This post is for all the misguided hopefuls, for everyone on the path toward becoming a practising Mental Health Professional and maybe feels a little lost or doesn't even know where to begin.
First, it is important to keep in mind that any helping profession deals with other peoples mental health, their personal stories and sometimes traumatic life events. People will (hopefuly) come to you with highly sensitive details about their lives. This means that only people with a suitable personality and passion for it should get into it. That is why even getting into a university program can be so difficult because the profession is held to the highest standard. Please don't feel discouraged, rather take comfort in knowing that this journey will only demand the very best of you and that it is truly worth it. Here's everything you need to know:
1. In Namibia, the BPsych (Bachelor of Psychology honours) degree is recognised by the Health Professional Council of Namibia. Only UNAM and a few South Africa universities offer the program. Always be sure to check with our council before applying for studies outside of Namibia, check out their website and make an informed decision.
2. At UNAM you get into the BPsych program through the BA degree but you have to have a 60% average and do a seperate application and go through a selection process including interviews, group work and essays. Be sure to have some vounteer work and other interests to your name. Only about ten people are selected so be on top of your game.
3. During the final year of your studies be sure to start applying for internship programs, as far as my knowledge goes (check with council as this list can change from year to year), the following places offer Psychology internships:
Ministry of Labour
Ministry of Education
Ministry of Correctional Facilities
Let's Talk Psychologists
Okonguarri Psychotherapeutic Center
4. You have to study for and go through an oral evaluation at the HPCNA upon completion of your internship in order to get registered as a Psychological Counsellor.
5. As a Psychological Counsellor you can go into private practice (after registering with Ministry of Health and NAMAF) or find employment in government, NGO's or private practices.
6. In order to become a Clinical Psychologist you must obtain a Masters degree in Clinical or Counselling Psychology. The selection process is extremely competitive (under 15 graduates are chosen) so make sure you graduate undergrad cum laude or an upper class pass. If you did the Single Major program at UNAM or a similar undergrad degree elsewhere; you are eligible to apply. Just check in with the psych department at the university.
7. If you are applying for postgraduate studies, note that at UNAM there are 3 application phases.
The first phase invloves a generic application to the centre for postgraduate studies. Have an idea of your research topic for this stage and make sure it resonates with the Humanities objectives and that the university has the resources to support that type of research.
The second phase involves writing essays on various topics like "why you should be selected for the program", "how your research is important and will contribute to National Development Plans" and "why you have selected that specific university" and so forth.
The final stage is the face to face selection process which includes interviews with selection panels, group work, presentations and psychometric reports.
8. Another internship and evaluation is done after the degree is completed for registration as a psychologist with council.
That's roughly everything that you should know if you're thinking about studying psychology in southern Africa. I don't have all the answers (Sway), so do some more research and reading too.
I did my undergrad (BPsych) at UNAM and got rejected from Stellenbosch University for masters but I am currently enrolled for Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology at UNAM (yay). I am also a registered Psychological Counselor in private practice by myself, so I've been through most of what I've shared in this post.
When I was coming up I was very confused and discouraged at times, mostly because I did not do enough research and have the neccesary information. This is why I wanted to share this post, to make it easier for others.
Psychology is such a beautiful field and it is a lot of tough, but transcendental work so make sure you are passionate and truly commited to it before starting out.