Psychology: Rising demand for psychologists

With growing awareness about the importance of emotional health, career prospects for psychologists are excellent
With the increasing incidence of stress in society and breakdown of traditional family support systems, theres a growing demand for professional psychologists in social, medical, education, vocational, and industrial institutions.

Three types of professionals — psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and counsellors — play differing roles in restoring the emotional and mental health of their clients. Emotional problems or social maladjustment can occur either due to physiological disorders or inability to cope with trying situations. Physiological disorders can be corrected by carefully prescribed medication by specialised psychiatrists.

On the other hand people with severe emotional disorders such as neurosis and psychosis have to seek therapy from clinical psychologists. A clinical psychologist is trained to conduct psychological tests and through therapy helps patients overcome psychological problems. Clinical psychologists often work in conjunction with psychiatrists for patient care and rehabilitation.

The third type of psychologists — counsellors — help normal people to deal with temporary or transitory psychological or behavioural problems. An otherwise normal individual under severe stress could use the services of a counsellor for rehabilitation and self-empowerment. Typically, counsellors help deal with problems like broken hearts, exam stress, deaths in the family, lack of self-esteem etc. But regardless of whether a person chooses to specialise in clinical or counselling psychology, ‘people skills are required.

STUDY PROGRAMMES. At the graduate level, psychology as an honours subject is offered in almost all recognised universities in the country. In its specialist branches, psychology offers scope for further professional studies after postgraduation in these institutions.

Medical and social psychology: postgraduate courses are offered at the Central Institute of Psychiatry, Ranchi; National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore; and BM Institute of Mental Health, Ahmedabad.

Clinical psychology: postgraduate diploma/Ph D programmes are offered by Karnataka University, Dharwad, and NIMHANS, Bangalore.

Counselling and guidance: postgraduate diploma courses are offered by Madras University; Department of Education, Punjab University, Chandigarh; National Council of Educational Research and Training, Delhi; St. Xaviers College of Education, Mumbai University; Bureau of Psychology Education, Allahabad; Aligarh Muslim University; certificate in rehabilitation of the physically handicapped from NIMHANS, Bangalore; All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mumbai; and certificate in applied psychology from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai.

Industrial and experimental psychology: research facilities are offered to postgraduates at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.

Amity Institute of Psychology and Allied Sciences offers diploma, graduate and post graduate programmes in several branches of psychology
Psychologists are employed in research establishments, industry (personnel management), universities (teaching jobs), selection boards, management institutes, educational and professional institutions, prisons, hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centres, child/youth guidance centres, advertising agencies, in market research (study of consumer behaviour), and numerous other businesses. In most branches of social work which require counselling services, psychologists are much in demand.

In these troubled times, psychology is a highly rewarding and lucrative field. With sufficient awareness about the importance of emotional health in the major cities of India, career prospects for counsellors and clinical psychologists are excellent. In particular the remuneration of counsellors who address the needs of corporate sector enterprises is top bracket. Private practice can also be quite lucrative.

Until recently there was a general indifference to the emotional and mental health of industry leaders, employees, and people in general. But of late there is a new awareness that the brain is an essential part of the body and if it becomes dysfunctional due to stresses of modern day living or other factors, it should be treated like any other physical ailment,” opines Sushma Sharma, a psychotherapist and counsellor, who heads the popular Ashray Counselling Centre, Mumbai. A home science and commerce graduate of Mumbai University, Sharma read for her Masters in psychology at Jaipur University.

Started by her in 1989, Ashray is well-equipped with mental health facilities and has on its staff a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, and several counsellors. Since it was promoted 18 years ago Ashray has acquired an excellent reputation as a career counselling centre and Sharma has established herself as a counsellor of school and college students. Sharma also offers special education advice to students with learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, adjustment problems, low esteem, marital problems, teen relationships etc. She conducts seminars and workshops on parenting, self-esteem, and child sexual abuse.

The work of professional psychologists is very challenging and expanding. In future, professionals in the areas of emotional and mental health management will be in great demand requiring them to specialise in counselling children, young adults, or geriatrics. With increasing awareness within society of the importance of mental and emotional well-being of leaders, employees, and students to enable them to give their best, the future is bright for those entering this profession,” says Sharma.

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