To Be or Not to be…An Educational Psychologist

There is a serious lack of information on the internet regarding how to become an Educational Psychologist. We always hear the cliché of Psychology Graduates wanting to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology, however have you ever considered Educational Psychology? This is often a close second to most Psych Grads, however most don’t even know where to begin. Within this Guest post by Chrissie Fitch, we go deep into what Educational Psychology is along with what you can do to get there. DO YOU THINK YOU’RE CUT OUT TO BE AN EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST?

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This is a guest post by Chrissie Fitch MBPsS. Chrissie has studied Child Psychology and is an aspiring Educational Psychologist. She has a wide range of experiences within the educational system which includes many Assistant Educational Psychologist positions. Chrissie is very enthusiastic about her work and is particularly interested in how Psychological interventions can be implemented within a school setting along with helping children with self-esteem and socio-emotional difficulties. You can contact her on fitchy.psyche@gmail.com or connect with her on LinkedIn (Chrissie Fitch)

What is Educational Psychology?

Educational psychology is concerned with children and young people in early years, educational and community settings. Psychologists in this area of work typically use a child-centred approach to tackle challenges such as developmental disorders, learning difficulties and socioemotional issues. They do these both indirectly, through teaching and research; and directly, through individual and group work with pupils as well as meetings with school staff and parents, in order to provide positive interventions to facilitate change and overall improvement. They also regularly liaise with professionals from the health and social services, and also psychologists of other specialisms.

 Am I cut out to be an Ed Psych?

  • Interested in psychology and interested in children
  • Supportive of others – patient, empathetic and a good listener
  • Able to work independently as well as in a team
  • Organised – can manage own diary and workload, multitasking often
  • Hardworking with excellent attention to detail
  • Critical thinking skills – open minded yet able to challenge ethics with a professional level of discretion
  • Self-aware and self-confident
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Good maths/statistical knowledge for research purposes
  • Sense of humour and a life outside work

Is this you? Then your well on your way to becoming an Educational Psychologist.

How do I get there?

Ok now I know what you’re thinking; Chrissie how do I get there? Well these are a few tips and hints on where you can start:

  • Work with and help vulnerable, struggling children and young people in a community, educational, health and social care or youth justice setting e.g. Work with teenage mothers or asylum seekers.
  • Children’s charity volunteer.
  • A nursery nurse/mother’s help/nanny/babysitter.
  • Shadow a special educational needs coordinator (SENCO), therapist, and paediatrician or youth social worker.
  • A graduate teaching assistant.
  • An academic or peer mentor.
  • A learning/behaviour support assistant at a pupil referral unit or children’s centre.
  • Paid or unpaid research assistant (e.g. during a gap year or undergraduate degree as an internship).
  • An assistant at an Educational Psychology or Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service for your local authority – even entry level places are VERY competitive!
  • A worker in a youth offending team.
  • A care worker at a children’s hospice or special needs school.

 

What do I Need to do to Qualify

For UK Residents; if non-UK:

  • Provide proof of living in the UK at time of application
  • Resident for three years preceding the 1st day of the 1st academic year
  • Eligible to work in England for at least 2 years after course duration
  • Good spoken and written English
  • An Interest in Child Psychology or like children, study it at GCSE and/or A Level or a distance learning course

 The Doctorate

This is a quick run through of the Educational Psychology Doctorate. It must also be noted that similarly to the Clinical Psychology Doctorate, this is also paid for by the Government.

  •  3 years of study
  •  2 year as a practising as a trainee
  • Apply for the doctorate – four within London, nine outside in the UK
  •  you will need to be a psychology graduate of an accredited degree – ‘graduate basis of chartership’
  •  Ideal: 9 months paid (full time or part time equivalent); 3 months unpaid
  •  No age limit
  •  Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get in on the first try. Keep trying!
  • Paid or unpaid experience/do a masters (not necessary with a first class degree but SO recommended)
  • Join the BPS and network
  • An undergraduate degree in psychology (take developmental modules, or do a joint honours).
  • *If you don’t have any qualifications or a degree in psychology, you could always do a conversion masters

 

What I did

  • A Level Psychology (GCSE wasn’t an option)!
  • Mother’s Help for an infant with disabilities and her toddler sister (whom I also babysat).
  • Volunteered for ten months as an Honorary Educator at a charity school in Sri Lanka (taught English to 5-12 year olds and provided support) during my Gap Year.
  • Started supporting various charities and humanitarian organisations.
  • Completed a distance learning diploma in Child Psychology during my Gap Year.
  • Undergraduate degree – BSc (Hons) Psychology and Child Development with Foundation Year.
  • Joined the British Psychological Society (BPS) as a student member; subscribed to divisions so receive monthly magazines and pamphlets of conferences and events that I started attending.
  • Completed other online courses in health, nutrition and counselling during university breaks and summers.
  • MSc Family and Child Psychology – Despite the impending doom of having to pay back student finance, I got a bank loan and went straight in. I DO NOT recommend this at all, it was crazy stressful then and it is crazy stressful now as my earnings are contributing to paying it off. At the same time, I only got a 2.2 and STILL got a place on the programme. In hindsight I don’t think that this would have happened without my practical experiences and dedication to my passion of child and educational psychology…
  • Undergraduate project and master’s dissertation utilised topics of parenting relationships and self-esteem.
  • Upgraded to graduate member of the BPS and started volunteering for the London branch (e.g. with registration).
  • Volunteered as a sessional childcare practitioner/wellbeing mentor at a local special needs children’s centre during their summer play scheme before my final year of undergrad.
  • Interested in special education so shadowed an Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) tutor on some home visits for a five-year-old boy with autism and genetic deafness.
  • Volunteered at an NHS Research Centre in London for five months.
  • Acted as a research assistant for a university-based school interventions programme.
  • Paid self-employment – work remotely on various freelance projects – as a distance learning course author and assessor of Child Psychology (e.g. development, counselling etc.), edit for a Christian magazine for children and provide administrative assistance for a property development business; no two days are the same, I love it!
  • Next steps: apply for the Child and Educational Psychology doctorate for the next academic year so I can go into academia. I do also want to do an online diploma (or maybe another master?) in occupational psychology. I have been asked to write a level 3 course on it so it might be useful!

Tune in next Monday for the Latest article of PsychAssist

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