Psychology plays a role in almost every industry. How is that? Well, basic psychology skills like reasoning, analyzation, observation, problem-solving skills, coping skills and communication skills are great assets to behold in any field, regardless of whether you are researcher or a psychology writer/editor for a website, magazine, organization, publishing company or newspaper. What is psychology? Well, psychology is the study of the human mind and behaviors. It includes clinical (individual) psychology and family/group (social) psychology. Although this may sound odd, a bachelor’s degree (B.A.) in English can actually help you enter the psychology field.
How? Well, many of the skills learned in an psychology undergraduate college program (i.e. analyzation, problem-solving, observation, exploration, verbal and written communication, reasoning and critical thinking) are the same as the skills learned in an English undergraduate college program. In other words, in order to receive a B.A. in English, you must have a strong grasp on language, grammar, literature, writing, analyzation, problem-solving and communication. If you are wondering if you can pursue a psychology career with an English degree – you have come to the right place. This article will explain all of the ways that you can use your B.A. in English to enter the field of psychology.
Steps that can help you utilize your English degree in a psychology field:
• Earn an English Degree
The first thing you will need to do is acquire a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English. An undergraduate English college program will help you develop your critical thinking, research, analyzation, observation, reasoning and writing skills. Once you have received a B.A. in English, you will be able to pursue a variety of psychology-based careers (i.e. researcher, community counselor, human resource executive, social services director, case manager, marketing analyst for a social service agency or mental health organization, etc.).
In addition, once you receive your undergraduate degree in English, you will able to enroll in a psychology graduate program. If you earn a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Doctorate (Ph.D.) in psychology, you will be able to pursue a career as a psychological researcher, counselor, college instructor, marriage and family therapist, psychotherapist and/or psychologist. It is important to note that in order to practice as a mental health professional, you will need to be licensed and/or certified in a specified psychology field.
• Become a Social Worker
I know that “social work” does not sound like “psychology” but in reality they are very similar fields. How is that? Well, most English, psychology and sociology (social work) undergraduate programs teach you the same skills. In other words, regardless of whether you obtain a degree in sociology/social work, English or psychology, you will take very similar, if not the same, courses. You will also learn the same or similar skills (i.e. research, problem-solving, analyzation, creativity, writing and verbal communication, etc.).
The best thing about entering the field of social work with a B.A. in English is that the sociology field is more open to those with non-psychology degrees. If you have the essential requirements and qualities needed to be a case manager or social worker, along with a degree, many social services agencies will hire you. The main difference between a psychology-based career and a social work career is psychology focuses primarily on human thought processes and behaviors, while social workers explore those same areas, but also provide resources for people who are in need of services.
• Volunteer at a Psychology Research Facility
Yes, you heard me right – volunteer at a psychology research facility. Working with a psychology researcher will not only strengthen your research, writing, exploration, problem-solving and analyzation skills, it will also provide you with a glimpse of how your B.A. degree in English can be an asset in this industry. It is important to note that there are a variety of psychology researchers who study many different areas of psychology. These researchers are required to write a multitude of research papers, case studies, etc. so good English skills (grammar, spelling, cohesiveness, research skills, analyzation/reasoning skills, communication skills and observation skills) are essential for success in this industry.
If you do not live near a psychology research facility or there are no current openings, volunteer at an organization that helps people. If possible ask to be an advocate for people who are experiencing hardships (i.e. illnesses, domestic violence, debt, child abuse and/or neglect, homelessness, drug, alcohol, gambling and/or sex addictions, etc.). You will be able to use the skills you learned in your undergraduate English program to support and encourage those who are going through a hard time. Organizations like the Lupus Foundation of America and Red Cross are always looking for people willing to help.
• Intern at Social Services Agency
A really good way to pursue a psychology career with an English degree is to intern at social services agency like: a domestic violence shelter, homeless shelter, crisis center, child abuse/neglect agency, pre-school, mental health practice, etc. Interning at a social services agency will allow you to work with a variety of medical and mental health professionals (i.e. clinical social workers, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, etc.). Depending on your internship, you may also be able to observe counseling sessions and/or perform intake interviews. Moreover, if you do well at the internship, the agency may offer you employment as an intake worker, case manager, psychology assistant, etc.
***So to answer your question – YES you can pursue a psychology career with an English degree. So go out a get your dream job!!
Hayes, N. (2014). Skills of a psychology major. Wagner College-Psychology Department. Retrieved from http://wagner.edu/psychology/skills/
UNC: College of Arts & Sciences. (2014). English & Comparative Literature-Career Opportunities. Retrieved from http://englishcomplit.unc.edu/english/undergrad/careers