Psychologist Registration in Singapore and Updates on the National Psychology Competency Framework

Do you wish to be a registered psychologist in Singapore?  
Do you know the requirements to become a registered psychologist in Singapore??
The key word here is "registered".

According to Singapore Register of Psychologist (SRP; under SPS), you will need:
  • Master’s or doctoral degrees in any area of applied psychology. 
    • The degree must include a supervised practicum component and modules in applied psychology (e.g. Counselling, psychological assessment).  The relevant accreditation bodies in the country or region in which the institution operates must accredit the degree earned. 
  • Full membership in SPS.
  • Completion of 1000 supervised practicum hours. 
This form of registration has always been a voluntary practice, which means that you register with SRP only if you want to.  You can still practice as a psychologist, but you just cannot say that you are registered with SRP.  This resulted in some practising psychologists out there who are not registered with SRP, as they may not see the need.

However, all these are changing.

Vice President Jennifer Teoh providing updates on the competency framework for psychologist in Singapore.
Image from http://singaporepsychologicalsociety.org/agm/sps-annual-general-meeting-2016/
The National Psychology Competency Framework was introduced by SPS Vice President Ms Jennifer Teoh during the SPS Annual General Meeting 2016 on 26 March 2016.  This project is currently being led by the SRP.  Below listed is the process of what is happening or already happened:
  1. Review and align core competencies of sub-disciplines of psychology across public and private sectors
  2. Create a list of practicing psychologists in Singapore and their specialisation
  3. Develop a national framework that sets the competency standards for practicing psychologists in Singapore
  4. Secure endorsement of the framework by key stakeholders
  5. Submit the framework to MOH for regulation of the profession
When this whole process is completed (endorsed by all the key stakeholders, including the main government ministries, and approved by MOH to proceed with a national regulation), all practising psychologists should be on the list.  As there will be a high likelihood that it will become a compulsory national regulation (like in U.K. and Australia) by then, it would be mandated by law that you must be registered with the national registration board (or whatever it will be called) before you can even practice or call yourself a "psychologist".  However, this process will not be completed soon in the next few years, but rather in the next 5 to 10 years.

#spsagm VP Jennifer Teoh addressing regarding the National Psychology Competency Framework.
Picture Link: pic.twitter.com/SWsFy1IVdv
This is an impending event in the psychological arena of Singapore and all of us (psychologists and students) will be affected in some way or another.  So students, do be prepared and here are some tips for you.

Advice for students:
  • Make sure the undergraduate and postgraduate degree/s that you are studying or planning to study is/are accredited by the respective psychology societies or accreditation council in those countries.  If you are doing your degree in a local university, i.e. NUS, NTU, SMU, UniSIM, you should be fine.  If you are doing your degree in a private educational institute, do check.
  • Make sure that your current and planned psychological training (education and internships) can qualify you to register according to SRP's criteria, as mentioned above.
  • If you do not wish to be affected in a major manner by the national regulation/registration (when it happens), try to get registered with SRP within the next 5 years or before this national event happens.  By being registered, (I believe) it should make your process for being nationally registered easier.  However, it would also mean that you will need to finish your postgraduate studies before then.  
If you have any more doubts about this National Psychology Competency Framework or the National Regulation/Registration, do contact SPS or SRP.  I will not have the definite answers for you, but will try to update whenever I have the latest news or updates. 

A Student's Perspective of SPS PsychWeek 2016

Singapore Psychological Society conducted a week-long series of talks and workshops, and it is known as SPS PsychWeek 2016.  Were you there at any of the talks this week?  A student was present there for four out of the five days, and hence SG Psych Stuff invited him to do a (rather long) write-up of his enriching experience.

Here's Jon Kuek and his perspective of the SPS PsychWeek 2016:

This week I spent most of my weekday evenings at TMC Academy attending the talks organized as part of the Singapore Psychological Society’s PsychWeek 2016.  At first I thought I wouldn’t have learnt anything new, but boy was I wrong.  Overall it was a truly enriching and educational week for me.

Day 1  
Topic:  The Gardener Mindset - How to optimize your harvest as a private psychologist in Singapore 
Speaker:  Mr Edgar Tham (Chief Sport and Performance Psychologist SportPsych Consulting)
So I decided to attend the talk on how to optimize your harvest as a private psychologist because it sounded really interesting.  Basically it was about how to best survive (best word to use, I guess) in the cut-throat exclusive world of private practitioners in Singapore.  Be it clinical, organizational, educational, or any field in applied psychology, being a private practitioner was not easy.  Even for the speaker, Mr Edgar Tham, a prominent and the first sports psychologist in Singapore who shared how difficult a journey he had to go through before managing to see a bit of success in what he was doing.  The main points taught were to:
  • Network, network, and even more networking (seriously this is probably the most important point), 
  • Take calculated and strategic risk when venturing into new projects (this basically means what can I use this new project for in the future and how would it benefit others), and lastly 
  • Be willing to work for free (internships, volunteering, any opportunity you get, kind of like this blog post =p).  
So I guess my biggest take away from this session was that the road to success as a private practitioner is really tough and filled with landmines, and if money is all you are after then you would be better off looking for some other job.  Being a psychologist, our duty is first and foremost for the betterment of society, which is also reflected through Edgar’s words on how we should always be asking ourselves what we can do for others rather then what they can do for us.

Topic:  Positive Psychology - A study in Singapore on pursuit of happiness, life purpose and satisfaction
Speaker:  Dr Janice Lee (Clinical Psychologist)

Day 2 
Topic: Q and A session on Myths about Studying Psychology
Speakers: Mr Carlin Lee and Miss Celeste Teo
Moderator: Mr Benedict Lim
I was really interested in this talk because I wondered what kind of myths do people who are not studying psychology or even those who currently are still believe in.  Some of the myths that were raised were actually quite common, for example whether psychologists can read minds or that psychologists only dealt with the mentally ill.  As shared during the talk, psychologists do more than just treat the mentally ill, from working with athletes to understanding the criminal mind, psychology encompasses nearly every expect of human functioning/behaviour.  Perhaps these myths still exist due to how the media has always portrayed psychology, from how statistics are often misused to misdirect people to how articles (for example one that claims brain scans can read peoples’ intentions) are sensationalized to make them more interesting.  Overall, I feel that such talks are really informative and necessary in educating more people (including psychology students and people interested in psychology), as information can be used to direct or misdirect, so talks like this give people a place to get accurate information.

Day 3
Topic:  Experiential Learning: Group Therapy
Speaker:  Ms Liew Shi Min (Clinical Psychologist Khoo Teck Puat Hospital)
This talk on group therapy was really something new for me.  I had always read about it through research papers and doubted its ability as an effective form of treatment.  A lot of this stems from the belief that how could so many people be able to share and talk at the same time.  However, that was soon debunked as a common myth of group therapy.  As I listened to Ms Liew Shi Min’s talk in which she shared the pros and cons of group therapy and some of the myths about it, I could start to see the various possibilities of group therapy being a good and also cost effective form of treatment.  Since almost everything now is about cutting cost while maintaining a high level of service and product standards, it made sense that group therapy was slowly gaining traction.
Group therapy actually allows for individuals to interact with one another, something which normal individual therapy does not, and through this interaction, certain issues such as how they communicate with one another, or new perspectives about issues from other members of the group can start to surface.  At this point, the facilitator’s role would be to catch on these points and facilitate or discuss them further.  Whilst a single talk does not make me an expert on group therapy, having experienced it first-hand by being a participant in the live demonstration section of the talk, I could start to see how various dynamics were interacting all at once, from digging deeper into my own feelings to reflecting on what others say.  I felt that it gave me a better understanding of myself and the way I interact with others.  Additionally, it allowed others to point out places where I perhaps could have done better, and was a very validating experience especially when you hear about others going through similar situations as yourself.  All in all, this session was perhaps the most interactive thus far.

Day 4
Topic:  Panel Discussion - The Future of Psychology 
Speakers:  Professor Ken Greenwood (Academia) and Ms Clare Yeo (Clinical Psychologist)


Day 5
Topic:  Emotional Intelligence 
Speaker:  Ms Teodora Pavkovic
So some of you might be wondering why Day 4 is missing, and that is because I had to miss the talk on the "Future of Psychology in Singapore" due to prior commitments.  Nevertheless, today’s talk was really fascinating, especially since the topic of emotional intelligence is something very often overlooked but is gaining more recognition in recent times.  We started off the talk with a quick mindfulness activity to center ourselves in the present in preparation for the talk.  For those who do not know what mindfulness is, it is the practice of bringing one’s attention to the present moment, to our internal processes and on how external processes may influence us.  In this activity, we were asked to focus on our breathing, to feel our emotions and to identify them in a non-judgemental manner, to acknowledge everything we feel and thoughts we might be having.

We then moved on to an activity on identifying emotions which was particularly difficult in seeing, as most emotions share commonalities with others.  By now, I was wondering what does all these have to do with emotional intelligence, what exactly is emotional intelligence, and how would it help me in my daily life.  Emotional intelligence was defined to us as 'the ability to know our emotions, manage them, harness them in effective manners, recognize emotions in others and ourselves, and then how to handle emotions'.  It is important to note at this point that we should not discriminate emotions based on being positive and negative, as they all have their own unique functions.  For example, the Fear emotion, one of the four basic emotions, has the function of protecting us from possible dangers.
Another important point that was probably central to the talk was that emotions derived from a very primal place within us, and is based on evolutionary psychology.  Additionally, due to this evolutionary perspective, humans have developed a negativity bias towards negative emotions.  This meant that we are more inclined to notice negative emotions as a means of self-preservation whilst positive emotions may not surface till later.  So perhaps the next time you are feeling really negative about something, it would help to take a step back and be more objective about the entire situation; maybe you will start to see the more positive side of things.  A study shared during the talk  discussed the factors influencing our levels of happiness and well-being, and it showed that 50% of our subjective happiness was based on our genes (so I guess some people are just predisposed to be happier than others, sorry!), 10% of it was due to the situation (this was kinda surprising), and 40% of it was due to our actions (so you do have a lot more control over things than you realise! Maybe it is time to own that control).

Lastly, we wrapped up the talk with ways to better improve our emotional intelligence and here are three simple techniques that are pretty simple to do!
  1. Breathe!  Just this simple act of breathing helps to orient you back to the present moment and may help in processing complex emotions. 
  2. Sit with your emotions.  Just let them stew and over time these emotions will go away.  If they do not, perhaps you should talk to someone about them. 
  3. Respond but do not react.  When we react, we often use what we have previously learnt in an automatic process and as we have an innate bias towards negative emotions, chances are when we react without allowing our higher cognitive functions process the situation, our manner of reaction might be more negative.
Conclusion:
All in all, this week has been an enlightening journey for me, and I have met many wonderful people who I will hopefully be working with in the future.  Till then, thanks for taking the time to read this extremely lengthy piece and hope you’ve learnt something useful too!

*Photos displayed in this blog post are copyright of SG Psych Stuff.

About the guest writer Jon Kuek:
Jon is a 3rd year psychology student in James Cook University (Singapore).  Learning is his passion and he hopes to educate the next generation of psychology students one day.  He has interests in many fields of psychology, in particular social and clinical psychology.  In his free time, Jon volunteers at the Institute of Mental Health and is constantly looking for new volunteers to join him on his adventure to serve the mentally ill who are staying at the hospital.  Do contact him at jon211190@gmail.com if you would be interested in helping them too!

Effective Human Resource Management and Psychology

Image Credit: http://www.franklin.edu/blog/masters-in-human-resource-management-should-i-do-it/
The world of commerce is a dynamic and engaging field.  It encompasses the fields of management, marketing, finance, information technology, operations/production and more.  It is important to note that in any organization, be it profit or not-for-profit, people are at its core.  These people could be the organization’s employees, customers, shareholders, suppliers, just to name a few.  Since business organizations need people, this also poses the realization that in running a business, there is always the need for effective human resource management.

Image Credit: http://education.kilroy.net/fields-of-study/business/human-resource-management
One of the activities involved in human resource management is selecting the best candidates from a pool of applicants.  Human resource management also involves wages and salaries administration, labor relations, employee training and development, and many others.  Normally, companies would post advertisements of job vacancies in newspapers and in their websites. In the field of human resource management, organizations will be in need of employees who are ideally a good fit to the business.  Taking into consideration their educational attainment, background, and experience, applicants or ideal candidates offer their valuable time and skills in helping the organization achieve its vision and mission in exchange for just and equitable compensation package.   Now, how do you find the people who would best fit your organization?  This is where a sufficient knowledge of psychology will come in handy.

In some companies, it has become a standard practice to administer a battery of exams to applicants to gauge their skills, particularly in language and mathematics.  Psychologists term this as cognitive skills.  After which, the applicants are then given personality tests.  One classic example of which is the 16PF which stands for 16 Personality Factors.  This test will reveal the personality types of an organization’s applicants.  Thus, human resource managers will be able to identify which applicant is best suited to which job.  For example, marketing professionals who are engaged in direct selling will be most likely to be extroverted than data analysts.  Stereotypical as it may sound, extroverted individuals are energized when they are surrounded by people while introverted individuals tend to be more effective and more energized when they are not surrounded by a lot of people.  Another test called the MBTI or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is another test that basically serves the same purpose.  In human resource management, career counselling is another field that requires sufficient and functional knowledge of psychology.  In high-stress or high-pressure jobs, it is important to safeguard the mental and emotional well-being of one’s employees.  In such occupations, employees may manifest various issues such as anxiety and depression.  Given the nature of their high stress occupation, having employees suffer from such issues is potentially detrimental to the company’s productivity and organizational culture.  This may result to absenteeism, frequent and habitual tardiness, and low self-esteem.  Thus, it is also important to help employees cope with the stress and demands of the job by allowing to decompress and look after themselves.   Again, sufficient knowledge of psychology to help one’s employees and workers is of great importance.

Having people at the heart of one’s business is a complicated and daunting responsibility.  Organizations are composed of people and the economy is run by individuals coming from different backgrounds.  So what is the common thread that will help organizations, societies and managers achieve their goals?  It is a good understanding of one’s people.  And such can not be achieved without learning and digesting psychology.

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This is an invited post by Dr Frederick Halcon, an established researcher and academic from the Philippines. Below is his bio-data:
Dr. Frederick A. Halcon is a Contractual Lecturer at Far Eastern University Manila.  He was the former Dean of the School of Business of iACADEMY in Makati City, Philippines.  He was also a Lecturer of the Raffles College of Higher Education in Singapore and has taught at Assumption College, St. Scholastica's College, De La Salle University, and Adamson University in the Philippines.  His research interests include social responsibility, business education, operations research, and environmental economics.  He specializes in the case study as a research method.  In his spare time, he loves listening to music, watching movies and travelling all over Southeast Asia.
See his LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jfahalcon7.  He is contactable via jfahalcon7@yahoo.com.

Insight into Psychology in Malaysia and Singapore: MY Psychology + SG Psych Stuff (Part 2)

Psychology is one of the rapid growing fields in South East Asia, including Malaysia and Singapore.  There has been a significant increase in Psychology students and mental health professionals in the related fields of psychology.  ASEAN Psychologists also started to work together to form ASEAN region of Psychology community, providing support for each other.  One of the most significant happenings is reflected by the biennial ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies (ARUPS) Congress held in the respective countries, where different psychologists from different Asian countries come together for this great event.  With these collaborations happening in South East Asia, we hope that they can bring more and more insights or useful information for our readers to have a better understanding towards this fast developing field, especially for those who wish to pursue their studies or careers in Psychology.

Once again, MY Psychology collaborated with SG Psych Stuff for another opportunity for co-writing, to share with you some of our insights into the Psychology field, brought to you by Tim and JY, guest writers from MY Psych, and SG Psych Stud from SG Psych Stuff.
Click here to read Insight into Psychology in Malaysia and Singapore: MY Psychology + SG Psych Stuff (Part 1):

Adapted from https://www.unicaf.org
Q4:  What is the common career paths of Psychology graduates in your country?

JY [MY Psych]:
Human resource, consultants, counselors, therapists, trainers, life coaches, teachers and educators in general. those who are interested in research often end up in market research.

SG Psych Stud:
This is very hard to say, as different people might take different career paths.
From: http://sgpsychstuff.blogspot.sg/2015/10/career-planning-psychcareer.html
Your Career =  Your Psychological Knowledge and Skills + Your Speciality
The conclusion on types of jobs from a previous 2011 post was "It also depends on your level of skills and knowledge which you have gained through your degrees, and your past work experience."  It is typical and reasonable that recent graduates have a general psychology degree, and lack of psychological-related work experience.  However, everyone is different, equipped with different skills!
We need to know and understand our own knowledge, skills, abilities, and strengths such that we can use that to our benefit towards getting our ideal jobs.  Hence other than the general psychological knowledge that you obtain from the degree, I would advise that you obtain or have another specialty (which is based on your current interest, skills or abilities).

Adapted from http://images.wisegeek.com
Q5:  Can I become a Psychologist after completing my Psychology degree?

JY [MY Psych]:
Short answer is yes; long answer is no.  As of now there are no associations regulating the use of the title "Psychologist" in Malaysia, creating quite a lot of questionable practices from the field.  But when it comes to international presence, it is assumed that one does not claim the title of psychologist until one finishes a Masters or a doctorate degree.  The counseling field is regulated by a board however.

Adapted from http://tcs-cdn.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com
SG Psych Stud: 
With the Allied Health Professionals Act enforced in 2011, it will be enforced that all clinical psychologists may have to be registered, with one of the main criteria of being registered with the Singapore Register of Psychologists.  This would mean that all clinical psychologists would need a postgraduate qualification as well as at least 1000 supervised practicum hours.

With the National Psychology Competency Framework announced during the recent SPS AGM 2016, there will definitely be a national framework that regulates the competency standards of practicing psychologists.

With all these in place on a national level, a undergraduate degree will definitely not be enough for you to become a psychologist, though some companies will take Honours students as “Associate Psychologists”.

Adapted from http://www.startdoingit.com
Q6:  What are the challenges of the Psychology field in your country?

SG Psych Stud:
I think ultimately it is the prestige and recognition of the profession in the country. This has been brought up before in this 2011 post.

There is a high level of interest from students in recent years, due to the positive psychology movement, high humanistic interest to understand oneself, and the mysterious factor of the work of a psychologist.  However, there is not enough public knowledge of what we really do as psychologists.  The general mindset is still of the work related to mental illnesses, but that is not the case for all psychologists.

There is also currently no accreditation of psychology programs in Singapore. Read: http://sgpsychstuff.blogspot.sg/2014/07/what-we-need-now-SGpsychtraining.html

With no accreditation council in Singapore, it is very difficult to verify whether the programs are of high quality and standardised and whether they will suffice for students to move up to the next levels of education and training.
With proper accreditation of programs and a national registration of psychologists, this will definitely improve the clarity of training pathways for current budding psychologists and push the profession to a high level of recognition and prestige among other professions.

Adapted from http://i.huffpost.com
Tim [My Psych]:
I think one challenge would be that the general public still has not fully opened up to psychology.  The various achievements and milestones made in the field of psychology are still quite confined within the context of academia and universities, which is ironic considering that the findings of most psychological research are supposed to benefit the general populace, not just students of psychology.  I believe that this calls for a push to spread awareness and to enlighten the public on what is going on in the field of psychology, and to explain to them why it is so important.

On a related note, there still seems to be a prevalent perception that psychologists dabble exclusively in dealing with mental illnesses, which of course is a significant facet of psychology, but not its sole purpose.  The mandate of psychology is to understand all aspects of the human condition, and to find ways of improving our lives in those various aspects.  It would perhaps be beneficial if people begin to realize that the study of psychology permeates different fields, from social studies to cyberpsychology, from cognition to media psychology.  In other words, the role of psychology is relevant across a whole spectrum of fields, not just in mental health.  If this idea is properly conveyed to the general populace, that perhaps may open up more avenues to psychologists to better serve people.

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Authors information:
Tan Jia Yue, codenamed JY:  A s̶e̶l̶f̶-̶p̶r̶o̶c̶l̶a̶i̶m̶e̶d time traveler from a dystopian future who settled down in the present hoping to change its course.  Suffering from time-machine lag, he struggles to blend in with peasants of the present and manages to find his way into HELP University’s BPsych programme while picking up a taste for mellow music, video games, anime, inappropriate attempts at jokes, and tea.  Having d̶e̶l̶u̶s̶i̶o̶n̶s visions of humanity’s bleak future, he believes the key to a better future lies in the education of the sciences, psychology, humanism, and cat videos.  Follow his personal ramblings at A Certain Astral Project;ion.

Timothy Liew:  A trueborn kid at heart with a penchant for lame jokes of every kind, Tim enjoys lazy afternoons with coffee in one hand and a good fantasy book in the other.  Having hailed from an imaginary world, he believes in mankind’s inherent duality, and has thus embarked on a quest to uncover the hidden truths of the human mind, armed with the regalia of psychology, philosophy and uncommon sense.  Has a soft spot for plushies and baby animals.

SG Psych Stud [SG Psych Stuff]:  My role in the Singapore psychological arena is to be a critical observer and reporter of what is happening in our small psychology world here.  With a passion for psychology, I am purely writing this blog for students, so my target audience would be current and prospective students of psychology.  This is all in the hope to improve psychology in Singapore and assist students in their journeys in psychology.  If you are interested in psychology and/or wish to pursue a career in psychology, i.e. to be a psychologist or any other related career, in Singapore and surrounding countries in Southeast Asia, and like my blog, please 'Like' and 'Follow' SG Psych Stuff Facebook page (fb.com/sgpsychstuff). Thanks!

Insight into Psychology in Malaysia and Singapore: MY Psychology + SG Psych Stuff (Part 1)

Image Credit: http://onlinecareertips.com/2014/01/the-ritz-carlton-way-starts-with-exceptional-communication/
Psychology is one of the rapid growing fields in South East Asia, including Malaysia and Singapore.  There has been a significant increase in Psychology students and mental health professionals in the related fields of psychology.  ASEAN Psychologists also started to work together to form ASEAN region of Psychology community, providing support for each other.  One of the most significant happenings is reflected by the biennial ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies (ARUPS) Congress held in the respective countries, where different psychologists from different Asian countries come together for this great event.  With these collaborations happening in South East Asia, we hope that they can bring more and more insights or useful information for our readers to have a better understanding towards this fast developing field, especially for those who wish to pursue their studies or careers in Psychology.

Once again, MY Psychology collaborated with SG Psych Stuff for another opportunity for co-writing, to share with you some of our insights into the Psychology field, brought to you by Tim and JY, guest writers from MY Psych, and SG Psych Stud from SG Psych Stuff.


Adapted from https://i.ytimg.com
Q1:  What are some common misconceptions by students about Psychology degrees in your country?

JY [MY Psych]:  
Studying Psychology doesn’t require mathematical knowledge, is all about reading body language and mind reading, alongside with knowing a lot on abnormal behaviours.  There is also those who are completely ignorant about research and thinks that Google, Wikipedia and sensationalist websites are good sources.

SG Psych Stud:  
There are students who would enter the programs with these common misconceptions:
  • Studying psychology is interesting.
  • Psychology is not a science, so students will study less of theories or mathematics related modules.
  • After studying psychology, students will be able to read or understand people’s mind (or behaviour).
  • Studying psychology will help you achieve self-understanding of your own personalities
  • You will be able to counsel people after a degree, or even become a counsellor or psychologist.
Retrieved from http://www.waldorf.edu/
 Q2:  Could you briefly describe the essence of the Psychology degree in your country?  What is the main focus of the course?

JY [MY Psych]:  
I cannot speak for every university.  In HELP University, there is a lot of emphasis on research methods after students have built a solid foundation on the introductory psychology knowledge.  Students are left to our own initiatives to develop their own interests even though it won’t be specified by the degree.  Research topics included experimental models, statistical tests, mixed method designs, etc.  With that being said, it seems like child psychology is a growing trendy of study in Malaysia, considering we have more lecturers interested in child and developmental psychology than other fields.

Tim [MY Psych]:  
Like JY has mentioned, the psychology course in HELP University puts a heavy emphasis on nurturing our knowledge and skills in research methods.  Starting even from the second semester of our freshman year, students are required to conduct literature reviews, propose a study, collect data and run simple statistical analyses.  Gradually, students learnt to conduct different types of studies as they receive training in differing kinds of research such as quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods designs.  The reason for conducting so many studies even before the final thesis is because the teaching staff hope that students are able to carry out research that can not only expand their understanding of human beings, but also improve people’s lives.

SG Psych Stud: 
This really depends on the universities and their respective programs.
Refer to the list of undergraduate degrees in Singapore including private programs:

For the private programs:  The Australian programs may tend to be more towards clinical psychology.  The UK programs may tend to be more general psychology.  The US programs tend to be more towards the liberal arts.  Do note that for the Australian and UK Honours programs, an Honours thesis may be required in the last year.

For the local programs:  The NUS, NTU, and UniSIM are more similar to the Australian programs, while SMU and Yale-NUS are more similar to the US programs.  Please refer to the reflection stories of the undergraduate students under 2) Life as an undergraduate student.

Retrieved from http://www.worcester.ac.uk
Q3:  What are the knowledges and skills that a Psychology graduate can learn from a degree?  Some people might think that we can become a real counsellor after completing a degree.

JY [MY Psych]:  
I think critical thinking is the greatest asset we have.  Knowing how our behaviour and cognition works doesn’t change a person as much as most think, but this understanding of behaviour and cognition makes us consider carefully before making our minds and acting in a more scientific manner since we are aware on the cognitive processes involved.
For some of us, it even develops empathy and patience as we practice counselling skills and qualitative research, making us more aware of each other’s different perspectives.  For me, I think I get to reflect more about philosophical issues, e.g. world views, etc.

Tim [MY Psych]:  
The psychology course at HELP University puts emphasis on expanding our exposure to the different theories and trains of thoughts that surround a particular phenomenon.  Lecturers often like to introduce a host of different theories and have students discuss the distinctions between those theories and how the weaknesses of one are compensated by the other.  This encourages us to make critical and thoughtful comparisons between theories, as well as reminding us that it is often the case that no one theory can completely explain a phenomenon on its own.

To complement our theoretical knowledge, the lecturers often champion the importance of practicality, and the assignments they give us often have a practical element in them.  For example, for our Human Factors class, we are required to analyse and devise ways of improving the usability of a product or service, such as the interface of a website or gadget.  For classes such as our Social Psychology or Learning Disability class, the assignment entails the application of theories in creating interventions for minority populations or students with disabilities.  The interventions don’t just stay on paper though; the lecturers would often encourage implementing the intervention in real life, which students are usually quite enthusiastic about.  I think this underscores the fact that learning psychology doesn’t stop at understanding human thoughts and behaviours, it often embodies the philosophy of finding innovative ways of helping people lead better lives.

SG Psych Stud: 
I have just written about this in a recent postIn summary, there are two main things a student can gain from a psychology degree:
  1. Gaining a new perspective
  2. Gaining better communication skills
Gaining a new perspective:
Studying the different modules in a psychology program allows a person to develop more rational and critical thinking.  This changes in thinking allows him/her to take up different perspectives and hypotheses when discussing different topics and/or issues.  With this psychology training, one may tend to look at the world and life a bit differently.

Gaining better communication skills:
This skills are mostly developed in the counselling modules.  Benefits of these skills include better engagement with others, higher chances of convincing others, having better clarity in the communication, and developing stronger rapport and relationships with others.

At the undergraduate level, information that you learnt from the books and lectures may seem to be unrelated; however when you reach the postgraduate level, more in-depth knowledge and skills would be taught such that all these may intermingle to develop you into a better therapist.


Image Credit: http://www.istockphoto.com/vector/cartoon-scientist-with-thought-bubble-professor-teacher-gm165812763-19518726?st=88db679
To be continued....Stay tuned for Part 2!!!!