7 Myths About Psychology Students

An undergraduate psychology student debunks some common misconceptions about students who study the mind and behaviour.


As a third-year Economics and Psychology major, I've heard some interesting things from other students about their perception of psychology majors. This is my attempt to address some myths about my kind, based on the experiences of my friends in psychology and I.

We are all mentally healthy people at all times


Far from it.

We have, however, found safe spaces to talk about it and our conversations contain more academic references than what you'd hear in the media— we are not all Freud fans.

Two of us had been comparing our ADHD symptoms for a year, and I went to my first therapy session because an honours psychology student encouraged me to. If you want a wholesome space where you can talk about your sociopathic tendencies and weird dreams, we may be the best pals for that journey. 

We can diagnose your issues (on a first date)

Please don’t share thoughts that keep you awake at night (the third date rule applies!). As interested as we are in mental health, we don’t have the capacity or the training to be a therapist yet. I’ve had one clinical psychology class in four years! We can, however, suggest resources on campus or in the community!

Don't ask me to diagnose you, we will both be troubled for days. 

We are obsessed with disorders

However we do constantly self-reflect and have definitely considered whether we relate to 60% of the disorders we study in class. We could sit down and talk for hours about all the interesting things we study, but you will either be lost or concerned (for us and yourself). This is not to say we are special, but studying psychology is different from watching a season of Mindhunter (a troubling but fantastic show by the way). You learn to distance yourself from the cases you study instead of taking on a new personality every week (most of the time, at least).

I wish terms like “High Functioning Depression” did not get popularized, but my personal issues with pop psychology will be another post (there is A LOT there). 

We can read minds

We can't. But if you start a petition to teach this course, count me in.

Not even psychologists can read minds. If they could, we wouldn't need counselling and therapy sessions to be as long. And group therapy would be very confusing. Humans are complicated and we don't even know our own brains, let alone someone else's. This is why therapy can take months, sometimes years, as we develop self-awareness through our issues.

However, psychology has advanced enough to monitor brain activity and use tests that provide great insights into the mind (think brain activity in response to dessert and NOT lie detector tests). 

We all want to be therapists

Yes, most of us start out wanting to be therapists, but some of us want to go into research or social work. My favourite course this semester is Behavioral Economics which involves a lot of psychology!

Here is a list from the U of A of potential careers and employers for students with a psychology degree. This is not an exhaustive list, and psychology applies to fields such as marketing, human resources, and even data science! If you are in your first or second year dreading the listening-to-people part of the program, there is hope out there for you. 

We open a textbook when we're sad

No, even psychology students don’t always have a positive outlook towards therapy and treatment. Some research (we love to research) has suggested this is because our courses cover less about personal well-being than we need. 

We are only humans (sadly) and are susceptible to the stigma around medication, behavioural therapy, and long-term treatments as much as any other person. In the process of learning more about mental health, we are also unlearning our own biases. 

Check-in on your psychology-major friend, we are reading a lot and we are tired. 

We hate statistics

Okay, this one might be true. We do not all hate math or statistics but all you need to do is go on Reddit and look up how STATS 151 fares... and it is not just Psychology students. 

But statistics is a big part of psychological research and we can’t avoid it for too long. This is how we compare trends in mental health and present data in a way that makes sense! If you are trying to avoid math, we may not be able to help. The data part is fun once it makes sense, I promise! 

Ending on a hopeful note

Author Anne Lamott on imperfection:

"Almost everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, scared, and yet designed for joy. Even (or especially) people who seem to have it more or less together are more like the rest of us than you would believe. I try not to compare my insides to their outsides because this makes me much worse than I already am, and if I get to know them, they turn out to have plenty of irritability and shadows of their own. Besides, those few people who aren’t a mess are probably good for about twenty minutes of dinner conversation. This is good news, that almost everyone is petty, narcissistic, secretly insecure, and in it for themselves, because a few of the funny ones may actually long to be friends with you and me. They can be real with us, the greatest relief. As we develop love, appreciation, and forgiveness for others over time, we may accidentally develop those things toward ourselves, too."

For more information on psychology programs at the University of Alberta, click here!

About Khadija

Khadija is a 3rd year Economics and Psychology major in the Arts Faculty. She can be found naming her new plants or propagating others from produce. She will grow pretty much anything the Canadian weather allows for. Khadija enjoys hiking, finding waterfalls and lakes to dip in specifically. Her main adulthood goal is to start a blog for her dog. Once she has the dog.