By Pankhuri Kumar
“Like all science, Psychology is knowledge and like science again, it is knowledge of a definite thing, the mind.”
– James Mark Baldwin
A psychologist is a medical professional, who is an expert in curing mental health problems by providing treatment that is focused on therapy and counselling, rather than prescribing medications. Psychologists study a person’s reactions, emotions, and behaviour, and apply their understanding of human behaviour to treat problems.
WHAT DOES A PSYCHOLOGIST IN INDIA DO?
Psychologists use scientific methods to study the factors that influence the way people think, feel and learn. They help people overcome challenges and improve different aspects of their lives. People deal with various challenges such as relationship problems, eating disorders, learning problems, substance abuse, parenting issues, and even managing the effects of chronic illness.
A psychologist’s duties include collecting information through observations, interviews, surveys, and other methods. S/he researches and identifies emotional patterns, and writes articles, research papers, and reports to share findings and educate others. It is also a psychologist’s job to come up with an individualized treatment plan for each patient, and to modify it as necessary over time depending on the patient’s progress.
What is the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are trained medical doctors. They can prescribe medications and they spend much of their time with patients on medication management as a course of treatment. Psychologists focus extensively on psychotherapy and treating emotional and mental suffering in patients through behavioural interventions.
HOW CAN ONE BECOME A PSYCHOLOGIST IN INDIA?
To be eligible to join a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, one should have completed 10+2 with psychology as one of the subjects. Some of the top colleges require at least 50% marks in Psychology in 12th standard. Furthermore, interested candidates have to appear in entrance tests conducted by various educational institutes.
After completing a 3 year long Bachelor’s degree (BA or BS) in Psychology,there is specialization at the postgraduate level, where one can get an MA or a M.Sc. in either Psychology, Social Work, or Counselling. For Post graduate courses in Psychology, one again has to give entrance exams. The PG course (Pychology) is two years in duration. After completing post-graduation, one can go for a job in private or state-run nursing homes or hospitals. Otherwise, a Psychologist can also start her/his own clinic. Further, one can attain specialization by doing an M.Phil or a P.hD. degree. Apart from getting a theoretical education, Psychologists also go through practical training courses through attachments with hospitals.
The top colleges for graduation and post-graduation are Delhi University (New Delhi), Jamia Milia Islamia (New Delhi) , Ambedkar University (New Delhi) ,Punjab University (Chandigarh) ,Banaras Hindu University (Varanasi) ,Amity University, Aligarh Muslim University ,Fergusson College (Pune), Christ University (Bangalore) etc.
CAREER PROSPECTS AND JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR PSYCHOLOGISTS IN INDIA
There is a lot of scope for people who want to come Psychologists in India. Apart from joining a government hospital or an NGO, professionals can also find lucrative placements with huge salaries in corporate hospitals. There is a great need of psychologists in the following areas – Clinical, Health, Teaching and Research, Industrial, Sports, Community Counselling, Educational, School Counselling and Social Work.
According to PayScale, a Psychologist earns an average salary of Rs 356,971 per year. But dedicated work and some experience along with a Master’s degree could lead to a pay package of nearly Rs 1 lakh per month. There is no upper ceiling to the earnings of a competent and capable psychologist.
Nowadays, it is a must to have a psychologist in schools as many young people face problems from time to time. These problems could be related to learning, social relationships, making difficult decisions, handling pressure or managing emotions such as feeling depressed, anxious, worried, or isolated.
SHOULD I CONSIDER A CAREER IN PSYCHOLOGY?
This career is for a person with an analytical mind and strong communication skills. A psychologist should have a tolerant, subtle, methodical & mature personality. S/he should be understanding and ethical by nature. S/he should be able handle difficult situations regularly. The job involves interaction with individuals, couples, families and groups which requires attributes like intelligence, problem solving capabilities, creative thinking, reliability, sensitivity and trustworthiness.
Aanshika Puri, Developmental Psychologist shares her take on the positive aspects of being a Psychologist.
“I made my hobby my profession. Even as a child, I was a thorough observer and a keen listener. Training as a Psychologist helps you sharpen these skills. Our training keeps us very conscious about things that are to be controlled or stopped. So, whenever we move towards something that’s not good for our mental hygiene and well-being, we immediately check ourselves and are back on track. The beautiful thing about this discipline is that whatever you study theoretically, you see it around you, be it in the metro or anywhere else, so you’re never bored. “
Barkha Narang, Counselling Psychologist at IWill by EPsyclinic shares the other side of the story.
“The fact of the matter is, dealing other people’s problems on a daily basis is difficult. Psychologists have to learn how to help their clients find effective and productive methods for dealing with their struggles without taking them on themselves. Successful psychologists must learn to separate their work life and personal life and practice effective stress management techniques.”
India Needs More Psychologists
It’s the need of the hour to have effective psychologists around. The challenges of modern life can be quite complicated. Hectic lifestyles can lead to a lot of mental stress , causing psychological problems. The changed living conditions, advent of modern technology and isolation have also contributed to the increase in mental health issues.
If you feel that you have the compassion combined with a strong drive to help people overcome their issues, and if you feel that you can handle the pressure of getting someone else’s life on track, then a career as a Psychologist is a good option for you. It ticks the check-boxes both in terms of monetary prospects as well as respect in society.
About the Author
Pankhuri Kumar is a student of Economics (Honours) at Hindu College, University of Delhi. She is a big believer in the power of positivity and plans to do her MBA in the future. In her free time, Pankhuri can be found checking out new places to eat and shop at.