Psychology and its prospects in Nepal

Psychology is probably one of the most misunderstood fields of study among lay men. A new kid on the block, it only separated from Philosophy roughly about 146 years ago and established itself as a scientific entity after the establishment of first psychology laboratory by Wilhelm Wundt in Leipzig, Germany on 1879 A.D. The other possible reason for the misconceptions about psychology might be the fact that it deals with the complex idea about mind and behavior. E might not always be equal to MC^2 as it does in physical science. Dealing with each individual psyche requires more than generalizations, through years and years of scientific study has propagated Psychology from mere introspection to a modern scientific entity with its premises based on scientific research and experimentations.

Every idea is prone to change as change is the only constant entity. As American psychologist Robert S Woodworth quotes, “First psychology lost its soul, then its mind, and then its consciousness, but it still has some behavior of sort’.For now, psychology is defined as the scientific study of mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior in a given context. Much like the definition suggests the current dominant approach in Psychology is the eclectic one. We not only look at the mind (psychodynamic approach) and its functions (cognitive approach), but its relation with the observable behaviors (behavioral approach) in a given context (socio-cultural approach). Also the goal of psychology is to not only study mind and behavior but understand the human potential for positive change (humanistic approach) and bring about such changes. Study of the roles of heredity, neurons and various brain chemicals in shaping human behavior and mind functions (biological approach) has also gained prominence with the latest development in the field of science and technology. So it is safe to say that we are in an eclectic era of Psychological study. Talking about all the scientific developments in Psychology, the fact cannot be understated that the wave of positive changes has mostly incorporated the more developed countries in comparison to developing and least developed countries of the world.

General perception regarding Psychology

Though psychology is still looked upon as a ghost territory that only a few people would dare to venture in both developed and underdeveloped countries, it holds a firmer ground in undeveloped and developing countries like Nepal. The awareness about the field of Psychology and mental health is little less to none in Nepal (but the prospect looks good in the near future, this can’t be denied). Though various efforts from government and non-government sector and tragically mother nature (the great earthquake of April 25, 2015) has in some degree helped sensitize the issues of Psychology and mental health, a lot has yet to be done. It is a hopeful time for us all, as the new generation of Nepalese people is becoming gradually aware about the importance of psychological well-being and mental health through exposure to technical advances like the Internet. But there still seems to be a slight misconception about what psychologists do (but as I said earlier, our Western counterparts are no different, a little less but nevertheless, when it comes to matter of what Psychology really is). When I told my friends that I was studying psychology, the most common and instant reaction would be- “ok then, read my face and tell me what I was thinking”, “don’t try and read my mind huh!” or even in some rare cases- “so can you hypnotize by looking into people’s eyes”. (Now that I think about it, it might have been part of a common psychological joke, rather than blunt misconception. I don’t know how to feel right now, to laugh with them or at them). Not only me but all of my friends also faced similar inquiries in a similar situation.

Our Nepalese culture and traditions are dominated by religion. We are religious people, with our roots based on traditional methods of healing and belief on gods, demons and spirits. (I don’t mean to say that our belief is faulty, because I too am a believer in gods, spirits, and religion. A lot of times, religion and beliefs have found answer where science got stuck in questions. And I believe if we look into religious beliefs and practices in a scientific manner it will make more sense than science itself. For that we need diverse and tiring scientific studies into the religious and spiritual claims.)This religious base (beliefs that psychological problem is due to spirits, bad karma and curse) might be the reason that Psychology and Mental Health has been overshadowed in Nepalese society. Looking at a broader prospect, this might be applicable to the entire world, as no corner is devoid of religion and religious beliefs. But the key hurdle for desensitization of psychological and mental health misconceptions has been the stigmatization associated with it. This stigmatization has been a major problem for both developed and undeveloped and developing countries.

The stigmatization of psychological and mental health issues is so profound that having a mental health problem is believed to be the sin of your previous life and untreatable. But this is not true, mental health problem is treatable. The prognosis (chance of full recovery) for psychotic cases (severe mental health problems) might be less in comparison to neurotic cases (mild mental health problems) but isn’t that the same case for physical illness? Some physical diseases can be cured and some can’t. Having a psychological problem is just like having a physical illness – you find out the cause for the problem, go through certain treatment module/therapies, and resume your normal life after recovery. But this idea is not taken as simply as it is by the general mass. It’s OK to have Diabetes and take lifelong medication but it’s NOT OK to have Depression. The part and possibly the major reason for such stigmatization might be the generalization of all psychologically/mentally ill people as ‘Mad People’.

Madness if usually associated with all types of psychological problems. It is a common belief that psychologists deal with Mad People. This notion is not correct. Only specialists like clinical psychologists deal with people having psychological/mental problems. And even then, they can’t be termed as ‘Mad’. All other field of psychology deal with people going through normal day-to-day problems and work in areas like industries, schools, organizations dealing with human resources. Madness is generally referred to as a loss of control over oneself and one’s ability to function properly. Though this scenario is similar to those people with severe mental health problem (Psychosis), the term ‘Madness’ is considered derogatory and thus the term ‘Psychotic’ is used to describe them. But the people suffering from mild mental health problems (Neurosis), fit nowhere in the category of being ‘Mad’. Though with some areas of dysfunction, they are fully capable to function properly and lead a normal life. These people experience difficulty in some part of their life, just like a person suffering from cold experiences difficulty in throat while other body parts function properly. With some professional help and emotional support or medications in severe cases of neuroticism, they can duly return to their day-to-day life and expect full recovery in the areas of dysfunction.

The generalization of all psychological problems as madness has prevented individuals from seeking professional help in cases where their condition is perfectly treatable. Lack of timely intervention due to the fear of stigmatization leads to deterioration of mental health condition and even the easily treatable neurosis might turn into severe case of psychosis.

Study of Psychology in Nepal      

Psychology was first taught in intermediate level at Tri Chandra College, Kathmandu starting from 1947 A.D. However, master’s level study only started from 1980 A.D. at Tri Chandra College. It later shifted to the central department of psychology, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur. So psychology can be considered a fairly new subject in comparison to other subjects being taught in Nepal. Even today, Bachelors level psychology is taught in Tri Chandra College and few other private colleges like Golden Gate International College and K and K International College. Master’s Level course is offered at Tribhuvan University Central Department of Psychology, Trichandra College and Padma Kanya College, Bagbazzar. Therefore, there are limited options for psychological study and even more limited specialization courses available in Nepal. As of now, specialization courses are available only in Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology and Industrial and Organizational Psychology. The lack of choices for specialization has forced Nepalese students to go abroad for the higher educations.

The lack of exposure to Psychology due to limited number of institutions offering the subject might be one of the reasons for the drawback of Psychology in Nepal. The recent trend shows that number of Psychology enthusiast students has increased. Until now, the few institutions have been able to hold the student load but in near future more such institutions are needed with more specialization options if field of Psychology is to develop in Nepal.

The necessary reformation in higher level education is not only quantitative but also qualitative. The course taught in psychology has gone little or no update from where it began. Psychology and every other field of science are ever-evolving with new studies and findings providing new ideas and new approaches. Old theories and techniques in psychology might not be relevant and useful in present context. New ways of dealing with human behavior and mental health have surfaced and already become a new wave in the West (meaning the more developed countries). We need to keep ourselves and our students updated about the latest developments of Psychology if we are to develop a competent global citizen.

For us to be competent in our field, we not only need to keep ourselves updated about the latest developments but should also participate in new research and findings. The sorry state of research based study in Nepal can be evident by the fact that most of the researches conducted in Nepal come from foreigners. There are only a few prominent researchers in Nepal and that number is even less in the field of Psychology. Nepal is an untapped resource for new findings in the field of Psychology and we, the Nepalese people, need to be the first on the summit.

The exposure to Psychology is needed not only in higher level educations, but the exposure needs to start from the school level. Just as Health and Population is taught in school level, Psychology and Mental Health should also be included as a choice subject for the students. Early introduction to principles and basics of Psychology might help develop a new generation that is sensitive and has the right approach towards psychological and mental health issues. The first and perhaps the major goal of such effort should focus on eradication of stigmatization and generalization of issues concerning Psychology and Mental Health. This can be termed as a grass root approach, where the goal is to create an informed generation of people rather than focusing on people already with a set of beliefs and attitudes. Thus a national level educational policy for the sensitization of Psychology and Mental Health seems to be the need.

In conclusion

Psychology has a lot of scope and the horizon seems promising. A better future for psychology demands a rigorous effort on the part of psychology professionals. A healthy population is a healthy country and being an integral and perhaps the most important aspect of health, psychology and mental health needs to be prioritized from both public and national level. As the new generation puts it, “psychology needs to be the buzz in town”.

36 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for this sir. It was indeed, very helpful.
    Could you please clear out the differences between “psychiatrists” and “psychologists” and explain which one of the field is considered to have more scope in Nepal? 🙂

    1. Dear Aastha ji

      Thank you for your comment. Psychiatrist basically is a doctor who is specialised in treating mental illnesses. Psychologist in a broad sense is a kind of expert on human behaviors, thoughts and feelings. Psychologist can work in many settings as per his/her expertise like clinical psychologist working in the clinical setting, counselling psychologist working with the community and individuals with psychosocial issues etc. Psychiatrists need to do MBBS and do MD in psychiatry. They can prescribe medication for mental illnesses. Psychologists working in the mental health sector are qualified to assess, diagnose mental health problems. They treat the mental illnesses through psycho therapies. That is the basic differences between psychiatry and psychology. Since we are from psychology field we can confidently say that the scope is increasing in psychology. It can be applied in many settings. The only thing is that you should be passionate about it.

    2. Hi i would like to answer the question for u psychiatrist are those who have graduated from medical line and the are the one who can prescribe u the medicine for the mental disorders.wheras psychologist is someone from non medical background also can’t prescribe medicine .but is essential as diagonose of disorder can be done by psychologist counselling, therapies can be provided by them.

  2. Sir, as helpful as this was, I, however, am still not quite certain if I’d have a good future in this field. Even though I want to study psychology in +2, I’m not that confident about the idea. I’d really appreciate it if you walked me through it.

    1. Hi Prasiddhi,

      Thank you for your concern and interest. What you are feeling and thinking is totally understandable. What we can say is that the scope of psychology is growing day by day cause people’s emotional and behavioral problems are increasing day by day. Psychologists are experts in dealing with such issues. We advice you to visit the psychologist and have a talk about your confusions. Even you can approach to us for the talk. We are ready to help you.

    2. Choose the best subject u r interested in rather than creating confusion within ur mind.in my view if u like learning observing interacting with other leke from various domian .want to help people give advice counselling and wish to go to health releted sector or wanna know more about mind and ur behaviour ,and those of other and how to motivate people and creating a place where every one is mentally healthy .u should choose psychology
      .

  3. Thanks a lot for this article…Sir, can you please suggest me where to study Bachelor level of psychology in Nepal, which college or university is the best one? I would be extremely grateful if you possibly could. Thank you once again!

  4. Hello Ashish sir..Thanku so much 4this article..Can u plz make me nite bleat about Bachelor in arts in psychology..about it’s course, and jobs after ba.psychology N also wanna know that can we do directly phd after ba.psychology??? Plz reply as soon as u can!😁

    1. Hi Aasma, there are many colleges offering BA in psychology. Many colleges, both private and government, are offering Psychology with the combination of Social Work. To name few , Trichandra College, Ratna Rajya College, Padma Kanya College etc are offering the course. You can’t do Phd directly after the bachelors. You must complete your masters for that

  5. Hello Ashish sir..Thanku so much 4this article..Can u plz make me nite bleat about Bachelor in arts in psychology..about it’s course, and jobs after ba.psychology N also wanna know that can we do directly phd after ba.psychology??? Plz reply as soon as u can!Will be waiting for your reply😁

  6. It is very helpful article. Can you say what are the scopes of psychology? Many of the students don’t know about this subject. SO, it is necessary for this subject to be exposed

    1. Hi as u aspire to be a psychologist there is a wide diverse scope releted to this field than any other .the most prominent and manly taken jobs are industrial ,clinical ,educational ,criminal psychologist .mental health practiconer , counsellor ,social activist ,rehabilitation centres ,colleges school counsellor, detectives ,forensic psychologist,psychotherpist,u can work in hospital ,opd,,child psychologist,motivation speaker ,thearpist,any many to go u can specialize in any branch of psychology.

      1. Sir ,As recently i am studying psychology in undegraduate level what are the scope that i can get job in nepal after my master degree in Nepal .As i am plaaning to come there after completion of my course …please i need suggestion…. Recently i am studying in united kingdom

        1. Thank you for your query. Masters degree will open doors to wide areas of work. Teaching is a great avenue for freshers, generally at bachelors level and A-levels. A general trend is to work as psychologist in NGOs and INGOs. However, work experience is generally cited as a requirement for those vacancies. Nonetheless, its the most widely chosen area. If you have training background in counseling and psychotherapy, private practice or working as a counselor in NGOs is another good option. Last, but not the least, research is an often overlooked but necessary work area as a psychologist. All of these possibilities are in the order of their ease of opportunities and platform.
          Thank You.

    1. As far as we know there are very few colleges which provide Psychology course for plus 2. I think you can check at Whitehouse College, Active College. In A levels also you can choose Psychology.

  7. Psychology has always been interesting topic in my life. I finished my bachelor degree in Tourism but I’ve been more drawn into human behaviour. People keep telling it’s a tough topic to study but I realized while working in business as Sales Executive n Marketing Psychology plays major roles. The main reason why I haven’t joined Master yet. Can you recommend me the best college for Psychology in Nepal as I’ve no plan for abroad studies.

    1. Thank you for your query.
      As you are planning for Masters, there are handful colleges (private and government) that offer Masters program in Psychology: Central Department of Psychology, Kirtipur; PadmaKanya Multiple Campus, Bagbaazar; Trichandra Multiple Campus, Ghantaghar; Masters in Counseling Psychology, Dean’s program, TU, Kirtipur; K and K college, Baneshwor; and Samarpan Academy Institute of Crisis Management (Masters in Counseling Psychology).
      I would recommend you to visit these colleges to know which best suits your needs, and time constraints (if you are planning to take work and study side by side). But be rest assured that both government and private colleges provide the same quality education.

  8. U really gave a proper info about background ,current status and future or scope in this particular filed ..
    But I would like to know “if we have never studied physcology in the school and in +2 as well but have studied science and bio , then what are the further process of getting admission and what are the courses after +2 we can study to be physicologist ?? ..and institution names as well in Nepal

    1. Thank you for your query.
      As you have studied science in plus 2, you can join Bachelors in Arts (with Psychology and another subject as major subjects) and then pursue Masters in Psychology. But if you had decided to continue bachelors in science, then worry not, door for Masters in Psychology (as per the latest and current provision) is still open for science faculty, and also for management (who have studied one paper of general psychology) faculty.
      As per the institutions, psychology in bachelors level is offered by many government (like Trichandra), community (like Janamaitri Multiple Campus) and private (like Goldengate and K and K) colleges which has BA/BSW courses (But be sure to confirm with colleges if they offer psychology as major subject or not).

    1. Thank you for your query.
      As far as I know, we can not enroll in two different programs under TU at the same year (as such, a gap of a year at the least is required). Since you are doing MBBS, I would suggest you to know what are the policies of your respective college of students pursuing other degrees at the same time, as some programs might have strong policies against them. For more accurate and up-to-date information regarding changes in policies of TU, I would suggest you to contact TU officials.
      If policies allow such provision, it would be beneficial to also consider how you would manage tight schedules of MBBS to maintain attendance in psychology class, to do psychology practical and appear in examinations.
      Regards.

  9. Can we get any job after just studying bachelor in psychology? Is master studies good enough in Nepal or should we go abroad for studies? And I haven’t studied psychology in +2 can study properly in bachelor?

    1. Thank you for your query.
      Regarding your bachelors level query, you can absolutely study psychology properly even if you haven’t studied psychology in plus 2, as the courses in bachelors level start at the basic level of introduction to psychology.
      Regarding the viability of masters degree, as I see it, Masters degree is still good enough and will be such for next 5 years at the least. However, as the competition within the field increases and the need for specialized professionals increases, having further degree or trainings would be beneficial for the long run.
      Regarding job after Bachelors, due to the lower academic qualification (meaning that you wont be able to call yourself a psychologist just with the bachelors degree), it would not be possible to work as a qualified psychologist. Even if you do get a job in psychology field, it will be difficult to get decent job with just bachelors degree.
      Regarding abroad studies, education in Nepal has the capability to compete at the international level. However, it should also be kept in mind that certain differences do certainly exist between a first world country and developing country like Nepal.

  10. Hey, what is the difference between bsc psychology and ba psychology? Can i study clinical psychology after studying ba psychology? Which college/university teaches both of those courses? And what are the job positions

    1. Thank you for your query.
      The main and foremost difference between BSC and BA psychology is the stream (science versus arts). Since there is no BSC psychology in Nepal, it is difficult to say what are the fundamental differences in course structure and pedagogy. However, it is my opinion that there would be no fundamental difference in knowledge level and competence as BA psychology falls under Humanities and Social Sciences faculty and Psychology itself is a highly scientific subject with Evidence and Research-based curriculum and practical.
      As of now, clinical psychology is only offered as a Mphil. degree in Nepal. So, you would not be able to join Clinical Psychology directly after Bachelors.
      Colleges under Tribuvan University offer course in psychology under BA/BSW.
      Regarding job positions, a Masters degree (or above) holder in psychology can work in teaching, research, private practice, NGOs and INGOs, and hospitals (for MPhil. in Clinical Psychology degree holders).

  11. Sir ,As recently i am studying psychology in undegraduate level what are the scope that i can get job in nepal after my master degree in Nepal .As i am plaaning to come there after completion of my course …please i need suggestion….

    1. Thank you for your query.
      Regarding job positions, a Masters degree (or above) holder in psychology can work in teaching, research, private practice, NGOs and INGOs, and hospitals (for MPhil. in Clinical Psychology degree holders).
      All of these are viable options.

  12. Thank you so much for this information. As a BBA graduate can i pursue MA in psychology with specialized course in I/O psychology? Is it necessary to take PGD in counselling before taking MA?

    1. Thank you for your query.
      Since you have studied one paper psychology in BBA, you can join Masters in Psychology, and there is no compulsion to do PGD. But if you want to pursue PGD also, there is no harm in it.
      Regarding specialization in I/O psychology, there is indeed an option to choose I/O (specialization courses are available for the last 2 semesters). However, there are official policies regarding conducting specialization courses (for eg, requirement of a minimum number of students willing to pursue the specialization), which I would suggest that you be informed about with the respective college before joining Masters with intention to pursue a specialization (However, you should keep in mind that currently, a specialized Masters program is only offered for Counseling Psychology and I/O psychology is only offered as part of Masters in Psychology, not as specialized masters program. As such, you would officially graduate as a Psychologist, not as I/O psychologist).

  13. Thank you so much for this information. As a BBA graduate can i pursue MA in psychology with specialized course in I/O psychology? Is it necessary to take PGD in counselling before taking MA? Hoping for your response 🙂

  14. I went through the article, it’s really helpful and informative. I am quite interested in studying Masters in Clinical Psychology in Nepal but I have no idea about what and how to prepare for entrance examination after all this field is completely a new one for me. Do we have syllabus or reference materials to study for Masters in Clinical Psychology entrance exams in T.U ?

    1. Thank you for your query.
      As of now, only specialized Masters course is offered in Counseling Psychology only. Clinical psychology course is only offered as a specialization course (for last 2 semesters) under Masters in (General) Psychology, which unfortunately does not qualify us to be Clinical Psychologists (We will be ‘Psychologists’). To be clinical psychologist, a further Mphil. degree is required, which is offered by Institute of Medicine, Maharajgunj.
      Regarding entrance for Masters in Psychology, studying contents taught in Bachelors level (which covers basic psychology) would be enough.
      For specific reading materials, I would suggest you to go to Tribhuvan University Kirtipur, and ask about entrance preparation material directly at Central Department of Psychology OR in stationary (among many stationaries, there is a specific stationary that deals with psychology materials) in front of the clock tower building. They might have some compendium of sort of past questions or contents to study.

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