5 Misconceptions About Psychology

When you hear the word psychology, what comes to mind? An asylum filled with raging lunatics and a man in a white coat walking around, nonchalantly jotting down info on a sheet of paper? Or a client, lying on a chaise longue while a man resembling Sigmund Freud listens to their problems? Perhaps you associate the word with lie detectors? All-knowing gurus? Frauds? Liars?

Whichever it is, you’re thinking of all the misconceptions of psychology and anything related to it. And this is why we’re here. I’m going to break down some common myths and misconceptions about the magical world of psychology.


Psychologist = psychiatrist

This is a big one. And the most annoying one. My professor summed the difference up in a wonderful way: “The two hate each other. Psychologists hate psychiatrists because drugs are their answer to every problem, and psychiatrists hate psychologists because they steal their clients.”

A psychologist and psychiatrist are two very different professions. They’re both here to help you with mental health issues. However, the education required differs for each.

Psychiatry is highly medical and requires one to gain a medical degree (M.D.). After all, they’ll have to write prescriptions; in order to not cause more damage, they need to know how the body works.

A psychologist, on the other hand, doesn’t need to go to a med school. They can start working after getting their MA. However, they’re not classed as a licensed psychologist without a Ph.D./DClin, a registration at HCPC (if you’re in the UK) and appropriate training.


Psychologists don’t care

A.k.a. they’re doing this for money. Yeah, it’s easy to make this assumption, especially if you know that psychologists earn a lot. But let’s reason about this one.

How long does an average university education take? Three years. How long does a full psychology education last? Roughly eight years, minus all the training you may have to acquire (different countries, different rules).

Would you waste eight years of your life just to get a higher salary? Even when there are many other jobs that are able to provide you with a high pay without having to study for eight years? I think the choice is clear. If you had to pick between receiving £10 right now or £10 in a month, you’d very happily pick the sooner option.

‘Tricking’ a client into believing you care about them just for the sake of a higher pay simply isn’t worth it.


Psychology will help you find eternal peace

Psychology is the study human behaviour, right? If you study this subject you’ll be able to predict every situation you may ever encounter, you’ll learn how to read people and how to deliver the best comebacks ever. All your problems will be gone forever.

Except that’s not how it works. Psychologists are people just like anyone else, and just like anyone else, they’ve their own problems. And let me tell you a secret: psychologists have their own psychologists. Shocking, I know.

Psychology only teaches you about human behaviour. Whether you’ll follow the road to happiness or not is entirely up to you. Psychology is not what makes you happy. According to a 75 year old Harvard study, surrounding yourself with people who you’ve high-quality relationships with does.


Psychology is easy

It’s not. Especially the bachelor years. And it gets worse and worse from there.

Take a look at what modules the University College London, University of Essex and other unis offer. You’ll see that except for psychology-related topics you’ll also have to learn statistics, biology, history and lots and lots of neurobiology.

There are many young students who decide to study psychology because it seems simple. And then they drop out of uni because they thought that “it would be easier” or “it’s not for me”. (Yes, these are direct quotes from ex-psychology students I’m personally familiar with.)


Psychology is one field

Many people think that when they start studying psychology they’ll learn about this science in general. That may be true for your bachelor’s degree. But not for your MA or PhD.

Psychology has many different fields: clinical, forensic, sports, experimental and many others. They can be related to therapy, research and/or teaching. If you decide to continue your studies, you’ll have to pick which field you want to specialise in.

There are many other myths and misconceptions about psychology.  Be sceptical about things you hear and ensure it’s the right path for you before putting all your eggs in that basket.


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