Did you study psychology in school?

About a year ago, I worked with a client interested in launching an online crash course about team management in times of crisis. Part of my job was to understand the market – if there is a demand for such a crash course.

Effective team management during a crisis depends on the people skills of the team leader. Good people skills mean that the leader understands human psychology and social behaviour.

So, we set to determine what percentage of managers within my client target had such knowledge and how many could profit from a crash course. We published a survey on social media platforms asking if people have studied psychology in school, university or have learned about it later in life. We very much expected the results we got, but the percentile distribution was surprising for everyone.

46% had never studied the subject, and 8% did so only later in life. So that’s a total of almost 55% that didn’t have a solid knowledge of human behaviour.

Based on this evidence, we launched the Effective Team Management Course. It quickly became a bestseller, and my client is currently working on the second edition.
However, that survey results stuck in my mind. And the recent increase in demand for mental health therapy due to COVID made me think: how come we learn so little or nothing about people? Of course, we learn about other things in school… maths, English (or another primary language), geography, history, biology, physics, chemistry, music, sports, even Chinese…. The list is endless. But we don’t study human psychology – we don’t study ourselves. When school curricula were established, I guess times went by; knowing about ourselves was not a priority. But why wasn’t it if we were the basis of society? And still are.
My point is: becoming a good manager, a leader, a good parent, or even a good spouse depends hugely on understanding human nature, which we learn only in psychology or sociology class. So how come we don’t have the subject in primary school, secondary school, or university (in any discipline)?
No wonder as we grow, we spend enormous time and resources trying to understand ourselves and others, learning how to deal with conflict at work and home.
No wonder there is so much anxiety and depression.
No wonder people are collapsing mentally with the stresses of work, at home and recently with the Covid footprint.
We just don’t know ‘us’!
Psychologists and psychiatrists are constantly in demand. However, getting therapy and seeing results is a long process. It’s difficult to fix a broken inner self. But we are under pressure, in a rush, so we want immediate results. We then turn to the alternative: self-proclaimed specialists who promise fast results with low effort, who have no deep knowledge of psychology and human behaviour. The market is full of it.
Currently, almost everybody is somehow an expert in dealing with mental issues. As a result, redundant and unhelpful advice, training, coaching, and treatments are streaming relentlessly in the battle to grab your attention and promise you heavenly results. And empty promises are like building sandcastles – they are unsustainable. So often, after dealing with such a ‘professional’, we find ourselves right where we started.
I would love to see a change in school curricula and see psychology as one of the compulsory subjects in primary and secondary schools and all university disciplines. Wouldn’t you?
I leave this thought open for comment. If you fancy discussing or sharing your opinion, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me here.

Meanwhile, select your psychologist, coach, mental help advisor the same way you would your financial advisor or personal GP. Make sure they come with a solid knowledge background and check references before signing a deal.