A psychologist, or a psychotherapist (there are some differences between the two, but the roles intersect quite a bit; so no need to worry) studies a person’s reactions, emotions, and behavior; and applies her understanding of that behavior to treat the associated behavioral problems.
There are hundreds of psychotherapy techniques, some being minor variations, while others are based on very different conceptions of psychology. Most involve one-to-one sessions, between the client and therapist, but some are conducted with groups, including families.
Sadly, as the world is getting faster and faster, mental health is only going to go downhill. Which means that the demand for counsellors and therapists is going to go up. It is what it is.
There are various different roles you could opt for in the field of psychology. Some of them include, but are not limited to – school counsellor, therapist, rehabilitation counsellor, and career counsellor. Since these careers are very similar and are only different in the context of the therapy provided, I have decided to bunch them up together under the heading of ‘psychologist’.
Job Profile (A Day in the life of a Psychologist)
Your job profile really depends on the kind of setup you work in. If you work with an NGO, your hours will be like any other social worker. If you have a private practice, you decide all these things like pay and working hours yourself.
Work life balance is a little complicated in this field because of how much time you spend after hours studying your cases. There’s a lot of potential for growth in India but it’s never going to be a ‘big’ salary. You’ll live a comfortable life though.
The day is usually spent talking to patients and clients, trying to unearth their problems and providing them with the right solution by using various methods and techniques to solve their problems. A lot of the process is just listening, to be honest.
Apart from patient interaction, whatever little time is left is divided in going over their files, and corresponding with various stakeholders if you work in an establishment. There are regular meetings with the HR department. When you run a private practice, all this stuff is in your hands.
High emotional intelligence is a necessity in this field. You must empathize with your patients. The job is really satisfying, but at the same time, it is quite exhausting, emotionally speaking.
Salary of a Psychologist in India
Starting salary (if you work for someone) is roughly 20,000 rupees per month. The salary can double within 3-4 years, with further monetary growth as you get more experience behind your name. If you run your own practice, monthly earnings would largely depend on your skills and marketing abilities.
Yes, a degree is required. Most employers also require you to do post-graduation in this field. [B.A/B.Sc in Psychology or Applied Psychology + M.A/M.Sc in Counselling Psychology/Psychology/Applied Psychology] is the path to go.
One thing to love about being a Psychologist
“The subtle connection you create with your clients.”
One thing to hate about being a Psychologist
“The money is never going to be really big in this field.”
(For both bachelors and masters) – North Campus colleges of Delhi University, Jamia Milia Islamia, and Ambedkar University, Delhi. Xavier’s (Mumbai) is also pretty nice.
Resources and Tips
- Read Nina Coltart’s ‘Surviving as a psychotherapist’.
- Read Irvin Yalom – ‘The gift of therapy’.
- Listen to Brene Brown’s Ted Talks.
Step-by-step guide to becoming a Psychologist
- In class 11th, opt for any stream that allows you to take psychology as a subject.
- Pursue B.A/B.Sc in Psychology or Applied Psychology for 3 years. Some colleges would take your 12th marks into consideration, while others would rely on entrance tests. Therefore, try to score well in your board exams.
- Pursue M.A/M.Sc in Counselling Psychology/Psychology/Applied Psychology for 2 years. Most such colleges have some GPA requirements and their own entrance tests, so make sure that you satisfy those conditions.
- Optionally, you can also do a diploma course in this field, however this is not really required. But before making any decision, talk to your seniors and your faculty. Do your own due diligence.
- Do as many internships as possible, and build your network.
- If you want to open your practice, do it after you gain some experience. For now, start looking for jobs on LinkedIn, and send your CV to potential employers.
Career counsellor, Therapist, Psychotherapist, NGO Worker