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The study of psychology surrounds us and touches on every aspect of our lives. Source: Cairnmillar Institute

From the days of Plato to today’s virtual shrinks, the scientific discipline of psychology has come a long way. As of the 21st century, the field is more relevant than ever. In biology, it is physiological psychology, which focuses on the nervous system, hormones, and genetics to examine the relationship between mind and body. Neurologists are treating the psychological to heal the physical with practices such as cognitive behaviour therapy. Economists have used psychology for decades to designate factors that create individual variations in economic behaviour. Collectively, the goal remains the same: to link mental processes and self-care behaviour in the maintenance of health. 

In 2021, that goal has never been more important. Research has shown that close to 50% of American adults will have at least one mental illness during their lifetime. The prevalence of mental illness highlights the demand and dire need for professionals capable of diagnosing, treating, and preventing mental health issues for this generation and the next. 

Apart from filling the gap, there are several more reasons why psychology is a great route for anyone interested in becoming a changemaker. Start with the fact that the study surrounds us and touches on every aspect of our lives. To better understand yourself, your family, your friends, and ultimately, humanity, the right education is a prerequisite. In Australia, three universities have programmes that provide just this and more:

Cairnmillar Institute

Founded in 1961, The Cairnmillar Institute is a pioneer in psychology, counselling and psychotherapy in Australia. Today, it is one of the nation’s leading centres for psychological trauma counselling, evidenced-based treatments and an industry leader in psychology and counselling education and training.

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Cairnmillar Institute serves as a top-notch educational option, a respected not-for-profit organisation, and a registered charity. Source: Cairnmillar Institute

Bolstered by consistent high ratings from students regarding course quality, Cairnmilllar is now commencing both an undergraduate and PhD programme. Both are solid choices — learning is personalised, faculty members are supportive, focus is practical, schedules are flexible and fees are affordable.

Post-secondary applicants can take on the Bachelor of Psychology and Counselling. The programme intends to include an Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) accredited undergraduate major sequence in psychology, and a Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) accredited major in counselling and psychotherapy. The placement opportunities are robust, offering supervision and excellent links with industry partners.

Graduates will be eligible to attain membership with PACFA and can begin practising as a counsellor immediately or proceed to further education pathways into APAC accredited fourth-year psychology courses, which can lead to registration as a psychologist.

Those looking to advance their existing knowledge in psychology and counselling can opt for the highly-regarded Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme. These individuals undergo a thesis and rigorous research that will ultimately help them demonstrate advanced understanding of the field. They will also be able to learn the fundamentals of designing, conducting, analysing, and communicating a complex investigation of original research. A variety of opportunities are available to facilitate this growth such as free leadership training, academic writing support, and career mentoring — in addition to the signature, supervised research programme. To learn more about the institute’s outstanding higher education offerings, click here.

University of Western Australia

Ranked first in Western Australia for Psychology. One of two schools in Australia to have its research rated as well above the world standard. The University of Western Australia’s School of Psychological Science is centred on teaching and research on mental processes. 

Its efforts over the years have earned it a ranking among the top 100 psychological departments in the world. Its accolades are owed to its ability to produce first-rate practitioners who are backed with solid knowledge in the theory, practice, and research of their disciplines.

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The School of Psychological Science is one of two schools in Australia to have its research rated as well above world standard. Source: University of Western Australia

To produce these professionals, the school offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that are fully accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC). A top pick is the Master of Business Psychology. This programme provides students with extensive specialist training in the application of psychological theories and principles to workplace settings. The goal is to ultimately improve organisational performance while enhancing employee well-being. 

The programme’s focus areas are: undertaking effective research in organisations; psychological assessment for enhanced personnel selection outcomes; employee training and skill development; implementing organisational change initiatives effectively; improving work design to enhance employee effectiveness, wellbeing, health and safety; applying the principles of human factors to optimise human-system interactions; team development and team work; and effective leadership behaviour. Once ready, students apply their knowledge, under supervision, in an organisational consultancy group project.

Amongst this top university’s extensive lineup, there are also flexible, non-accredited options available for those looking to get career-ready, upskill, or complement their existing qualifications. 

La Trobe University

At La Trobe University, expert faculty members such as Professor Pauleen Bennett and Professor Hisham Abu-Rayya offer insight into the human mind and how it influences behaviour. Here, under the calibre of tutelage such as theirs, students develop analytical, research, and communication skills while studying clinical and health psychology; developmental and social psychology; assessment; intervention; and research. 

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The university’s resources make it more than capable of delivering the necessary tools and knowledge needed for students to enhance the health and well-being of individuals, groups, and communities.

For aspiring psychologists in need of foundational knowledge, La Trobe offers a Bachelor of Psychological Science with Honours and a Bachelor of Psychology. Source: La Trobe University

Several prestigious bodies have commended its ability to do so. According to Australian Research Council, La Trobe’s research is “well above industry standard”. Additionally, both Times Higher Education and QS World University Rankings have placed its psychology subjects in the top 250. 

For aspiring psychologists in need of foundational knowledge, the university offers a Bachelor of Psychological Science with Honours and a Bachelor of Psychology. Those who wish to supplement their existing qualifications can opt to enrol in the Master of Clinical Psychology or the Master of Professional Psychology

The latter teaches how to source, evaluate, and apply research findings to develop effective treatment plans for patients. Students will also be able to complete a placement as probational psychologists in a nominated healthcare environment –– continuously applying new methods and practices as they go. Online seminars round out the experience, providing support and encouraging discussions regarding observed cases –– both of which can help students develop practical skills. 

*Some of the institutions featured on this article are commercial partners of Study International