We have often seen portrayals of psychologists in movies or TV shows, but a psychologist's job is a lot different than it's portrayed on TV. Listening to the clients and just diagnosing them is not their only job. Psychology is a broad discipline, wrong portrayal, the stigma around mental health in general, and wrong advice from people can sometimes confuse someone who is aspiring to make a career in this field making them rethink their decision. Therefore, here are five things that you need to know before you become a psychologist:
1-Becoming licensed is a time-consuming process: To get a license, you have to earn a bachelor's degree which takes roughly around 4 years. Then a master’s degree and a doctorate which takes another 5 years. After receiving your doctorate, you have to pursue another year of supervised postgraduate internship/training. All this adds up to at least 7-10 years of commitment. A decade of studying to earn a license might sound dreadful but keep your head high and focus on the big picture as the rewards are plentiful!
2- You have to befriend Math again: Honestly, most of us hated math in school and were extremely elated once school ended thinking that math is long gone now. But every graduate degree program in psychology comprises a quantitative component. Almost all psychology students have to study topics like quantitative research methods and statistics. These math skills are essential, especially in statistics as having a firm grasp of statistics will prove very useful while extracting conclusions from experiments and studies.
3- Choosing a Specialization within the field is essential: Psychology is a vast field. Every psychology student needs to have a clear idea about which branch of psychology they want to specialize in, as it is better to be sure about what you want to do than waste a year studying for something that won’t even help you advance in your career. There are different options to choose from- neuropsychology, clinical psychology, industrial psychology, behavioral psychology, fashion psychology, and so on.
4- It takes multiple sessions to build trust: Patience is a vital skill that each psychologist should have. Clients won't open up right away, especially during the first 2 to 3 sessions when you’re asking questions and doing assessments. It takes time to build a rapport with the client and make them feel safe and comfortable enough to have a breakthrough. Trust is an ongoing process, but always remember to never push your client’s boundaries.
5- Resist the urge to diagnose yourself and your loved ones: We may try to diagnose ourselves and our loved ones as we start studying abnormal psychology or disorders. However, it’s necessary to be careful and aware of our confirmation bias and not get carried away. It is good to be there for your loved ones in times of need, but it's better to avoid diagnosing them as it can build up unwanted stress.
A WORD FROM SOCIALLY SOULED
The above-mentioned points are not given to scare you away from psychology but to inform and prepare you for what you might face while making a career in this field. The journey from a student to a successful psychologist might seem daunting, but it is highly rewarding if you find what you love. Especially with the growing scope of psychology worldwide, the rewards will be plentiful.