How to decide between two career paths

Your chance to ask for advice on any aspect of career development that doesn't fit in any of the above categories
Post Reply
Prosopon
Posts: 90
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:08 pm

How to decide between two career paths

Post by Prosopon » Fri Mar 04, 2016 4:21 pm

When I decided I would like to work in the mental health field I identified four careers that interest me: nursing, occupational therapy, clinical psychology and social work.

I spent a lot of time researching occupational therapy and came to realise it is not for me. This was further confirmed when I began my new job and got even more of an idea about what OTs do in a mental health setting. It has been the same with nursing. I work very closely with mental health nurses and although I respect what they do, there are a lot of things about nursing that I just don’t find interesting.

So that leaves clinical psychology and social work and I honestly cannot decide between these two areas! I have read so much about both, but that hasn't really helped me as both sound fantastic to me. I have spoken to my friend, who is a social worker in a mental health team, and he seems to really love his job. There is a chance I could shadow him, which might be useful. The only psychologists I know are the ones I have seen regarding my own mental health so I'm not sure if it is appropriate for me to ask to shadow them! There is a clinical psychologist who comes to the ward I work on so I might be able to shadow him at some point, which I think would be useful.

But I don't know if shadowing will be possible or if it will help much, so how am I supposed to decide this? People have been telling me to follow my heart but my heart does not seem to be saying one over the other! I know I have missed the deadlines for studying social work this year, but I could still apply to do a psychology conversion course. I'm tempted to do this anyway, even though I haven't made a firm decision about which career I would like to pursue, but I don’t want to start a course, realise I’d rather do social work and then end up dropping out having spent a good chunk of my savings. I seriously don’t know how to figure this out!
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Advertisement
Pearson Clinical Assessment publishes a wide range of assessments to support psychology professionals including the Gold Standard Wechsler range. To view our range please visit: pearsonclinical.co.uk/cpf
lingua_franca
Posts: 920
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:29 pm

Re: How to decide between two career paths

Post by lingua_franca » Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:23 am

I had a similar dilemma with psychology v. speech and language therapy. It took me a long time to make the decision, and the one thing that broke me out of my dithering uncertainty was realising that I could be equally happy in both careers, so I didn't have a right answer and a wrong answer - I had two right answers!

What is it about psychology that appeals to you, and what do you like about social work? Make a list of pros and cons for each and see how those tessellate with your skills, interests, and difficulties. Another thing that helped me was going on NHS Jobs and looking at job descriptions for newly qualified SLTs and CPs. That helped me to think about what I could see myself doing and what I couldn't.

Shadowing may not always be possible for confidentiality reasons, but it should be easy enough to find a CP and a social worker you could chat to about their role.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

Prosopon
Posts: 90
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:08 pm

Re: How to decide between two career paths

Post by Prosopon » Sat Mar 19, 2016 2:39 pm

lingua_franca wrote:I had a similar dilemma with psychology v. speech and language therapy. It took me a long time to make the decision, and the one thing that broke me out of my dithering uncertainty was realising that I could be equally happy in both careers, so I didn't have a right answer and a wrong answer - I had two right answers!

What is it about psychology that appeals to you, and what do you like about social work? Make a list of pros and cons for each and see how those tessellate with your skills, interests, and difficulties. Another thing that helped me was going on NHS Jobs and looking at job descriptions for newly qualified SLTs and CPs. That helped me to think about what I could see myself doing and what I couldn't.

Shadowing may not always be possible for confidentiality reasons, but it should be easy enough to find a CP and a social worker you could chat to about their role.
Thanks, lingua_franca. I think I am in the same boat as you with having two right answers! Thank you for the advice -- that's a good idea to check out some job adverts.
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

User avatar
miriam
Site Admin
Posts: 7768
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:20 pm
Location: Bucks
Contact:

Re: How to decide between two career paths

Post by miriam » Sun Mar 20, 2016 12:16 am

Do bear in mind the differences in certainty of the two career paths and the levels of competition. In the broadest sense, social work is a career for which not enough suitable people apply, whilst clinical psychology is a career for which there is intense competition at every step, and many people who are suitable compete for a limited number of relevant posts, and then for doctoral training places.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

Prosopon
Posts: 90
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:08 pm

Re: How to decide between two career paths

Post by Prosopon » Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:57 pm

miriam wrote:Do bear in mind the differences in certainty of the two career paths and the levels of competition. In the broadest sense, social work is a career for which not enough suitable people apply, whilst clinical psychology is a career for which there is intense competition at every step, and many people who are suitable compete for a limited number of relevant posts, and then for doctoral training places.
Thanks, Miriam. Yes, I have thought a lot about this. I'm a pretty competitive person though and not someone who shies away from a challenge, so it isn't going to be a huge factor for me in my decision. If anything it makes me lean to psychology more because part of me wants to prove that I can do it. But of course I'm not going to choose a career pathway based on that!

At the moment I am leaning more towards psychology. I always regretted not studying it at university and I thought it would never happen because I could never afford to do a second undergraduate degree. But then in 2014 I discovered that conversion courses exist and it honestly felt like a lifeline! I think whatever career I choose I will do the conversion course at some point because I would love to study psychology more, even if I don't end up using it directly. When it comes to social work, I am very interested in the Think Ahead programme and would definitely prefer to get into the field that way, rather than the traditional route.

Argh, this is hard!
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest