How Can I Become A Psychologist?

"I have seen first-hand how a psychologist was able to help my parents get back together. Through their regular sessions with her about a year ago, they were able to patch things up and have since been quite happy in their marriage—a phenomenon that was far from the way things were before they had their marriage counseling sessions. Obviously, I’m one of the happiest with this development. What that psychologist did has affected my outlook so much that I have decided that I would like to pursue this career path because it has the power to make a difference in people’s lives. Can you please explain to me how do I go about becoming a psychologist?"

asked by Shari A. from Montgomery, Alabama

A career as a psychologist is not for everyone. Thus, the first step towards becoming a psychologist is evaluating yourself and knowing if you have the necessary traits that would enable you to succeed in this profession. Perhaps the four most important traits that psychologists hold are keen powers of observation, patience, listening skills and trustworthiness. If you can honestly say that you have them, you could become a psychologist. The next paragraph explains why.

Being able to detect what a person is feeling or even thinking based on gestures, bodily movements and facial expression is part of the job of a psychologist and this requires having excellent observation skills. Psychological counseling can take a long time so this is a career that requires patience as well. It would also be virtually impossible for a psychologist to provide the appropriate advice or suggest the most effective mode of treatment if he or she does not truly listen to clients so it’s essential to be a keen listener. You need to hold the secrets that your clients will tell you so that you can retain their confidence.

Once you have ascertained that you have the aptitude to become a psychologist, the next thing you need to do is obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology. A high school diploma or its equivalent is needed for you to be admitted to a psychology program so it goes without saying that you’ll need to finish high school first.

A bachelor’s degree in psychology is not going to be enough if you want to work as a psychologist. The next step is for you to obtain a master’s degree in psychology. You need to understand that you won’t be able to work as a clinical, school or research psychologist with just a master’s degree. You can work as a psychological assistant under the supervision of a doctoral psychologist. You may also work as an industrial-organizational psychologist with a master’s degree.

To really become a clinical, counseling or research psychologist, you will need to continue your postgraduate studies and obtain a doctoral degree. The research degree which leads to a PhD in psychology requires you to make a dissertation based on your original research and pass a comprehensive exam. You will also need to complete a one-year internship if you want to work in the clinical, counseling, school or health service environment. If you prefer to get a clinical degree as a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), the program will largely be made up of examinations and practical work than an original dissertation.

Once you have obtained the necessary educational requirements, you still need to get a license or certification if you want to be called a “psychologist.” Each state follows its own licensing laws which will also be based on the psychological field you want to specialize in. In many cases, the requirements for licensing clinical and counseling psychologists are a doctorate in psychology, completion of an internship, one to two years of professional experience and passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.

You can also obtain board certification if you want to show that you are an expert in a particular area. This is required by most hospitals and clinics. You may opt to get certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology in any of the 13 areas of psychology like couple and family and clinical health, among others.

Career Spotlight: Psychologist

Psychologist

Psychologist

Psychologists are concerned with the scientific examination of human behavior and the mind. Cognitive functions, social exchanges, and emotional processes are all a part of psychology. These internal [...]

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