Studying psychology is really one of the most interesting things I have ever done.
I love psychology, I love learning about people, what makes them tick, what makes them wonder, what makes them afraid, what makes them happy.
The more I learn about psychology, and therapy, the more I want to get involved with what others are doing in the field.
From my own personal experience, I have found that the single best way to do this is via networking.
This is for a number of different reasons.
I realised that networking holds with it a huge amount of power in psychology.
Psychology is a field of individuals who care about the wellbeing and desires of others.
As a result, when I have tried to network, I have often been met with great advice and people willing to help.
Another reason why networking is so effective in psychology is that few do it!
This could be for many reasons
Perhaps people are afraid, perhaps they don’t want to step out of line, perhaps they don’t know what they are doing or who to content.
I want to give you a bit of insight into my story regarding networking, how I did it, and still do it, and the impact I have experienced as a result.
So, why should we network in psychology?
You may very well be starting out on your journey in the field, perhaps in your undergrad, or postgrad or doctorate, or perhaps you have just recently qualified.
Regardless, what needs to be realised is so many others are in the same position.
What differentiates you from the field?
Research shows that less than 10% of psychology undergraduates actually pursue a career in psychology
This could do with the challenges of continual study, or that some are just no longer interested in the area.
I actually think it has a lot to do with guidance and with knowing your path
If you are studying in psychology then you need to network!
Networking has opened so many doors for me, given me the opportunity and desire to develop online content and work with numerous individuals and organisations.
I have been given the opportunity to keynote speak at conferences, attend and present at international conference across the world, been offered job opportunities on the spot and connected with some very prominent psychologists.
All through networking.
So, here’s how I did it…
I would make a point of collecting all the contact information of the psychology centres and prominent psychologists in my area
I created bulk emails and sent them out, customising them where appropriate.
I would express my interest in their work and that I wanted to learn more.
What’s key here is that I tried to add value for them where ever I could.
If that meant volunteering for them in their centre, developing a workshop for them or writing content for social media campaigns, then I suggested it.
No matter what the situation, organisation or individual, I also made a point of adding value to them first before anything else.
I attended free events, and at times paid to attend conferences if I had the money.
This was a brilliant opportunity for me to meet face to face with people that were in attendance.
Often at events in psychology, you can get an idea of who might be attending, via social media and guides of who will be speaking.
I made sure that those attending were in line with my interests.
When I went, I would ensure I managed to get a couple of minutes with people I wanted to network with.
I created business cards and discussed my interests, work and my availability to add value to them.
I’ll be honest, networking at conferences had limited results.
Largely because people are there to either speak or listen.
I found conference attending helpful, but not as helpful as calling or emailing organisations directly.
One of the keys to networking effectively is that you have to create the opportunity for yourself.
More often than not, the opportunity that you desire and want to go after will not be an option right now.
You have to create the opportunity for yourself.
During my studies in counselling psychology, I was really struggling with workload, commitments, studies, placement and making enough money to live off.
There were no opportunities for trainees to learn directly about counselling psychology on the job, whilst earning a living.
So, I decided to try and change this, I reached out to one of the biggest private practices in the country and managed to arrange a meeting with the CEO.
I stuck with the principles of adding value and pitched the idea of why hiring counselling psychology trainees for placement on a paid basis would be a great idea for him and his organisation.
He loved it.
So much so that he and I created multiple job opportunities for counselling psychologists in training to take on placement at his organisation on a paid progression programme format.
In doing so, I had created a job for myself, whilst also developing my experience working with one of the most premier psychologists in the country.
All because I reached out, added value and was aware that the opportunities I wanted were limited.
Now, you might think that networking is just consistent of reaching out to people and asking if they will help you out.
In truth, networking can be so much more than this.
I have found that some of the best networking opportunities that have come my way have actually not been from me reaching out to people, but people reaching out to me.
How has this happened?
Through developing content.
I create a lot of content for social media, my written blog here and my YouTube channel GetPsyched.
People who read my content and what my videos sometimes reach out to me and want to know more.
This was how I managed to get some opportunities speaking at international conferences.
People saw my content and connected with me and asked if I would like to do some work with them.
My advice would be to start your networking in psychology by reaching out to people via email, telephone and attending conferences, but if you are really keen to develop your networking opportunities further then developing content could be one of the best things you do.
Networking is powerful.
In psychology, it is so underdone that it opens opportunities for those willing to take advantage of the opportunities available.
I hope this post has given you a little insight into the potential of networking and some of the key steps you can take to networking in psychology for yourself.
What is visualisation?
It’s a term that’s used to help people realise and achieve goals and dreams, but what do we mean exactly by visualisation and what impact can it actually have?
Well, fundamentally visualisation is a cognitive tool used to picture exactly what you want to happen.
In doing so we are creating all aspects of the scenario that we to experience or obtain. Now, I mean everything, so that could be sounds, sights, smells, feelings.
The more realistic the visualisation you take part in and the more it stimulates you, the more impact it will have in you realising and moving closer to what you want to achieve.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter gives a fantastic explanation of what visualisation is and its power:
“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more”
So, with this depiction, we can start to understand that visualisation is an opportunity for us to try and control what we are struggling to control.
It is a tool that helps us create what we want to see and achieve.
This all sounds great, ideal, give me some visualisation!
Well, hold on for a second. What is important when thinking about concepts that talk about how they are the key to success, is to look at the research.
What does psychology say about visualisation?
Well, often in psychological services, visualisation boards are used to help illustrate what the client is seeking.
These external tools can help in keeping the client focussed on visualisation.
Visualisation boards are often used for people that want a better future, a healthier lifestyle and even for those attempting to overcome addiction.
In psychological services, concrete objects are often utilised to help with the process of visualisation.
This is often used with patients with depression to visualise a better future and used to great effect.
These concrete objects can include things such as pictures in wallets for example, or mementoes that the individual carries with them.
Visualisation is also used in psychological and therapeutic services for patients with severe anxiety to create mental holidays to retreat to a calmer environment.
This might sound abstract but it has been shown to have incredible effects.
So, it’s clear then that visualisation techniques can be used to incredible effect in therapeutic and psychological contests but where else is visualisation used?
Where else is visualisation used?
Well the easiest one to appreciate perhaps is in the world of sports
Athletes will spend huge amounts of time visualising good performances.
Recent research has in fact inferred that spending time visualising performances and potential different outcomes and responses in sports settings have as much a role to play in how well an athlete performs the practice itself.
I watched the Winter Olympics earlier in the year and saw bob slay team captains pretending to go through the motions of the full course in their minds.
They would turn in ways that they would expect when they go down the track, all to ensure that they fully utilise the power of visualisation.
Visualisation can also be really effectively utilised in a studying context.
For example, you might visualise exams and coursework that you have due. Visualising what questions, you might get asked and best to answer them are all really powerful ways of utilising visualisation in studying.
The trick here, with regards to anything in visualisation, is to go through the entire process.
Don’t just focus on one questions in an exam or one move on the sports field. Visualise the full thing in its entirety.
That means, from waking up that day, to what you have for breakfast, to walking to school or the gym, to entering the room and sitting down and opening the paper…you get the idea.
The important thing is that you go through as many different scenarios in your head in as much detail as possible.
This way, you teach yourself not to expect anything unpredictable. You also reassure yourself of the different outcomes that could happen and how you might react as a result.
How can you use visualisation to great effect in your everyday life?
Well, you might to create your own visualisation board and keep it somewhere that you will see it every day. Whenever you walk past it, take some time to visualise what it is you desire as you look at the pictures.
When I was studying for exams, I used to pin my notes and mind maps around my house and when I went to the fridge for milk, there would be some notes there, I would take my time and read them through and visualise how I might use them in a potential question in an exam.
When I went to go out the front door, there would be another page of notes and I would do the same.
I was utilising visualisation to improve my upcoming performances.
Fundamentally guys, visualisation is seriously powerful, it’s not just a generic term thrown around by people who think they know what they are talking about, it has real psychological backing and is a toll that you can use every day to achieve and progress more in whatever you want to do.
Interested in learning more about visualisation? The check out the recent video I did about the psychology of visualisation on my YouTube channel GetPsyched by clicking the link here.
Part of the reason why I love psychology so much is that it’s not just for professors and academics.
Psychological principles can be used by anyone who has a little understanding to great effect.
I once had a psychology tutor who told me that as psychology students, we were at an extreme advantage with regards to studying for classes, assignments and exams.
We already knew what worked and what didn’t work.
We were learning the very techniques and principles that other fields tried to apply to their study patterns and regimes.
Learning new things is one of those concepts that we all wish we could be better at.
We might here new and interesting information, yet struggle to retain it and access it when we need it most.
Psychology and psychological principles can help with this though. There are numerous ways in which psychology can help us learn new things better.
You can find out so much more information on how psychology can help you learn new things better by checking out a video I did on this subject on my YouTube channel GetPsyched. Check out the video by clicking here.
In this article, I am going to give you a number of psychologically backed principles and interventions you can use to learn new things better.
So, let’s get to it.
STATE DEPENDENT RECALL
This basically means you have a place where you learn stuff.
A secluded and quiet location where you do your most profound thinking and learning.
Use this place often and make it your environment to absorb new information.
For me personally, that would be my back bedroom that has a desk in it, I can sit on my office chair and feel comfortable in that environment to give my full attention to what I am learning.
It’s peaceful, has natural light, and is simplistic and minimalistic enough to the point where I won’t get distracted.
What’s more is that when the door is shut, others know that I’m really busy or invested in a task and don’t want to be disturbed.
Put it this way, you’re not going to learn new stuff best if you keep changing the environment, at a bar or watching TV for example.
THE FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTION ERROR
This sound fancy but it basically means holding yourself accountable for your own learning.
If you think others learn stuff better because they are just smarter than you, then your suffering from the fundamental attribution error.
Holding yourself accountable for your learning and thinking about what you can do to improve it will always assist in learning new things.
Now, this is a technique often used in classrooms by teachers.
It basically means extending the amount of time before trying to recall something you have learned.
By increased the time between recall, you improve our ability to learn the new information
You can try this out yourself pretty easily actually. Learn something new and give yourself 5 minutes to then recall it by memory. If you get it then extend that 5 minutes to 30 minutes, then an hour, 6 hours, a day, 3 days and so on.
To the point where you can recall the information over a large amount of time.
By extending the period of time between recalling new information, we stretch our brain and memory continually to the point where it is forced to keep responding to new and challenging circumstances.
As a result, we not only learn new things better, but we also retain them at an improved rate.
This basically means you should try and learn new things via more than one method.
If you simply read something new and leave it at that, then your limiting yourself and your ability to learn and retain new information.
You could try some of the following examples as learning tools that could be used together. Draw a picture of what you are trying to learn, create a mind map, or speak it out to yourself.
By increasing the number of learning tools and format’s, you learn much faster.
THE METHOD OF LOCI
This sounds a bit weird but it’s a form of mnemonics that help you remember new information better.
Used by the ancient Greeks, you remember new information by the location that you place them in in your mind.
In the modern day, people have been able to memorise thousands of pieces of new information via this method.
They didn’t start out like this, but what they do is actually construct full cities in their head and place each piece of new information in different areas, locations and buildings around this city in order to memorise this new and vastly complex information very quickly and effectively.
There are ways that you can use this tool for yourself. For example, remembering items or pieces of information by storing them in different rooms in a house you have created in your mind has been shown to have incredible effects for learning new things.
This is a technique that you really need to try out for yourself!
UNDERSTAND YOUR WORKING MEMORIES CAPACITY
Your working memory, which is your ability to retain different pieces of useful information, has a limit.
This limit usually is capped at around 7 pieces of new information in most circumstances.
By understanding this better, you can schedule your breaks better that we spoke about earlier and retain more accurate new information more effectively and over longer and more sustained periods of time.
UNDERSTAND YOUR METACOGNITION
Firstly, what is metacognition?
Its fundamentally our ability to assess and understand our own skills and learning capabilities.
By understanding your own metacognition you’ll begin to see that you perhaps aren’t taking enough time to learn new information.
Cognitive psychologists have time and time again found that a lack of understanding of metacognition has led to poor retention of new information.
Basically, you need a level of self-awareness for what your needs are when learning new information and how you learn new information best. That way, things should start to make more sense.
So, those are my top tips on how to learn new information better. These tips are really effective but they don’t come overnight. What I suggest is that you give them all a try, see what ones, and what combination, works best for you and practice them a lot!
Al the best with learning all that new info brainiac!!!
Presenting at a conference of any kind, and in any format, can be a daunting prospect but one full of opportunities. If your presentation is in a poster format then it can be challenging to know how best to present your study and/or findings. Recently I won first place for my poster presentation at the BPS annual counselling psychology conference. As a result, I have come up with my top tips that helped me deliver a poster presentation that was engaging and interesting.
Tip #1 – Ensure the message is clear and concise:
- On average an individual only looks at a poster at a conference for anywhere between 40 seconds to 60 seconds.
- The last thing they want to do is read scrolls and scrolls of text to get the point.
- Make sure to be clear, succinct and to the point with all the relevant information you require.
Tip #2 – Make the poster stand out from the rest:
- At any conference, it is easy to get lost in the group of posters presented.
- You could be at a conference that has in excess of 50 posters, so it is vital that yours stands out from the crowd.
- I have always found that when people anticipate this, they want to add lots of colour and be as bold as possible. This is not always the best idea.
- Your poster might stand out more if it has some white space or a white background. Something to think about here as the majority of people will think to add bold colours in order to stand out.
- We will get to a few additional point that will help you stand out at your conference later.
Tip #3 – Why use words when you can use diagrams?:
- As we have already been saying, people don’t spend long on average looking at posters.
- Therefore, why say something with words that can be said in even greater detail, and more manageable, in a diagram or picture?
- If you have conceptualised a theory or want to report some interesting findings then charts and graphs could be a good option.
- In the poster I won first place for recently, I was sure to have a diagram that stood centre stage of the poster. It was very basic but stood out and got my points across for what I did, why I did it and what I took from what was discovered.
Tip #4 – Include participant and paper information:
- One of the key pieces of feedback I received from my poster was that I included the number of papers that were relevant to my study, where I found them and how I reduced my search.
- This is something that is apparently overlooked and you really should consider adding this information to your poster.
- Likewise, if you had participants etc then the information of number etc should be included at some point.
- Beleive me, those judging your poster really do look out for these things!
Tip #5 – Have available handouts:
- One of the best tips I learned when working on my poster was to have available handouts for those interested in your work.
- This could include a summary of what you have in your poster and perhaps some additional information.
- However, one of the best reason for doing this is networking.
- You can have your contact details on this for people to get in touch with you. Conferences are a fantastic opportunity to network in psychology. Having something that people can take away with them that has a means of getting in touch with you is a very smart move!
Tip #6 – Make it flow:
- There are a number of things to juggle when creating and delivering an effective poster at a conference.
- One of the key things often overlooked is how it flows.
- The information you provide in your poster will be very brief at points and very direct, therefore its important that your whole poster has a flow to it. It should be easy to read and follow.
- One easy way to help with this is to have a title of each section of information you have, this should also be numbered so the reader knows where to look next.
- For example:
- Implications for Practice.
- This is very basic but maybe gives you an idea of what is expected regarding the flow of your poster.
Poster presenting, and attending a conference in general, is a really good way to network and develop your own knowledge and skills. With these steps, you will be well on your way to making your poster stand out from the rest and deliver clear and concise information that the reader will enjoy.
Right now you might be thinking what is the point in reading this just now. Perhaps you might be tempted to come back to this 2 weeks before your dissertation is due…STOP, don’t make the mistake of putting your dissertation on the back burner, if you utilise the time now you’ll be well on your way to being successful make the process much easier (or less difficult perhaps).
The word dissertation is one that strikes fear in the hearts of pretty much every psychology student. They whisper about it in the hallways at some point around year 2, these whispers soon become shouts about how difficult the dissertation is, how unfair the tutors are in marking it, how it’s 1,000,000,000 words long and how theoretically everyone should have been working on this from the age of 7 and if you haven’t started yet then you might as well just give up.
Please don’t panic…with enough planning and these top tips you will find the process much less stressful, give yourself a better chance at improving your mark…and dare I say it, perhaps even enjoy it a little?
Let’s get started…
There is a very good reason for me posting this at the start of the academic year, you need to start work on your dissertation early!
The very last position you want to put yourself in is one where you have totally limited yourself time wise.
Beleive me, this is a horrible position to be in. I’ve seen students drop out of their degree just a month before they finish because they have delayed the process of starting their dissertation.
Remeber, your dissertation isn’t the only thing you have on during your last year. You still have exams from other subjects and assignments.
I’m not trying to scare you here…or maybe I am a little…but whatever it takes to get you to understand that you NEED TO START EARLY!!
Tip #2 – Get The Right Supervisor:
Choosing a supervisor that fits into your topic well is vital.
What I will say here is that you may hear rumours about how good or bad a dissertation supervisor might be. This should be the only piece of advice you listen to from other students during your dissertation. Do a bit of research yourself and find a supervisor who is reliable and suits you and your topic well.
There’s no point in you doing a psychology dissertation on something biopsychological with a supervisor who specialises in social psychology. Make sure your supervisor is the right fit for you.
Tip #3 – Ethics/Ethics Forms:
In your psychology dissertation, there will be parts of it that you think won’t take that long but end up taking forever…it is the eternal rollercoaster of a psychology dissertation.
One of the carts on this rollercoaster is ethics and ethics forms.
This takes up much more time than you could have originally anticipated.
Having your ideas mapped out and your proposal written with the types of participants you want to use and sending it off to ethics is a time consuming and laborious process. the likelihood also is that you will have it returned to you with amendments needed.
I highly advise that this is your first port of call with regards to dissertation tasks after having your topic mapped out and selecting an appropriate supervisor.
Much like ethics, gaining participants will become one of the more challenging aspects of your dissertation.
Whether you are doing a quantitative or qualitative psychological dissertation, you will need participants.
A few issues with this though…it’s highly likely that you won’t be compensating people for their participation, therefore immediately no one will care about your dissertation or how desperate you are for participants…well maybe not no one, but far fewer people will care.
Therefore you might have to use a bit of ingenuity, are you able to use students? If so then you charging around your university, sweating profusely and screaming in the face of first years to take part in your study whilst handing them a torn information sheet and consent form might be an option.
Often universities make it an essential piece of their marking that first years take part in final year students dissertations, so you might get help this way.
There will undoubtedly be students that try and terrify each other more than is necessary when it comes close to dissertation deadline.
This tip might seem self-explanatory, but it is vital that you stay focused on your work and meeting the criteria required for your dissertation and don’t get caught up with the pandemonium that ensues during this time.
This might actually be the most important tip out of all 6.
Tip #6 – Understand That It Probably Will Never Be Finished…But Finish None The Less:
There will come a point when you realise that conceivably, you could work on your dissertation for the rest of time.
First of all…obviously don’t do this.
Second of all, it’s important that you appreciate that with all the work you have put it you will want it to be the best it can be.
Be ok with finishing it up, getting feedback from your supervisor and submitting it.
Referencing is a mind field if you’re not on top of your game with it.
My advice here is to keep records of your referencing of literature from the start and throughout.
You absolutely do not want to be scraping together all the references in the last week before the deadline.
I highly recommend you take a look at my GetPsyched video on Top Tips For Referencing.
Hopefully, these tips have been helpful. Conducting a dissertation in psychology can be extremely stressful, but like anything in higher education, the stress can be managed and you can be successful with the appropriate planning and initiatives. Just keep these tips in mind and you will be on your way to making your dissertation a success.
With university classes starting back this week, I thought it would be an idea to give a perspective on what it is actually like being a psychology doctoral student.
Without stating the obvious, it’s hard work, it requires advance commitment and plenty of sacrifices. All in all though, it is totally worth it, my journey so far has been one of skill acquisition, self-development and expansion in learning.
When thinking of what to write for university courses starting back, I was thinking of what I would have wanted to know before I started this journey.
Understanding a day in the life of a psychology doctoral student would have been great to have had, so this is what I aim to deliver to you here:
- Wake up (I am an early riser and always have been) – at this time I either head to the gym (and if not then ill go later in the day) or I start some reading in my flat (usually looking at articles in prep for classes or assignments).
- Breakfast and coffee (again, if I haven’t been to the gym).
- Heading into uni (to study or work at my job as a researcher and seminar tutor).
- Begin study/work (I usually will be in university at this time every day, whether I am studying, working or if I have classes that day).
- Every day is different on a doctoral course. This year a lot of my time will be taken up with placment, so there will be days that i will be in a psychology or therapy centre all day.
- Social media time – I normally set aside time to keep my twitter and other social media account that I use for networking up to date. I have found this to b really beneficial and recommend spending some time on this every day for those keen to network in the field of psychology. Mid-morning is also a good time for me to stay up to date with my YouTube and website work. By this time I have already done quite a bit of work so I can spend time doing some extra things.
- I normally have a working lunch where I continue working at my job, or on my studies for classes and assignments.
- Staying on top of work consistently has been the key to succeeding on a psychology doctorate I have come to learn.
- During the afternoon I try and do something a little different rather than reading articles like I have been doing in the morning. However, I still might have a look at one or two.
- I might read a book (primarily focused on psychology and/or therapy).
- I might watch some YouTube videos on the same topics (I have actually found this to be a really engaging form of learning).
- I also use some time in the afternoon for planning. I will think out some strategies and ideas for future assignments and/or make sure I have all the information together that I need for my log book or other data I need to collate for the course.
- I will likely leave the university around this time and either head home (if I haven’t been to the gym yet), or head to the gym.
- The gym is a really big part of my day, I have found it a necessity for me to clear my head and maintain some focus for the coming day’s work.
- I’ll normally head home around this time post gym and get dinner
- Depending on how busy I am and how much work I still have to do, I might do a little bit of extra work in the evening, or I will just chill out with my wife and watch some TV.
I know that this schedule seems a bit hectic and full on, and in truth it is. I have found that understanding what I do each day better really helps with planning and getting the most out of my day. I make a priority of staying organised over everything else and this really has paid off. I plan my day out in such a way that I have enough time to get tasks done and that I don’t spend too long on one job, I like to mix things up a bit.
Hopefully, this layout has given you a better understanding of what it’s like to be on a psychology doctorate. It’s a challenging road but one I have no regrets in taking.