Careers 101: Psychology in the US and the Gulf
Written by: Chereen
Growing up, I was always the one to give others advice. My first grade teacher told my mom I should become a therapist when I grow up because I was always advising others and making them feel better when they were down. Surprisingly, this was something I did not know she had said until after I graduated with my master’s degree.
My parents were set on me becoming a dentist or an engineer. I was interested in dentistry for quite some time, until I learned that dissecting cadavers was mandatory. That was the moment I backed out. I remember going to orientation for undergrad and walking past the psychology orientation to the engineering orientation. I felt my heart drop, because I knew that it was something that was more for me. I ended up trying out a semester of engineering, and then realized it really was not for me. I switched gears. It was time for me to enjoy what I was studying, and to really focus on having a fulfilling career.
Years of Study
To begin my journey to becoming a therapist, I had to obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I was also interested in becoming a lawyer, so I studied political science. Along with this, I did a focus in pre-law. While law school sounded inspiring, I felt like becoming a therapist was more life-changing. During my undergraduate years, I worked as a coaching mentor for high school students. This sparked my interest in counseling teenagers, because the teen years are such critical time in life. After graduating with these two degrees in the span of 3 years, I traveled for a bit. I took a few months off before applying for a graduate program. I settled on my masters in Community Counseling, which gave me the opportunity to explore multiple types of counseling. For a while, I was determined to become a Marriage and Family Therapist. I enjoyed it, but what I enjoyed more was working with one-on-one cases. I delved into cases of psychosis, worked with multiple cases of neurosis, counseled survivors of domestic violence, and worked with those who have experienced trauma.
My master’s degree took two and a half years to complete. It usually takes around 2-3 years. The degree requires for you to complete practicum and internships, in order to have a proper understanding of what it is like to be a therapist. Simply having a bachelor’s degree is not enough, and a master’s or higher is necessary to become a therapist/counselor.
During college, I had the opportunity to explore my writing. I was also mentoring and coaching elementary and high school students. This inspired me to get into the field of life coaching. I wrote for a marital life coaching website for some time, and years later, I obtained my certification in life coaching. During this time, I was also working as the Academic Coach and a Professor for an engineering university. Here, I used my coaching and counseling expertise to really help students improve their desire to do well in university. I worked with probationary students who were at risk of failing, getting kicked out of school, and/or losing their scholarships. Fortunately, I was able to help these students remarkably increase their GPAs and get off the at-risk list. Being a professor was incredibly rewarding. I taught a course on learning theory, which I was able to develop on my own in order to fit the needs of my students. While the goal was to teach my students how to study smarter and become independent learners, they taught me a lot about communication. From this career, I learned that students were not lazy. Circumstances had an impact on their desire to learn.
This opportunity was great, because it taught me more about coaching and how to directly help others improve their lives. To become a life coach, becoming certified is valuable. Certification helps you learn more about your approach, it also helps you understand the methods you want to apply, and the theory that you choose to use while coaching. There are so many certification courses that you can take. Honestly, the more certified you become, the better.
These days, I apply what I have learned as a therapist and a life coach in my writing. I created Dear Chereen to be therapy and inspiration for the heart. Not everyone is able to turn to a therapist or a life coach, but they can always turn to therapeutic words to help them help themselves heal their hearts and soothe their minds.
I’m also planning on studying psychology and maybe English at the same time. I’m just wondering how you found all those amazing coaching opportunities WHILE you were doing your undergrad and how you found so many cool jobs while doing your masters? From what I’ve heard, it’s really hard to find jobs with psychology – let alone a professor job. Could you share with us how you found those jobs while studying?