Becoming a professional: The five pillars of identification in Occupational Psychology in the UK

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This study aims to explore how professional identification occurs in Occupational Psychology (OP) in the UK. Professional identification is a sense of belonging and individual feelings towards a group. In OP, competition for jobs is high and availability of roles with the title of “Occupational Psychologist” is low. Thus, many OPs are self-employed and multiple terms are used to describe the profession. Twenty working individuals, with a BPS accredited entry-level and master’s qualification in OP, participated in narrative interviews. Thematic analysis led to the development of five ‘pillars’ of professional identification: a) education and learning; b) networking; c) managing challenges; d) career-crafting; and e) professional recognition and authenticity. Each of the five pillars have a unique role to play in supporting professional identification in OP. Strong professional identification requires sustained effort in all pillars. Practitioners supporting the careers of Occupational Psychologists, and Occupational Psychologists themselves must develop stronger opportunities for networking and relationship building to enable individual development through
multiple and diverse experiences. Furthermore, routes to accredited professional
practice must be diversified and a positive rhetoric constructed around the achievement of Chartered status. Suggestions for future research are presented providing clear actions for the practitioner community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-67
Number of pages13
JournalInPractice: The EAWOP Practitioners E-Journal
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2020


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