There are few things that are as enthralling as the study of the mind. The study, known as psychology, demonstrates how the mind works and why people act in certain ways. On the whole, it is a very interesting subject simply because everyone can relate to it and in the process find out more about him or herself as well as the human mind. For centuries, psychology has continued to be an important career choice and its popularity is only growing by the day.
The Science of Psychology
Psychology is a branch of science that involves the systematic study of human and animal behaviour. It deals with mental processes and behavioural patterns. As a subject, it tries to explore the modus operandi of the mind, covering the entire spectrum of human actions and reactions, thoughts and feelings, beliefs and values, sentiments and emotions.
An interesting aspect about psychology is that it also deeply explores interpersonal relations and how this interaction affects one’s immediate environment, community, society and ultimately, the human civilisation.
Branches of Psychology
Psychology is a very broad and diverse subject. Thus, many different branches have emerged, making it easy to explore a host of topics and perspectives.
Sports psychology focuses on athletic performance and motivation as well as the psychological benefits of sports. Social psychology is concerned with how social phenomena influence us and how people interact with others. Biopsychology analyses how the brain and neurotransmitters influence people’s behaviors, thoughts and feelings.
Cross-cultural psychology looks at how cultural factors influence human behavior.
Forensic psychology is a field that deals with both psychology and the law.
Cognitive psychology studies internal mental processes such as attention, memory and problem solving.
Developmental psychology studies the physical and cognitive development hat occurs over the course of the lifespan.
Clinical psychology is concerned with the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental disorders. Evolutionary psychology looks at how human behavior has been affected by psychological adjustments during evolution.
Neuropsychology studies the structure and function of the brain in relation to behaviors and psychological processes.
Industrial psychology studies the performance of people at work and in training, develops an understanding of how organisations function and how people and groups behave at a workplace. It also applies psychological principles to research on workplace issues such as productivity.
Educational psychology focuses on the educational system to help children with emotional, social, and academic issues.
Abnormal psychology is a segment of psychology that deals with psychopathology and abnormal behaviour.
Criminal psychology is the study of the will, thoughts, intentions and reactions of criminals.
Comparative psychology is the scientific study of the behaviour and mental processes of animals.
If you wish to pursue psychology as a subject, the options are abundant at all levels. Psychology aspirants can pursue this subject at the plus-two level and then later on, at the graduate, postgraduate and finally, the doctorate level. At the master’s and doctoral level, the study of the subject becomes highly specialised. At this level, there is a lot of research involved.
Opt for a psychology-related graduate programme such as education and social work if you are interested in helping people with their problems, commonly referred to as counselling. Lastly, one can also choose to pursue a one-year diploma course in special education, a programme that does not require one to put in too many years of study.
The study of psychology includes a diverse range of topics including the various processes of thinking, learning and perceiving, remembering and forgetting, the 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 and techniques of experimenting and testing, and statistics.
While studying for a degree course, candidates must have successfully completed their 10+2 or intermediate or equivalent in order to take up psychology as a major subject. To pursue a master’s degree in psychology, one requires a bachelor’s degree in the arts or humanities. One can opt for an MA or MSc in psychology, social work or counselling. Postgraduates can then enter a field of research in any branch of psychology. Specialisation in the subject can be pursued at the postgraduate level or at the doctoral level by pursuing a PhD or MPhil.
On the Job
When one thinks of a psychologist, one generally imagines him or her taking down notes and listening to the patient. While this is a common reality for most psychologists, there are others that work in a variety of settings. Many psychologists spend their time conducting research, quantifying data and interpreting statistics, while others work in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, police stations, prisons and companies.
Personal Skills and Traits
Since psychology as a science involves the systematic approach to the understanding of people and their behaviour, one must have a genuine interest in people and a keen desire to help them. One also needs to be compassionate since this profession requires practitioners to understand and solve the problems of people through counselling. A good understanding of the working of the human mind is a vital requirement as well. Patience is yet another virtue that is highly desirable to be successful in this profession. This is because it can get really difficult and taxing to dealwith patients who exhibit abnormal mental behaviour. Strong persuasion skills to assist patients in breaking their mental blocks are also needed. Lastly, the ability to communicate effectively is a must.
With approximately 600 practising clinical psychologists in India, there is an extreme dearth of professionals in the field of clinical psychology. Thus, if one is well trained with a degree in clinical psychology, finding a job will never be a problem. Jobs are abundant in the government sector as well as at licensed psychiatric nursing homes. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who actively offer counselling services are also in need of professional psychologists. One can also opt for a full-time career as a counsellor in a school. Other options for those who have completed a degree in clinical psychology include marital counselling (counselling psychologist) and a career as an industrial psychologist.
The work of a professional psychologist is without a doubt challenging, making this profession a highly remunerative one. One’s earnings depend on a number of crucial factors such as qualification, area of specialisation and experience. MPhil and PhD degree holders hold the highest-paying position for psychologists. At the entry-level, the monthly remuneration ranges from Rs.5,000 to Rs.8,000, while the annual earning of professionals is a minimum of Rs.6,00,00. Those who have started a private practice are entitled to charge fees as per their own discretion.
•Lady Sri Ram College for Women, New Delhi
•Christ University, Bangalore
•St Xavier’s College, Mumbai
•Ramnarain Ruia College, Mumbai
•Presidency College, Chennai
•Dayanand Anglo Vedic College, Chandigarh
This Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis created an entirely new approach to the understanding of the human personality.
Known as the father of humanistic psychology, he is renowned for his Hierarchy of Needs theory.
B F Skinner
One of the most influencial American psychologists and exponents of behaviourism.
He founded analytical psychology and pioneered modern theories of the relationships between the conscious and unconscious aspects of mind.
Volume 1 Issue 11