Possible careers in psychology within Malaysia

10 May 2022

Study Psychology

Improve your critical communication and critical thinking skills.

The COVID-19 pandemic has cast mental health awareness under the spotlight, with a rising number of cases related to depression, low moods and anxiety being reported.

However, mental illness is ever present, and it affects an estimated 121 million people globally. In light of this, professionals in psychological sciences are indispensable in supporting those vulnerable to mental illness or poor mental health.

Malaysia finds itself facing a severe shortage of mental health professionals with only 1 practising clinical psychologist for every 980,000 people in the country. The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities for psychology students as they enter the workforce.

Here are some of the potential career paths psychology graduates can enter to make a difference in our communities.

Clinical Psychologist and Psychiatrist

The primary focus of psychologists is to help patients with psychological disorders and mental illnesses. Clinical psychologists use various methods such as mental health counselling, psychotherapy, and treatment plans to help improve and better manage patients’ psychological wellbeing.

In addition to working with clients, you will get an opportunity to work with other professionals such as psychiatrists, social workers, and counsellors in determining the most suitable treatment for your patients. As a clinical psychologist, you will encounter people from all walks of life and enable them to lead happier lives through proper management and coping techniques.

Psychiatrists perform a similar role to a clinical psychologist. Both focus on the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions with a key difference being that psychiatry is a branch of medicine while psychology focuses on studying human behaviour. For that reason, psychiatrists are able to prescribe medicine and typically handle more complex mental health disorders such as schizophrenia and depression.

Counselling Psychologist

Counselling psychologists take a more holistic approach to improving mental health. Their job is to listen to their clients’ problems such as work stress, romantic relationships and family dynamics, and develop a proper assessment of their mental health status. They are also responsible for guiding clients towards healthy coping skills so that they may manage their emotions better.

Given the broad range of areas counselling psychologists cover, they often specialise in dedicated fields such as marriage and family therapy, school counselling, behavioural counselling, rehabilitation, and more. In severe cases, counselling psychologists must be able to identify underlying psychological issues that are more serious, and advise them on the appropriate course of action to best handle the situation.

Educational Psychology 

Educational psychologists research the way people learn and react to different teaching methods. They mainly examine how various social, cognitive, and emotional factors can influence an individual’s learning process.

For example, one of the fields that educational psychologists study is how the learning process can affect children early in life and how disruptions in their learning can arise during these younger years. Learning how to recognise and address developmental issues early on is important for the proper development of future generations.

As an educational psychologist, you would be incorporating aspects from other psychology disciplines such as behavioural psychology and cognitive psychology. You may also work alongside educational institutes with learning process research and design instructional materials that maximise learning outcomes.

Other potential careers

A degree in psychology doesn’t lock you into the field of psychology. There are many transferable skills that will be valuable in other career paths. This includes strong research skills, an in-depth understanding of human behaviour, and critical thinking.

Click here for some examples of the following fields you can consider a career in.

Study psychology at Monash University Malaysia

Monash’s Department of Psychology at the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences offers two courses at the undergraduate level – the Bachelor of Psychological Science and the Bachelor of Psychological Science and Business.

During your time studying the Bachelor in Psychological Science, you will go through three themes underpinning the discipline of psychology: Psychology fundamentals and foundational skills, research methods and critical thinking, and psychology in practice and society.

The course covers subjects that will help you gain a comprehensive insight into how studies of psychology, cognition, emotion and society can be applied to enhance people’s lives. In addition, you can expect to build effective interpersonal and communication skills that will be helpful in fields outside of psychology.

A Bachelor of Psychological Science and Business covers similar grounds, but with the addition of basic knowledge of core business concepts and how psychology is applied to a business setting. You’ll also be able to specialise in one of several business areas of your choosing, such as strategic marketing, international business management and applied economics. Click here for a more comprehensive list of areas of expertise available.

Students can also choose to pursue a Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) after finishing their initial course, providing you with an opportunity to delve deeper into your particular topics of interest. An Honours course involves an extra year of study that includes a research project and additional units.

Note that to become a registered psychologist, you’ll need to undergo further study and training after your Bachelor’s degree.

Click here to learn more about Monash’s courses and take the first step into psychology.