Approaching the time of year in which new university students must make the decision about their educational future, one of the most complicated decisions in the transition to adult life, Psychology may be revealed as an option for university studies. In this context, the objective of this article is to try to offer a realistic vision of the career in Psychology, with its myths and realities; as well as subsequent career options linked to it. From experience, it is about offering useful information to future students of Psychology, or to those who are simply thinking about it.
1.- What is psychology or what are psychologies?
Often, when thinking about any discipline, our ideas are directed to the standard professional performance linked to those studies. Thus, in Psychology the idea that quickly emerges is that of the clinical psychologist who in his office offers personalized attention. However, and although this is a very important part of Psychology, the possibilities offered by studies in the area are much greater. I used to joke with my classmates with the idea that psychologists are everywhere, and the truth is that behind every joke there is an important part of the truth.
In general terms, Psychology is the science dedicated to the study of human behavior. In concrete terms, Psychology can be divided into five large areas: Clinical Psychology, where the most focused training and specialization on therapeutic care is deposited; Social psychology, dedicated to the study of groups of people, their behavior, and also with a great presence in the analysis of professional environments; Psychology of development and education, aimed at maturation processes; Neuropsychology, which aims to analyze the neurological substrate of behavior, and Basic Psychology, based on the philosophy of psychology, methodological processes and other fields of knowledge that are transversal to all the specialties of the discipline.
Linked to these large groups, there are many others that are deduced, and thus are located psychologists specialized in communication, language, sports environments, gerontology, attention to diversity, sexology, and a myriad of performances that we will later develop .
2.- Why study Psychology?
It seems important to break down topics regarding Psychology, since the preconceived idea of this discipline only represents a minimal part of it. Most students who begin to study psychology do so with clinical psychology in mind, and personalized therapeutic care as the ideal goal. However, Psychology, as will be seen, develops its field of action very broadly. In this sense, a vocational analysis of Psychology, thinking about whether it is an appropriate field of study for you or not, may be easy to answer with a question: Do you want to dedicate your life to helping others?
The connecting link between practically all the professional possibilities offered by psychology lies in the intention of helping other people, either in their problems or simply to improve their living conditions. If you imagine yourself putting your life in this task, perhaps Psychology is your field.
It is separated from other healthcare disciplines, such as social work, on two fundamental points: psychology has a vocation to intervene on individuals or small groups, while social work has the ambition to transform communities. The tools of Psychology are of direct intervention on people; those of social work are also of intervention on people, but fundamentally institutional.
3.- What type of subjects are there?
However, and returning to the five major specializations, the type of subjects studied in the degree of Psychology can be deduced from them. The fact that it is such a heterogeneous discipline implies that knowledge of the social sciences is combined with its own health studies, and also the need to handle statistical tools.
Thus, for the foreigner of Psychology it is shocking that several subjects are studied throughout the degree related to data analysis and design of experimental models. Statistical tools used in Psychology for population studies and, mainly, the design and management of psychometric tests (intelligence, personality, attitudes …).
It is also often shocking that, despite the fact that Psychology is a discipline other than Medicine, professionals dedicated to the study of neurosciences have an increasing presence. This translates into an increasing weight of subjects related to biology and neuroanatomy in the curricula.
However, the bulk of the subjects are focused on the study of the knowledge more typical of Psychology: that is, more directly related to the behavior of individuals or groups. In this endeavor, it is impossible to conceive of human behavior in isolation from its context, so that throughout the degree, rudimentary knowledge of labor relations is accessed, as well as social services, social intervention or institutional functioning of educational environments.
An important part of the degree, however, is directly related to therapeutic practice, and especially this particular can be deepened through optional subjects. Once again, since Psychology is such a heterogeneous discipline, the elective subjects of the higher courses will serve to shape the training itinerary of each student developing their specialization in one area or another.
4.- How to access the Degree in Psychology?
Although this data varies according to the university to which you apply, in Spain the Degree in Psychology has a limit of places in practically all public university centers. Similarly, the psychological discipline in Spain is framed within the professions of the health field, with which the bachelor of health sciences is the most appropriate to obtain the necessary access qualifications.
Psychology studies are always of university degree, reason why it is impossible to study Psychology in another formative modality different from the university one.
5.- What professional opportunities do I have?
The professional opportunities of psychology are very numerous, the heterogeneity of the discipline, together with the fact that it intervenes directly on people, makes it an interesting professional profile in multiple contexts. However, some of the most common:
– Therapeutic practice in a clinic or public health center, consists of personalized attention for the resolution of disorders and conflicts.
– School guidance in training centers, aimed at detecting learning disorders and vocational guidance.
– Sexology, as a specialty focused on sexual behavior.
– Psychology of marketing and advertising, with the psychologist taking a common role in the design of advertising campaigns and mechanisms.
– Sports psychology, closely related to motivation and group dynamics.
– Psychology of gerontology, aimed at the care of the elderly.
– Socio-labor counselor, as a booming profile focused on the successful labor insertion of people.
– Work in the third sector (NGO), the figure of the psychologist is very common in NGOs of all kinds, being a growing professional outlet.
– Psychology of attention to diversity, to work with people with functional diversity of all kinds.
– Psychology of organizations, to work in human resources departments of companies, in selection processes or in relational areas in work environments.
– I work in addictions , this being a specialty to intervene in addiction cases.
– Research, focused on scientific research for the development of the psychological discipline.