Two Popular Careers For Psychologists Who Want To Make A Difference


Even the best psychologists occasionally face the very human problem of clinical service burnout when providing therapy to clients. As a psychologist, it's imperative that you stay on top of burnout if you want to excel, but this isn't always as easy as just taking a vacation. Sometimes, a total change in your work style is necessary to keep you motivated and performing at your very best level. The good news is that America's quickly-growing healthcare industry is revealing new and inspiring jobs for psychologists all the time, and this is something that you can take advantage of if you need a change. In this article, you'll learn about two of America's most inspiring and fast-growing psychology-related career categories.

Genetic Counseling

While many genetic illnesses have no cure, psychological intervention can help patients to come to terms with the reality of their situation, and thus, enable them to live a better life. As a genetic counselor, you'll work one-on-one with patients, helping them to understand or make peace with their genetic history. You'll also spend time with parents, helping them to make decisions like whether to have a baby or how to reconcile the fact that they've passed down an illness to their child. 

As the future unfolds and human genetic knowledge is expanded, this field is expected to expand, too; the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that genetic counseling careers will increase by approximately 29 percent by 2024. That means the need for genetic counseling is likely to expand, so you can look forward to an easy job market if you decide to take this path.

What You'll Need: Most genetic counselors have at least a Master's in Psychology and at least a Master's in Genetics.  If you already have your Master's in Psychology, you will still need to go back to school to receive your degree in genetics. Alternatively, if you are starting with less than a Master's degree--for example, if you only have a Ph.D.--you should take Genetic Counseling directly instead. This degree combines both genetics and psychology into a single education program, ensuring that you're prepared for work immediately after full graduation.

Why It's Inspiring: As a genetic counselor, you will play an incredibly important role in helping patients to live long, healthy and happy lives in the face of what can be incredible adversity. Very often, these patients seriously struggle to cope with the fact that there may be no cure for their illness. This is a career where your impact can go a long way. Not only will you provide one-on-one support to families and patients, but you'll also reinforce the fact that patients who are disabled, or genetically different, deserve to have access to the support and help they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

Some genetic counselors also work in hospitals, either in pediatric or maternity wards. There, they provide one-on-one support for new mothers and fathers who are faced with the potentially devastating news that a newborn has a genetic illness or deformity. This type of early intervention is crucial, as it provides overwhelmed new parents with the support they need to come to terms with the diagnosis.

Social Gerontology

With an aging population, issues of the aged are becoming more and more important in the United States. Yesterday's baby boomers, born in post-WWII America, are reaching seniorhood, and that means a higher need for one-on-one care. The aging population and their need for care have led to a slew of new nursing homes, retirement communities, and other care facilities around the country. Social gerontologists study the many psychosocial, cognitive, and biological challenges that come with aging, helping to ensure that both inpatient and outpatient support systems can provide the elderly with the assistance they need to flourish in their golden years.

Psychologists who undertake this type of career play a direct role in creating friendlier living environments that support and respect a senior's need for independence, enrichment, and even fun. They may plan events within a nursing home, link seniors with community resources, or even just spend time helping seniors with dementia to socialize. Some social gerontologists work in research, contributing to the search for answers to important sociological problems like Alzheimer's care or isolation.

Social gerontologists are widely considered to fall under the U.S. Department of Labor's Social and Human Services heading. Overall, this area of work is expected to increase by approximately 11 percent by 2024--far more than most other labor markets in America. 

What You'll Need: To become a social gerontologist, you will need to acquire the National Association of Social Workers' Credential in Gerontology (SW-G). The SW-G itself has a number of prerequisites and requirements; firstly, you must have at least a Bachelor's degree in psychology. You must also have experience in the field and at least 20 hours of gerontology-specific education. If you have a Master's degree in psychology, you may apply for the Clinical Social Worker in Gerontology (CSW-G) certification instead; it has a lower experience benchmark in acknowledgment of your advanced degree.

Why It's Inspiring: As health advancements allow people to live longer and longer lives, the need to understand exactly how seniors thrive becomes even more important. You'll work directly and indirectly for the aged, helping to bridge the gap between gerontologically-specific needs and community resources to ensure that America's elders enjoy fulfilling, enriched lives in their later years.

A small subset of social gerontologists also work with the dying--a position sometimes referred to as a death midwife or doula for the aged--helping patients to come to terms with their mortality prior to death.

These two fantastic careers are just a couple of the many incredible options available to you as an experienced psychologist. An education in psychology is uniquely diverse; it prepares you well for working with people in almost any environment or setting. Whether you ultimately decide to go with one of these two inspiring positions or something else entirely, you have a world of options available to you at all times. For assistance with finding a career that's right for you, schedule an appointment with a career counselor today or talk with local clinics like The Genen Group about openings they may have for someone with your skills.

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