Most of us are curious about the inner workings of the mind, and how it affects human behaviour. So you might not be surprised to know that psychology is one of the most popular degree subjects in the UK. But is this popularity justified?
We think it is! But to help you decide, we’ve come up with four awesome reasons why you should consider studying psychology. Keep reading to find out more.
1. Plenty of Career Choices
While an understanding of psychology is useful for many people-focused jobs, it’s essential for more directly related careers such as counselling. To give you a flavour of the options available, here are four fascinating careers your psychology course could lead to.
Psychologists support people with mental health problems such as anxiety and stress. Using various types of therapy, they help their clients to explore their feelings and make positive changes. If you become a psychologist you could be based in a hospital, a health centre, or a social services setting. Alternatively, you could work with a community health team or a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.
How do I become one?
Becoming a psychologist is a big commitment, as it takes six years. To gain Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership, you’ll need to complete a psychology degree course that’s accredited by the British Psychological Society (the BPS), although if you’ve already got a degree you can take a conversion course. Some UK universities also offer online degrees for students who need to study part-time.
Next, you’ll need to spend three years gaining work experience and doing postgraduate training related to your chosen specialism. Psychology graduates can opt to become health psychologists, clinical psychologists, educational psychologists, occupational psychologists, forensic psychologists and neuropsychologists.
Education Mental Health Practitioner
Created to increase young people’s access to mental health support, this relatively new role involves delivering early interventions for pupils who are experiencing mental health problems at school. Practitioners are also able to refer pupils on to specialist support services.
How do I become one?
The 12-month training you’ll need for this pathway is fully funded, so there are no tuition fees. It comes with a guaranteed job offer and combines periods of full-time university study with supervised work placements.
To meet the entry requirements for training, you’ll need to show that you can either:
- Study at degree level
2. That you have an equivalent level of relevant experience plus some previous learning in an area like child development or mental health.
Psychological Wellbeing Officer
Based in health care centres, GP practices and other community venues, wellbeing practitioners support people with mild/moderate anxiety disorders or depression. They do this by providing short interventions based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy.
How do I become one?
To become a wellbeing practitioner you’ll need to complete a course that’s accredited by the British Psychological Society. Spread across one academic year, this involves 45 days of academic work (1 day per week) and four days of supervised practice.
If you’ve already completed your higher education, you should apply for the higher-level postgraduate version of practitioner training. And if you’re a non-graduate with plenty of life experience, you can apply for the graduate-level version. A level 6 apprenticeship is also available, so why not visit the Institute for Apprenticeships website for further information?
According to the British Association of Art Therapists, art therapy is “a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary form of expression and communication.” Therapists work with people who are dealing with emotional difficulties, mental health issues, physical disabilities and neurological conditions. They work in schools, social care settings, community settings, hospitals and even prisons.
How do I become one?
To become an art therapist you’ll need an undergraduate degree in art/creative therapies or a degree in another related subject such as psychology, nursing or social work. You’ll then undertake your art therapy training, which lasts for 2- 3 years. Throughout this period of further study, you’ll be working towards a postgraduate qualification that is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.
As well as taking an academic course, aspiring art therapists need to gain some paid or voluntary experience of working with people who have mental health issues or disabilities.
2. It’s Fulfilling
Approximately 1 in 4 people of us will experience a mental health problem every year, which means that there’s a huge demand for psychological expertise. Helping people to overcome their emotional challenges is incredibly fulfilling, and studying psychology is the best way to gain the skills you’ll need to offer this support.
Of course, helping others to improve their lives will also have a positive impact on your own mental health. According to research carried out by The Mental Health Foundation, helping others can help reduce stress and improve your emotional well being, as it promotes “physiological changes in the brain linked with happiness.”
3. It’s Fascinating
If you’re interested in the way people think, behave and interact, you’ll find psychology a fascinating subject. The topics you’ll study will depend on the level and focus of your course, but here’s a quick taster.
If you take a psychology degree...
You’ll explore topics like cognitive neuroscience, learning and memory, perception and the development of attachment behaviour. Psychology students can also specialise in areas like developmental psychology, educational psychology, clinical psychology and sports psychology.
If you take a counselling course...
You’ll learn how experiences like grief, addiction, divorce and abuse affect human beings. You’ll also cover psychological theories, human development, ethics, counselling strategies and communication.
If you study criminal psychology...
You’ll explore criminological theory, offender profiling, criminal victimisation, social psychology, behavioural psychology and forensic psychology. You’ll also look at the prevention of criminal behaviour.
4. You’ll Develop Your Transferable Skills
Many of the skills you’ll learn while you’re studying psychology are highly transferable. Here some examples.
Research & analytical skills
The research methods you explore and the coursework projects you carry out will develop your ability to locate, collect, organise and analyse data. This will make you more employable, particularly in areas such as science, marketing, administration and education.
As you present your findings, take part in discussions, improve your listening abilities and learn to interpret non-verbal cues, you’ll become an extremely effective communicator. This is a skill that’s essential for a wide range of careers from journalism to human resources management.
Studying psychology will give you a better appreciation of different personality types and the reasons why people behave in particular ways. Having this knowledge could help you to cope with any workplace conflict and awkward group dynamics you might encounter. And, as your career progresses, it will also help you to be more a patient, compassionate and empathetic leader.