Psychology is foundation for many different careers!
Knowledge of psychology can be applied to many different disciplines.
- You may start this course with the idea of becoming a psychologist, and finish the course inspired to use your Psychology knowledge to work in marketing.
- You may be studying this course to be able to apply psychological knowledge to your existing job as a teacher, nurse, carer, allied health professional and so on.
- You may find that you love psychology so much that you want to go on to higher education through University, or our Diploma in Psychology and Counselling.
- You may wish to start your own business working as a counsellor or consultant.
The Advanced Certificate course also includes an industry based module. This is invaluable to the students as it allows them to establish industry related networks in their local community. It also inspires students to expand their learning beyond an education course to ongoing professional development.
WHAT IS CONSCIOUSNESS?
Consciousness is the awareness of oneself in every aspect of one’s being. There is some debate in psychology regarding consciousness.
Some argue that our consciousness is inaccessible to scientific study and just an effect of the brain, so does not require further study.
Others argue that even though we can’t study it scientifically, it still exists. The latter group would resort to analogy to describe consciousness, perhaps likening it to a computer.
It can be argued that psychology lacks a useful theory about the relationship between consciousness and human behaviour.
Learn About the Status of Consciousness in Psychology
Can consciousness form part of the subject matter of psychology? Does its private nature not provide problems in this respect? When the discipline of psychology was born, its central aim was to be the analysis of mental processes (which are a key part of consciousness); yet for practical and theoretical reasons, this approach fell into disuse.
One reason is that a large part of the process underlying behaviour is inaccessible to consciousness (i.e. We are not always conscious about what we do).
Another reason is that we cannot directly observe consciousness.
Since the 1960s though there has been a resurgence of interest in consciousness.
The Nature of Consciousness
What does consciousness consist of? Psychology has tried to discern whether consciousness represents a fixed portion of the human psyche, or whether it represents a continuum in which there are degrees of consciousness William James regarded consciousness as a continuous changing sequence, subject to a process of selection (focusing) and holism (integrating) -that is, he called it a stream of consciousness which we direct through choosing what to perceive, and defining relationships between various things which we perceive.
Consciousness has the particular quality of being intuitively obvious -we all have immediate knowledge of it -yet it is extremely difficult to define or describe. The word consciousness is often used as a collective term for a variety of mental and emotional processes. Some theorists describe consciousness in terms of sensory awareness. Others describe it in terms of an information processing system. In short, when we ask questions about perception, awareness, learning and memory; about interpreting the environment; or about problem solving or value systems, we are asking questions about consciousness.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CONSCIOUSNESS AND BEHAVIOUR
There has been much debate as to whether consciousness causes behaviour; or whether behaviour causes consciousness. Mentalists and phenomenologists claim that consciousness causes behaviour (ie. We do what we think or feel we should do). There isn't always a consistency though between our conscious experience and our behaviour. Often we do things which we didn't mean to do. Indeed, sometimes our behaviour determines our conscious experience (ie. We are sad because we cry, or we are afraid because we tremble). We can safely say nevertheless, that the relationship between consciousness and behaviour is one of mutual influence or mutual interaction.
UNCONSCIOUS AND SUBCONSCIOUS
It is clear from the discussion so far that there are variants or degrees of consciousness that we experience throughout the day. Yet we are not fully conscious of much of our behaviour. Remember the last time someone asked "What are you thinking?" and you replied "Nothing", yet knew that some level of activity was happening in your brain. You were simply unable to retrieve it from memory because it seemed far away. This common experience of not knowing what we are thinking or of not being fully conscious contradicts the rationalist attitude expounded by the philosopher Descartes. Rationalism was a school of thought that regarded conscious thought and will as the primary stuff of our being, and was expressed in Descartes’ dictum, "I think, therefore I am". Yet experience tells us that when we are not actively thinking, we still exist and we still sense ourselves as conscious beings.
Sigmund Freud distinguished between conscious, pre-conscious and unconscious.
Pre-conscious material is that which is not presently conscious but which can be retrieved through memory and focusing.
We also have a subconscious level of awareness, a level at which information is stored and from where it can be retrieved when needed. The subconscious is a level below our consciousness, and can influence our behaviour without our being aware of it. For instance, we might tap our pencil on our desk during a tense moment without realising that we are doing it, but as soon as we notice, we can quickly understand that the action was an expression of anxiety. Many believe that the subconscious can be made to purposely store information such as subliminal messages that will affect our behaviour. This has not yet been proven.
What does appear to be the case is that the subconscious stores our memories and experiences for access when we want or need them, and that these memories and experiences can affect our decisions and behaviour without our realising, though when we question our actions, we can usually find the reasons by digging just a little deeper. The subconscious also allows us to perform routine actions “without thinking”.
A deeper level of consciousness is the unconscious, postulated by Freud. This holds all of our repressed and denied feelings, emotions and motives, which have been hidden away, even from ourselves, because we learnt that they brought us shame, guilt, or the disapproval of others. Because the unconscious holds what we really think, feel and desire, Freud proposed that the "the unconscious must be assumed to be the basis of all physical life"; the unconscious, rather than the conscious, is the true psychological reality. But since it is also the place of our greatest fears, it is not readily accessible. Instead, we gain insights into what is contained there (into what fears and desires we hid there as children) through our dreams, behaviours and slips of the tongue. Access to unconscious material requires the use of special techniques such as dream analysis or hypnosis.
After Your Course
Some people will use this course to launch a career in something closely related to psychology; but others might not. This can be said for virtually any course that people study today; and that is simply because the world is changing so fast; and most people are changing their goals and aspirations in life just as fast.
Modern surveys show that most people who study university degrees; will end up working in something not related to the degree they study. This doesn't stop people going to university though; and it doesn't change the fact that graduates from vocational or university courses are overall, more successful than people who have not studied.
The biggest value of this or any other course is in what you learn. Having completed a course will demonstrate to employers that you have the commitment and intellectual capacity to stick with something, to completion.
Studying psychology has an added benefit above most other studies, in that it helps you better understand people. By understanding people, you are better equipped to interact with employers, workmates, clients and customers -and wherever you work, you are going to have to interact with other people.
If you do move into working in a psychology related area, it might be counselling, or perhaps welfare or human resources.
Counselling encompasses a range of different types of roles. Counselling can include those offering pastoral care as well as those who come from a health care background. Counsellors may work for local government health bodies, hospitals, day care centres, youth clubs or churches. Some work in private practice offering an alternative to psychiatrists and psychologists. In many western countries psychotherapists have a similar role to counsellors but offer more long term therapy.
Counsellors may specialise in working with particular groups of people, or with particular problems, although many deal with a variety of clients and problems. Most counsellors do not treat individuals with moderate to severe mental health conditions. Instead, they focus on problems which can affect all kinds of people in their daily lives such as life crises, grief, relationship difficulties, anger management, and even finding appropriate careers.
If you want to explore other employment possibilities ask us; but whatever you do: keep your mind open to the vast array of possibilities -not only what exists now; but what will exist after you graduate.