Natasha, Clinical Psychologist
For Natasha Dean, psychology was a career that enabled her to combine her interest in the humanities with her love of science.
What sort of work do you do?
Over the past year since completing her Masters degree, Natasha has been working as a clinical psychologist in the area of pain management.
"My job involves the assessment and treatment of patients, and while I do mostly group work, there's still some individual therapy. And while I work with a specialist population of patients with chronic pain, these patients also experience a range of disorders, such as mood disorders and eating disorders," says Natasha.
Some of Natasha's other duties include writing reports, scoring psychometric tests, screening patients for groups, and undertaking some statistical analysis for quality assurance purposes.
"There's also a lot of liasing with doctors, physiotherapists, nurses and referring agencies to ensure a holistic approach to patient management."
What are some of the pros and cons?
"It's great seeing the changes that are possible in different individuals, and as no two people are ever the same, I get to apply my knowledge to situations that are always changing."
However, the work can also be quite challenging at times. "Sometimes you hear about quite traumatic experiences, and the degree to which patients are willing to work collaboratively may vary," says Natasha. "So it's important to know your own limitations."
How do you become a psychologist?
To become a psychologist, you will require strong people skills, some of which you will develop throughout the course of training, as well as good analytical skills. Natasha also emphasises that becoming a psychologist requires a minimum of six years training.
"There are quite a number of hurdles along the way, but once you're qualified as a psychologist, you can find your own niche, whether it be in organisational, developmental or clinical psychology, or a more specialised field."
Any tips for new players?
Natasha recommends starting off general in order to become familiar with the public health system and the roles of other health professionals. Additionally, she offers some words of encouragement.
"As psychology becomes more and more recognised and accepted by society, this is likely to affect the availability of jobs. Hopefully people are learning that there are skills psychologists can offer to help all sorts of problems, not only the most severe ones."
Find out more
Visit the MyFuture website to find more about duties and tasks, work conditions, earnings and required qualifications for a career as a psychologist.
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).