Ok, so you got your psychology degree or your just about to, now what do you do? What are your options? What direction should you go? So many questions but at times it can be difficult to know what is best without a doubt!
Well, there are a number of options, but often it can be really confusing and challenging to know what to do.
My own experiences
I know the feeling many have all too well. I struggled often to know what I was going to do with my degree. At first, I did an undergraduate degree in social sciences that I struggled my way through.
I just managed to get enough grades in high school to get onto the degree, but when I had finished, I really didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do.
I was lucky enough to have had a couple of psychology modules through my first degree that were really the only ones I enjoyed. Also, after completing my degree in social sciences I conducted a therapy course that started me on my path to psychology and counselling psychology in particular.
I was fortunate because when I started my next degree which was a graduate diploma in psychology, I knew what I wanted to do, I had the goal of one day becoming a counselling psychologist
I had a purpose and direction, but I know not everyone has this. Even when people finish their degrees, things can still seem blurry and uncertain.
With a broad degree like psychology, it can be even harder to know what to do next.
With this live understanding and coming to the end of my training, I have some understanding and some personal experience that might help people get some direction after completing their psychology degree.
What options are there?
So, first question first, what exactly are the options?
Well, I’m sure you are aware that there is a very low percentage of people that go into professional psychology after their degree
Why is that though?
I think one of the biggest things is that if you want to pursue a career in psychology then further studies are required.
This can be difficult to accept for people that have just come through a four-year degree, realising that they could have a minimum of another three years fo university studies ahead of them to become a psychologist can be a daunting prospect.
I also think the issue and difficulty is a little bigger than this too. We still as a society are unsure as to what psychology is really all about. I think there is still this abstract nature or abstract understanding about psychology, both by graduates and the general public.
If we don’t fully understand it then we are more likely to just ignore it or not pursue it. We need to change this!
What if you don’t want a career in psychology?
There are of course numerous options still available for those with a psychology degree that don’t want to pursue a career in psychology
One of the most sought after jobs is teaching
Psychology is still a brilliant degree to take you onto teacher training and can be a really desirable degree for employers and educational bodies.
Your understanding of people and the ability to work with them will result from your psychology degree, and teaching wants more people like that.
HR work is also a good option for those that don’t want to pursue a career in psychology.
Human resources often look for people with psychology backgrounds, much like those employing teachers.
Your ability to understand, relate to and Interact with people will be evident through your psychology degree.
I think this really speaks to the overall value of a psychology degree. A psychology degree is more than just learning theory or understanding models, its actually learning about human behaviour, peoples mindsets and gives you unique abilities to relate to and work with people.
You should always remember this when going for any job with your psychology degree. I very much believe that psychology graduates are in a valuable and unique position with this.
There are of course other profession options available for psychology graduates
Things such as working in health care, working in the police or even advocacy work and politics.
What if you want a career in psychology?
However, what if you do want to develop your career in psychology though? What do you do next?
Well first you need to think about what type of psychology you want to do and why
Counselling, educational, clinical, occupations, health sports and exercise. There are so many different forms of psychology.
The real question that you need to ask yourself is, what is it that drives you to any of these professions?
For me, it’s the one to one in-depth work that got me into counselling psychology. That and the idea of one day working on a more private basis. All of these factors contributed to me going down the counselling psychology path.
There are some things I would flag up here when thinking about what form of psychology you want to pursue though.
Be careful of only going for the money and paid courses.
Of course, I get the struggle but just be aware. It’s important to put your ideology and passion first.
What you need to be thinking of next
Experience, experience, experience!!!
Go out and volunteer!
Develop experience in caring roles, roles where you will be helping and working with others.
Look at positions like health care work, support worker (in particular), even assistant psychologist roles.
Network and see where you can add value. This is a vital next step in developing your career in psychology and knowing where you want to take your psychology degree.
One of the biggest issues with people getting ahead in psychology after their degree is that they think things are just going to fall in place.
You need to do the groundwork during and after you graduate.
Create those opportunities for yourself because at the end of the day there will be loads of people in the same position as you. This is actually something I have spoken about at conferences before to psychology graduates. Click here to check out my talk.
Think about researcher roles also.
Don’t count these out!
They can be a great way in the door of academia and working with some psychologists. Universities are always looking for willing researchers so it a line of employment that always has opportunities and can be really rewarding.
I got my researcher job off the back of seeing a job advert that I didn’t fit and phoning the guy up and he gave me another job to do psychology research for him.
Key points to consider
It’s ok to not go into psychology after your undergraduate degree. It’s still a brilliant and wide-ranging degree to have.
Don’t be scared of going into a profession in psychology.
Some extra work will be needed, but we need psychologists now more than ever.
The opportunities are so huge for those willing to invest.
Think about the type of psychology you want to undertake and why.
What are the reasons for this form of psychology? Why not others?
Reached that point in your undergraduate degree where you start to contemplate what comes next? For me this happened at the end of my second year of university; everything began to matter that much more.
After a summer of contemplating counselling, health, clinical, forensic, graduate jobs or even working my way up in the supermarket I was working in; I reapplied for my disabled student’s allowance and that really got me thinking… Apart from diagnosing my dyslexia and other students learning disabilities
What do educational psychologists actually do?
To answer this question I did the thing all students do… I googled it… This did not really help a lot of subjective information and a discussion of the lack of Educational Psychologists in the UK.
Next, I went to the BPS Website to see what they could tell me about educational psychology. Practitioners generally work with young people and children aged 0-25.
The work itself is incredibly versatile, working with learning needs, emotional and behavioural needs, physical disabilities, sensory needs, social skills difficulties and concentration difficulties.
This can be through psychological assessments such as that which most people know of educational psychologists through. Although it can also be part of the educational psychologist’s role to do consultations, one to one and group interventions, supporting staff development, supporting parents, research and evaluation, multi-agency work and strategic work.
It is worth mentioning that most educational psychologists do not spend a great amount of time working solely with individuals but take a more managerial role in ensuring that procedures are put in place to help the young person in day to day life as a result of their findings.
Essentially, it is an educational psychologists job to take all learning needs which a young person may have and work to improve their learning environment in order to improve on their learning experience in any way possible.
Sound like something you might want to do?
How to become an educational psychologist
First things first! Psychology degree accredited by the BPS with a 2:1 or above! Without the 2:1 it is very unlikely that you will be able to proceed straight onto a postgraduate in educational psychology. Although masters and undergraduate students can both apply for educational psychology postgraduates.
In Scotland, it is possible to become accredited by the BPS after a Masters followed by a stage 2 conversion course, which is explained on the BPS website (Although only Strathclyde and Dundee currently offer this). However, in the rest of the UK, it requires a 3-year doctorate, there are 16 universities offering these in the UK.
All educational psychology postgraduates require at least a year of work experience before applying, some are more strict than others in the type of experience although one year of full time paid work experience is required by most doctorate courses.
It might feel like you’re progressing quickly enough but I like to think of it as a reason to relax! This is a full year for you to decide what you want to do while also working towards the goal of becoming an educational psychologist.
A year out of university to learn about education and if you decide to go another way then you haven’t embarked on a doctorate or masters which wasn’t right for you. Not to mention the money!
I have been advised that the module selection in your undergraduate will not affect your chances of successfully applying for a postgraduate so breathe out, the marks matter more than whether child psychology was an option.
As with many postgraduate courses, the competition over places doing educational psychology is pretty high! Of the universities I have spoken to there is around 15 applications for every place on an educational psychology doctorate so it’s common to have to apply a few times before successfully getting a place.
Advice which I would give is to enjoy your undergraduate degree and don’t apply for postgraduate in anything until you’re absolutely sure that this is what you want to do.
As part of my own journey toward becoming an educational psychologist, I am currently researching the student adjustment to university for students with a diagnosed learning disability. If this applies to you- especially if you enjoyed this article please participate by clicking this link.
I love reading, and there is nothing I love more than a good psychology book.
I developed this reading list based off of some of my favourite books over the past few years.
If you are a psychology student, graduate, qualified psychologist, therapist or simply just interested in the topic of psychology then there will be a book in here for you, or maybe two, or maybe all of them!
Check out my reviews of all 20 books and simply click on the name of the book to be taken straight to a link to purchase it!
Blackbox thinking really came at the right time for me.
I had just started my doctorate in counselling psychology and was struggling to come to terms with a failed assignment.
This book really opened my eyes to the power and true purpose of failure.
Blackbox Thinking looks at different professional industries in our society and tries to teach lessons of industries that refuse to learn from failure, those that do and the differences in those industries as a result.
If you want to gain a better understanding of what failure is all about, the purpose and power of what failure can do for us, then this book is a must read!
Carl Rogers is one of the greatest pioneers of psychotherapy and psychology!
His work created a new age of therapeutic work during times of psychodynamic and behaviourist principles.
With a focus on the client as an individual, in their subjective world, Rogers’ work was revolutionary.
This book really encapsulates his ideology and philosophy better than any other.
What’s more, is that you don’t need to be a therapist to really appreciate and gain benefit from his work and knowledge
A new appreciation of the individual, empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence, an appreciation of the principles in this book and enhance the life of any reader, from any background and profession.
The book, unsurprisingly so, introduces the concept of ‘flow’.
Flow is a state that if reached, it is argued, can enrich the lives of people, and is the key to true happiness.
combination of a number of things such as minimising some of the challenges we catastrophise in life, as well as learning from our failures encapsulates what flow is about, however, it includes so much more.
This book is a bit of a classic in psychology and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.
Backed with real sound empirical principles this book is one for the people looking to introduce a new concept in their lives to experience some more happiness in 2019!
Thinking fast and slow can be a challenging read I will not deny it
However, this is in the GetPsyched Reading List 2019 because of how thought-provoking it is.
If you can get past the challenges you might experience in reading it, this book talks in great detail about the two different parts of our decision making brain, the logic behind them and how it rules everything we do.
How rational we think we are when we are reactive compared to when we are considered and think situations through thoroughly, is very different from reality.
Similar to his other work, Yalom in the Gift of Therapy talks about his personal experiences and process of becoming the establish therapist he is today.
He goes into brutal detail about his trials and successes, something I rarely come across form professional therapists talking about their work.
The lessons he has learned and is willing to relay to the reader are so so valuable.
I really believe this book is not only a must read for therapists and trainees, but for anyone wishing to develop empathic and interpersonal skills with a desire to communicate and relate to others better.
This is one of those books that I just love picking up every now and again.
It’s by no means a self-discovery or intellectual based book but it is so so fun to read and actually gives more detail than I thought it would at first.
If like me you are interested in the basic principles of psychology but have limited time or resources to remind your self of some of the experiments that established these principles…then this is the book for you.
It gives wonderful illustrations and descriptions of the most famous studies in psychologies history.
It’s so easy to read and a really nice break from some of the harder texts I read often.
This book also looks at some of the ethical and legal issues some of these studies raised as well as their findings and how they still influence our lives and understand of psychology today. A really brilliant book!
Very similar to Pavlov’s Dogs and Other Experiments, the Psychology Book is one of those books I love to big up and just have a scan through.
Its nothing heavy and in truth was actually given to me as a bit of a joke.
It’s honestly brilliant though.
It’s a book that makes some of the most challenging and difficult to absorb concepts and principles in psychology easy to digest.
With awesome illustrations and key facts about studies, research, psychologists and experiments, it is everything you need in order to learn the most valuable points of some of the key principles to psychology.
Being productive is something we probably all wish we could be. We seek out ways to make ourselves more productive and can get pretty down on ourselves when we lack the ability to be productive.
In truth, in today’s day in age, it’s never been harder to be consistently productive.
We are swarmed with opportunities to have our attention drawn in unproductive ways.
We sit down at our computers and demand that we work harder and better…but you’ve just found this iPhone game in the app store, and you just cannot previous high score on Angry Birds!!!!!…this of course was an example given to me by my friend, nothing to do with my own experiences…cough cough.
As much as smartphones and new technology can be hugely beneficial, they can also be misused and can be a major distraction for us in our attempts to be productive.
How then do we become more productive?
How do we learn to get rid of distractions and not let them be a part of the reason why we struggle to get our best work done?
Well, as always, psychology is here to help!
Psychological research and psychological principles can help us learn how to be more productive.
So, what does the research say we should do?
A study in 2011 showed that exercise helps not only young child to stay focussed but adults too, meaning that if you invest time in exercise then you are going to consistently see improvements in your ability to be more productive.
Now, studies have shown that different forms of exercise help focus and productivity in different ways.
Short bursts help with short-term attention spans.
However, studies have shown that those that perform 10 hours of exercise a week have sustained attention spans.
So the more we invest in exercise, exercising consistently and over a longer period of time, then the more likely we are to see improvements in our attention and thus our productivity.
Spend time with nature
Studies have shown the huge mental and emotional benefits of spending time outside in natural environments can have.
So much so that spending time in nature is becoming a more common treatment for children with ADHD, with great effect.
Even as much as simply viewing trees and greenery from your window can have massive benefits for calmness and increasing productivity, studies have suggested.
The benefits of having an ability to be in nature are huge for our productivity levels.
However, not everyone can leave their desk at lunch and head out into the woods…really only Bear Grylls does this.
So, what else can you do?
Well, these studies that look at how nature influences our productivity levels showed that just having some plants in your office can have a similar impact on productivity.
So, the bottom line here is, if you can’t get out in the woods often then buy a Ficus.
Turn off your distractions
In 2015 the Journal of Experimental Psychology published a study that suggested that a distraction lasting just 2.8 seconds can double a person’s chances of making errors in their work.
Distractions are the enemy to productivity.
They are the anti-productivity so to speak.
As a result, they need to be destroyed…well not totally, they at least need to be turned off.
This is an easy thing to consider, but hard to do. What I would say here is, turn your phone off for an hour a day and build it up from there.
Take regular brief mental breaks
You might think working on something for hours means productivity.
You might think that because you haven’t got off your desk chair in 7 hours then you have been productive.
However, more often than not the exact opposite is the case.
You need to take regular mental breaks if you are going to experience increases in productivity.
There’s a difference between being busy and being productive.
The Journal of Cognition published a study in 2011 that found that people that took short breaks of about 5 minutes every 50 minutes were far more productive than those that took no breaks.
So the bottom line here is, take regular breaks away from your work and watch your productivity increase
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!!!
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