qualities because results from psychological treatment of patients or from research usually take a long time.
While a BA in psychology might help you find out why your roommate is moody, it won't get you far professionally. To have a good career, you need at least a MA/ M Sc in Psychology/ Applied Psychology/ Industrial Psychology. To be into research, a Ph. D is a must.
As a Psychologist you can also have a degree in Social Work (MSW) to work in the field of Social psychology and Counselling psychology.
Most psychologists are inclined to social work and prefer to work with NGO settings. And it goes without saying that good money hardly exists in social work.
At an average, school psychologists are paid Rs 20000-30000 per month when they first start out. It could go up to Rs 30000-40000 a month after a few years of experience. The maximum a school psychologist could make in India is Rs 40000-50000
However the scenario is not so bleak for college lecturers. They start at Rs 45000 - 55000. University professors are much better paid at Rs 55000 – 65000 a month.
But hold on. The corporates are the best paymasters. Though you start with just 45000-65000 there is no limit to the scale you will reach after a few years of experience.