For some of us, we’ve always been curious about why people think, behave, learn and feel the way they do. In other words, you’ve always had a natural affinity for the science of psychology. However, as far as a career in psychology goes, for whatever reason you’ve never ventured down that path, and more to the point, you’re not exactly sure what it entails.
If you’ve recently found yourself contemplating turning your natural curiosity into a new career, then the following guide will help you better understand what a psychologist does and whether it’s the right career for you.
What is psychology?
The definitive authority on psychology in Australia is the Australian Psychological Society (APS). This peak body for psychologists defines psychology as ‘both a science and a profession’. The main point here is that the profession of psychology takes the study of the human brain and behaviour to another level by applying it practically to help people and communities.
For future psychologists this means that you have the ability to positively impact mental health and wellbeing, learning, relationships, performance and the cohesiveness of societies.
What do psychologists do?
The treatment that psychologists provide is as individual as the patients they work with. From ongoing conditions like depression, anxiety or anger to helping those experiencing short-term issues such as bereavement or workplace bullying, psychologists will administer the most appropriate tests and assessments in order to provide evidence-based treatments tailored to the individual needs of their patients.
What types of treatments do psychologists use?
The most common treatment practiced by psychologists is therapy. Therapy refers to the creation of a relationship between psychologist and patient that is built on a foundation of open communication with a professional who is neutral, nonjudgmental and objective.
If you do decide to embark on psychology studies you will become immersed in the various approaches of therapy used by psychologists, including behavioural, cognitive and humanistic therapies.
Psychologists are also trained to work with primary care practitioners in cases their patients have psychological conditions that require a combination of therapy and medication.
What are the different types of psychologists?
There are a multitude of psychology specialisations you can choose from, and we’ve shared just six of them here in this other article. For a more comprehensive list of different types of psychologists, you can also visit the APS website.
What do I need to study to become a psychologist?
The Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA) is responsible for registering psychologists and provisional psychologists. To become a registered practicing psychologist in Australia, you need to complete a minimum six-year sequence of study in psychology. Your studies must be accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC).
There are multiple pathways, but if you didn’t take the traditional pathway and do not have an undergraduate qualification in psychology, then the first place to start is with an equivalent postgraduate degree. An APAC-accredited psychology Graduate Diploma, such as Monash University’s 100% online Graduate Diploma in Psychology is a recognised equivalent to an undergraduate degree in psychology. It’s a great way to avoid having to start your journey from scratch with an undergraduate degree.
You must then complete an APAC-accredited fourth year of study, which can be done online with a Graduate Diploma of Psychology Advanced if you wish to continue working while you study, or complete an honours degree, which is only available on-campus.
Finally, you will need to complete either a two-year psychology masters program or a one-year program, followed by a one-year internship. There is also currently an option for you to complete a two-year internship directly after your Graduate Diploma of Psychology Advanced or honours program.