What Can You Do With a College Degree in Psychology?
Psychologists provide mental health care in many different facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, schools, or private settings. Psychologists use techniques such as interviewing and testing to help people deal with problems on a daily basis.
The academic and private segments of the field offer the most opportunity for those who wish to pursue a career in psychology. Many graduates of advanced psychology degree programs choose to pursue a career in academics, teaching future psychologists and extending their own education through research and collaboration with students and colleagues. Those who choose an academic setting are able to draw on their educational backgrounds each day. University psychologists usually have to fulfill teaching, administrative, and research responsibilities. Some psychologists employed in academia also maintain a part-time consulting practice.
Psychologists who choose to go into private practice have a direct impact on their patients' daily lives. The relationship between the psychologist and the patient is highly personal. The psychologist must uphold the doctor-patient contract of confidentiality. Psychology students are taught about the importance of communication and trust. Those in private practice must learn how to separate their professional lives from their personal lives and ensure that they don't "bring their work home." Separation and compartmentalization techniques are vital to the success of professionals in the mental health field.
The working environment of a psychologist depends entirely on his professional field specialization. Many clinical, counseling, and school psychologists choose to develop a private practice, allowing them to create their own schedules. These psychologists often choose to work weekend and evening hours, however, in order to be available to their clients. Psychologists who work in hospitals, schools, and other health facilities may have the option to work regular weekday hours. Some, however, must maintain evening and weekend hours. Many psychologists must at times handle an erratic schedule, due to the pressures and time constraints associated with travel, conferences, research, deadlines, and an overload of work.
Psychology Career Paths
One of the greatest benefits of a psychology degree is the sheer versatility it provides. Students of psychology enter many successful careers with different specializations.
Industrial-organizational psychologists use research methods to improve productivity and satisfaction in the workplace. Techniques include applicant training, screening, and research related to management and marketing problems. These professionals may work independently or for the government. The departments they focus on can vary but many are employed in the human resources departments of organizations and businesses.
Clinical psychologists work in private practices, hospitals, counseling centers, and clinics. One job of a clinical psychologist is to assist clients who are mentally or emotionally disturbed as they try to heal and to adjust to a regular life. Some clinical psychologists work with medical patients to help them adjust to or recover from an injury or an illness. Clinical psychologists can also work in physical rehabilitation centers, helping people who have suffered spinal injuries or strokes, or who have chronic pain or neurological conditions. Still other clinical psychologists devote their careers to helping people handle emotional crises like death or divorce.
It's common for clinical psychologists to evaluate their patients' conditions through interviews and diagnostic tests. They may treat individual, family, or group patients through the development of programs designed for behavior modification. Clinical psychologists often work in collaboration with physicians to develop treatment programs for mutual patients. Those who work in academic settings, like a college, university, or medical school, devote their careers to teaching graduate students about the psychology field. Some clinical psychologists work in the field of public health, designing and implementing mental health programs for communities.
The field of clinical psychology also has its own specializations. They are:
Health psychologists design health counseling programs that are meant to help individuals reach particular health goals, such as weight loss and the cessation of smoking.
Neuropsychologists often work with stroke and head injury patients, studying the relationship between the brain and human behavior.
Geropsychologists specialize in the particular psychological problems of the elderly population. New Mexico is currently the only U.S. state in which clinical geropsychologists are permitted to prescribe medications to patients. In order to obtain this permission, however, clinical psychologists in New Mexico must receive special training and education. In states other than New Mexico, clinical psychologists must work with other medical professionals when developing a treatment for a patient that involves medication.
Developmental psychologists focus on the cognitive development and social development of people at all stages of life. Some developmental psychologists focus on infant, child, or adolescent behavior, while some focus on adult and elderly behavior. Developmental psychologists may also study the effects of developmental disabilities.