SG Psych Stuff: The Team (Who are We??)

Hi everyone

This is SGPsychStud!  Thanks for all your support throughout these five years!  Since the establishment of SG Psych Stuff in July 2011, it has always been a OMS (One Man Show) where I wrote the blog posts, invited guest writers to do some guest writeups, updated the social media daily, going to events and talks and doing reflections on them.  It has been very tiring for me and does take up a long time to produce quality posts for all of you.  Hence this year, I decided to recruit some helpers to help me out on different tasks, which means more and better stuff for all of you!  You may have already noticed some posts by them during the past few months.
So here's an introduction of myself and the team:

SGPsychStud - Blog Owner and the "Bao Ka Liao" (Do-It-All)

A lot of readers think that I am Dr Majeed, because of the most famous and most read post in this blog.  However, I am not.  I am just a dedicated educator with a Masters in Applied Psychology, with years of working experience doing research and teaching in tertiary education in Singapore and Australia. I also hold several other certifications in counselling and coaching.  I see myself as a curious and passionate learner, with the love of educating and helping students (and in the midst, influencing psychology students in Singapore for greater changes in the future!).

You will often see me at events, so that I am able to bring you the latest news and information about psychology in Singapore.  As mentioned previously, 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.  This is all in the hope to improve psychology in Singapore and assist students, like yourself, in your journeys in psychology.

Personally I do hope to see more recognition of psychologists as a professional in Singapore, and not restricted only to the common understanding of clinical psychologists and psychiatrists.  This in turn may probably result in accreditation of psychology programs in Singapore (I hope!). To understand more about accreditation, please read these posts:
What we need NOW in Singapore psychological education and training system
Accreditation of programs and Registration of psychologists

To know more about my thoughts and reflections, you may find them in here at About This Blog or the label SGPsychStud's thoughts (on the right column).

Introduction of Brenda by SGPsychStud:  
Like the Avengers in the movie, we have a pretty female on the team to balance out the testosterone in the group.  She is in charge of managing the Twitter account (@SGPsychStud), which her posts are also directed to Facebook.  Here's her introduction!

Brenda - The Social Media Manager

I have just graduated from UCL Institute of Education in MSc Psychology of Education.  I have also completed a Professional Diploma in Psychotherapy.  My education background focused on the field of psychology and counselling.  I have worked with a voluntary welfare organisation as an Executive Case Management before I pursued my Masters.  My job was to evaluate the cancer patients' financial condition and provide necessary financial assistance to them.  On top of that, I did home visits and to provide psychosocial support to the cancer patients and the family members.

As for myself, I love travelling and to experience different cultures.  I also do art and craft and music during my leisure time.  I am a great listener to my friends when they need someone to listen to them.

Psychology is definitely fun to learn.  I hope Singapore could provide more opportunities for fresh graduates or individuals who are interested in psychology a platform to have hands-on experience.  Not only does the theory important to us, the practical skills matter to us as well.

Introduction of Jon by SGPsychStud:  
Jon was invited to do the reflection on the SPS Psychweek 2016 in April and has since represented SG Psych Stuff in other events such as Singapore Mental Health Conference (Part 1, Part 2) and UniPsych Symposium (Sessions 1, 2, 3).  Stay tuned for more of his events posts soon!!

Jon - The Events Guy

Hello everyone, my name is Jon and I'm currently pursuing my Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) at James Cook University.  I am also working part time as a research assistant within the University, and am part of the Golden Key International Honour Society.

In my free time, I am an active volunteer at the Institute of Mental Health and lead a group of passionate youths to serve the mentally ill.  I am also involved in mental health advocacy and working to promote the field of psychology in Singapore.

I would really like to see more integration and cooperation within the Singapore psychology scene as I believe the only way we can move forward as a field is to put aside our differences and work together.  This would mean that the various fields of psychology (clinical, organizational, forensic, etc.) would need to come together, share their experience and good practices within each of their fields so we can establish a proper framework from which future psychologists wishing to enter the field of psychology can adhere to.

Introduction of Jerry O. by SGPsychStud:  
Jerry is a psychologist that really knows how to enjoy and have fun.  Being in his class is not never boring, and as commented by fellow colleagues, he is a true "edutainer".  You will believe me when you see him face to face and have a casual talk with him.  With his passion in helping students, I believe his contributions will bring SG Psych Stuff to greater heights!

Jerry O. - The Consultant

By training, I’m a counselling psychologist. I graduated with a Masters degree in Counselling from Monash University (Australia) in 2010 and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Southern Queensland (Australia) in 2005.  I see myself as an individual with diverse and cross functional expertise as an educator, psychologist, counsellor and youth-worker, with over ten years of experience in working with youths and young adults; specialising in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT).

I have worked in many different environments, from one to one and group therapy sessions, to classroom lessons with Normal (Academic and Technical) stream students in secondary schools, to polytechnic student, to conducting motivational workshops and giving talks on at-risk youths or mental health to adults and professionals.  I am also currently a full-time Psychology lecturer and counsellor, as well as a volunteer Defence Psychologist.

When we use the term Psychologists in Singapore the perception is that it often refers to clinical psychologists.  I hope to see an inclusivity in the recognition of psychologists from other fields like organisational, counselling, forensic psychology, as well as psychologists who chose the path of education (teaching) in psychology.

Final note by SGPsychStud:
If you wish to help out by joining the SG Psych Stuff team or writing a guest post, please feel free to fill in your contact details and message in the Contact SGPsychStud column on the right!

SGPsychStud: Training pathways and Registration Requirements for Psychology, Counselling and Social Work

Image Credit: Singapore Psychological Society (SPS) , Singapore Association for Counselling (SAC), and Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW)

This post is focused on the training pathways to be registered psychologists, counsellors, and social workers.  The information as mentioned in this post are illustrated from websites of the above associations and societies. 
Before we move on in this post, there are a few things to clarify regarding registration:

Why should one be registered? 
To be registered would indicate that you have achieved the highest standards and gained full competence of the profession, and hence qualified to practice as a registered professional.

Can I work without being registered?
Yes.  To work in the professions, you need the minimum academic qualifications and experience; however registration is not mandatory (for now).
Image Credit:
What is the difference between Psychologists, Counsellors, Social Workers?
You may find the descriptions of the three professions here in this SG Psych Stuff post: "What's the difference?"

Training pathway and registration requirements to become a Psychologist

For more information and details, please view: Pathway for Singapore Psychology Education

  • 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, with at least some hours must be completed during the degree.  It is not acceptable to do all supervision post-degree. 

Training pathway and registration requirements to become a Counsellor

To become a counsellor, there are several recognised postgraduate local counselling programs that you can do, after your undergraduate studies.  This list of programs below is available from Singapore Association for Counselling.

To be able to register with SAC Register of Counsellors, you need to have:
  • Graduated from an accredited institute of higher learning and has also completed recognized training courses in counselling theory and content (of a minimum of 300 contact hours altogether).
  • Counselling Practicum or Internship as part of the degree programme, which includes a minimum of 100 hours in the practice of face to face counselling under clinical supervision.
  • Completed 600 hours of face-to-face counselling within a minimum period of two years, subject to a maximum of three years.  
The counselling supervision, which must be by an SAC Registered Counsellor or SAC Registered Supervisor, or a Clinical Supervisor approved by the institute will consist of at least one hour of clinical supervision for each ten hours of counselling practice.

Training pathway and registration requirements to become a Social Worker

Image Credit: SASW (
According to Social Work Accreditation and Advisory Board (SWAAB), here are the requirements to qualify to be a Registered Social Worker (RSW):
  • Possess social work qualifications recognised by the Social Work Accreditation and Advisory Board (SWAAB) (as above)
  • Have one year of post-qualification full-time social work experience in Singapore
  • Have 80 hours of relevant in-employment training
  • Have 1,000 hours of supervised practice during study and/or post-study employment

Conclusion:  Regardless of the profession, it seems like a specialised undergraduate or postgraduate training is required, as well as  600 to 1000 hours of supervised practice.  There is a lot of commitment required for these professions, and hence hard work is definitely needed!

SG Psych Stuff @ UniPsych Symposium: Session 3

The SG Psych Stuff team was invited to the UniPsych Symposium that happened on 13 August at NTU The Hive.  Overall it was a very well-organised symposium, with every participant gaining great insights at the end of every talk!  Congrats to the UniPsych Team!
Due to the lack of manpower, we only managed to cover 13 out of the 27 talks that was conducted over the three sessions.  All these talks will be presented on this blog based on their sessions: Session 1Session 2, and Session 3.  The talks are covered by the SG Psych Stuff Team (SGPsychStud, Jerry O., Jon) and two guest writers (N.L. and A.F.)
Thank you UniPsych Team and we hope to see you again next year!!!

Session 3 Room 5:  Everyday I’m Suffering: Cultivating Self Compassion and Emotional Resilience in a Chaotic World.
Speakers:  Dr Andy H. Y. Ho and Ms Geraldine Tan-Ho
Talk covered by:  Jerry O.

What was the talk about?
Dr Andy H. Y. Ho and Ms Geraldine Tan-Ho, both experts in the field of Social Sciences and Psychology, shared their knowledge and experience on how self-compassion impacts the development of emotional resilience, and how we can strive to cultivate compassion towards ourselves and others through the practice of Mindful-Compassion Art Therapy (MCAT).

Geraldine began the talk with the definition, effects and examples of suffering.  She shared a lot about self-compassion and its elements as well as why it is important for people in psychology to practice self-compassion.  Dr Andy took the second part of the session to share about the concept, strengths and benefits of Mindfulness – which is being aware of one’s own mental processes in the present, with the goal of practicing clarity and compassion without judgement to self or others.
The third part of this talk is an experiential practice of MCAT.  This is where Dr Andy guides us through a Mindful Body Scan for identifying stress, an artistic expression of stress where we actually visualise and create a visual representation of our stress, and a Response Art Creation for stress transformation.

Thoughts/feedback/comments on the talk
So this session was basically an introduction on Mindful-Compassion Art Therapy and how it can be used in the context of self-compassion and stress reduction (transformation).  Unlike the other talks that I’ve been to, this is the only one with an experiential activity that I found very meaningful and insightful that I could take home and practice.

Session 3 Room 6:  Sport Psychology: Practice, Research and Education
Speaker:  Ms Emily Ortega
Talk covered by:  N.L.

What was the talk about?
The talk essentially covered what the title suggests, with focus being given to practice (since this is the bulk of the speaker's working experience), while not neglecting the other two aspects of research and education.  The speaker talked about her intimate experiences in each of these three components.  For example, she mentioned that as a researcher she learnt to be open-minded and receptive to feedback.  Her first attempt at getting an article published was rejected and she strove to improve, leading to her second article being accepted at the first try with only minor amendments needed.  She also eschewed the can-do spirit by volunteering to teach statistics when she was a lecturer even though she admitted that it was not her forte.  Last but not least, she mentioned that she has learnt many things from her working experiences.  She emphasised the importance of self-care, especially in the healing profession, and the transferability of psychological skills such as her being recruited to do personality assessment after her stint at the Singapore Sports School, and the joy of seeing her athletes standing on the podium after their victories.

Conclusion of the talk
The speaker has demonstrated her enthusiasm for sports psychology (and sports in general) by linking all three aspects namely research, education and practice to this field.  She talked about how working with professional shooters inspired her to research on psychophysiology especially concerning heart rate biofeedback, that she also contributed to the growing awareness of sports psychology locally by helping to design the curriculum of the sports psychology module taught in NUS, and how after 10 years of working she has decided that she had to go for her PhD studies in sports psychology to stay relevant.  It is interesting to see how each aspect enriches her experience in the field and leads to her taking on the other aspects.  Furthermore, she mentioned about the pros and cons of being a sports psychologist (such as immense job satisfaction while also having a thankless job).

Thoughts/feedback/comment on the talk
Emily Ortega, the speaker, is a fantastic orator and lecturer.  This is a severe understatement.  Emily Ortega is also a fantastic person and role model.  This is again another overwhelming understatement.  The only reason this write-up about her talk is not as long and detailed as it should be was due to the writer not taking down any notes.  But then again, probably no one in the talk session was in the mood for some studious note-taking when almost everyone was thoroughly enthralled from the beginning to the end.

Every account of her experiences were recounted so vividly that it was as if you were walking in her shoes.  The author suspects that her infectious positivity and can-do spirit, along with many other valuable lessons learnt (and again, "many" is another horrible understatement) were somehow sown like seeds in the audience's hearts and would continue to grow as the level of rapport she built with them was just incredible.  Should she decide to change profession altogether one day, it is suggested that she can try becoming a life coach (her ability to connect the dots and apply her skills and knowledge to every conceivable practical situation would avail her to any job, but the author guessed that she might have an interest in helping others attain their true potential).

If there is a complaint about her talk, then it would be that she should perhaps consider sharing her presentation slides with the audience, since there was so much relevant and interesting information but everyone seemed to be even more enraptured with her delivery.  I (N.L.) highly recommend everyone to go for her talks sometime.  Even if you are not interested in sports psychology, there is plenty to learn from her as a person.  And she somehow effortlessly makes you learn and get all excited about it.

Session 3 Room 7:  Talk by Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS)
Talk covered by:  A.F.

What was the talk about?
The talk covered the work of an educational therapist and psychologist in DAS.  As an educational therapist, the work involves educating dyslexic students in ways that are multi-sensory, such as using play-dough and teaching students language in a structured and sequential manner by breaking down spelling, reading and writing lessons into simpler concepts.  As a psychologist, the work involves assessing students' capabilities, carry out interventions and researches to aid the students in their learning.  DAS also carries out outreach programmes to increase public’s awareness of dyslexia and how to help their children with dyslexia.

Session 3 Room 8:  NTUxNUS Alumni Forum
Talk covered by:  SGPsychStud

What was the talk about?
The Alumni Forum presented 3 alumni from NTU and NUS respectively.  Each shared about their plans and why they joined their companies or decided to do what they wanted.  They discussed the importance of having experience before going for postgraduate studies, the importance of being a psychologist to them, the differences in postgraduate studies in the respective countries, the importance of grades and doing a thesis for government jobs.
A common thought that was discussed was that
“Experience is valued more than Education”.
They also discussed on their experiences in interviews (i.e. what to do and things to look out for), the differentiation between an applied and research masters, and the processes to note for PhD application in USA.

Conclusion of the talk
For students considering postgraduate studies:
  • "Grades do not matter so much in graduate school.  It really depends on the skills you have as a researcher."
  • "When deciding where to go for graduate school, go for the professor not the university rankings.  Look out as well for similar research topic as your supervisor, stipend, school culture (competitive, nurturing, etc.).  You should try to talk to the current PhD students there."
  • "Referrals are very important if you are considering to do a Masters and postgraduate studies.  So continue to build relationships with your university professors."
For students pursuing their careers:
  • "My education moulds my personality, my character, and who I am.  So find out who you are as a person, and what you wish to pursue."
  • "Consider about your unique value as a psychology student, such as your abilities to evaluate, your sensitivity to numbers (data literacy), and understanding the value of individual differences.  These are something you have as psychology students."

Session 3 Room 9:  Advice on Postgraduate Application
Speaker:  A/Prof Joyce Pang
Talk covered by:  Jon

What was the talk about?
The final talk of the day was by NTU’s A/Prof Joyce Pang, a personality psychologist by training and now on the board of postgraduate applications (e.g., Masters or PhD) at NTU.  Being in this unique position, her talk provided us with a wealth of knowledge on the dos and don’ts when applying for a postgraduate position.  Although just slightly more than an hour, Prof Pang’s talk was packed with information and tips on preparing the best postgraduate application you can, and what to do if things doesn’t go according to plans.  Thus I will attempt to summarize her points:

1.  You should know that post graduate programs have a very low acceptance rate (10 to 20%), with popular disciplines having an even lower rate, making it of utmost importance to ask yourself why do you want/need to take enter this program (i.e., know your goal) before actually applying for any programs.

2.  Choose the school, this may seem like a given but there’s actually more to it.  Many factors go into deciding this, such as an appropriate supervisor/advisor in an appropriate faculty/department since they will be interacting with most throughout your grad school journey, or more practical aspects such as locality, cost and duration of the program.

3.  Having decided the school you wish to apply for, you now have to prepare the relevant materials (e.g., academic transcripts, referee letters, etc.).  This may differ from school to school so be sure to check up early on the related deadlines and materials required.  While preparing these materials, ensure that they are consistent (same throughout), unique (what makes you stand out), compelling (qualities you have that will ensure success in the program), and relevant (related to what you are applying for).  The main goal is to convince the school and your future advisor that you are the best candidate and was always meant to be in program.

Lastly, if you got in?  Congratulations!  But now you need to start discussing with the people around you (family, friends, and advisor) on what will be happening in the future and the topics will differ based on the people you talk to.  For example, start building rapport with your advisor, find out more on how to achieve success and to start building a good relationship because they will be the person who can either make or break you!  With your family, you might need to discuss financial matters or if you have children, you will to consider how doing a postgraduate degree would impact that.  However, if you did not make it, do not give up because it is by no means the end, re-evaluate your application and see how you can improve on it.  Perhaps you may want to garner more work experience, publish papers, or even present at conferences to further boost your chances the next time you try again.

Conclusion of the talk
To end off, Prof Pang presented the picture below and described how graduate school is like the light at the end of the tunnel:
You’re going to feel isolated at times, lost and afraid, but that light, it’s always there.  You can’t see how much longer you have to go, but as long as you keep going, it will get brighter and brighter.  Follow the tracks (supervisors, support from others) and eventually you will reach the end and enter a bright new world of possibilities.

SG Psych Stuff @ UniPsych Symposium: Session 2

The SG Psych Stuff team was invited to the UniPsych Symposium that happened on 13 August at NTU The Hive.  Overall it was a very well-organised symposium, with every participant gaining great insights at the end of every talk!  Congrats to the UniPsych Team!
Due to the lack of manpower, we only managed to cover 13 out of the 27 talks that was conducted over the three sessions.  All these talks will be presented on this blog based on their sessions: Session 1Session 2, and Session 3.  The talks are covered by the SG Psych Stuff Team (SGPsychStud, Jerry O., Jon) and two guest writers (N.L. and A.F.)
Thank you UniPsych Team and we hope to see you again next year!!!

Session 2 Room 4:  Psychology in a Correctional Setting
Speakers:  Ms. Joylynn Quek and Ms. Jeraldine Tan
Talk covered by:  A.F.

What was the talk about?
The talk covered the work of a Psychologist and a Correctional Rehabilitation Specialist (CRS) in Singapore Prison Service (SPS).  Ms. Joylynn Quek and Ms. Jeraldine Tan were very engaging in sharing their experiences working with offenders.  In general, the Psychologists and CRSs work closely with the Prison Officers to ensure public safety and prison security by carrying out psychological interventions which address the criminogenic needs of offenders.  The types of offenders which they manage, include sexual offenders, drug offenders, youth offenders, offenders with violence tendency, as well as those with mental health issues.  In addition to facilitating inmates’ rehabilitation during the incarceration phase, CRSs also work with the offenders during the post-release phase.  The speakers also debunked myths of working in SPS.  For instance, “working in prisons is not safe” is a general misconception by members of public.  In fact, staff in SPS work in a secured environment, where deliberate measures are taken to ensure the safety of both inmates and staff.

Conclusion of the talk
The speakers shared a lot of their experiences in working with people in SPS (e.g. colleagues and offenders) which proved to be insightful to many of us.  They put forth the demands (e.g. qualities, skills) that are needed in fulfilling the job criteria, the challenges they face and the opportunities they may gain.  This sharing of their experiences were beneficial for many of us as we were able to have a more realistic preview of the job as a Psychologist and Correctional Rehabilitation Specialist in SPS.  This has been one of the most interesting and beneficial talks.  It is an unique experience hearing from CRS and Psychologist working in SPS.

Session 2 Room 5:  Psychology in Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre
Speakers:  Ms Jane Quek and Ms Penelope Wang
Talk covered by:  Jerry O.

Summary and Conclusion of the talk
The Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre (HTBSC) is a behavioural sciences research centre based at the Home Team Academy in Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore.  HTBSC was set up to provide a behavioural sciences angle to support the Home Team’s (HT) operational work.  HTBSC advocates the integration of research science to complement ground operations and to enhance efficiency of HT officers.  Research in HTBSC is translated into real world application through trainings and seminars to HT officers.  Apart from research, HTBSC officers also provide operational support for police operations.

Session 2 Room 6:  Clinical Child Psychology
Speaker: Mr Brian Poh
Talk covered by: Jon

What was the talk about?
The second talk of the day was by Mr Brian Poh, a clinical child psychologist at IMH who started off his talk by sharing about his journey from working at REACH, a community based mental health program at IMH, to taking his masters in Melbourne and Singapore before finally returning and becoming a clinical psychologist at the Child Guidance Clinic in IMH.  He then cleared up the common misconceptions between a counsellor and a clinical psychologist, the main difference being the training received and type of issues that each encounter (counsellors typically deal with everyday issues while clinical psychologist deal with mental illnesses, although there are overlaps).  Following which, Mr Poh shared about the various other types of psychologists out there such as educational psychologist, occupational psychologist, etc.

He then explained about the importance of his job due to the increase in mental disorders amongst young people and the consequences of this situation if left untreated, such as an increase in suicide rates, juvenile delinquency/incarceration, and failure in school.  He also talked about the different developmental theories that help to understand children development, and the differences between child and adult psychiatry.

Next, he explained the different services provided in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in IMH and the importance of a clinical psychologist in a multidisciplinary team.  To end off, he shared some of the qualities of that one may need to be a child psychologist, such as a curious and analytical mind, a persevering attitude especially since working with children who are sometimes unable to verbalize what they feel or are too stubborn and unwilling to change, and the most important of all, a passion for helping the young people.

Thoughts/feedback/comments on the talk
Lastly, on a personal note one of the quotes he shared really stood out to me and I would like to highlight it to share with you: “The child is the father of the man” by William Woodsworth.  This basically means that a man is the product of his childhood experiences.  This powerful quote demonstrates the importance of childhood mental health and why we need well trained child psychologist to ensure that the mental health of our youths are well taken off.

Session 2 Room 7: Allied Educators (Learning and Behavioural Support, LBS) Recruitment Talk
Speaker:  Mdm Lourdes Maria
Talk covered by:  N.L.

What was the talk about?
The talk is divided into two distinct sections.  One section is a personal sharing by Mdm Lourdes Maria about her experiences as an allied educator.  The author found it difficult not to be swept up by her infectious passion to help children with learning disabilities to cope with being in a mainstream school.  Among the many touching  accounts she shared about working with those with disabilities such as ADHD and Visual Impairment, one in particular stood out to the author.  It is the story about a boy suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (a 100% fatal condition where one shows profound muscular weakness and will likely become wheelchair-bound by early teenage years, and will generally not live past adolescent or early adult years).  Initially the boy's father neglected him and did not send him for proper treatment, but after witnessing the patience and combined efforts of the allied educator and other parties, he has changed his attitude for the better and has even thanked her for helping him to become a more responsible father.

The second section is about the perks of the job.  For example, those who sign up will be sponsored to attend a training programme and will be paid their full monthly salary during their training.  To ensure a good job-fit, they will be required to undergo a school stint, which would allow them to understand the job requirements better and affirm their interest.  Furthermore, Allied Educators also work according to the school calendar and can enjoy the school holiday leave scheme.  The duties of an Allied Educator (LBS) include designing support strategies, providing in-class support and individual/small-group specialised remediation for students with mild educational needs in mainstream schools.  He or she will also be liaising extensively with school management teams, parents and external agencies.  There is also a specific window application period for recruitment.
For more details refer to

Conclusion of the talk
The author believes from the sharing session that to be an allied educator, one needs to have a lot of passion in helping children and teenagers with mild learning disabilities.  Besides the fact that it can be exhausting to work with them, their parents may also be uncooperative and may present an additional obstacle.  Nonetheless MOE has provided some great support from personnel such as the educational psychologists at the HQ.  One should consider joining this profession if one loves kids and that these aforementioned challenges can help in one's growth.

Thoughts/feedback/comment on the talk
The author thinks that the video shown near the end about the allied educator giving English lessons to a boy with mild learning disability was a bit too long and many among the audience were getting distracted.  Still, the author felt very gratified when the boy, who had poor interpersonal skills and usually spoke little, opened up towards the end and started talking animatedly about his experiences at the Universal Studios Singapore.

Session 2 Room 8:  Talk by Organisational Solutions Pte Ltd
Speaker:  Dr Alison Eyring
Talk covered by:  SGPsychStud

What was the talk about?
Dr. Alison Eyring is the CEO of Organisation Solutions, as well as the current President of COPS (Community of Organisational Psychologists in Singapore).  In this talk, she shared about her choices and insights from her career.

While taking an undergraduate module on Organisational Development, she found herself loving it!  She continued to do a PhD in Industrial / Organisational Psychology, despite only having a minor in psychology in her undergraduate studies.  She mentioned that different countries require different prerequisites for graduate school.
Early in her career she found that she prefers applied work after working for a year in a Business School.  Alison worked in companies such as Texaco, Pepsi and Caltex.  After moving to Singapore in 1999, she started her own company to help companies solve people and organization challenges of business growth.  She continues to work as CEO and also is an adjunct Associate Professor at NUS Business School.

Alison spoke about the type of work organizational psychologists do and she said the work varies a lot.  It depends on whether you are working as an external consultant, internal consultant or HR professional, or academic.  External consulting work often specializes in assessment of employees and talent management.  An internal consultant or HR professional might get involved in talent management, training and development or even HR generalist work.  Working in academia involves lecturing, curriculum design, research and writing.

Conclusion of the talk
Alison concluded with the question:  "What is your worthy life?"  Answering this question for herself helped her make important decisions about her career and business.
She advised the students to get some practical work experience before going for their postgraduate studies.  To become a qualified IO or occupational psychologist, you have to complete a graduate degree.
She mentioned that a weakness of I/O psychology was that some I/O psychologists may be such specialists that they do not really understand the organization/s they are serving.

Thoughts/feedback/comments on the talk
It was a very wonderful sharing by Dr. Alison Eyring on her career and some insights on her personal life, which reflected her thoughts and reasons for why she walked that path.  From the I/O point of view, her sharing focused mainly on the things that she is doing now in terms of organizational development, which was really what she loved to do.  Her experiences from her personal life directed her in some ways in her career; however everyone’s path may be slightly different, as we experience different things.

Her No. 1 Tip for graduates:
“If you are unsure of your next step, go to the best company and find the best job you can find to build your track record. Get a good experience that challenges you and takes you outside your comfort zone  – this will develop you and prepare for you increasingly challenging roles in the future."

SG Psych Stuff @ UniPsych Symposium: Session 1

The SG Psych Stuff team was invited to the UniPsych Symposium that happened on 13 August at NTU The Hive.  Overall it was a very well-organised symposium, with every participant gaining great insights at the end of every talk!  Congrats to the UniPsych Team!
Due to the lack of manpower, we only managed to cover 13 out of the 27 talks that was conducted over the three sessions.  All these talks will be presented on this blog based on their sessions: Session 1, Session 2, and Session 3.  The talks are covered by the SG Psych Stuff Team (SGPsychStud, Jerry O., Jon) and two guest writers (N.L. and A.F.)
Thank you UniPsych Team and we hope to see you again next year!!!

Session 1 Room 1:  Psychology in EBSC (Emergency Behavioural Sciences and Care Unit)
Speakers:  Mr Tan Wei Jie, Ms Stephanie Lim Chiou Yuin
Talk covered by:  N.L.

What was the talk about?
The EBSC is a psychological unit in the SCDF which comprises of two main branches, namely operations psychology and resilience and counselling psychology.  The talk centres on the details of what they do in these two branches.  For example, in terms of operations they support both local and overseas operations.  An example of what they do for local operations would be morale management for SCDF personnel involved in national-level events such as the NDP, F1 and SEA Games.  For overseas operations, they tend to mentally prepare, monitor and maintain the psychological wellness of the vanguards.  They also conduct psychometric assessment to assess the suitability of candidates for different positions, build resilience through regular trainings, manage the critical incident stress management framework and conduct counselling for the SCDF staff.

Last but not least, they also covered the "sexier" aspects of the job, such as having opportunities for career development and training where they could attend local and overseas conference.  They also mentioned that internship opportunities are open for university and polytechnic students.

Conclusion of the talk
One of the speakers, Mr Tan Wei Jie, has cautioned that the EBSC is not a pure research job and he also has to take on multiple portfolios (even those outside of his expertise) and has to be quick to adapt to them.  However, this also means that he is exposed to a wide range of experiences and has the opportunity to grow from them.

Thoughts/feedback/comments on the talk
Overall it was a very informative session with lots of details being dished out.  It also helped that the more experienced member in the EBSC, Ms Stephanie Lim, provided astute and deeper insights whenever necessary.  Both speakers were also very open in answering questions even the hard ones, such as the one raised about how to inform the workforce about the importance of psychological maintenance given their macho culture.  One may want to keep in mind the hierarchy and also that they will need to be able to build rapport with the front-line staff should they want to apply for this job.

Session 1 Room 6:  Life After Graduation
Speaker:  Desiree Phua
Talk covered by:  SGPsychStud

What was the talk about?
Desiree is a current PhD candidate in Nanyang Business School with a specialisation in social psychology, and is about to defend her thesis in the next month.  During her talk, she discussed her previous background, education and work history till where she is now at.  Through her experiences, she provided an insightful talk about the difficulties of starting a research career, her Phd experiences, as well as what are needed to pursue a PhD.  Her learnings from each of her years of work and training in research were also included.

Conclusion of the talk
Based on the knowledge shared in Desiree’s talk, she provided some very useful tips and advice for those who wishes to pursue a research postgraduate degree.  Her advice on doing a Phd include:
"Don't choose university, but choose your supervisor. Your PhD supervisor will determine whether you will experience heaven or hell."
"The Phd is much more than your studies; about your career, your CV."
She mentioned that students need to ask themselves "What is the one question that you want to ask?" if they wish to pursue a PhD.  She also advised students to explore as many experiences as possible, and to keep learning new things  [She even did a Post diploma in Cell and Molecular Biology (Ngee Ann Polytechnic) for genetic knowledge/work and self-reading for advanced statistics modelling techniques].

Thoughts/feedback/comments on the talk
It is a really genuine and relatable talk, as it covers Desiree's real life experiences and her own thought processes in her experiences.  In order to connect better during the talk, she even asked all the attendees to give a brief introduction of themselves before she started her talk.

Her previous work experiences, connections, university training and lots of self-learning and reflection has brought her to where she is now.  These experiences have taught her a lot and she has shared these experiences in order to benefit the students’ learning and experiences, which was very beneficial and wonderful for all.

Her No. 1 tip for graduates:
"Don’t limit your options. Be open to experiences.”

Session 1 Room 8:  A Normal Day of a Clinical Psychologist in a General Psychiatric Setting in IMH
Speaker:  Miss Leung Hoi Ting
Talk covered by:  Jon

What was the talk about?
The first talk of the day was by a clinical psychologist Miss Leung Hoi Ting, and was packed with people who were looking to take up clinical psychology in the future.  She started off with introducing herself and the reason for wanting to become a clinical psychologist (partially due to her enjoying the feeling of trustworthiness when other share their worries and sought her support).

Having understood her, she then cleared up some of the myths of what a clinical psychologist does:
  1. Psychologists can read minds (they cannot)
  2. Psychiatrists are the same as psychologists (psychiatrists are medical doctors while psychologists are postgraduate degree holders, and while they both work with individuals with mental conditions, their approaches differ;  psychiatrists focus more on the biological aspects such as chemical imbalances in the brain, while psychologists focus more on thoughts, behaviours and feelings)
  3. Clinical psychologists in hospital setting only do therapy (they actually do a lot more).  For example, a significant portion of their work lies in conducting psychological assessments (e.g., IQ test, Personality test, Neuropsychological test) and writing up reports.
Following which, she shared about a typical week at work which includes duties at the outpatient clinic, in the ward setting with inpatients clinic, department meetings, and multi-disciplinary team (psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, medical social workers, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists, pharmacists, case managers) meetings.

Conclusion of the talk
Miss Leung also stressed the importance of being a team player as she shared some of the challenges of working in a multi-disciplinary team (e.g., difference in opinions of how to treat a patient as everyone is a subject matter expert in their field).  She then shared on the importance of a work life balance and self-care because of the nature of the work that requires psychologists to be emotionally attuned to patients’ needs.
To conclude, she encouraged us to really evaluate why we want to become a clinical psychologist, and to understand the challenges of working with individuals with mental conditions so as to make an informed decision.