Considering Work In A Helping Profession? Six Careers In Psychology
By Aaron Smith
Updated February 04, 2020
Reviewer Aaron Horn
Are you considering a career in a helping profession? Many people like the idea of a job that does some good in the world. From making lives better to helping the environment, we all want to be part of something that is larger than ourselves. A career that helps people, such as a doctor, a teacher, or one of the many careers in psychology, can give us meaning and purpose that is beyond our daily contributions to society.
The idea of a helping profession covers a wide range of careers, from social workers to school counselors. You could consider becoming a minister, a life coach, a nurse, or a psychiatrist. There are many options limited only by your interests and dedication to a field of study or practice.
One career path that can offer a variety of ways to help people is one of the various careers in psychology. Psychology is a broad and varied field of science that studies behavior, thought, and emotion through the examination of consciousness, subconsciousness, feelings, and thoughts. It is designed to help us understand how our brain works, why we feel what we feel, and how we can express those thoughts and feelings in the best ways possible.
How can this help people? Well, when we understand our behaviors and thoughts, we can discover what we perceive as a negative trait or a problem in ourselves or our environment. Then we can work on finding solutions and ways to change. In turn, we can live a better life in areas like work, family, friends, spirituality, and social contributions.
Psychology Career Paths
Typically, when someone thinks of a career in psychology, they may think of a therapist or counselor. But the job field of psychology encompasses much more than that. Psychology is a far-reaching field. You could become a social psychologist or a forensic psychology career. What about becoming an experimental psychologist or a substance abuse counselor? All these options are available to those entering the field of psychology.
What level of schooling will you need for a psychology career? You can find jobs with a bachelor's degree in psychology, a master's degree, or a doctorate (Ph.D. or PsyD). The exact schooling and licensing will vary from job to job, but getting a doctorate degree is a prerequisite for many positions, including a clinical psychologist.
Whatever path you take, you can be assured that any of the many careers in psychology dedicated to bettering people's lives, minds, and health.
What Psychology Looks Like
Whatever choice you make, a job in the field of psychology is going to involve people. Psychology studies people, their behavior, and thoughts. Delving into the psyche of humans can be done in a variety of ways. While there are similarities in the various psychology careers, the practical side of how each job works is going to be different. When choosing a career, you may want to talk to a professional in that field so you can get a better understanding of what it looks like in the life of that career. Sometimes, you can even shadow people at their job for a time to get a hands-on understanding of what they do. Also, look for opportunities for mentorship. Mentorship will give you insight into the field you are studying. It will also help you get your foot in the door and give you experience some of your peers may not have.
A forensic psychology career puts you in the middle of the judicial system. Forensic psychologists apply psychology and its principles to legal matters. This application can happen in various ways, from aiding with jury selection to profiling criminals to providing psychotherapy services for families involved in a court case. There are many ways the high-demand forensic psychology career can play out.
Marriage and Family Counseling
Many people seek counseling for their marriage or family. They may aid in family changes, such as divorce, adoption, or re-marriage. Marriage and family counseling also treat couples, helping them navigate disagreements, life changes, problems, and interpersonal dynamics.
Social psychology bridges the gap between psychology and sociology. Social psychologists study the ways actual, imagined, or the implied presence of others can affect people's thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. From examining group dynamics to studying cultural norms, social psychology careers are exciting and varied in their study of and experiments with human behavior.
Usually, careers in clinical psychology are what we think of when we talk about a career in psychology. Clinical psychologists assess and treat emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders. This assessment and treatment may involve long-term care of the patient or helping someone navigate through a short-term crisis. Clinical psychologists can specialize in specific groups of people such as youth, adult, or LGBTQIA+ individuals, couples and families, or they may specialize in specific areas, such as mood disorders, phobias, or particular illnesses and conditions.
For those who enjoy working in a school setting, a school counselor is a great way to educate and aid both students and school employees. School counselors typically work with youths that are experiencing trouble in school or at home. They may also work with the students' parents to help address problems or concerns of their students.
While requiring medical school first, a psychiatrist is a psychological career that benefits many patients. Psychiatrists prescribe and manage medications while focusing on prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and the study of mental disorders. When someone with a mental illness needs medication to manage their symptoms and illness, they turn to a psychiatrist for both the clinical diagnosis and treatment via mediation.
As you can see, there are many types of careers in psychology. Whatever a person's psychological need, there is a career to address it. Even in something as physical as sports, we find a psychological career. Sports psychologists deal specifically with the sports field, giving support to players, working with coaches to develop rehabilitation programs, and as a consultant to teams.
A Helping Career
A career in psychology is a helping career. There are so many ways that psychology can help, both in practical and theoretical approaches. Chances are, whatever your interest, you can find a career in psychology where those interests can become a help to many people. Psychology, being a study of people's feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, is designed to help people. People may be in crisis or have a specific need, or people who are merely curious about what makes us tick. Advances in technology may change the way these careers are practiced, but at their core, psychology is meant to help people.
For example, counseling used to be done exclusively in person. Now, with video capabilities and chat features, we can do a therapy session with a licensed counselor online. An email has made it possible to contact your psychiatrist or psychologist quicker than waiting months for an appointment. Apps for our phones have made mood and symptom tracking easier so we can speak more accurately with our therapist about what we are experiencing.
Can Psychology Help Me?
We may wonder how one of these careers in psychology could be of personal help. Whether you are in a specific field (like sports or education) or not, psychology can help you where you.
We all go through periods where we need more support. One in five Americans will experience a mental health crisis in a given year. Even if you don't experience an emergency, life changes like divorce, illness, or a change in careers can be navigated better when we have someone to help us understand the behaviors, emotions, and thoughts we are having.
Even therapists go to therapy sometimes. There is no shame in seeking psychological help, no matter the reason. We may have a hard time untangling our thoughts and emotions because of how close we are to them. An outside and professional opinion can help us move in new directions to conquer our problems, change our behaviors, and keep our emotions under control.
Finding a Therapist
There are many ways to find a therapist that can help you navigate the ins and outs of your situation. Once you find one, it is essential to feel comfortable with them so you can open up and talk about what is happening. Sometimes, going to a therapist's office can be an anxiety-causing experience. Other times, you may not be able to find a therapist you are comfortable with in your area.
One of the best resources to conquer both of these issues is online therapy. Online therapy enables you to have a therapy session where you feel comfortable rather than going into an office. Online therapy also allows you to have a session almost anywhere so you can find a therapist that works well with you without having to worry about the location.
Finding a good therapist is invaluable to bettering yourself, dealing with a crisis, and navigating life changes. The careers in psychology and the vast fields of study within psychology show us that this helping profession is flexible and versatile, and fits almost anyone's needs.