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Career with psychology

Psychology is a diverse field with hundreds of career paths. Psychologists apply their knowledge to a wide range of fields, including health and human services, management, education, law, and sports. In addition to working in a variety of settings, psychologists usually specialize in one of a number of different areas. Some specialties, like treating the mentally ill, are familiar to most of us. Others, like helping with the design of advanced computer systems or studying how we remember things, are less well known.

Career spectrum

Clinical psychology: Clinical psychologists assess and treat people's mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. These disorders range from mild to severe problems. They work in both academic institutions and health care settings such as clinics, community mental health centers, hospitals and prisons. Some clinical psychologists also go in for private practice.

National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore; University of Delhi and Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Karnataka; offer degree in Clinical Psychology with specialisation in Health Psychology, Neuro-psychology and Geropsychology.

Counseling psychology: Counseling psychologists foster and improve human functioning across the life span by helping people solve problems, make decisions, and cope with the stresses of everyday life.

Many counseling psychologists work in academic settings helping students adjust to college, and providing vocational and career assessment and guidance. An increasing number are being employed in healthcare institutions, such as community mental health centers, and private clinics dealing with issues such as drug abuse, eating disorders, family adjustment issues and smoking.

Development psychology: Developmental psychologists study human development across the life span, from prenatal development to adulthood and old age. They are interested in the description, measurement, and explanation of age-related changes in behaviour. Behavioural changes include aggression, moral development, language development, stages of emotional development, universal traits, individual differences, perception and cognition and abnormal changes in development.

Many developmental psychologists teach and do research. They also work in applied settings such as day care centers and youth group programs, toy companies, parent education programs, hospital and child life programs, museums, and educational television. More recently, developmental psychologists are found working with the aging population, especially in researching and developing ways to help elderly people stay as independent as possible.

Educational psychology: Educational psychologists study how people learn. They design the methods and materials used to educate people of all ages. Educational psychologists conduct research in schools as well as in national, state, and local educational agencies.

They are employed by governmental agencies or the corporate sector to analyze employees' skills and to design and implement training programs. Recently, industry and the military have been offering more opportunities for psychologists who can design and evaluate systems to teach complex skills.

Health psychology: Health psychologists are researchers and practitioners concerned with psychology's contribution to the promotion and maintenance of good health and the prevention and treatment of illness. Employment settings for this specialty area can be found in medical centers, hospitals, health maintenance organizations, rehabilitation centers, public health agencies, and private practice.

Human factors: “Human factors psychologists” also known as engineering psychologists are concerned with design and safety problems in a variety of settings, such as air and ground transportation, medical care, and industrial automation. With the advent of the computer industry many human factors psychologists are engaged in helping make computer hardware and software more user-friendly. They can also be found researching the design of ergonomically correct equipment and workload issues.

Industrial/Organizational psychology: Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychologists are concerned with relations between people and work. Their interests include organizational structure and organizational change, workers' productivity and job satisfaction; consumer behavior; selection, placement, training, and development of personnel. I/O psychologists work in businesses, industries, governments, and educational institutions. Some may be self-employed as consultants or work for management counseling firms.

Consumer psychologists: They are industrial/organizational psychologists whose interests lie in consumers' reaction to a company's products or services. They investigate consumers' preferences for a particular package design and develop strategies for marketing products. They also try to improve the acceptability and safety of products and help the consumer make better decisions.

Neuro-psychology and psychobiology: Psychobiologists and neuro-psychologists investigate the relation between physical systems and behavior. Neuro-psychologists also diagnose and treat disturbances related to suspected dysfunctions of the central nervous system and treat patients by teaching them new ways to acquire and process information.

Clinical neuro-psychologists work in neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, and pediatric units of hospitals and clinics. They also work in academic settings where they conduct research and train other neuro-psychologists, clinical psychologists, and medical doctors.

Rehabilitation psychology: Rehabilitation psychologists are researchers and practitioners whose interests lie in working with people who have suffered a physical deprivation or loss, such as cerebral palsy or autism, either at birth or through later damage such as a stroke or an accident. Many rehabilitation psychologists work in medical rehabilitation institutes and hospitals. Others work in medical schools and universities, serve as consultants or administrators in state and federal vocational rehabilitation agencies, or have private practices servicing people who have disabilities.

Sports psychology: Sports psychologists apply psychological methods and knowledge to the study and modification of the behavior and mental processes of people involved in sports. Opportunities for sports psychologists include counseling in a sports medicine clinic or with a professional sports team, research in an academic setting involving student athletes, and developing enhancement programs for athletes.

The road ahead

Overall employment of psychologists is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2012, due to increased demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, social service agencies, mental health centers, substance abuse treatment clinics, consulting firms, and private companies. Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists will grow faster than the average, while industrial-organizational psychologists will have average growth.

For Comments: psjamwal@amity.edu

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