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Psychologists study the way people think and act. They look at all aspects of behaviour and the thoughts and feelings that make us act the way we do. Psychologists use their understanding to help people with difficulties to change their lives for the better. Many psychologists work in health and education services, but they can be found in a very wide range of other areas.
There are various different types of psychologist, although they all use their understanding of the way we think and act to help people to change their lives for the better by analysing our thoughts, emotions and behaviour.
Clinical psychologists help people who have physical and mental health problems. They aim to reduce stress and to enhance and promote psychological wellbeing. For example, they may train people in relaxation techniques to help them cope with anxiety. They also work with people who have eating disorders, phobias, HIV/AIDS, head injuries and problems linked to age. Clinical psychologists work in different hospitals and community settings.
Health psychologists apply psychological knowledge and methods to the study of behaviour relevant to health care. For example, they may investigate why and when people seek professional advice, what might prevent them from complying with medication, and how they cope with illness. Health psychologists usually work in universities, medical schools and health services.
Educational psychologists study and treat the learning, behavioural and emotional problems of children and young people, from birth up to the age of 19 years. They assess young people's progress, and academic and emotional needs. Increasingly, educational psychologists help teachers to improve the school environment, recognising that this can influence young people's behaviour and ability to learn. Educational psychologists usually work in schools, colleges, nurseries and special units.
Occupational psychologists look at the performance of people at work and in training and apply psychological knowledge. They are involved in issues like the selection and training of staff, effective management and the working environment. They work for large companies, the government and public services, management training centres and as private consultants.
Counselling psychologists help people improve their sense of well-being, resolve crises and increase their problem solving abilities. Counselling psychologists may work with individuals, groups or families. Some work privately, others in GPs' surgeries, counselling organisations and academic settings.
Forensic psychologists give evidence in courts of law and tribunals, and to prisoners' review panels. They help offenders to understand their behaviour and to avoid re-offending on release. Some forensic psychologists are involved in prison management, others work with the victims of crime. Forensic psychologists work in prisons, youth custody centres, special units and regional secure hospitals.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To work in any of the psychology careers, you must have a strong interest in the way people think and act. You must also be committed to helping people transform their lives in a positive way.
Psychologists need investigative minds and a logical, methodical approach to solving problems. You must have the intellectual ability and psychological knowledge to understand behaviour in a scientific way. A keen interest in human behaviour and a scientific approach to problem solving are important skills for a psychologist.
You will also need excellent communication and interpersonal skills. You must be able to build a trusting, constructive relationship with clients. Many psychologists also need strong team skills; for example, clinical psychologists may work alongside consultants, nurses, occupational therapists and social workers. The ability to express your findings, including in reports, is an important part of many psychologists' careers.
This work can be very demanding, so you must be generally enthusiastic and able to bounce back from setbacks. You are likely to be involved with some clients who have severe problems, who display vulnerability and extremes of emotion. You must therefore be resilient and able to avoid becoming burdened by the difficulties you encounter. This means having a calm, professional approach at all times. You must also have a strict respect for your clients' confidentiality.
Pay and Opportunities
Salaries will vary considerably depending on the area of specialisation and whether you are in private practice. Employers include the public and private sectors. For all public sector pay scales please see www.publicjobs.ie. Further contact details are listed below. As a broad guide psychologists should earn upwards of EUR50k a year. Those in private practice and with experience can earn considerably more.
Entry Routes and Training
The first step to becoming a Psychologist in Ireland is to study for a primary degree at honours level in psychology at University. To register as a chartered psychologist, you should usually have completed an honours degree in Psychology
This degree must be accredited (by the British Psychological Society and or the Psychological Society of Ireland) as conferring the Graduate Basis for Registration (GBR), a requirement for all postgraduate training courses
Postgraduate training is an essential prerequisite for employment in most areas of psychology, e.g. clinical, counselling, scientific research, teaching, and occupational and educational psychology
Practical and Technical Training
An undergraduate education in psychology familiarises a student with essential topics, and provides the research skills to critically examine them. Most courses contain extensive training in experimental design and statistical analysis, often using specialised computer equipment, and they require both an understanding of theoretical aspects and skill in practical work.
Chartered Clinical Psychologists follow achievement of the GBR with a three-year accredited postgraduate training course in clinical psychology.
Chartered Health Psychologists usually need a clinical qualification (e.g. in nursing or clinical psychology). Most health psychology practitioners have completed an accredited professional training course in clinical psychology. Others train in health psychology by completing a doctoral degree in a relevant area.
Chartered Occupational Psychologists can follow their degrees with an accredited training course, usually lasting one-year full-time. This should be followed by at least two years' appropriate practice under the supervision of a chartered psychologist.
Chartered Counselling Psychologists usually follow achievement of the GBR with three years' postgraduate training leading to the BPS Diploma in Counselling Psychology or a Society accredited postgraduate training course.
To register as a Chartered Forensic Psychologist, you need to obtain the GBR, take an accredited postgraduate degree in Forensic Psychology and a minimum of two years' appropriate practice as a forensic psychologist under the supervision of a chartered forensic psychologist.
The Handbook is confined to giving information on how to apply for admission to the relevant institutions. Applicants should not attempt to complete the application form without first referring to the information literature on courses, which is available from the institutions to which application is to be made.
You should check with the individual college's prospectuses for specific requirements.
The primary degree in Psychology usually requires three or four years of full-time study. They are usually B.A. Degrees.
Candidates are recommended to consult the individual institutions' prospectuses for specific information regarding entry requirements and course details.
Please see http://www.cao.ie/courses.php for information on course qualifications.
There is no formal upper age limit for entry into psychology occupations.
Entry to relevant training may be possible through university or college programmes, which relax normal academic requirements for suitable mature candidates. Most academic institutions define people aged 23 years or over as mature candidates.
Contact your local Intreo Centre or Employment Services office for Career Guidance, planning and support that will help you make informed decisions about the best career direction for you
- Getting Into Psychology
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Qualifax: Ireland’s National Learners’ Database
BA degrees are available in a variety of subjects, including humanities, English and modern/foreign languages.
A qualification awarded by a university or college of higher education, following a course of study. A degree usually takes three years full-time to complete.
The scientific study of the human mind and the way it affects our behaviour.
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