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6 Essential Skills Needed to Become a Successful Psychologist

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9th Feb, 2021
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6 Essential Skills Needed to Become a Successful Psychologist

For anyone who is considering psychology as a career, a wonderful and rewarding life awaits them! As a field, it has constantly grown and changed over the years, at each step incorporating contemporary thinking into its fold and contributing in a significant manner to the vision of the time.

It may be tempting to say that a certain type of person will do well in the field of psychology owing to how it relates to the field, but that’s far from the truth. The field is so vast, and there is so much to be discovered and explored in psychology, that anybody who has the right kind of attitude can get a grasp over the particular thing they’re looking to master!

But with that said, there are some skills that you will inevitably have to develop as you journey on your path to becoming a psychologist, whether your journey culminates as a clinical psychologist or a school counsellor. If you’re considering a career, this following list will become indispensable for you, since you will know exactly which skills for psychology you will need the most.

Essential Skills for Psychology

1. Critical Thinking

In many ways, critical thinking is a mainstay of psychology. Everything you study in psychology makes you more critically aware of what’s going on in the world around you, as well as how you contribute to it. So, it is needless to say that this is a skill you’ll be developing as and when you do your studying. Besides, you will also get a chance to exercise your critical thinking skills on a daily basis – because not everything can be unilaterally applied to every person.

Psychology, after all, is a study of people, and as far as that aspect is concerned, it is subjective and not objective. Where you need to be objective and where subjectivity should take the foreground is an important example of how you can exercise your critical thinking skills.

2. Qualitative Research

Qualitative research, building upon critical thinking in some ways, asks you to take a closer look at what you’re reading and consider the nature of the information instead of just accepting it as a given. After all, as a psychologist, you will be spending a major chunk of time looking at different research papers and conducting your own experiments.

This means that you’ll be considering qualitative questions and how to approach them, and whether a certain approach can be advantageous or disadvantageous in some respects. In addition, finding information that is relevant for your work and being able to make sense of it are two very important things in the field of psychology!

3. Quantitative Research

Working with numbers is yet another thing that psychologists need to be able to achieve. After all, psychology is often done at scale, dealing with a significant volume of data so that the correct insights can be achieved.

If you really don’t like dealing with numbers, then there are some branches of psychology where it may not be absolutely essential to include statistics, but for the most part, it’s a given that numbers will have to be dealt with. And why not? It makes one a more competent and objective researcher!

4. Patience

Patience is not just a skill that is demanded by the field of psychology alone. Pretty much every field that you can go into will have this requirement – especially at the initial stages, if not at the later stages. And the various demands that life puts on you will also require some patience to deal with!

More specifically, however, how it functions as one of the skills for psychology is that it teaches you to wait for your clients and patients to get better. Nobody recovers at the same pace, and some even dwindle and retreat before they start to make a full recovery. Without patience, you will not have the right frame of mind to be able to help them during their lowest phases.

5. Ethical Understanding

An understanding of ethics is indispensable when it comes to working in the field of psychology. Clients and patients of all types trust their psychologists with information that is extremely sensitive, and which must be treated with the utmost respect. And this becomes even more important when the matter at hand is concerning boundaries.

Whenever it’s a matter of understanding something that can be interpreted in the advantage of the psychologist rather than the patient or client, it means that the psychologist needs to be extremely careful about how they conduct themselves – not only for the sake of their own professional reputation but more importantly for the client, who may further suffer is something goes wrong in that vein.

6. Open-Minded Approach

Psychologists need to look at things from a variety of perspectives. It doesn’t do justice to a particular question, idea, or thought if even before considering it completely, certain perspectives are ruled out in favour of others. This open-mindedness is helpful in a lot of areas – firstly, as a theoretical researcher, when a psychologist can consider all the different perspectives that are important, and can truly build a unique viewpoint as a result.

Secondly, it is also essential as a practitioner, as it allows them to look beyond their own shortcomings (or blind spots, even), to consider what may be their client’s reality – even if it’s beyond what they imagine!

Also Read: Highest Paying Jobs in India


Psychology offers interesting job prospects for those who find themselves inclined towards studying people and finding out all about how they work. And if you’re interested in the field, you should definitely pursue a career in it!

If you’re worried that you don’t have these skills yet – well, that’s what you will learn as you study Psychology, so that’s not going to be a problem at all! You should take the first couple of steps on a very long journey, and the rest will fall into place.



Sandeep Pereira

Blog Author
Responsible for working with the various teams and other management to establish long-range goals, strategies, plans and policies and set up new programs at upGrad. With a demonstrated history of working in the EdTech industry.
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