It is indeed encouraging to witness students showing an interest in pursuing a career in psychology. Such a recent increase in such curiosity towards the subject could be attributed to the exposure through various social media platforms and awareness of psychological issues within our daily parlance.
However, the following are some of the points to keep in mind when planning to opt for a profession based in psychology:
Recognise the vast scope of psychology: First of all, it is important for students who are interested in the subject to be well-aware of the need and scope in today's times. Given the high rates of prevalence, one in five people worldwide have been identified the help of a mental health expert at least once in their lifetime. Secondly, India specifically has over 300 per cent shortage of psychologists. Thirdly, and most importantly, the modern day lifestyle and pressures are increasing the need and role of psychological experts in the contemporary world.
Explore the various applied fields of psychology: It is important for students to think beyond the textbook, and explore various upcoming fields of super specialties within the subject of psychology. Some of these could include psycho-oncology, expressivearts based therapy, marital therapy, family therapy, school psychology, psychoanalysis, sport psychology, organisational, criminal and forensic, environmental, fashion, et al.
Build on personal characteristics and attributes: In addition to the learning and training, there are also certain personal attributes which are almost prerequisites for an individual.Some of these could include a high interest and motivation, dedication, being a keen learner, while also developing the ability to empathise and relate to others.
Seek practical exposure and field trainings: Understand that psychology is an established and recognised science. Therefore, it is essential to be proactive in seeking practical exposure within the field. We need to encourage young minds to transcend the boundaries of the textbooks, and instead apply their theoretical knowledge to an actual clinical or non clinical setting. Seeking internships and supervision from practicing professionals is one of the best options in order to increase one's awareness and experience.
Keep yourself up to date: This is a growing field, with new findings and advancements in progress. Therefore, it is essential for students who are aspiring to build a future within the field to keep themselves updated with the recent happenings, research advancements and developments within the field, and remember that it is a lifelong learning process.
Don't forget to focus on your own self: Working in this field is not only focusing on others, but also applying the same to work on one's own self. In fact, understanding oneself is often a prerequisite to understanding as well as relating to others.
Further, this industry involves a lot of physical and mental investment by the individual. Taking out time as a respite for the self is important to ensure physical and psychological well being in the long run.
The writer is director, department mental health & behavioural sciences, fortis healthcare