There can be few people who, as they approach mid-life, have not secretly wondered if they haven't balanced enough profit and loss accounts, brokered enough sales, manufactured enough widgets, or, ahem, written enough articles. Up until now, the classic way to try to add one's tiny quota to the sum of human well-being and do something a bit more useful has been by retraining as a teacher, or perhaps by trying to join an NGO or charity. Now, however, psychology is muscling in on that territory.
Professionals from all walks of life are picking up on psychology as a potential career-change booster, and the media aren't short of potential converts. "After 15 years in PR, I'm working part-time on a degree," says one would-be counsellor. "I had counselling myself after a bereavement, realised how helpful it could be, and I wanted a proper qualification and grounding. I'm still working as a consultant; I've cut down on the clients who were the least satisfying, and money is very tight. But I do believe that ultimately, this will not only help others but change my life for the better, too. I've had enough of helping other people flog stuff."
This is a path I am hoping to follow myself. I have secured a place at Bristol University in the face of some scary statistics: large numbers of terrifyingly well-qualified A-level sproglets with fistfuls of straight A grades, vying for every place. Next September, if all goes well, I shall be dusting off my pencil case and heading back to the lecture theatre. I am definitely not alone. I was briefed earlier this year by a features editor who was distracted by the imminent prospect of her psychology finals. Another …