What is Psychology?
The British Psychological Society (BPS) www.bps.org.uk defines Psychology in the following way:
“Psychology is the study of people: how they think, how they act, react and interact. Psychology is concerned with all aspects of behaviour and the thoughts feelings and motivations underlying such behaviour.”
What do Psychologists do?
The following describes what Psychologists do. It is, again, taken from a description used by the BPS:
“psychologists do not simply collect evidence to explain people's behaviour; they use their understanding to help people with difficulties and bring about change for the better. For example, psychologists are concerned with practical problems such as:
- How can we ease the effect of parental divorce on children?
- How should drug awareness campaigns frame their message?
- How can we minimise accidents; on road, rails, in the air?
- How can the courts ensure that eyewitness testimony is reliable?
- How can footballers keep their anger in check on the pitch?
- How can we help people overcome depression, stress or phobias?
- How can you best train a person to work with a guide dog?
- How can governments promote peace between warring nations?
- How can we speed recovery from brain injury?
- How can bosses stop strong leadership spilling over into bullying?
- How can teachers or lecturers ensure students are really learning?
So psychologists have a valuable contribution to make in all areas of life today.”
Helps people with psychological difficulties & brings about change for the better. There are many types of psychology including clinical, forensic, counselling, educational & occupational. May involve assessment of people problems, helping them explore their feelings & behaviour. Developing treatment programmes. Giving advice & counselling. Writing assessments & reports.
SATISFACTIONS: helping people to improve & get better.
NEGATIVES: can be deflating when people don't respond to treatment.
SKILLS: communication, listening, analysis, investigation.
DEGREE: If your degree is not in psychology you must gain Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) to become a psychologist. You can gain GBC through an accredited postgraduate conversion course. The British Psychological Society has a list of these.
TIPS: There is strong competition for jobs. Get relevant voluntary work and research the various specialisms.
Do I need a Psychology degree?
For many careers in psychology you need something called GBC which an accredited Psychology degree confers. If your degree is in another subject, you can gain GBC through an accredited postgraduate conversion course.
There are large numbers of psychology graduates, so even after getting GBC you will face a lot of competition for jobs!
What are the different Psychology careers?
This is where it gets complicated. There are various “Psychology” careers. These are shown below with links to external information sources and brief descriptions taken from the BPS careers site where you can explore the Careers Flowchart.
They can be arranged into two main categories:
- Where the possession of GBC and/or a degree in Psychology is essential
- Clinical Psychology (BPS Careers)
- Counselling Psychology (BPS Careers)
- Educational Psychology(BPS Careers)
- Forensic Psychology (BPS Careers)
- Health Psychology (BPS Careers)
- Neuropsychology (BPS Careers)
- Occupational Psychology (BPS Careers)
- Sport & Exercise Psychology (BPS Careers)
- Art Therapy
- Careers Guidance
- British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
- Drama Therapy
- Music Therapy
- Health professions Some professions offer accelerated courses for graduates see the NHS course finder
- Mental Health Nurse
- Occupational Therapy
- Psychological Wellbeing practitioner
- Social work
- Speech & Language Therapy
- Human Resources
- Teaching & Research
2. Where a degree in Psychology is useful, but not essential
This is not a definitive list of psychology-related careers. Use the BPS website and careers information for further details. See also the Prospects and Health Careers for job profiles.
Psychology-related job vacancies are advertised by the BPS, Jobs in Psychology. Also, check the links to each occupation for specific vacancy sources.
Other vacancies may be found at some of the following sites:
- Jobs in the NHS
- Civil Service Fast Stream
- Guardian Jobs
- Paid jobs in charities Charity Job; Third Sector Jobs
Find out more
Psychology in other countries
- American Psychological Association
- American Association for Psychological Science
- Australian College of Clinical Psychologists
- Australian Psychological Society
- Belgian Psychological Society
- Chinese Psychological Society
- French Psychological Society
- German Psychological Society
- Hong Kong Psychological Society
- Ireland Psychological Society
- Italian Society of Psychology
- Netherlands Institute of Psychologists
- New Zealand Psychological Society
- South Africa Psychological Society
- Swedish Psychological Society
- The Federation of Swiss Psychologists (FSP)
- What can I do with my degree in Psychology?
- Association of Educational Psychologists
- British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP)
- British Psychological Society (BPS)
- Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)
- Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC)
- Clinical Psychology Postgraduate Courses Clearing House
- Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) - Postgraduate Funding
- Health Professions Council
- Job Ads for psychologists, BPS
- NHS searchable job vacancies
- Online Directory of postgraduate courses in the UK
- Royal College of Psychiatrists
- Saville & Holdsworth (SHL) - Psychometric Tests
- Get Into Teaching
- United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy
- Information for prospective clinical psychologists