Every human is a scientist by disposition as well as by right; every subject is an incipient experimenter, and every person by daily necessity a fellow psychologist. (Kelly, 1966).
Much of our life is spent in trying to understand others, in assigning causes to others’ behaviour, figuring the dynamics of the macro paradigms, so why not just systematically study what we try to do, half our lives? Why not, study the root cause of the various socio-cultural phenomena, the processes that operate beneath the economic framework, motives, learning principles and traits that predispose people to wage wars, politicians to consume dollops of money, the beliefs that foster stereotypes, and the causes and the factors that lead humans to bizarre, disturbed and distorted perceptions, and us, you and I, to live the way we do. Why not just study Psychology?
Psychology is the branch of science that studies the human mind, its processes and its functions, especially those affecting its behaviour in varied and diverse contexts. A study of psychology lets you explore the myriad career options that you can choose from then, later. It is not a run-of-the-mill career option, but gives you a colossal scope of development through the course of study and work.
Psychology is broadly the study of the mind and thereby requires one to have a genuine interest in human behaviour and a willingness to apply that knowledge to help solve human problems in various different contexts. It is not as fancy as it sounds though, for it is strictly a systematic and theoretical approach to understanding the human mind and then moving towards an application of the same in a medical setup or an assortment of social science subjects.
Study and Application
Psychologists are not psychiatrists, i.e. they can’t prescribe medication and electro convulsions to patients in clinical setups. They do not have a medical degree. But practicing psychology does require specialization in one of the various aspects of psychology as well as intensive work training. One can choose to pursue it at the plus two, graduate, post graduate, doctorate and also the post doctorate level.
Contrary to the popular belief of applied psychology being restricted to the mental disorders, there are sundry applications of the subject in fields as diverse as policy making, crime, aviation, traffic, engineering, military, consumer, art, forensic, law, industrial, research, developmental, educational, occupational, management and of course clinical and counseling. And besides being a magnificent, all-inclusive, educational and a professional venture, it is also a blessing for one’s own health and happiness!
On the darker side, these attractive options hardly find the space that they deserve in India. Though, the scope, especially for Clinical and Counseling Psychology, which is a brilliant specialisation to explore, is growing rapidly, since people in India have now started to open up and accept the profession. People are slowly getting themselves rid of the stigmas and the disgrace that has been associated with visiting psychologists since time immemorial. Other options in the field of psychology include work in set ups like hospitals (government or private, general or specialized), schools where the availability of a Counselor is mandatory, private practice, NGO sector, and lately in organizations that formulate and impart training courses for its employees, as part of mass lifestyle disorder therapy campaigns and much more.
Psychologists in India can register with RCI (Rehabilitation Council of India) provided they fulfill the eligibility criteria laid down by the association.
Researching prospective schools and finding just that ‘Right Program’ for you to study Psychology, can be a tricky and time consuming process, especially in India. With many choices, and so much information available, making a choice can be difficult. Besides the well-known foreign universities like Harvard, Stanford and California abroad, India too has about 70 universities today that offer courses in psychology among which, University of Allahbad, Delhi, Utkal and Bangalore have become the hallmarks of excellence. Besides these, there are the Departments of Psychology in Universities of Calcutta, Mysore and Patna, which were among the early centres established for the purpose of psychological study. The courses are comparatively general at the graduate level and get specialized as one studies further. Lady Shri Ram College, is a premier institute for undergraduate and graduate studies in Psychology, in India which provides students with the instructional and application oriented knowledge about the human psyche.
This is tricky! The pay package depends a lot on the chosen sector, for psychology is a diverse and all encompassing field that touches every aspect of our lives. The salary ranges from $50,000 to $80,000 a year abroad. Because of the acceptance of psychology is much higher abroad, the scope outside India is terribly high. In India, barring the Corporate sector where as an Organization Psychologist you can dig up upto 1-1.5 lakh per month, it depends a lot on one’s ability to utilize the knowledge of his/her specialisation in the chosen sector.
As, Mr. Manas K Mandal, Director of Defense Institute of Psychological Research, puts it, “Career is a part of life. Or life, a part of career? This is the choice that you have to make. Knowledge of and a career in psychology may not give that great an amount of money, which perhaps other relatively more popular careers of today have to offer, but surely shall give you a life, fulfilling and holistic. A genuine love for the subject hence becomes imperative.”