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Psychology Work Experience Help sheet - AQA B Psychology Online

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Microsoft Word - Psychology Work Experience Help sheet.docThis guide has been created so for you to:
• Get an insight of what are typical career choices for psychology graduates;
• Provide help on finding the work experience. The first part will help you finalise your career choices if you still are deciding on what you’d like to do when you graduate. Also, second part of this guide will provide contact information where you can look for work experience. It is purely intended as a guide and should not be regarded as complete collection of all the work experience job contacts, there are thousands out there. However, I hope that this will give you some starting point as to where look for work experience jobs and make your research much easier. Remember, you will need to move fast as the best places are filled very early, and you will need to be persistent to get what you want. There is no guarantee that you will find the ideal job for you in this guide and if it happens so, don’t give up, just look around, browse on www and you definitely will find something that will suite you.
Typical career paths requiring psychology degrees
There are many career opportunities open to students considering making the most of their Psychology degrees. Many employers in these areas will find any relevant work experience you’ve gained highly attractive, and really give you that lift up the career ladder! Psychologists practice in following areas:
• Clinical psychology; • Consumer psychology; • Neuropsychology; • Counselling; • Criminal/ Forensic psychology; • Educational psychology; • Health psychology; • Occupational psychology; • Research; • Sports and exercise psychology.
For information on careers using your psychology degree the British Psychological Association have very useful information and links, see: also check or go to CAS library where you will find extensive information on the subject. BPS website also lists postgraduate courses recognised by the BPS which are essential if you want to become a Chartered Psychologist. Above list is one where psychologists do both practise and development (self research), meaning that you could not work as a psychologist in health, sport, clinical etc if you would not keep up with the latest discoveries and innovations, hence you would not just practise what you have learned in university but also would keep learning and researching for rest of your career. As you might notice the above list is not nearly exhausted, other well suited occupations for psychology students are:
• Consumer psychology, Market Research, Social Work, Environmental psychology, Community and Youth Work, Nursing, Sales, Personnel, Management and Careers Guidance.
• Advertising, Broadcasting, Accountancy, Banking and Management.
• Some of you may also be interested in teaching in various sectors from schools through to Further and Higher Education.
Clinical psychologist Clinical psychology aims to reduce psychological distress and to enhance and promote psychological well-being. A wide range of psychological difficulties may be dealt with, including anxiety, depression, relationship problems, learning disabilities, child and family problems, and serious mental illness. To assess a client, a clinical psychologist may undertake a clinical assessment using a variety of methods including psychometric tests, interviews and direct observation of behaviour. Assessment may lead to therapy, counselling or advice. Clinical Psychologists work largely in health and social care settings including hospitals, health centres, community mental health teams, child and adolescent mental health services and social services. The most sought after experience by clinical courses is that of 'assistant psychologist' or 'research assistant'. Neuropsychology The clinical side of neuropsychology overlaps with academic neuropsychology, which provides a scientific understanding of the relationship between brain and neuropsychological function. This in turn helps form the basis for assessment and rehabilitation of people with brain injury, or other neurological disease. Neuropsychologists work with people of all ages with neurological problems, which might include traumatic brain injury, stroke, toxic and metabolic disorders, tumours and neuro-degenerative diseases. Neuropsychologists require not only general clinical skills and knowledge of the broad range of mental health problems, but also a substantial degree of specialist knowledge in the neurosciences. Specialist skills are required in the assessment of neurological patients, and rehabilitation encompasses a broad range of specialist behavioural and cognitive interventions not only for the client, but also for the client's family and carers. Neuropsychologists are also to be commonly found in the management of rehabilitation facilities, and in individual case management. Leadership of multidisciplinary rehabilitation teams is frequently part of their clinical role.
Neuropsychologists most commonly work in:
• Acute settings Working alongside neurosurgeons and neurologists and the allied disciplines, usually in a regional neurosciences centre. They are concerned with the early effects of trauma, neurosurgery and neurological disease
• Rehabilitation centres Providing post-acute assessment, training and support for people who have sustained brain injury, or who have other neurological problems. The neuropsychologist will play a central role in the multidisciplinary team which aim to maximise recovery, minimise disability, and prepare the client for return to the community or to a residential placement.
• Community services Performing a similar role as above but support those who have returned to community living
Experienced neuropsychologist also commonly act as expert witnesses for the Courts, and research is an important aspect of neuropsychological practice. Counselling Counselling psychologists are a relatively new breed of professional applied psychologists concerned with the integration of psychological theory and research with therapeutic practice. The practice of Counselling Psychology requires a high level of self-awareness and competence in relating the skills and knowledge of personal and interpersonal dynamics to the therapeutic context. Counselling psychologists work almost anywhere there are people. For instance counselling psychologists are currently employed in industry, commerce, the prison service and in all layers of education from primary school to university. About half of all counselling psychologists are employed to do clinical work in health and social care settings. Other career paths can be found in teaching and research for academic bodies. Counselling psychologists can also practice privately as organisational consultants. It is often an entry requirement of the Counselling psychology courses to have completed a basic counselling skills course.
Criminal/ Forensic Forensic Psychology is devoted to psychological aspects of legal processes in courts. The term is also often used to refer to investigative and criminological psychology: applying psychological theory to criminal investigation, understanding psychological problems associated with criminal behaviour, and the treatment of criminals. Key tasks undertaken by forensic psychologists include piloting and implementing treatment programmes; modifying offender behaviour; responding to the changing needs of staff and prisoners; reducing stress for staff and prisoners; providing hard research evidence to support practice; undertaking statistical analysis for prisoner profiling; giving evidence in court; advising parole boards and mental health tribunals; crime analysis. The largest single employer of forensic psychologists in the UK is HM Prison Service (which includes the Home Office Research and Development Unit as well as prisons). However, forensic psychologists can also be employed in the health service (including rehabilitation units and secure hospitals), the social service (including the police service, young offenders units, and the probation service), and in university departments or in private consultancy. In the treatment of offenders, forensic psychologists are responsible for the development of appropriate programmes for rehabilitation. They may include anger management, social and cognitive skills training, and treatment for drug/and or alcohol addiction. In the support of prison staff, forensic psychologists may be responsible for the delivery of stress management or training on how to cope with understanding bullying, and techniques for hostage negotiation. Educational psychology Educational psychologists tackle the problems encountered by young people in education, which may involve learning difficulties and social or emotional problems. They carry out a wide range of tasks with the aim of enhancing children's learning and enabling teachers to become more aware of the social factors affecting teaching and learning. Reports may be written about children for allocation of special educational places, or as part of court proceedings or children's panels. Local education authorities employ the majority of educational psychologists, working in schools, colleges, nurseries and special units, primarily with teachers and parents. They regularly liaise with other professionals from the departments of education, health and social services. A growing number work as independent or private consultants.
The work of an educational psychologist can either be directly with a child (assessing progress, giving counselling) or indirectly (through their work with parents, teachers and other professionals). Direct work involves some form of assessment to uncover the problem through consultation with professional colleagues, observation, interview, or use of test materials. Interventions might plan learning programmes and collaborative work with a teacher. Recommendations are then made to determine the most appropriate education provision for children experiencing educational difficulties. Indirect work requires consultation and careful discussion, as the psychologist's contribution needs to be seen as relevant to people who know little about psychology. In their role within a local authority, educational psychologists are often called upon to advise or join working/consultation groups on issues concerned with organisation and policy planning. With their research background they are in an ideal and often unique position within the education authority to plan and carry out research activities. Examples of settings in which relevant experience is likely to be gained include work as: a teacher, a graduate assistant in an Educational Psychology Service, a Learning Support Assistant, an Educational Social Worker, a Learning Mentor, a Speech and Language Therapist, a Care Worker, a worker in early years settings. Voluntary experience of various kinds may assist applicants in demonstrating a breadth of relevant experience. Whatever kind of work has been done, courses will be primarily interested in what applicants have learnt from their experiences that is relevant to work as an educational psychologist, and how they have been able to apply the knowledge of psychology gained through first degrees. Health psychology Health psychologists work in a relatively new field of applied psychology. Psychological principles are used to promote changes in people's attitudes, behaviour and thinking about health and illness. The breadth of the discipline is far-reaching, including:
• the use of psychological theories and interventions to prevent damaging behaviours (such as smoking, drug abuse, poor diet), and the change health-related behaviour in community and workplace settings.
• promoting and protecting health by encouraging behaviours such as exercise, healthy dietary choice, teeth brushing, health checks/self examination
• health-related cognitions; investigating the processes which can explain, predict and change health and illness behaviours.
• processes influencing health care delivery; the nature and effects of communication between health care practitioners and patients, including interventions to improve communication, facilitate adherence, prepare for stressful medical procedures and so on;
• psychological aspects of illness; looking at the psychological impact of acute and chronic illness on individuals, families, and carers. Psychological interventions may be used to help promote self- management, facilitate coping with pain or illness, to improve quality of life, and to reduce disability and handicap.
Health psychologists are represented in a number of settings, such as hospitals, academic health research units, health authorities and university department. They may deal with problems identified by health care agencies, including NHT Trusts and Health Authorities, health professionals such as GP's, nurses and rehabilitation therapists, and organisations and employers outside the health care system. Psychology graduates can also use their skills in clinical audit in health services (also called quality improvement). The work is with health clinicians and health service managers, in putting research evidence into practice. Staff are supported in measuring their activities and implementing appropriate improvements. Occupational psychology Occupational Psychology is concerned with the performance of people at work in training, how organisations function and how individuals and small groups behave at work. The aim is to increase the effectiveness of the organisation, and to improve the job satisfaction of the individual. The speciality is broader in scope and less formalised than most other areas of psychology, and it touches on the diverse fields including ergonomics, personnel management, and time management. Work can be in an advisory, teaching and research roles, and to a lesser extent, technical and administrative roles.
Occupational Psychologists often work for large companies (in both the private and public sectors), in government and public services, in management training centres and for private consultancies. They usually work alongside other professionals such as managers, trade union representatives, training offices and specialist staff from the firm or industry concerned. The Civil Service is one of the largest single employers of occupational psychologists: the prison service, the Home Office, the Employment Department Group (including the Employment Service), the Ministry of Defence, and the Civil Service Commission all employ occupational psychologists. Teaching and Research Teaching and research in psychology usually go hand in hand. Some teaching staff will have qualified in one of the applied psychological professions already mentioned. They may return to teaching to develop professional practice and conduct research, or simply to share their knowledge. All university lecturers are expected to help extend their subject by gathering psychological evidence on key research questions, and tell others what they have found by publishing articles. Administration is a large part of a lecturers' life, and can take up a great deal of time. It includes student selection, devising new teaching programmes, sitting on committees, which allocate resources and co-ordinating aspects of the life of the department. Many schools and sixth-form colleges of further education now offer psychology as a subject at GCSE, A level, A/S level and as part of a general studies programme. Teachers prepare students for published syllabuses set by the examining bodies, so their work is not as flexible as that of teachers of undergraduates. Nevertheless, there is considerable choice in what to offer within the syllabus and an enormous range of possible studies in practical and laboratory courses. Lecturers and researchers work in universities, colleges and schools. 'Research scientists' may also work in research units (such as the MRC Applied Psychology Unit). However, few people are able to develop careers consisting solely of research.
Sports and exercise psychologists It is relatively rare for individuals to practice in both sport and exercise psychology; typically, though some exceptions exist, they specialise in one or the other. Sport psychologists work with sports participants across a range of both team and individual sports and from amateur to elite levels of competition. The aim is predominately to help athletes prepare psychologically for competition and to deal with the psychological demands of both competition and training. Examples of the work they carry out include counselling referees to deal with the stressful and demanding aspects of their role, advising coaches on how to build cohesion within their squad of athletes and helping athletes to deal with the psychological and emotional consequences of sustaining an injury. An exercise psychologist is primarily concerned with the application of psychology to increase exercise participation and motivational levels in the general public. Examples of the work they do include optimising the benefits that can be derived from exercise participation and helping individual clients with the implementation of goal-setting strategies. Sport and exercise psychologists work in a wide range of sport and exercise settings and with a diverse range of clients. Most sport psychologists combine consultancy work with teaching and research or psychological consultancy in other areas such as the clinical and occupational domains. Some sport psychologists do hold full-time positions with professional sports teams or national governing bodies and opportunities to work as a full-time sport psychologist are constantly increasing in number. A similar scenario exists for exercise psychologists, with most practitioners combining consultancy with teaching and research careers. The work of exercise psychologists might involve GP exercise referral and setting up and evaluating exercise programmes in employment, prison and psychiatric contexts. The work of a sport or exercise psychologist is centred on people and can be extremely varied. Although consultancy work may be office-based it is equally likely that consultants will work in field settings such as team premises, competition venues, clinical rehabilitation and recreational exercise settings
Work experience in psychology related fields
The information provided below will provide you with ideas and contacts for gaining some practical work experience during the vacation or term time. While some may be directly related to the career path you’ve considered – others will be in indirect but just as good to gain valuable experience. All the contacts are classified under particular career area so that it would be easier for you to find relevant information. Clinical Psychology Postgraduate study is a pre-requisite for this career, and there is stiff competition for the 3 year doctorate, so having work experience as well as a strong degree classification is compulsory!
• Look out for opportunities as an assistant psychologist with the NHS. Try talking to clinical Psychologists within your local NHS service or use back issues of the NHS Memorandum to get contact names and addresses. You will find some of these old issues in the careers service or in your department.
• You may also find that youth work or gaining experience working with children with learning disabilities or social constraints useful, check out
• Look at local classifieds and some of the addresses related to community and youth work.
Once you have qualified and practised as a Clinical Psychologist, you can often specialise further e.g. Neuropsychology or work with children. Educational Psychology Teaching experience is compulsory for a career in Educational Psychology, at least two years in a teaching post. In order to gain experience as an undergraduate:
• Check out your local schools and see if there are any opportunities to work as an assistant, as well as homework clubs, Social Services, Banardos, the Autistic Society and other voluntary organisations.
• Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities in the Times Education Supplement and the Guardian (Tues)
• Look at • Look at
• Check CSV Student Tutoring at The University of Reading. Assistant Psychologist When you graduate & you are aiming to work as an assistant psychologist and most posts require you to have some hands on experience working with adults or children with learning or mental health problems. You can gain this experience whilst studying, the Students Union runs a local Volunteer Scheme and the Job Shop in the careers Service often advertises paid care work Pet Psychology A very up and coming ‘alternative’ career choice for psychologists, particular since the advent of TV programmes such as ‘ Pets in Practice’ and the like. Opportunities for work experience are as simple as working on Pet Behavioural projects – perhaps if you have a choice of dissertation, working alongside your local veterinary practice, Animal Rescue Centre, RSPCA,, Catteries and Boarding Kennels. The APBC (Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors is a network of experienced counsellors who receive referrals from vet practices – may also be an interesting point of contact: for their careers information. Consumer Psychology Not usually titled as such in vacancies – but includes areas such as retail, industrial manufacturing and market research organisations. Consumer psychology is largely growing within the IT industry & ergonomics. Job opportunities and work experience will be found largely under the market research heading and many companies are offering interesting placements in these areas. Check out: publications such as Marketing, Campaign, the Guardian (Monday) and the Independent (Tuesday) for opportunities – as well as keeping you eye on the CAS work experience database Environmental Psychology This covers many different boundaries from Social Science, psychology and geography and also includes aspects of design and built environment. Covering issues such as human interaction with the living environment, you could be researching elements such as noise pollution, building design,
natural disasters and their effects on people. Opportunities for this type of work experience are few and far between as well as having direct competition from environmentalist students. Postgraduate study is possible to enhance your prospects in Environmental Psychology (University of Surrey). Opportunities may be available with local borough councils, government departments (see below) and the Environment Agency as well as some private sector companies. You may get further if you apply to these types of organisations speculatively leading up to the summer months. See: & Forensic / Criminal Psychology Experience and training are crucial to students considering this area as a career. After a one year masters in Forensic Psychology, you will have to undertake another two years with a registered Forensic Psychologist to gain experience. The largest employers in this field are: HM Prison Service, Secure Units, Rehabilitation Centres, NHS, Police force and some private prisons. Look for opportunities with all of these employers and also check out NHS Vacancies Bulletins, The Guardian on Weds, Community Care (Thurs) and Probation Bulletin. See:
• • • • • • • The same contacts apply for Prison Psychologist.
Occupational Psychology Employers within Occupational Psychology tend to be larger organisations in both the Private and Public Sector, also Government bodies and departments. Sources of vacancies include publications such as People Management, Personnel Today and also use the prospects directory. For further information, Please contact: (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) Health Psychology This area of Psychology is developing rapidly – and becoming more integrated into the NHS services. Posts presently seem to be within research
within academic structures as well as the NHS and projects also funded through the Medical Research Council. For work experience opportunities within Health Psychology, contact As well as the NHS & local Health Promotion Units which you can find in yellow pages. Sports & Exercise Psychology Postgraduate training is required as well as experience, courses are available at the University of Exeter. Another useful source of information on obtaining work experience is The British Association of Sports & Exercise Science (BASCS) another useful way of gaining experience is to consider shadowing a physiotherapist / personal trainer and get an insight into the fundamentals of exercise or finding a relevant project during the summer in a research capacity ( Research Psychology A natural way to follow through to a career in Research Psychology is as a result of a PhD or postgraduate study. You could be studying towards a PhD whilst working as a Research Psychologist and obtain funding to assist your studies. Universities, the Health Service and Government Agencies are all employers of research psychologist as well as some private bodies. Check out the Timers Higher Education Supplement on Fridays and The Guardian on Tuesdays. and Social Work Social work requires a postgraduate diploma, but gaining an insight into the profession through work experience will strengthen your application if you are considering further study.
• The British Association of Social Workers, 16 Kent Street, Birmingham B5 6RD Tel: 0121 622 3911
• Social Care Association Ltd., Hook Road, Surbiton, Surrey, KT6 5AN Tel: 0181 397 1411
When you are applying for Postgraduate Training or if you want to find out more about what’s involved, contact:
• Central Social Work Clearing System, Social Work Admissions System, Rose Hill, New Barn Lane, Cheltenham, Glous GL52 3LZ Tel: 01242 544600
Probation Work Training is required for working within probation as it is a sensitive and very diverse area of social work - experience can perhaps be gained through working within rehabilitation of young offenders centres and Care homes, youth groups within urban and disadvantaged areas. Check out publications such as:
• The Big Issue Weekly • Community Care Thursdays • The Guardian Wednesdays • Independent Thursdays & Sundays • New statesman & Society Fridays • Opportunities Fridays • Pink Paper Weekly • Social Work Today Weekly • Time out Thursdays & Fridays • NACRO – • National Association of Probation Officers, 4 Chivalry Road, London,
SW11 1HT Tel 0207 233 4887
Housing and homelessness • The London Connect • Inside Housing • Homeless Pages • Groundswell • Centrepoint • Crisis
Counselling & Psychotherapy Many charities and support services may be able to offer volunteers the opportunity of gaining basic counselling skills and an insight into the work involved in counselling and psychotherapy. This can also involve mental health Advocacy through individual local hospitals and Student Services at Universities and Further Education Colleges.
• British Association of Counselling, 1 Regent’s Place, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV21 2PJ Tel: 01788 5783228
• Mind
Advice work For those of you interested in advice work the following agencies may be able to offer you advice on gaining work experience or have vacancies themselves. You could also get in touch with the Student Advice Centre and see if there is any assistance needed on the information desk or Nightline. Contact: 0118 921 5109 or 921 0711
• Advice Services Alliance, 4 Deans Court, St. Paul’s Church Yard, London, EC4V 5AA Tel: (020) 7236 6022
• Alcohol Concern, Waterbridge, 32-36 Lomas Street, London, SE1 0EE • Child Poverty Action Group, 94 White Lion Street, London N1
Tel: (020)7837 7979 • Money Advice Association, Gresham House, 24 Holborn Viaduct,
London, EC1A 2BN Tel: 0171 236 3566
• Federation of Independent Advice Centres, National Office, 4 Deans Court, St. Paul’s Churchyard, London, EC4V 5AA Tel: (020) 7387 8570
• National Association of Citizen’s Advice Bureau Turning Point, 115- 123 Pentonville Road, London Tel (020) 7833 2181
Community & Youth Work *Check out Your Local Classifieds for local community groups and youth clubs
Reading Bureau (Folder in reference section in CAS Library) list all charities in area.
• Community Action Network
• National Council for Voluntary Organisation, Regents Wharf, 8 All Saints Street, London N1 9RL Tel: 020 77136161
• National Council for Voluntary Youth Services, the Peel Centre, Percy Circus, London, WC1X 9EY Tel: 020 78833 3002
• Youth Access , Ashby House 62a Ashby Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3AE Tel: 0131 554 2561
• Community / youth work information and lots of links
• Community training Company
• Community Service Volunteers
• Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) Elliot House, 10-12 Allington Street, London, LSW1E 5EH Tel: 020 7828 7022
• Social Exclusion Unit
• Home office
Human Resources Working in a team based environment dealing with personnel issues, recruitment, training and many other issues involving staff. Working within any team based environment will help you to get ahead in a career in HR. All sectors of work from retail to manufacturing have personnel departments – so you can pretty much pick your industry. You could target a specific area and contact companies speculatively or get in touch with the
• Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development CIPD House, Camp Road, London SW19 4UX Tel 020 8971 9000
• Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) 3rd floor Steward House, 16a Commercial Way, Woking Surrey, GU21 1ET Tel: 01483 766442
Advertising, Marketing & PR. A fast moving and very competitive industries – and one no doubt that work experience will give you a leg up in for sure! Keep your eyes open for opportunities on the work experience webpages – from specific companies offering opportunities to working as a student brand manager, marketing & advertising opportunities for a particular company (which is becoming more and more popular). Useful contacts include: (Check out the Job Shop & Hollis – PR Database
• Institute of Public relations (IPR) The old trading house, 15 Northburgh Street, London EC1V OPR Tel: 020 7253 5151 Extensive reading lists are available on their website.
• The Communications Advertising and Marketing Foundation (CAM) Ltd., Abford House, 15 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1NJ Tel: 020 7828 7506.
• The Advertising Association: Address above! • The Media Circle, As above again!!!
Other Many students studying for a psychology degree will follow a completely different path and consider career opportunities in areas that require the transferable skills they’ve picked up. If you’ve studied science related or arts related Psychology, this may influence your career choice – please feel free to look at any of the help sheets in this series. KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED ON THE CAS WORK EXPERIENCE DATABASE
* If you would like to discuss your options further, please don’t hesitate to come along to CAS for a quick query, which may possibly lead to a longer session with an advisor and access to all the resources to help you find your placement.
Good Luck!