Episode 3 – Series: Ask The Expert
Ask the Expert: How to become a Psychologist
In this video we discuss the difference between becoming a psychologist and a psychiatrist and what both careers entail as professions. In addition, she provides information and tips as to how to go about becoming a psychologist and the different types of psychologist career that are available to pursue.
1. What is the difference between a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist?
The primary difference between a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist is down to the training and education received. Psychiatrists generally have a medical background, training initially as doctors before pursuing further training in psychiatry, which involves learning about assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental ill health. Psychiatrists are qualified to prescribe medication, though some complete further training in order to deliver psychotherapy. Psychologists can’t normally prescribe medication, however this can differ between countries. Within the UK the general training route is through the completion of an undergraduate degree in psychology followed by further training at masters or doctorate level. Psychologists draw on scientific research to develop an understanding of the human mind and behaviour. The exact role of a psychologist differs depending on the chosen speciality.
2. How do you become a Psychologist?
The most common route is by completion of an undergraduate degree in Psychology or an equivalent conversion course. Psychology is a very broad subject and skills are transferable to a number of graduate professions such as within PR, Marketing and HR. In reality only 20% of graduates continue to train as psychologists. The further training required to qualify as a practitioner psychologist will depend on the type of psychologist career. Further training can range from masters level to doctorate level study and usually involves teaching, clinical work, and research. Completing work experience within a particular field of psychology is a great opportunity to find out more about working as a psychologist within that field. This helps you to make a more informed decision about committing to further study.
A useful read is the recently published book ‘Becoming a Psychologist’ edited by Sokratis Dinos and Myrto Tsakopoulou.
3. What are the different types of Psychologists?
There are a number of fields you can choose within psychology:
Clinical & Counselling: This is the most popular route; working with people of all ages who have physical and mental health needs to help them cope, reduce their suffering, and improve their lives. Educational: This involves working with children, young people, teachers and parents to support learning.
Forensic: This involves using psychological theory to understand criminal activity and individual work with people to gain an understanding of psychological problems and how these relate to criminal behaviour..
Health: This concerns people’s attitudes and behaviour with regard to health and illness and can involve prevention as well as working with those with illness to address the psychological impact and promote coping.
Neuropsychology: This involves understanding the links between the brain and functioning and how this can aid rehabilitation and recovery after injury or illness.
Occupational: This involves working with organisations to promote employee job satisfaction and business performance.
Sport & Exercise: This involves working with teams and individuals who are preparing for competitions as well as promoting exercise within the general public.
The British Psychological Society (www.bps.org.uk.careers) has a helpful website with more information.
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Psychologists in London