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how did you become a psychologist??

  • 11-09-2006 11:04pm
    Closed Accounts Posts: 314 ✭✭ j2u

    hi i would like some details how people became pychologists,like what they studied and where??what work experiance if any contributed to developing thier career as a psychologist??what they liked/like about psychology?and how long they have been in it and also what are of psychology they are in.thank you



  • Registered Users Posts: 345 ✭✭ Gibs

    why do you want to know? Are you interested in a career in psychology? If so, there are easier ways to find out how to do it.:p

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 314 ✭✭ j2u

    jesus,yes i m interested in a career in psychology,i wish people here could be more helpfull,if there are easier places could you show me??show where the prospects of getting a job as a psychologist with a degree and postgraduate education but no work experiance.why cant people be more helpfull,thank you

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,267 p.pete

    Hi j2u, hopefully we can put Gibs's response down to it being nearly two in the morning...

    The following link might be of interest to you - it's from the UK system but most of the information (besides talk of A-levels and such) should be relevant:

  • Registered Users Posts: 345 ✭✭ Gibs

    Hi j2u,

    First of all, I think you need to calm down a little bit. Your initial post contained about half a dozen questions so I was just trying to clarify what the purpose of it was. For instance, what stage are you at in your education/career? What kind of psychology career are you interested in? Do you see yourself as a teacher/lecturer/researcher/business person/clinician? Are you particularly focused on doing psychology or are you looking at a range of careers? (From looking at several of your previous threads, it seems like you are also thinking of doing medicine).

    Secondly, people on Boards in general are extremely helpful and, in my experience, this is very much the case on the Psychology forum. You are unlikely to get the kind of detailed response you are looking for by complaining about how unhelpful "people" are.

    If you want posters to spend time and effort giving you information or helping you out, then you might start by being a bit more polite.

    I would suggest reading through the previous threads here as there is a lot of good information in them.

    The PSI website has some good information. There are also many books out there that are helpful for example, this one and this one.

    You will find that most people have carved out a fairly individual path into psychology as a career. The main thing I would say is that persistence is the key. Those who make a career out of it are basically those who kept on knocking on doors until they were let in.

    There is no standard recipe, but typically people do a bachelor's degree in Psychology from a course that is accredited by PSI as being of a sufficiently high standard. Many colleges offer these courses, but you should check with the college and PSI if it is accredited. The reason this is so important is that when you apply for subsequent courses (which realistically, you must do if you want a career in psychology), any masters/PhD/Doctoral courses will require that your undergrad fulfills this requirement.

    I did a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and then a doctorate in clinical psychology. It took about 8 years altogether. I managed to get some clinical experience during my masters by researching a topic that had clinical relevance and accessed a clinical population. I also did a couple of small pieces of other clinically relevant research around that time. This all came about through knowing a few people who were active in clinical research through the university I studied in and getting them to use me to do some of the legwork for them (administering the tests and gathering the data). They get a publication out of it and I get a masters and some experience working in a clinical setting. That was invaluable to me when I applied to do my doctoral training as the place I did the training could see that not only did I have a bachelors and masters, but I also had some clinical experience, albeit to a limited extent. I did my training some time ago however, and from what I hear, things are getting tighter and the standard is always going up. Many people i know with Bachelors, MAsters and, sometimes, PhDs are not getting places on clinical training courses. However, you tend to find that many of the peopl on the courses have applied several times and only through persistence managed to get on the course.

    I now work for the HSE as a clinical psychologist in a busy clinic with children and adults. If you wanted to develop this kind of career, you will probably find it best to get any experience you can working in a setting that suggests to those who admit people into training/educational courses that you are serious about being a clinical psychologist. Volunteer work with various organisations that work with those who have physical or intellectual disabilities, helplines, etc might be a good start. To be honest, noone is likely to take you seriously until you are already in an undergrad course. That might be the first necessary step.

    Other clinical/counselling psychologists work in very different settings and there are a huge number of possibilities in the field. Alternatively, you can work in an academic setting and many people choose that route, in which case you will be looking at doing a lot of research and probably will have to get a PhD (an academic doctoral degree) if you want to have a successful career.

    Things are improving all the time but there's no point pretending that it is easy to find a career in Psychology. You will encounter a tight bottleneck several times with no gaurantee of success or even a reasonable career. Its hard to get into an undergrad programme, it's hard to get into a masters programme and its hard to get into a doctoral programme. And at each step of the way, there are loads of other people trying to get access to a very limited number of places. It is therefore, extremely competitive.

    If I were you I would try talk face to face with anyone doing/working in psychology. I think its the best way to get a proper understanding of the job. Go into the colleges and make an appointment to see the head of the psychology department. Its also very important to decide whether you are willing to spend a long number of years studying without necessarily getting to where you want to get to.

    In my opinion, there are certain characteristics that are helpful in getting into a career in psychology:
    being interested in people and their behaviour, being very strong verbally, having good analytical skills (i.e. be able to see the woods for the trees), being quite academic, (if only because the competition will be). You also need to network a lot, you need to be extremely persistent and not get disheartened by rejection and most importantly you probably need a certain amount of luck. But, as Jack Niklaus said, "people say I'm a lucky player, but the more i practice the luckier I seem to get...".

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,856 ✭✭✭ Valmont

    I must say gibs has been the most helpful poster on the psychology forum, I find a lot of his advice invaluable. I generally only get to chat to lecturers about course material and the likes! As an undergrad at the moment it is great to have a realistic and honest opinion of the difficulties faced by one wishing to become a psychologist.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 451 ✭✭ LilMrsDahamsta

    For anyone interested in a career in psychology, there are two talks about your graduate options available on the UCC Careers Service site (you need to scroll down a bit to find them). They give a breakdown on first destination of psychology graduates in 2002 and 2004, and list course and career options. Slightly out of date, but a good start.

  • Registered Users Posts: 345 ✭✭ Gibs

    That UCC careers site has some great info, but there are other courses in clinical psychology that have now come on stream. UCG have a doctoral clinical psychology course and UL also have a doctoral clinical psychology course. Not certain about the numbers, but I think both have about 10 places per year.

    Thanks for the positive feedback Valmont. :D

  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 9 ✭✭✭ Jelmpsych

    Many thanks to Gibs for a comprehensive presentation. As he correctly stated take a look at the PSI website, there you can learn about other areas of professional psychology (look for divisions / special interest groups). The rules will be changing a little bit soon with a thing called stat. Registration so it's important you follow the guidance through the PSI since their advise will be a bit different from the BPS.

    Feel free to call the PSI on 01 474 9160, or you can contact me through the PSI web and i'll gladly assist where i can.

    Jerry Dixon Hon. Sec.
    Division of Work & Organisational Psychology
    the Psychological Society of Ireland.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,861 ✭✭✭ JuliusCaesar

    what a disappointment! I thought this thread was going to be about the personal factors that brought us into this business, along the lines of On Becoming a Psychotherapist. o well. >sigh<
    Well, I'll tell you and see if anyone else joins in. It was by accident.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3 busybee2

    i think GIBS reply to the the question of 'how to become a psychologist' is spot on.

    Clinical Psychology

    firstly, there is no 'magic formula', so to speak, and increasingly many of the people who are on professional doctoral programmes come from different backgrounds...some have gone the traditional route of B.A/BSc + MA/MSc in psychology + good few years clinically relevant experience. It is interesting to note, however, that more and more people on these courses have gone back to study psychology at a later stage in their lives and completed postgrad conversion courses etc. it is also becoming increasingly apparent that some courses (notably NUIG and UL) prefer mature students who may not have a significant amount of clinically relevant experience but do have a lot more life experience.

    my advice for anyone wanting to train as a clinical psychologist would be the folllowing. please note that this advice is based on my own perceived mistakes through the years. basically, what i outlined below is what i would have done if i had my time again, but please note it is NOT the absolute path to the holy grail!!!!! while i am not a qualified clinical psychologist yet, i am currently completing the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology:

    1. get your undergraduate/H. Dip course in a reputable college (DO NOT listen to people who tell you that doing your degree/postgard in trinity will fasttrack your application at a later stage!!!all colleges that have psi accredited courses are ranked the same when applying to the DClin Psych programmes, even 'pay the fee get the degree ones' that have accreditation)
    2. try to get a bit of voluntary experience while doing your undergrad, e.g., samaritans (don't be fooled this is hard work and should not be taken lightly), college helpline, summer camps with individuals with learning disabilities etc
    3. do a masters degree as soon as you can after your undergraduate (although some posts have suggested that there is no way you could get onto a clinical course without one, this is not true for some courses. three people in my class do not have a postgrad of any sort, but they are mature students, so other factors may have taken into account such as life experience and previous employment. doing a masters is advisable though, particularly for younger people in the area, and you do receive additional points at the initial interview selection stage.)
    4. continue to work part-time in clinically relevant areas while completing your masters, e.g., ABA therapist, student support worker for third level students with learning difficulties/mental health difficulties(you can contact the student disability service in your college to see if they need support workers, you should do this early, i.e., when you get your masters)
    5. after your undergrad or when you complete your masters it is advisble you try to get experience in different settings, e.g., care/support worker in learning disability org (don't do this for too long, a year or so is fine), research assistant, assistant psychologist etc (be under no illusions, these posts are scarce and fiercely competive at the minute, as they are given high weighting during selection, and you will need some experience in other areas before applying). the best way to do this is to get on your bike and knock on as many doors as possible, send letters/CV's to psychologists, check out the sunday independent, ring psychology departments etc. please note you may have to work voluntarily, but don't stress if you can't get a job like this as many people who get on have not worked as an assistant.

    above all else, if you want to get on a clinical course you will need four things: persistence, determination, resilience, and patience like you wouldn't believe ;) in saying that, it is an extremely worthwhile and exciting career with loads of variety.

    it is also important to point out that the age of people who get on to training varies significantly, but if you have followed the traditional route from say LC the average age is around 27/28. very few gain entry on their first application, but again it is not unheard of. on average, myself and most of my mates applied around 3 times before we got on, and we are all in our late 20's.

    if you want more info please feel free to PM me, as i'm aware the information above is fairly generic in nature. do also check out the psi website. another good site is ....i personally refer to it as STRESSclick because it would seriously make you feel inadequate!!...and while it is specifically geared towards those trying to gain entry to UK courses, it contains masses of info, and there are a lot of irish posters to chat with. it's a great place to talk with others in the same boat and people are extremely helpful.

    best of luck, busybee :)

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 377 ✭✭ sonic juice

    To be in a play,to act a psychiatrist like it is in your blood-there is quite an experience for a young forlorn poet.

  • Registered Users Posts: 122 ✭✭ taztastic

    I'm currently studying for the new Doctorate in educational psychology up in Queen's in Belfast. Just finished my degree in Maynooth in 2005 and I spent last year working as an ABA tutor with small children.
    I see the focus has been predominantly on clinical but I really would recommend having a look round at some of the other options, there are applied, research and more business orientated routes. Plenty of psychology grads go on to do totally different things like teaching or human resources. Or never leave college and go down the phd, lecturing route.
    Not that I took my own advice, I decided on educational psychology at 15 and have blindly persued it ever since.
    I dont think anyone will tell you psychology is easy but as someone who works with children I would say there is no better and more varied job in the world. Though if the thoughts of playdoh on your trousers and constant runny noses put you off there may well be better.

    By the way I love JuliusCaesar's post! There's nothing like a pragmatist to keep things realistic.

  • Registered Users Posts: 499 ✭✭ Flynn

    I'm interested in educational psych but I'm a little confused of what's needed.
    I graduated with a degree in Applied Psych this year however I fell short of the 2.1 mark by 1%! Will this be adequete with the right experience? I'm currently working as an ABA tutor. Looking for experience in a different field but unsure of what would stand to me best. I need to do a HDip in Education before I apply? If I study in England am I accredited to work in Ireland too?
    I'd really appreciate it if anyone could give me any advise on the matter!

  • Registered Users Posts: 122 ✭✭ taztastic

    I'm interested in educational psych but I'm a little confused of what's needed.
    I'm studying educational psychology at the moment and it is really confusing about what course has what requirements. The two courses in Ireland are the masters in UCD and the doctorate in Queens in Belfast. As far as I know the masters course now requires all applicants to have a minimum of a 2.1, a teaching qualification and teaching experience. I could be wrong though because they were supposed to be changing the criteria this year. I do know about the doctorate course. What you need for that is a 2.1 or above from a psychology course which has BPS GBR. All the people on the course also have experience in special needs teaching, a teaching qualification and most have both.
    I know you mentioned that you're just below a 2.1 but I think they'll accept a masters instead. Queen's are having an information evening on Saturday the 25th. I know its a stretch but if you could get to Belfast it might be the best to chance to get information directly.
    In my case I graduated and worked as an ABA tutor for one year and that was enough to get into the doctorate course but that really is the mimum amount of experience on the course. Most people have been working and studing in the area for years.
    Also, I'm sure any english course which meets BPS accreditation standards for chartered status will be recognised over here by the PSI.
    Hope that fairly lengthy spiel answers your questions. I dont think i made anything clearer but hopefully it'll make some sense to you.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1 KAB

    Hi all,

    Apologies if Ive posted this in the wrong place, still trying to figure out how all this works! I'm hoping someone can help me with preparation for an interview for an assistant psychologist post - any idea on what kind of questions i should be focussing on? its in a general adult setting and as i've no previous assistant experience i'm not quite sure how to approach it. Thank you!

  • Registered Users Posts: 9 ✭✭✭ witchofagnesi

    If you're interested in clinical psychology you should really check out the website as I think they'll have the answers to most of your questions there.
    This page: is where people who have been to interviews for assistant psychology posts talk about what questions they were asked.

    Oh and thanks to everyone else for your advice above - I'll be graduating after this year and am trying to decide what to do :P

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 19 ✭✭✭ chezdee

    thanks for all the great info and advice!

    I have just finished a BA in psych but my career so far has been in accounting and I have never applied for any psych jobs before.

    Does anyone have suggestions as to what a good psych CV should look like...I mean to apply for AP positions, or community outreach and support jobs?

    Many thanks
    Chez Dee

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 37 ✭✭✭ harlot

    Maybe someone can help me,

    I already have a BA but would really like to study psychology. The subjects I studied as an undergrad are unrelated.

    To qualify would I have to start again or would I be eligible for any post graduate/masters courses?

  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 17,318 Mod ✭✭✭✭ The Black Oil

    You could try applying for some of the H Dip Psych conversion courses. There are 4 nationally (not 100% sure on the NUIG one as it might be internal only?) but do the OU have something too?

    I just finished the TCD one.
    Then you can try for an MA/MSc.

    Whatever you go for make sure it's accredited by the PSI or BPS.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 37 ✭✭✭ harlot

    thanks for the info. will check out the various options

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  • Registered Users Posts: 91 ✭✭✭ Moobui

    Hi Flynn,
    Re the EdPsych course in UCD you don't need a teaching qualification to get on to it but they do stipulate a 2.1 in Psychology. They also have a PhD in Educational Psychology but I think this is an academic as opposed to professional qualification.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,824 ✭✭✭ Torakx

    hi there folks.
    i didnt want to create a new thread because frankly i feel sheepish posting this.
    but its something i need to know or i may regret it my whole life.

    ive always enjoyed conversing with people about themselves and i naturally have an interest in people and how they think,why they think things
    have helped a couple of people through some hard times even prevent a suicide or two.have suffered from depression for years and recently centered myself and pretty much dont suffer from it anymore.

    in saying all that when i was 17 i became a woodmachinist apprentice due to lack of career guidance and forethought.when your getting paid at a young age sometimes people dont think so much that this career path is not what you want down the road.
    so 11 years later i am here without work or any job openings,and not really looking forward to going back to that old job should one become available in ireland.
    i have such a strong interest in the mind i have to know if its too late for me or what kind of chances i have to go down this route.i feel now it may have been my calling all along i just didnt see it.

    unfortunatly i left school after my junior cert.i think i have let all the odds stack against me. but would like to hear from some people here in the know is there any chance i can take up a career in psychology or any career involving studying the mind and helping people improve there lives by utilizing there minds correctly as appose to drugs and other bandaids.

    ps let me down gently :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,267 p.pete

    Definitely not a lost cause - and you certainly shouldn't feel sheepish about your interest. I'm a little further along the route but trying to transition into psychology myself. It's not easy, but if you find it interesting and have a goal that you're working for, time can bring a lot of things. You may need to start at the basics - speak to university admissions offices and see what the minimum qualifications they will accept are. Maybe you'll have to do one or two leaving certificate subjects. I know of people who did A Levels (UK equivalent) in their thirties before getting onto the psychology course they wanted - while still looking after their family. There will be options out there, seek them out and think about what's appropriate to you and your current circumstance.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,824 ✭✭✭ Torakx

    thanks for the encouragement :)

    ok so i may have to do some leaving cert subjects to get into a college.
    i guess its all about the motivation. something i have been lacking my whole life.
    maybe i will work on that first. was considering meditation, lol i would even seriously consider hypnosis!

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,761 ✭✭✭✭ klaz

    busybee2 wrote: »
    (although some posts have suggested that there is no way you could get onto a clinical course without one, this is not true for some courses. three people in my class do not have a postgrad of any sort, but they are mature students, so other factors may have taken into account such as life experience and previous employment. doing a masters is advisable though, particularly for younger people in the area, and you do receive additional points at the initial interview selection stage.)

    I was curious about this.. if you anyone might chime in?

    I have a honors degree in Business, but want to get out of the business side of things, as I have been doing it forever and don't particularly enjoy it. At 32 I'm hesitating at entering education again, to invest in Psychology, however its the area that appeals the most to me. After the years, I've realised the importance of work you enjoy.

    As a mature student, can you cut out certain requirements?

    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle 

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,824 ✭✭✭ Torakx

    i have been looking into courses myself.
    seems psychology you dont need a medical background to do it in many areas.
    also as a mature student i found i may not need to sit my leaving cert as mature students are usually a small percentage of the class but spots are always held for mature students from what ive read.
    this would mean an interview mainly to decide wether you meet the work experience in certain places i guess would give you that edge to get on these courses.

  • Registered Users Posts: 154 ✭✭ kitkat.3b4t

    Torakx wrote: »
    i have been looking into courses myself.
    seems psychology you dont need a medical background to do it in many areas.
    also as a mature student i found i may not need to sit my leaving cert as mature students are usually a small percentage of the class but spots are always held for mature students from what ive read.
    this would mean an interview mainly to decide wether you meet the work experience in certain places i guess would give you that edge to get on these courses.

    Have you considered the Open University. You dont need any previous qualifications to study psychology. However they recommend some Level 1 social science courses to get started. There are also courses on returning to education. Studying psychology is academically challenging so you need to be prepared and have good essay writing skills. If you havent studied for a while you might be out of practice. Studying psychology is a long route but it is better to procede slowly than rush things and not get the right results. Maybe psychotherapy might suit you better. You can do a 4 year part-time BA at a number of colleges in Dublin. Usually they require you to complete a one year foundation course before applying for the BA. This might seem a long time but there are no short cuts. Ive been studying for years and although it is challanging at times, my attitude is that the years go by anyway so I may as well use my time to get qualifications.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,824 ✭✭✭ Torakx

    thanks for the advice. i think you make alot of sense.
    and reminded me of maybe one of the main challenges. my handwriting is atrocious lol.working as a woodmachinist its all about numbers.

    so that foundation course sounds like it might be what i need to get me started and see if i am actually cut out for that long road.

    thanks :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 154 ✭✭ kitkat.3b4t

    Torakx wrote: »
    thanks for the advice. i think you make alot of sense.
    and reminded me of maybe one of the main challenges. my handwriting is atrocious lol.working as a woodmachinist its all about numbers.

    so that foundation course sounds like it might be what i need to get me started and see if i am actually cut out for that long road.

    thanks :)

    You dont have to worry too much about handwriting...except for your own notes as you will be expected to submit typed work only. Although it is a good idea to practice writing legibly. Im still working on handwriting and spelling. Thank God for Word!!!

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,846 ✭✭✭✭ eth0_

    I think most people these days have bad handwriting thanks to computers. I know I struggle a lot when I have exams to write for three hours!

    Torakx, you might want to take a 10 or 15 point course with the Open Uni to get into the studying swing of things before actually starting the psychology degree. G'luck!