A psychologist is someone who seeks to understand and explain people’s thoughts, feelings, and patterns of behavior, in order to help them lead happier, healthier and more productive lives.
Within a clinical setting, psychologists assess and diagnose individuals with major mental illnesses and psychological problems, and design and implement evidence-based psychological treatment while utilising a range of techniques and strategies.
In an educational setting, psychologists may address students’ learning, socio-emotional coping and behavioral difficulties by assessing intellectual ability and academic performance, designing and implementing individual academic learning plans, and providing counselling to students and families.
In a sports setting, psychologists may help athletes better cope with the mental pressure of competition and provide support and counselling to athletes over issues related to recovering from sports injuries.
In Australia, general registration is available to individuals who meet the eligibility requirements under section 52 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act of 2009, which enables an individual to use the title 'Psychologist' and work in any area of psychology within their scope of competence and training.
All psychologists holding general registration must meet the minimum standard of education and training set out in the Registration standards by Psychology Board of Australia, which is the psychology branch of AHPRA.
To be eligible to work as a psychologist in Australia, individuals are required to complete a four year sequence of undergraduate psychology study (such as a three-year Bachelor’s degree with a fourth honours year) followed by at least two years of practical experience as a registered provisional psychologist. The necessary practical experience can be obtained by completing an approved postgraduate degree (such as a two year Masters degree) or higher (such as a three or four year Doctorate). Alternatively, practical experience can be obtained by completing a 4+2 or 5+1 internship program (source).
Psychologists with general registration who have completed an approved postgraduate degree (a Master’s degree or a Doctorate) can further specialise in a particular area of psychological practice by undertaking a period of supervised practice. There are nine specialty areas of psychological practice that general psychologists may choose to specialise in:
Psychology graduates discover a wide range of new career opportunities following the completion of their psychology degree. Graduates can apply their skills and abilities in a variety of workplaces such as the education sector, advertising, private clinical practice, marketing, management consulting, academia and research, defense forces, government departments, health and welfare services, non-profit organizations, law enforcement, as well as within employee screening, selection, and training.
Psychology is the study of human behaviour, which not only involves individuals’ everyday thoughts and feelings, but it also extends to the way in which we reproduce, consume, and utilize the environmental resources. This side to human behaviour contributes to climate change, deforestation, pollution, as well as the loss of biodiversity. Having a greater understanding of human behavior will therefore help us mitigate these problems and can help encourage more environmentally sustainable behaviors. The involvement of psychology is critical on a local as well as global scale to address values and beliefs, norms and behaviour, and strategies that can help in promoting a more sustainable environment.
Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency. (2014). Regulatory principles endorsed for National Scheme [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.ahpra.gov.au/News/2014-07-01-regulatory-principles.aspx#regulatory
Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 (Qld) (Austl.). Retrieved from https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/H/HealthPracRNA09.pdf
Morrissey, S., Reddy, P., Davidson, G., & Allan, A. (2015). Ethics and Professional Practice for Psychologists [VitalSource version]. Retrieved from http://online.vitalsource.com/books/9780170368537