Psychology as a Career
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02/05/2019

In the recent past, armed conflict has been witnessed across many countries. Natural disasters, violence, terrorism, and other crises continue to leave many people with psychological wounds that require specialized help. All these challenges have shifted the conceptualization of health from the medical dimension only to include the mental dimension. It is now generally accepted that mental health is an important aspect of quality life and this has pushed up the demand for Psychologists. In the contemporary world, institutions and individuals require the services of Psychologists just as they do for Medical Doctors. Given the growing needs, the need for Psychologists outweighs the supply making psychology an area of exploration for those joining the University.

Requirements for studying psychology

Taking a career in Psychology requires some subjects that a student should have received at the high school level.  The student is expected to score at least C+ aggregate and C+ in English or Kiswahili, Biology and Chemistry, and History, Religious Education, and Geography. In addition to this, a student who has had a strong base in peer counseling club in school will find psychology more enjoyable. Participation in sports, music, and drama would also be considered as essential activities as certain psychological interventions draw a lot of application from these areas. For instance, play therapy, music therapy, psychodrama are critical therapeutic applications in modern psychology.

Opportunities in Psychology

There are a number of settings that psychologists can be able to work in. One such area is working as a School Psychologist. This relates to using psychological principles to improve the academic performance of students. School Psychologists may also complement the work of the classroom teachers by assessing and identifying differently abled students and designing appropriate interventions to facilitate learning. One may also practice as a Health Psychologist in hospitals by helping patients cope with terminal sicknesses and other medical conditions. In such a time where terminal and lifestyle diseases have become a significant concern, Health Psychologists are highly required to help improve the quality of life for such patients. Forensic Psychology is another area of specialization that individuals may pursue. In this field, one is concerned with issues related to the legal system, criminal justice, and police or military departments. Forensic Psychologists are therefore interested in explaining and correcting criminal behavior, doing investigation and preparing court reports related to psychological matters. In the area of drug and substance abuse, Rehabilitation Psychologists work hand in hand with Medical Officers and Psychiatrists to develop interventions that address addiction problems. There are many hospitals and private rehabilitation centers in different parts of the country that require Psychologists. Lecturing is another area where Psychologists are needed. Various colleges and universities have established Departments of Psychology focusing on training of Psychologists and research. The number of psychology lecturers in the country is still low compared to the number of students taking psychology as an area of study in colleges and universities. This implies that one can specialize in the field of teaching psychology as a life time career. Finally, one could also choose to set up private practice where they receive clients with various psychological challenges and charge for the service offered. Some Psychologists run private companies selling consultancy services to other organizations and individuals.

What the course entails

A good psychology training programme should comprise the following areas: Course work, research, and practicum. At the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), students pursuing psychology usually complete a number of units during course work depending on their programme of study ranging from Diploma, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, and Ph.D. On successful completion of course work, a student is required to develop a research topic addressing a social problem and develop it into a full study where data is collected and analyzed. The research aims to create new knowledge that addresses societal problems making the psychologists innovative and creative in their practice. Practicum involves getting attached to an institution that offers psychological services where the students are expected to cover 250 hours of practice for undergraduate, 500 hours for masters and 1000 hours for Ph.D. During the practicum, the student works under the supervision of a senior Psychologist from the University and the practicum site. On graduation the department of psychology has a strong follow-up programme for its alumni, to ensure continuous professional development. For high-quality training and mentorship in psychology, I would recommend learners to explore the opportunities in the Department of Psychology at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.

 

Dr. Stephen Asatsa

 Lecturer of Psychology,

The Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA)

 

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