SO, WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGY?
Psychology is the study of both conscious and unconscious behaviour, along with the understanding of feeling and thought. It is a diverse academic field with several branches that requires you to understand every unanswered question from a different perspective. The main aim of Psychology is to find behavioural patterns and understand their meaning through intensive research, something that is not limited to only humans. The branches of Psychology can be categorised into research and practice.
These aberrant branches are what gives this subject depth and makes it stand out from the sciences and the social sciences. Each branch focuses on a specific area of study and usually requires different skills, hence, making it necessary for students to meet certain standards.
Clinical psychology is the largest subdivision of Psychology. Concerned with the study of abnormal human behaviour and psychiatric disorders, clinical psychologists are primarily interested in mental health, and work in hospitals, private practice, academic institutions, sometimes even in nursing homes. Because this field specialises in various mental disorders and abnormal human behaviour, psychology enthusiasts often lean towards clinical psychology.
Munira Binte Hasan, freshman at University of Dhaka, explained her interest in learning more about psychological disorders. She said, “The work environment attracts me a lot and I'd like to pursue clinical psychology for higher studies.” However, the work of clinical psychologists is not only theoretical. Experts in this field can also be involved in research work. Romeo Penheiro, a Psychology major who graduated from the University of Toronto thinks it is crucial to have research that is well informed by clinical practice. “After successfully defending my Master's thesis in psychology, I would like to enter the doctorate degree in clinical psychology and subsequently spend my career in a tripartite role of research, teaching, and practice,” said Penheiro.
Counselling psychology is also a large sub-field within psychology. This field is concerned with treating patients experiencing emotional trauma. These specialists usually work as therapists or counsellors in hospitals, therapy centres, and even academic institutions. They use therapeutic treatments to help their patients with their issues, from common mental disorders to concerning life problems. Although there are some similarities with clinical psychology, counselling psychology works more on the mental well-being of patients. A psychologist tends to act like a support system to their patients, be it professional or personal. Counselling psychology is also very crucial when it comes to special education.
This branch of Psychology works with the internal processes of the mind. These may include thought, memory, learning and attention. Cognitive psychology can be applied when researching on memory disorders, recovery from brain injury and even designing educational schedules to enhance learning. Through this field, researchers not only learn about how humans process and implement information, but can also work on finding ways to tackle attention deficiency disorders in people and improve their ability to focus and enhance their memory.
In an online course provided by University of California San Diego, Dr. Barbara Oakley talks about learning how to learn; this is a great example of research results from cognitive psychology. In one of her modules, she said, “Memory is only part of learning and developing expertise but it's often an important part.”
Forensic psychology is a branch which deals with both psychology and the law. In this branch, the main aim is to apply psychology to legal issues, starting from criminal behaviour to working directly in court. Unlike Criminal psychology, which works exclusively with criminals, forensic psychologists have a broader range of areas to administrate. These can often involve evaluating identified criminals, court duty and crime related research.
At times, clinical or school psychologists do the work of a forensic psychologist, where they simply lend their knowledge to the court of law. Although still not popular, forensic psychology is a great career choice for those interested in working with the justice system.
Business psychology is the science of human behaviour exclusively from a professional perspective. This branch tends to work with improving business skills and overall work life of organisations. Their main goal is create a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship between employees and employers. As a professional, these psychologists are involved in research methods appropriate for workplace along with data evaluation, surveys and case studies. This way, they aim to create a healthy workplace through the implementation of analytical techniques that work as catalysts for business methods.
Although this branch is not popular in Bangladesh yet, professionals with a doctorate degree in Psychology generally work in this field. However, many find jobs in HR, marketing, sales, or work in any general field that prioritises effective communication with a Masters/Bachelors degree as well.
Industrial psychology applies psychology to the workplace and studies the productivity and behaviour of workers. Similar to business psychology, this field also aims to make the workplace more efficient along with the mental health of workers. Industrial psychology works with several topics like attitudes of employees, effect of the attitude of employers, efficiency improvement habits, and elimination of toxic dominance at the workplace. These psychologists may also use their knowledge to design work schedules as well as office products to minimise injury and improve workplace safety. They can also play a great role in improving the overall attitude in the workplace.
Samin Chowdhury, student of Psychology at University of Dhaka, said, “I believe psychologists know how to handle people and motivate them for good work. By pursuing higher studies in industrial psychology, I can work with many multinational companies and help improve workplace efficiency.”
BACHELOR OF ARTS VS BACHELOR OF SCIENCE
Surprisingly, although higher studies in Psychology has been around for decades, potential psychologists still do not know the difference between a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. The difference is just that – while one has more liberal arts courses involved, the other is concerned with science and math.
Kamal Uddin Ahamed Chowdhury, Associate Professor & Clinical Psychologist, Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Dhaka, explained, “The B.A option usually involves taking fewer courses in psychology and more classes in subjects outside of the major field area, like a foreign language component for example. Students pursuing a B.Sc in Psychology may have to take more lab and statistics classes. The B.Sc option involves a stronger concentration on the major area of study and more psychology courses than those who are pursuing a B.A.”
IS A MAJOR ENOUGH?
When it comes to majoring in Psychology, one has to keep in mind the limitations. Although the need for Psychology majors is increasing day by day, the opportunities that come with only a Bachelors degree can be limited. And because of this limitation, many tend to work in a completely different field after graduation. However, if you go into this major with passion and an intention to find work in specific to this field, you must consider a graduate, doctorate, or post-doctoral degree.
“We are living in a time where specialisation in any subject is required to understand, diagnose, contribute, and implement ideas for effectively working in a given field. Psychology is no exception; there are many areas within psychology which require advanced knowledge, skills, and the understanding to work and contribute efficiently,” adds Chowdhury.
Although an awful lot of people still think Psychology isn't conspicuous, the need for psychology experts in educational, clinical, even social aspects increases every day. So, if the idea of human behaviour baffles you, now is the time to go for it.
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