Friday, January 22 2016

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 ‘So, can you read my mind?’ is always the first thing that anyone says when they find out I’m doing a psychology degree, guaranteed. Nope, I will never be able to read your mind, but sometimes it can be a fun game to play along with the remark. My younger sister’s favourite is ‘you must be doing it because you are a psycho!’…not quite.

If not telepathy, then what is psychology? Essentially it is the study of human behaviour which, if you think about it, is a huuuuuggggeeee topic. I mean, how often is it that you can predict another human’s behaviour exactly, all of the time (the answer is never). Psychology isn’t all getting people to lie on couches and tell you how they feel (the whole couches thing doesn’t actually occur that often any more), but there are a number of fields in psychology; forensic (law/prisons), clinical (working with mental diagnosis and treatment), counselling, health, organisational, neuropsychology (brains!), sport, school psychology…..

I’ve wanted to do a psychology degree for as long as I could remember but never knew what it entailed until I actually started it. One thing to note is that in Australia, a psychology degree doesn’t make you a registered psychologist. Undergrad programs in Australia generally consist of a range of units (subjects), often including social psychology (how humans interact), neuropsychology (how brains work), cognitive psychology (how people think), community psychology (how communities function) and research statistics (unfortunately) amongst other subjects.

Currently I’m finishing off my honours year (4th year, when you do a major research thesis [project] for the year alongside some higher level subjects). Once this year is done, I would need to do either a 1 year (generalist psychology) or 2 year (specialised) master’s program, after which may still need supervision in order to become registered. Alternatively I could do 2 years supervision before becoming registered (see for more details). It all depends on what specialisation or area you are interested in working in, as well as the availability of supervision.

Despite the fact that psychology can be challenging, I have absolutely loved my degree. For me, my research is actually more along the lines of how people cope after natural disasters and I have been fortunate enough to have been able to travel to Japan to look at communities after the Japanese Earthquake and tsunami as well as working with Buddhists in Taiwan. I’ve made incredible friends, and have been able to get a minor in sociology, some electives in business, and some really cool jobs along the way. It can be hard, but if you are interested in it, I would definitely recommend pursuing psychology (just prepare yourself for the mind-reading jokes).


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