The Future of Psychology

First published by Inomi founder Richa Dwivedi Saklani in The Hindu on Apr 27, 2019

Psychology occupies a hallowed place in the Social Sciences, next only to Economics – as Delhi University cut-offs will testify. But what’s so valuable about a subject that is all about feelings and emotions? What kind of jobs does it get you? Here’s a quick guide to careers in the Psychology arena.

“Pure” Psychology careers

Clinical Psychologists

Clinical Psychologists work with mental health clinics, psychiatrists, schools and as independent counselors. They practice “talking” therapy tools to overcome mental health disorders like anxiety or depression.

Psychotherapists come closest to the traditional Freudian lie-on-couch-and-discuss-your-childhood psychologist. They are a rare and brave species – it takes several hours of working with a psychotherapist to unravel yourself and then several hundred supervised hours of psychotherapy to be recognized as a psychotherapist.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapists focus on present behaviours and thought patterns rather than delve into one’s past. They attempt to understand and change these to solve chronic emotional or psychological issues.

Solution Focussed Therapy is more client-owned and client-led with the psychologist acting as a guide or coach helping the client decide what problem to solve, how to structure it and what options to consider.

Counseling Psychologists

Counseling Psychologists work on enhancing well-being in healthy clients by helping them resolve life-stresses. They often run their own specialized practices like family and marriage counselors, drug abuse counselors, medical or genetic counselors.

Career and Academic Counselors work in schools or as independent consultants helping students and mid-career professionals make career plans, choose college and study options and prepare winning college applications.

Industrial Psychologists

Industrial Psychologists work largely in the Human Resources area within businesses. They may work to refine hiring processes, develop psychometric tools to assess people, or improve reward systems. Industrial psychologists also work to enhance motivation, develop leadership skills and manage stress by conducting training, workshops and coaching sessions.

Academics and Research

Psychology is a highly academic career to begin with – heavy on study, terminology, reading and research. With most schools and colleges offering Psychology as a subject, opportunities are expanding in teaching and research. Several psychologists have been awarded the Nobel Prize recently including Daniel Kahneman in 2002, and Edvard Moser and May-Britt Moser in 2014.

Multidisciplinary Psychology careers

Psychology is a game changer in all fields today – be it business or international relations, artificial intelligence or advertising.

Marketing, Advertising and Market Research

A psychology degree combined with a business degree equips one to develop effective marketing strategies, direct consumer choices through subtle messaging, construct viral social media campaigns and connect better with disgruntled clients. Market research professionals use psychological tools to predict the buying behavior of individuals and masses.

Artificial Intelligence

Psychology combines with computer science to open emerging areas like. Human Robot Interaction:As robots perform increasingly complex tasks, they need to interact with people without causing physical or psychological harm. The challenge of getting a robot to correctly interpret human signals – verbal or non-verbal – demands the coming together of linguists, psychologists and software developers. Some possibilities include creating the perfect nanny who never gets crabby, the perfect Maths teacher who never loses her patience, or even the perfect “God” who never lets you down or incites violence!

Cognitive Robotics aims to develop robots that mimic human learning like displaying curiosity, imitating, asking complex questions and even guessing answers! This will allow robots to interact with human beings intelligently, culture and mood and context of their environment.

Game Design and Synthetic Characters: Gaming is becoming increasingly complex and competitive with companies vying to give players an almost-real world to play in. Characters with “real” personalities make them more endearing, trustworthy, loathsome or even temperamental – making players to develop stronger relationships (read addiction) to game characters – a bit like falling in love with Monica or Joey in “Friends”.

Data Science with Psychology

Machines can analyse data better than humans, but it takes a human being to make sense of it. “Data Psychology” is an emerging field that seeks to understand human decision-making with all its complexities and unpredictability. Data scientists with Psychology skills would have greater insights into possible motivators and stressors behind startling data patterns. For instance, Data Science firm Kaggle determined that it’s best to buy an orange used car. The underlying psychology is that someone buying a car with an odd color is likely to be passionate about his car and take better care of it!

NeuroSciences deserves a place of its own in this discussion.

Neuroscience is really the poster boy of Psychology bringing the field close to Medicine. Neuroscientists may work in clinical practice and research exploring non-invasive therapy options for helping people recover from emotional or physical trauma – like an artificial limb, or fear of lizards! They may also work closely with neurologists in interpreting brain imaging and suggesting neurological therapy. Neuroscientists in Artificial Intelligence may work on emerging areas like creating Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) for robots to “think”, “learn” and “adapt” like human beings.

Leading institutes in India

Ambedkar University, Delhi
Ashoka University, Sonepat
Cluster Innovation Centre, Delhi University – and numerous girls colleges in DU
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Chennai
Flame University, Pune

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