So, you’re considering pursuing a career path as a qualified psychologist. And, why wouldn’t you? There are many benefits to being trained as a mental healthcare professional. One of these, of course, is the competitive salary you will earn. But, perhaps most importantly, is the difference you will be making to the lives of your patients.
Despite this, it almost goes without saying that the road to becoming a psychologist is not easy. Even after landing the perfect job, the role itself can be quite a challenge. As such, aspiring psychologists need to develop a very specific skill set that can help them stay afloat in their careers.
Just read on to learn more about the essential skills you need to develop to build a successful career as a professional psychologist.
The Road to Professional Psychology: Where Does it Begin?
Undoubtedly, starting a career in psychology can be challenging. From obtaining the relevant formal qualifications, and completing your professional placements, to finally, securing your dream role – becoming a psychologist is quite a process.
Here are some of the steps you’ll need to take to be successful in your psychology career aspirations:
Completing Your Psychology Degree
Arguably the most important step in your journey, to practice as a psychologist, you need to be formally qualified. Completing a tertiary degree in psychology at your chosen university can help with this. The best news? Thanks to digital technology, you can complete your studies off-campus and on a part-time basis, meaning you won’t need to quit your day job while studying.
Undertake Professional Placements
As part of your education and training towards becoming a mental healthcare professional, you will likely need to undertake professional placements. You may be asked to perform your psychology placements in a mental healthcare facility, practice, or clinic, or even, in a public hospital setting. Either way, professional placements are an important way for psychology students to gain experience and exposure to their future careers.
Land Your Perfect Job
Armed with your tertiary qualification and fresh out of on-the-job training, the next step is to get a job. You’ll need to submit job applications and attend interviews. Of course, it helps to be prepared when going through the interview process. Try researching the practice or clinic you are applying to work at. This will help give you an idea of the company culture, and whether it is the right fit for you.
Forging a Career in Psychology: What Skills Do You Need to Develop?
Once you’ve landed the job, the next challenge is to stay in it. This may sound easy, but that is not always the case. Being a psychologist can be stressful, and it can be difficult to avoid taking on the emotional trauma of your patients. For this reason, there are very specific personal skills that aspiring psychologists need to develop to reduce stress, emotional fatigue, and burnout. These include:
Stress Management Skills
Being able to develop effective stress management skills is critical when working as a professional psychologist. After all, you can only provide the best possible care and treatment to your patients if you yourself are mentally well. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and as such, you need to be able to care for your own well-being too.
As well as keeping a calm, stress-free, and positive state of mind, professional psychologists also need to develop a sense of emotional resilience. This is vital, as mental healthcare professionals such as psychologists are often exposed to very traumatic and sensitive information when consulting with their patients. As such, being able to disconnect mentally and emotionally from your work is an important skill to develop as a psychologist. So is the ability to be emotionally resilient in the face of stress.
Breaking into psychology is not as easy as it may seem. It is not just a case of completing the relevant formal qualification and stepping straight into a role. To be successful, you also need to develop personal skills such as emotional resilience, and also, stress reduction techniques. Doing this will enable you to stay afloat in your role, and build a successful career in psychology.