I am half-way through my doctoral psychology degree and I am worried I made a mistake. I love studying psychology, but I don't think I want to do therapy. I like business settings. Can I use my degree with businesses? Best, Aaron
The field of psychology has many different areas of study, and just as many applications in the real world. Yes, many psychologists who have finished a doctoral psychology degree do get licensed and practice therapy with clients.
However, there are also psychologists who specialize in work with organizations, psychologists who consult to schools, who coach leaders, and who help sports teams.
Because psychology is the study of human behavior, motivation, thoughts, and feeling, the possibilities for using it in the job world are quite numerous.
Top 5 Business Uses with a Psychology Degree
1) Organizational Consulting: Some psychologists who work in organizations have a degree in organizational psychology while others may have studied general psychology and then trained in an organizational setting. In any case, the professional who does this work connects with the organization as a whole, attempting to implement a wide scale change in the way things happen.
2) Team Building: Some psychologists enjoy working with small groups. This skill can be translated to team building. Practitioners do assessment and interventions with intact teams to increase morale, productivity, and effectiveness. A knowledge of group dynamics is a big plus.
3) Leadership Coaching. This field is new and fast growing. No longer is coaching considered remedial- now leaders can be honored if they are chosen. The executive coaching field has coaches who are business people, as well as coaches who are psychologists. Psychologists bring a unique understanding of behavioral change to the process.
Leadership coaches also do assessment for development, which is helping leaders learn how to improve their skills, and assessment for selection which helps organizations to pick the best candidate for a role.
4) Employee Assistant Programs. Psychologists can do assessment, crisis intervention, and short term therapy. Employee Assistant Programs, or EAPS, help workers who are struggling with all kinds of issues, from burn-out to substance abuse, from family issues to depression.
EAP clinicians usually work for a few sessions with their clients, then refer them to outside therapists as needed. They understand the unique stressors of the workplace, and usually have a good comprehension of the resources available in the community.
5) Training. Psychologists can work within an organization in a training role, or as an external consultant. Trainers cover all kinds of topics like diversity, interpersonal effectiveness, stress management, work-life balance and more. To become a trainer you should like to teach and share information.
As you can see, a psychology degree has many applications, and the business world has many intriguing opportunities. If you think you might want to work primarily with organizations, consider a doctorate or masters in organizational psychology. The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology has good information about this field.
Clinical psychologists can train to become coaches or do the kind of crisis intervention necessary in an EAP. Psychologists with group training do well with teams.
Then look for internships or post-doctoral training that will give you the kind of experience you need with organizations, teams, and leaders. With your background in psychology you will have something unique to offer to the business world.