Study & Careers
What is Psychology?
Psychology is the scientific study of human behaviour and experience. It comprises a body of knowledge about human behaviour, research to obtain and extend that knowledge and a field of professional practice where psychological skills and knowledge are applied.
The practice of psychology represents the application of psychology as a scientific discipline to solve social and behavioural problems and to promote human welfare and development.
There are a number of opportunities to study psychology in New Zealand. The following New Zealand academic institutions offer psychology programmes.
- University of Auckland
- Auckland University of Technology
- University of Canterbury
- Massey University
- Victoria University of Wellington
- University of Waikato
- University of Otago
- The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand
For educational/developmental psychology programmes also check here:
Careers in Psychology
There are various career opportunities open to those with post-graduate psychology qualifications in New Zealand. These opportunities are in the public sector, health services, university and other educational institutions and a large number of psychologists are in private practice. Psychologists are also employed in a wide range of workplaces, and many practise privately as independent contractors and consultants.
For comprehensive information about psychology careers see the NZ Govt Careers Services website Careerservices Rapuara.
Specialisations in Psychology
Clinical Psychologists are concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of a wide range of psychological and general health problems affecting adults, children and families. Many clinical psychologists are employed by health authorities working in psychiatric clinics and hospitals, general and rehabilitation hospitals, community health centres, specialist agencies (for example, caring for people with physical or mental disabilities, people with drug and alcohol addictions) and research centres. An increasing number of clinical psychologists also offer private clinical psychological services. Read more about clinical psychologists.
Clinical Neuropsychologists specialise in the assessment and diagnosis of brain impairment and how this affects thinking skills, emotions, behaviour and personality. They are also involved in the rehabilitation and management of the effects of brain impairment and often work with other allied health professionals. Most clinical neuropsychologists are employed in major hospitals, rehabilitation centres, psychiatric services and private practice.
Community Psychologists are mainly concerned with community issues and with creating social change to prevent or improve human problems. Many community psychologists work in community-based agencies developing strong, competent and resilient local neighbourhoods. Some work in areas of social need such as with the homeless and people who are socially, mentally or physically disadvantaged. Read more about community psychologists.
Counselling Psychologists provide assessment, counselling and therapy to individuals, couples, families, groups and organisations. They often work in educational or vocational settings, or other health and welfare services and private practice. Their clients are, in general, people trying to cope with everyday stresses and the resulting emotional and social problems. Read more about counselling psychologists.
Educational and Developmental Psychologists provide assessment, intervention and counselling services relevant to the management of developmental and educational issues across the lifespan. Specialisations include early intervention, disability, problems of learning and adjustment in schools, career and family development, lifespan transitions and ageing. The Ministry of Education is a major employer of psychologists in their special education service. Read more about educational psychologists.
Watch the videos from the Ministry of Education about becoming an educational psychologists and more.
Forensic Psychologists apply psychological knowledge to assessment, intervention and research in the legal and criminal justice system. They provide expert opinion to the courts in such matters as criminal behaviour, child abuse and custody disputes. They work in forensic settings such as prisons and detention centres. Read more about forensic psychologists.
Health Psychology is a rapidly developing field of psychology that involves understanding human behaviour in the context of health and illness. Like other specialty areas of psychology, it is a large field and covers areas such as: how individuals cope with illness and chronic disease, psychological influences on the development of disease states, understanding and improving adjustment in health care settings, patient – practitioner communication, adherence to treatment, determinants of health-related behaviours (diet, exercise etc), and understanding how individuals make sense of and react to health screening, symptoms, and illness. Read more about health psychologists.
Organisational Psychologists are concerned with people functioning effectively in relation to their working environments. Their areas of expertise include recruitment and selection, training, appraisal and review, vocational guidance and career development, industrial relations, occupational health and safety, planning technological and organisation change, organisational behaviour, ergonomics, job redesign and marketing. Read more about organisational psychologists.
Sport Psychologists provide psychological assistance to people involved in sport and exercise at all levels that are seeking to function more effectively through enhanced achievement, enjoyment and social interaction. Sport Psychology services focus on performance enhancement, personal development, and wellbeing and adjustment skills. Sport Psychologists work with individual athletes, coaches and teams, and often function as part of a multi-disciplinary sport science and medicine team. Employment opportunities exist in sports institutes, tertiary institutions and private practice.
Scientific Categories for Psychologists
Academic Psychologists work in tertiary institutions, are concerned with research and provide the academic training of psychologists. A good record of research and increasingly a PhD qualification are necessary to gain employment in this area.
Research Psychologists use skills in statistics, research design, and in computing and data analysis. They may work in government departments, management institutes, market research, media and public opinion research.
Our grateful thanks also to the NZPsS members who contributed to this careers’ section. The information has also been drawn from a number of sources including the University of Waikato and the Australian Psychological Society.
Updated, February 2013