In-Focus: Becoming a Psychologist

Posted on May 17, 2010 in Alternative Careers

Rohan Gupta:

Psychology is a branch of science that deals with mental processes and behavior. It is the systematic study of human behaviour, mind and thought. To pursue the career of a psychologist, one should have a genuine desire to help other human beings.

Psychologists study the processes, motives, reactions, feelings and nature of the human mind. Their treatment is based on changing behavioural patterns of the patients without medication. They do counselling and help people by bringing about changes in their thought process, thus improving their quality of life.

While psychology, unlike psychiatry which is a medical degree helping people with severe mental problems with the use of medication, helps people with emotional problems through counseling, it is not meant for every college/neighborhood ‘agony aunt’. It is a highly specialized study based, primarily, on theories of psycho analysis (dream analysis) postulated by Sigmund Freud. Study of psychology includes a diverse range of activities such as the processes of thinking, learning and perceiving, remembering, forgetting, physiology of the nervous system, development of children, social relationships and their effect on personality development, mental disorders, applications of psychology to the study of society, industry, education etc., techniques of experimenting and testing, and statistics.

In India it is presently a growing career option, with various educational institutions (schools and colleges), NGO’s, workplaces, demanding qualified counselors. In the field of criminal analysis also, psychologists are required; however it is in its nascent stages of development. Although private practice in this field is not well paying because of various stigmas against counseling, various hospitals now have a special ward for psychology e.g. VIMHANS.

One can pursue a 3yr bachelor’s degree in psychology and follow it up with a 2 yr masters degree in which specialization in a particular field of psychology can be achieved. Options of further studies are available in the form of M.Phill or PhD which are also of 2yr duration.

Various institutes in India, like Delhi University, Delhi; Andhra University, Vishakhapatnam; Patna University, Patna; University of Calicut, Kozhikode; Union Christian College, Aluva; St.Xavier’s college, Mumbai; Bangalore University, Jnana Bharathi, Bangalore offer B.A. Hons degrees in psychology. B.Sc Psychology are offered by Shivaji University, Kohlapur; University of Poona, Pune. There are many options of studying psychology through through distant learning programmes. Grand Canyon University, Phoenix; Kaplan University, Chicago; City University of Seattle Online, Seattle; Ashford University, Clinton; Agrosy University, Pittsburgh; Liberty University, Virginia; Ellis College, Chicago; Penn Foster Career School, Scranton; Capella University, Minneapolis offer a bachelor’s degree through correspondence.