Miss Psychobabble: 5 Perks Of Earning A Psychology Degree

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Image Credits: Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography via Flickr
Psychology is the study of mental processes and human behavior.  Those who diligently pursue this discipline are able to apply their understanding to various events in their everyday lives.  On that note, here are the 5 perks of earning a psychology degree:

1. Deeper understanding of the self

Majoring in psychology allows you to understand the reasons behind your actions and personality in general.  Various theories such as psychodynamics and social learning theory can guide you to determine the trigger behind unwanted emotions (e.g., guilt or jealousy).  This deeper awareness helps you to deal with difficult emotions and situations effectively.

2. Enhanced understanding of others

As I was studying psychology, I realized that there is a combination of factors affecting one's behaviour.  People do not act merely by instinct - they are complex.  We as psychology majors must understand the power of biological, psychological, and social factors.  Applying these principles, you will be able to comprehend and empathize with others with little to no bias and judgment.

3. Better skills to resolve conflict

Since everybody perceives the world uniquely, conflict is inevitable.  When you study psychology, you begin to realize the reasons behind one's actions and his/her possible reactions.  By knowing so, you are able to predict how a situation can occur.  Conflict resolution skills that help you handle different situations are handy especially in the workplace and relationships.  Personally, after earning a psychology degree, I began to see people's behavior in a more logical manner.  Hence, I deal with conflicts by analyzing the issue first and picking out the best solution possible.

4. Psychology degree can enter various career paths

As long as man is involved, Psychology is present.  There are various career paths to choose from including the fields of sport psychology, clinical psychology, school psychology, forensic psychology, and so on.  Furthermore, you can choose to work with kids, youth, or elderly.  And, you can even further your studies in areas such as medicine or law.  All you have to do is search for what you are passionate about.

5. Your journey can be challenging yet fulfilling

Earning a psychology degree and pursuing a career in it allows you to solve practical and theoretical problems.  It may be challenging and stressful at times but it surely is rewarding.  Remember that you are able to help others and make huge impacts in their lives.

Want to produce a positive change in someone's life?  Get a Psychology Degree!  It is worth it! :)

Mastering APA Style #3: Reference List - Breaking the Code

Image credit: http://flash1r.apa.org/apastyle/basics/index.htm
The "Reference List" is usually written as a new page at the end of your written paper or report.  The above sample of a reference is a common one that you might see.  This is an example of a reference for a journal article.
Do note that there are many other types of references that you might see. There is actually a lot, with the most common ones among students being journal articles, books, and websites.

So what are the parts in a reference to watch out for when writing a reference?
  • Number of Authors -  Authors' names are in the order of  "Last name/Surname,  initials", e.g. "Andrew, B.".  
    • The number of authors may affect the way it is being presented.  For 7 or less authors, make sure to have an "&" between the last and second last authors.  If the work has more than 7 authors, list the first six authors and then use "..."(Yes, seriously), followed by the last author's name.
  • Title of Article / Chapter - This is usually the part written straight after the year of publication.  It is usually not italicized and presented in sentence case.
    • Using sentence case means that only first letter of the title (and subtitle), the first letter after the colon or dash, and proper nouns, i.e. names of countries, are capitalized. 
  • Title of Journal /  other publication (e.g. book) - The journal or publication title is usually written with the first letter of major words in capitals, and italicized.  Always present the journal title in full, e.g. "International Journal of Psychology" rather than "IJP".  Students tend to just use the short form as it might be presented that way in the journal.
    • Maintain the punctuation and capitalization that is used by the journal in its title.  For example: "ReCALL" not "RECALL", or "Knowledge Management Research & Practice" not "Knowledge Management Research and Practice".
    • The presentation of a journal reference and a book reference is different, as the latter might include editors' names or multiple editions.
  • Other information - This include volume number, issue numbers, page numbers, and/or publisher information.  
    • For journals, the volume numbers are usually italicized, with the rest being in the above format.  Please include doi (digital object identifier) for journal articles when available.  You can check with crossref.org for the doi.  
    • For books, the publisher city and publisher name has to be presented in the format of "City: Publisher name".  
According to Purdue Owl, here are some more basic rules that you have to follow: (these rules are adapted from their website)
  • Always do hanging indentation.  This is where all the lines after the first line of each entry in your reference list is indented one-half inch from the left margin. 
    • This can be usually done in your Microsoft word under the function of "Paragraph" (just right-click and you will see it).
  • Reference list entries should be alphabetized by the last name of the first author of each work.  
    • For multiple articles by the same author, or authors listed in the same order, list the entries in chronological order, from earliest to most recent.
To be continued...
If you wish to learn about in-text citations, please read Mastering APA style #2: In-text Citations.

Applying I/O Psychology Knowledge to Get a Job

KSAOs of a Psychologist
(Copyright of SGPsychStuff)
This post is targeted for psychology students, especially those who are graduating soon.  This should be a starting guide or checklist for those looking for your first psychology-related job.  As mentioned in a previous post, your first job might be categorised into two types: (a) Counselling / Psychotherapy / Consultation, or (b) Research.  So the above table is based on these two psychology-related jobs.

I have recently attended a career counselling workshop, and this brought back some of my old memories of studying industrial/organisational (I/O) psychology during my university days.  The workshop was on helping students transit to doing a career, and hence covered topics like personality assessment, job analysis, and helping students prepare their careers.
As I went through that 2-day workshop, I ponder over why we did not even do this for our own profession.  It would be extremely helpful if psychology students actually knew what they need to get a good fit to their future jobs, hence enabling them to confirm that they will get jobs as psychologists.

One of the things covered in the workshop I attended was the KSAO model, which you might have learnt in I/O Psychology.  The KSAO model is the detailed analysis of a job, which the HR analysts or I/O psychologists use to identify any fit between the applicant's personal KSAOs and the job's KSAOs.
'Knowledge' (K) - usually gained from your previous education or training or work
'Skills' (S) - acquired skills that you have gained from your past experiences of education or work
'Abilities' (A) - innate abilities or personality characteristics that a person possess
'Other competencies/characteristics' (O) - Other requirements of a job or something that the applicant possesses that may be beneficial to the job.
The table mentioned above is (imo) the minimum requirement that an applicant/graduating student should possess if he/she is planning to look for a psychology-related job.  Below are the further explanations for why I feel it is required and how students can try to demonstrate that they possess the KSAOs to their prospective employers.

Knowledge:
  • Masters in Applied Psychology:  This is the minimum requirements to become a registered psychologist with the SRP.  This has be done with an accredited program locally or overseas.
  • Speciality-related or field-related knowledge:  This really differs with  your psychology specialisation or place that you will be working in, e.g. working as a educational psychologist v.s. a forensic psychologist.  This knowledge can be gained through your internships or previous work experiences.
Skills:
  • Psychotherapy and counselling skills (1000 hours of supervised training):  Again this is one of the minimum requirements to become a registered psychologist with the SRP.  During the internships and future work experiences, there will be other soft skills that you will acquire, such as active listening and critical thinking.  During or after your internships, try to reflect on how you have developed these skills, which you can try to explain it during the interview.   
  • Research skills (including SPSS use):  You will actually learn this from your Bachelors degree, so make sure you become good at it, if you are planning to do research work.  You can also gain more research skills by working as a research assistant with your own supervisors or professors.
  • Report writing and communication:  This could be taught and practiced during your university education.  Make sure to know your APA style well too!!
Abilities:
  • Empathy:  This is an essential innate ability that one should have if you plan to work in a health-related industry.  Without empathy, it will be very difficult to truly help your clients.  This could be demonstrated to your employer by having some volunteering experiences, preferably at a not-for-profit or voluntary welfare organisations.  Volunteering is always a good way to help you gain more experience working and talking to people.  
  • Communication skills:  Being able to communicate well involves listening well, expressing your ideas well to people, and being sensitive to others' emotions and actions, etc.  This is one ability that is important to most jobs in every industry.  If you work with people, you will need communication skills!  This will be tested during your interview, and hence try to relax and communicate well with your prospective employers.
  • Problem sensitivity:  This is the ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong.  This is very important to a psychologist, as clients sometimes do not explicitly tell you the problem; it is your job to "sniff" it out.  You can give an example during the interview of how it was done during your internship or previous job experiences.
  • Reasoning abilities:  Being able to reason out why the clients are having issues is one of the key things a psychologist has to do.  Try to explain during your interview on how this was exhibited during your past work or internship experiences. 
Other Competencies / Characteristics:
  • Working independently and in a team:  This is very common in all jobs now.  A psychologist is expected to do work independently such as writing reports,  as well as working as a team on projects.  Try to show evidence of this in your CV, such as your previous sports or club experiences where you and your team has achieved something.   
  • Networking skills:  This will come very useful in your early and mid-career.  You never know what networking with colleagues or fellow psychologists will benefit for your future career.  Here's a previous post on the Power of Networking.  So try to do some networking if possible!
  • Willingness to work evenings and weekends:  This can be quite unavoidable for some psychologists, as your clients might only come to you during non-working hours.  This really depends on your future companies or bosses if they require you to do so.
It was also mentioned in the recent 2015 SPS Annual General Meeting that we currently need a standardized method of evaluating the education and training requirements such that nation-wide registration of psychologists can be implemented sooner than later.  Hopefully this model above can help in some initial effort to create this standardization towards the training of future psychologists!!

Miss Psychobabble: Why and How you should apply emotional first aid

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Image Credits: Run Jane Fox via Flickr
We have bandages and plasters for cuts, special soups for colds, and ice packs for bruises, but majority of people are not aware of the proper treatment for emotional injuries such as failure, rejection, and loss.

Guy Winch, a psychologist and the author of Emotional First Aid, highlights that these emotional injuries only get worse if left untreated. Thus, it causes negative impact on the quality of your life.


Emotional First Aid enables healthy expression and development of efficient strategies to alleviate the pain and reduce the likelihood of developing mental health disorders. Emotional wounds can be as paralyzing as the physical wounds. Here are 4 ways you can apply the emotional first aid:

1. Awareness of your emotional pain

Be able to identify and recognize triggers and the occurrence of emotional pain. Sometimes, the body alarms you with a physical pain such as heaviness feeling in the chest to signal that there is something wrong. Address and treat it. Try seeking support from your family and friends.

2. Shield your self-esteem

Self-esteem acts like your immune system, which helps fight the emotional pain and strengthens your resilience. Thus, it is important to monitor it and to avoid negative internal dialogue. Heal your damaged self-esteem by practicing genuine self-compassion. Count your blessings because that would not be possible if it were not for your capable self.

3. Do not drown yourself with guilt

Guilt, in medium doses, is useful. It tells you that you did something wrong and that you must make amends. But, guilt and shame in excessive doses is utterly toxic. It drains not only your emotional energy but also your physical and social energy. It prevents you to concentrate on important tasks and to enjoy the pleasure of life. A good way to treat this is to apologize with an "empathetic statement". Simply, your apology must include a statement that answers how your actions or inactions impacted the other person. The person will find it easier to forgive you because he/she feels that you understand the situation.

4. Find meaning in suffering and loss

Loss and suffering is inevitable in one's life, you can either be crippled or be strengthen by it. As Viktor Frankl stressed in his theory of "Logotherapy", we must find a purpose in our suffering and loss. You have the freedom of choice to be who you want to be despite what you have gone through. It may be difficult, but you have to contemplate on what you gained from a loss. Appreciate life and celebrate it.

Practicing and application of emotional first aid takes time and effort especially in the beginning but it is worth it! Trust me.

Listen to Guy Winch himself by watching this video, explaining emotional first aid in further detail:


Mastering APA style #2: In-text Citations

With referencing, in-text citations are pretty much literal as it gets.  In-text citations are written "within text" and are used to "cite" sources.  However, always remember, you have to include all the references you cited (in the in-text citations) in the reference list at the back of your paper!

But firstly how do you do the in-text citations?
The most basic one of all is (name, year), with the names for in-text citations being the author's last names or surnames of the authors.  However it get complicated depending on the number of authors and how you use the in-text citations.

Image credit: http://flash1r.apa.org/apastyle/basics/index.htm
The table above shows the different combinations that you might have for your citations.  I will explain in the following steps of help you how to understand and use this table to write your own citations.

Step 1: Identity the "type of citation" you have.
From your original article, you have find out how many authors wrote that article.  If you have the reference, it is quite straightforward.  However if you are looking at the article, you need to locate the list of authors (usually on the first page of the article) and their order.
You only need to know (a) how many authors wrote that article, and (b) the year it was published.

An easy way to break down this above table is to group the rows of  "one" and "two"authors as one group, "three" to "five" authors as another group, and "six" authors as another one.  For "groups" as mentioned above, they are usually institutions or organisations, hence the names of the institutions or organisations can just be used directly as per the logic for citing "one" author .

Step 2: First and Subsequent citations
Please refer to the second column ("First citation in text") and fourth column ("Parenthetical format, first citation in text") in the table for the in-text citations being used for the very first time.
After that, there will be some differences as shown in the third and fifth column for subsequent  in-text citations.

Continuing from Step 1: [compare the second and third columns (or fourth and fifth column) as you read the following] 
(a)  For "one" and "two authors":  There is no difference between the first citation and subsequent citations. Just write out all the authors' name for the first time and subsequent times.
(b)  For "three to five authors":  Write out all the authors' name for the first time.  For subsequent times when the authors are cited, make sure to only keep the first author's name and substitute the other authors' name with "et al.".  You do not need an "and" (e.g. "Bradley and et al.") between them; there is a space between "et" and "al."; and there is a period (or full-stop) after "al".
(c)  For "six (or more) authors":  You may just use "et al." (e.g. "Bradley et al.") for both the first and subsequent citations.

Step 3:  Knowing how in-text citations are written.
There are mainly two methods of writing of in-text citations: (a) the authors' name as part of or within the sentence, or (b) the authors' names in the parentheses [referring to "(  )"].
Example:
A common definition some researchers use is one developed by Jones, Hanton, and Connaughton (2002), which is .....  This definition is also under some debate (Andersen, 2011).  
In the first sentence, the authors' names are involved within the sentence, hence the parentheses only included the year.  However, in the second sentence, it did not involved the author but only made reference to it, hence the author's last name and year are both in parentheses.  It is really up to your writing style and sentence construction of when you wish to involve the author's or authors' names within the sentences.
This is the main difference between the second  and the fourth columnsas well as the third and fifth columns.  Do note the placement of the "&" and "and".  If the authors' name are (a) within the text, you should use "and" between their names;  if the authors' name are (b) in the parentheses, make sure to use "&" between the authors' names.  Many students do make this (very common) mistake!

In-text citations are actually the easiest to master in APA style, and once you understand and know how to use the above table, it is actually very easy!!