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As I previously mentioned in my education post in regard to Psychology, you can go a different way if you are not interested in becoming a therapist or a researcher. What I mean by that is that Psychology can be applied to a variety of different fields. Actually, when I was a full-time student, I was also enrolled in my university’s co-op program which allowed me to further develop my skills and gain new ones related to my major while being a student. One of the jobs I had was a specialty camp counsellor and administrator for a not-for-profit organization in my area. As a specialty camp counsellor, I had the opportunity to not only work with individuals of all ages and abilities, but I was also able to put to use all of the knowledge acquired through my Psychology related classes up to that point and learn even more. As an administrator, on the other hand, I was able to make use of my research skills which I had been developing through the different assignments for each course. Most of those classes did require you to conduct in-depth research about the subject at hand. Another job where my degree also came into play was as a summer travel counsellor. Although not necessarily directly related to Psychology, my education did play a big part in it as well as my transferable skills from previous jobs such as the one mentioned above. This particular job allowed me to further develop my communication, active listening, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, all of which were constantly being put to the test in Psychology related courses. As of now, I'm working towards my Human Resources Management certificate to then be able to work in the field as either an HR assistant, generalist, recruiter, etc. All within the same path and all making use of Psychology related theories and concepts.
My career path to a mental health professional starts with my major in psychology. I first wanted to go for a clinical psychologist pathway, but during my gap year after undergraduate, I realized that my original inspiration was to become a mental health provider. I thought I had to first become a psychologist to provide therapy, but it did not have to be like that. Psychologists definitely can be a therapist while their training and education focus more on the research and clinical aspects. MFT or counseling psychology, on the other hand, focus more on how do we serve the best for our clients, which turns out to be the aspect I am thriving for. After I entered the MFT program, my eyes opened up again that I saw more possibilities with MFT licensure and educational background. The first thing is there are so many creative orientations for providing therapy. Some people combine art with therapy, some people combine music, and some people do yoga and therapy. Secondly, starting with counseling or therapy does not mean I have to always be in the same position. For example, I have professors who are doing both private practice and teaching. Some people get into the administration area. You can also choose to go towards legislation. And finally, mental health is worldwide. In another word, you can choose to provide the mental health services overseas, and/or with your multi-language ability. So, what I would suggest for careers in this field is to never limit your creativity and imagination. Stay open, but never forget what is your original inspiration.
Based on my own educational journey, you do need some post-secondary education when it comes to Psychology. Of course, it also depends on what you are looking to do in the future. If you’re leaning more towards conducting research or becoming a therapist, you’ll definitely need to get a master’s or a PhD and get all the credentials in accordance to the province where you are. On the other hand, if you’re more interested in following a career path outside of ‘psychology’ per se then a post-secondary certificate or a master’s might be enough. Again, it would all depend on your career and what you ultimately hope to do. At an undergraduate level, it is really about first getting either an Honours’ degree (if you’re going to graduate school for Psychology) or a 3-year or 4-year degree if you are looking to go into any other field. Aside from that, it would also depend on what school you choose to go to. When I started my university career, I was not really sure what I wanted to get into later on, but I knew I was more interested in the behavioural aspect of the field as opposed to the research part. Although if you were interested in conducting research, you did have to maintain a certain average from your 2nd year onwards in order to stay in the Honours’ program. However, if you were not interested in research at all, then you could simply do a normal 4-year program. At my university, you were also allowed to do a minor or even a combined major. In my case, I decided to minor in Italian Studies. After I graduated last year, I did decide that I wanted to go into the Human Resources field, so I decided to do a post-graduate certificate in Human Resources Management right after. And I’m currently working towards that.