We provide psychology students and graduates from around the world the opportunity to gain valuable, practical psychology work experience whilst being immersed in a unique and exciting culture.
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Why Gain Psychology Work Experience Abroad?
Our organisation was founded by psychology graduates, so we understand better than anyone how tough it can be to get the kind of work experience for psychology that sets you apart from your peers. With psychology being one of the top subjects of study for university students worldwide, competition for opportunities in the sector is fierce.
We know that employers and higher education institutions value hands-on psychology experience most, which is why we've designed our placements to give you a realistic insight into working in global mental health. Our psychology work experience placements are challenging but massively rewarding, and help to equip you with the skills you need to be successful working in the mental health sector.
Careers in psychology are incredibly diverse. Through working in various settings, like psychiatric hospitals and residential centres for people with different specific needs, we aim to give passionate, dedicated future professionals the chance to put their knowledge into practice by promoting positive mental health in communities abroad who are most in need of extra support.
Our former team members have entered the workforce post-placement at every level from Assistant Psychologist to Behaviour Interventionist and, of course, many have gone on to complete various masters and doctorates. Go on and check out their stories below, and if you get inspired, go ahead and apply. What have you got to lose?
All of our SLVeterans are former SLV.Global volunteers who have utilised the psychology related work experience they gained during mental health volunteering with us in different ways to help further their careers and/or progress in their studies. We're so proud of all of our past team members and are consistently inspired by what they achieve.
Here you can take a look at some of what our former team members have been up to since their placement concluded. If you were on our team before and want to showcase your achievements since, please get in touch with Aurora on [email protected] and we'll happily add you to this prestigious group of SLVIPs!
How can I get Work Experience in Psychology?
We at SLV.Global understand how difficult it can be to source psychology work experience, either via psychology volunteering or a psychology internship, that challenges you and that is relevant to your future goals. This is one of the main reasons we created this organisation. But we also feel it’s important to commit to your community too. We know that there are psychology-focused opportunities out there; it just may not be the position you’ve been dreaming of or that’s most obvious to the field of psychology.
We all have to start somewhere, and most of us at SLV.Global began our volunteering career in elderly care homes and at centres for people with brain injuries or specific needs. Your first position working with vulnerable individuals is unlikely going to be as an Assistant Psychologist! However, the more you volunteer, the more likely you are to be snapped up for those elusive psychology jobs, as your CV will stick out for all the right reasons.
Clinical Psychology Work Experience
Clinical psychology experience is highly desirable for many psychology students and graduates. As the area of clinical psychology is highly competitive, getting experience in global mental health and a range of skills will really help you stand out amongst the crowd when it comes to applying for sought-after clinical positions.
More Areas of Work Experience for Psychology
Gaining relevant psychology work experience is something that every psychology student wants. But what is “relevant” psychology work experience? If you were to look at the careers that most people with a psychology degree selected after graduation, you would find that many of them, despite what their original goals were, ended up working outside of a clinical environment. According to Prospects (2015), around 17% of Psychology graduates go into the service industry with nearly the same amount going into teaching and working with children.
Our placements abroad are varied for this very reason. We know that everyone wants to get clinical psychology work experience, but not everyone will end up going the clinical route, and we want our placements to be valuable no matter which direction you choose to go post-graduation. From teaching to working with individuals with special needs and in children’s homes, it’s all relevant to psychology. So relevant, in fact, that these types of careers are chosen in huge numbers by psychology graduates.
Psychology Work Experience with the Elderly
One area of working in the field of psychology that is often overlooked is working with the elderly. We are an ageing population and there are many pensioners who could benefit from a cup of tea and a chat with someone right now. According to Age UK (2016), the UK’s largest charity focused on the needs of the elderly, “half of all older people consider the television their main form of company.” This is a heartbreaking statement, but is the reality of so many older people in our society.
Combating isolation and improving socialisation are two ways you can improve the life and mental health of a lonely elderly person. Many psychiatric facilities have geriatric wards and any experience working with older people will surely enhance your CV and your skillset. All of our psychology work experience for students and professionals involves working with elderly individuals. Whether it’s physical activities like yoga to help keep the body strong or creative projects to exercise the mind, time spent with older individuals is not only a benefit to your future career, it’s benefit to society as a whole.
Psychology Work Experience with Children
On the other end of the age spectrum, working with children can often have a mental health focus, especially with children from difficult backgrounds. Just because you’re not sat in a room one on one and discussing trauma, doesn’t mean that you’re not facilitating healing in a different way.
Volunteering at an after-school program is a great way to work with children of all ages and from various socioeconomic backgrounds. Building up confidence and self-esteem that has been worn thin from abuse or neglect is a big job and it’s something our volunteer teams do every day in Sri Lanka and in Bali. The ability and desire to treat children with kindness and empathy is a skill. So please don’t assume that because you’re making a giant collage out of foam sea creatures or working through the alphabet that you’re not actually making a big difference.
Yes, even teaching, which some may argue isn’t at all based in psychology, can have a psychological focus. Motivating young people can be difficult, as can creating a lesson which is appropriate for all abilities and ages. This focus on inclusion and teamwork absolutely fits into working in mental health, especially adolescent mental health. Educational Psychology is a field for a reason after all.
The psychology of learning and what impacts and impedes learning is endlessly fascinating. What better way to experience this than by working in a classroom yourself? There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer as a tutor or as a befriender, working with a child living in poverty or with a difficult past. All of the volunteers on our placements abroad teach for at least three of their eight weekly projects to hone their communication and presentation skills as well as to work closely with the youth in both Sri Lanka and in Bali. We feel that these projects benefit the volunteers as much as the service users, and we find that although at first volunteers may be slightly reluctant to step into the classroom, by the end of their work experience they often report back that these projects were among their favourites.
Special Needs Psychology Experience
Working with individuals with special needs is also incredibly relevant to a career in the mental health sector. There are many people with learning disabilities and brain injuries residing in psychiatric facilities worldwide. Failing to acknowledge this client group is a massive oversight and the more experience you have working with people with different specific needs, the more desirable your services can become. This is hard work, but incredibly rewarding. You need a huge amount of patience and must be even-tempered, but the rewards can’t be overstated.
All of the psychology work experience we’ve spoken about can be gained in your home country, and our advice is to always work at home before heading abroad. However, committing yourself to a psychology internship or placement in another country gives you the experience you’re after as well as extra benefits you may not have even considered. Working in a cross-cultural environment exposes you to complex cultural norms and unfamiliar societal structures, some of which will be very much at odds with your own belief system. Working without judgement and considering that there isn’t always just one way of doing things improves your problem-solving skills and also increases empathy for others who think differently to yourself.
Psychology work experience abroad pushes you outside of your comfort zone. From the extreme weather to the very basic living conditions, you are forced to work effectively whilst also battling discomfort and trying to acclimatise to incredibly different surroundings to what you may be used to. You need to be up for challenging not only your physical self but your emotional core as well.
As you may have noticed, our idea of “relevant” experience is quite varied and we suggest you try your hand at a few different things and see what you enjoy the most. Don’t feel like you have to commit to a future without testing it a bit first. We love hearing from previous volunteers who contact us letting us know that they are changing their focus to teaching or to SEN after they finish their placement. We also love to hear from volunteers who have gone on to do a clinical doctorate or a who have obtained a psychology job like an Assistant Psychologist post. But the fact that we hear from both in nearly equal measure means that we’ll continue to advocate for the less traditional voluntary roles. We want you to think outside the hospital, especially if that’s where you’re hoping to build your career.
Psychology Work Experience Blog
These blogs explore various topics to do with searching for, and gaining, work experience in psychology. Many of them relate to how relevant participating in an SLV.Global placement is to a career in psychology, so please read up! Then apply to join us. We'll wait.
Feeling inspired? Just fill in the form below to start your application and someone from our team will get back to you as soon as possible.