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Prepared to Study for Years
Broadly speaking, Psychology is the study of the mind, how it works and how it affects our behaviour. Psychologists play an important role in improving the mental health of their patients and clients and can specialise and work in a number of different environments. They also specialise in identifying and helping to change negative behaviours.
Within the study of psychology, there are a number of specialities within the field.
You can also choose to pursue your career in the field of psychology by choosing to obtain a degree or you can complete shorter courses.
In South Africa, there are 6 types of psychologists that are registered with the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA).
Clinical psychologists diagnose and treat people who are having psychological issues or have a serious mental illness. They can work in a private practice environment or in hospitals, clinics and mental health facilities although they are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medications.
Some clinical psychologists may choose to specialise in a certain field, for example treating addictions, geriatric mental health, child and adult mental health, or people who have experienced severe trauma.
Counselling psychologists provide psychotherapy to help people overcome behavioural problems, emotional difficulties and stress-related issues.
Examples of this can include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which helps people to identify their unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviours and replace them with positive ones. They also help give their patients behavioural skills to help them manage things like stress and negative emotions and they help improve people’s relationships.
As the name suggests, educational psychologists support schools to improve children’s learning experiences. They are trained to assess difficulties children might be having in their social, cognitive, emotional and intellectual behaviours, and help them overcome this.
Industrial psychologists apply psychological theories to the workplace or organisations, rather than focusing on individuals.
Some companies hire industrial psychologists to help them improve productivity in the workplace and they help with things like developing performance evaluation protocols, assessing market strategies and coaching individual employees.
Neuropsychology is a specialised field of psychology that assesses the impact of brain-based impairments. These impairments could arise from medical issues such as traumatic brain injuries, strokes, epilepsy, brain tumours, conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, or someone who is suffering from the effects of toxic or substance abuse among many other brain-related conditions.
Depending on how long you want to study, you can become a psychologist in South Africa by gaining the following qualifications:
Psychology is a career that you can constantly study further to obtain even higher qualifications throughout your career should you choose to do so.
Entry requirements may differ per institution, but you will generally be expected to show competency in the following subjects:
Psychologists in South Africa typically study for 4 to 6 years — 4 years for a Bachelor’s Degree and 1-2 years for diplomas or certificates.
Depending on their specific qualifications, pyschologists in South Africa can either work with a company, clinic or hospital or go into private practise.
Note that you will need to register with the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA) in order to work.
You will always need to treat your patients within your specific discipline and according to the guidelines, ethics and legalities outlined by the HPCSA and the Department of Health.
To find more information about psychologists, contact the Department of Health.