SGPsychStuff @ UniPsych Symposium: Why should you be coming to UniPsych Symposium

Image as provided by UniPsych Organising Committee
It is now 3 weeks to this wonderful event, as organised by NTU and NUS psychology societies (PsychSoc).  I believe most of you should be registered for this event, regardless of which university or institution you belong to.  The event is not only open to NTU and NUS PsychSoc members, but to all psychology students in Singapore.  The response for the event has been so overwhelming, such that their 100 early bird tickets was sold out in 1 day.  You may still purchase their tickets at $10 for NTU and NUS PsychSoc members and $15 for everyone else at http://goo.gl/forms/HVnqEi3Tp6U0CqZD3.  I do not guarantee a spot for you if you have read this post too late.

So what is so appealing for this event that all psychology students should attend it?

This UniPsych Symposium is very different from other university collaborations, as this time round, they have more than 10 different speakers and 9 concurrent sessions over 3 timings, which is never done before!  NTU and NUS Psychology Societies collaborated together to organize this symposium as the teams felt that there was a need for a platform where all aspiring psychologists and current Psychology students could gain more information about the various options available after graduation.  The objective of the symposium is to gather employers, alumni, and undergraduates together to interact with each other.  Ultimately, the team hopes that all who participate and attend the event will benefit in one way or another.
In terms of the logistics and coordination, I believe this is quite a mammoth effort considering the people behind the scenes are current students doing their undergraduate students.

If you have been reading my posts in the last two years, you would have noticed that I am a big advocate of students attending events.  I have also noted that students are not interacting enough in my May 2015 post on Interactions of Psychology Students in Singapore with this event being only the third collaboration between universities in the last 7 years.  In that post, I wrote:
It is not enough to only interact with students in your own institutions, as there is only a small amount of people that you will meet considering the number of students studying psychology in Singapore... Events like these are wonderful as they really bring the different institutions together for the overall learning of the students.
A very good reason for you to attend the event is purely for the networking and the learning that you can gain in that one short day!!  The ability to network and having the thirst for knowledge, curiosity, and a positive mindset are two of the three tips I have recommended that a new graduate would need to stay competitive in the psychology job market.  The job market at this current moment is bleak, and hence you need much more than your degree!
The UniPsych Symposium will allow you to understand from the practitioners on what are the "actual" requirements for the different job positions  in the different fields of psychology, and what you will need to do to help a job or further your studies in the psychology field.
For more information about the event, you can refer to their official website and Facebook event page!!!

If you need why you need to do networking, read this post on the "Power of Networking" and here's some tips to help you with networking!!

Here are some events that has happened in this last year:
SPS Student Forum (December 2015)
SPS PsychWeek 2016 (April 2016)
Singapore Mental Health Conference 2016 Part 1 and 2 (May 2016)

SGPsychStud: Stress Management

Image Credit: https://www.emaze.com/@ACQLFRIL/Stress%C2%A0@%C2%A0workplace
“Stress (a), in addition to being itself, was also the cause of itself (b), and the result of itself (c).”  -  Hans Selye
We experience stress on a daily basis.  The word "Stress" was coined by Han Selye in 1936, and described as a physiological, emotional, and/or behavioural reaction to any form of change.  In the above quote, it is mentioned that stress in one's environment (b) causes a person to have the perception of experiencing stress (a), resulting in the physiological, emotional, and/or behavioural reaction of stress (c).
With this, Newton's third law "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction" can also be applied to our understanding of stress.  Such that for each stressful event that you experienced, you will experience an equal amount of stress.  Situations of low levels of stress cause us to feel low levels of stress, while a high amount of stressful situations can result in us having and exhibiting high levels of stress in different forms such as  physiological, emotional, and/or behavioural.
Hope this is not too difficult to understand.
For more information about Stress, please view the below links:
https://www.psychology.org.au/public/topics/stress-and-wellbeing/
https://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/2014-NPW-Stress-A4-Poster-Infographic.pdf
http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/37-stress-management-tips/
http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/manage-stress.aspx

Writing this post is so stressful!!!!
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/55524309@N05/5519749611
But since the topic is on stress management, we should include some tips on the management of stress.  Hence I went through previous SG Psych Stuff posts that were related to stress management, namely "Psychological Burnout - How does it feel like?", "Are you mentally prepared for your exams? Tips included!", and "The "Nothing Box" and Mindfulness", and I found that I have already written about how it feels like to experience high level of stress (the first post), how to prepare to face stressful situations (the second post), and how to be less stressful in your daily lives (the third post)!!
What more is that to write??

The "preppers"and the "non-preppers"
There are two types of people who will succeed even with stress being experienced:
  1. Those who are prepared 
  2. Those who are not prepared
These are different personalities of people, and different people pefer to do things differently.
Some may prefer to be very prepared and have every information at their fingertips, such that they are able to have control over the stressful situation, when it happens.  This allows them to know what to do exactly to deal with the situation.
As for the "non-preppers", those who are not prepared, you may ask how can they succeed?  In order for them to succeed, they usually possess a high ability to control their emotions, as well to relax (learn how to relax here), and a positive view of themselves.  Though they may not be fully prepared, they have the positive mindset and confidence that they will be able to overcome the stressful situation.

So which type are you???
Image Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/563864815819903974/

SGPsychStud: A Conversation Regarding Psychologist Registration in Singapore

Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcwathieu/2980385784
An ex-student texted me and we had quite a interesting conversation, which I thought might be useful for students considering to become registered psychologists in Singapore.  It revolves mainly around doing a research postgraduate degree and the requirements as stated by SRP.  Permission had been obtained to publish this conversation, with names changed and text reworded for clarity.

Before you read further, I would recommend you to read this two posts to understand what is registration and the current situation about registration in Singapore:
Registration vs Membership
Psychologist Registration in Singapore and Updates on the National Psychology Competency Framework
SRP Membership Application website

The current requirements by SRP registration are:
  • 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. 
In the following conversation, my ex-student is denoted as "N" and SGPsychStud as "S".  

Discussion on the need to be registered and the requirements

N: How important is becoming a registered psychologist?  Apparently they have changed the requirements completely [He was referrring to this SPS page].  Now they no longer recognise those degrees accredited by the BPS and APS.  Instead [the SPS website] say that the postgraduate degrees must be an applied psychology degree which must have supervised practicum (Please refer to the SRP application form).  This would mean that research degrees would not meet the requirement.
S:  Yes.  Masters from Australia  and UK are still feasible, but clinical practicum with supervision would be required.  An easier option is to do a Masters program in Australia which normally include the 1000 hours of supervision.
N:  Could the rules [of having a applied postgraduate degree] be changed again in the near future?
S:  This one is a major change to align everyone toward national registration.
N:  So SPS is intending to regulate the psychology field in the near future?  As in, if SPS is making a major change to align people to certain requirements as a professional psychologist, is it intending to start clamping down on those who are not registered but still call themselves psychologists or practise in this area?
S:  Yes.  Definitely.  So calling yourself as a psychologist may become a professional title,  rather than just a job title.

N:  With this new rule about needing an "applied psychology postgraduate degree", many existing professional psychologists cannot meet this rule, and if they do not meet the requirement and are not accepted into the Singapore Register of Psychologists (SRP), will they be prevented from practising in the future?
S:  It's not really  a new rule.  I can't answer that last question because I'm not in SRP.  The rule would be that once it clamps fully down then all must meet that rule. But for now there are still some flexibility  but case to case I guess.
N:  Would SPS really clamp clamp down eventually? Can it get the legitimate power to do so? And around when will it happen?
S:  Eventually yes.  Next 5 to 10 years is estimated.  But it has already been in discussion for the last 2 to 3 years and announced in this year's AGM [please read this post].  That is why it is important to be in the network so that u know people and the latest news.

N:  FAQ Question 12 says that even if I m registered with the APS through completing the 4+2 program, instead of completing a Masters or PhD, then I would not be able to meet the SRP registration requirements?
It seems the postgraduate degree, be it Masters or Phd, is the crux here, and SRP stated in no uncertain terms that the applicant must have supervised practicum in the postgraduate degree. So if I obtain a Phd without a Masters degree, I can't meet the SRP requirement?
S: The 2 in 4+2 is clinical practicum with supervision, with the exclusion of the Masters degree [Please refer to the Australian system here].
Technically you are right about the 4+2 and Phd degree being unable to meet the SRP requirement.  However, you can choose to do a Doctorate in Psychology that comes with practicum.
N:  But even if I manage to get registered as a psychologist with BPS or APS?
S:  If you are registered with BPS or APS,  you should be able to get registered here in Singapore.

N:  What happens to those who were previously registered psychologists but now cannot meet the new requirements?  Does it means that if I do a research postgraduate degree, I would not be able to be a registered psychologist here?
S:  For previously registered psychologists,  they should have already met the criteria for registration.  For non-registered psychologists with many years of experience, I believe they may just be "grandfather"-ed them in during the process.  Hence it is best that if you plan to register as a psychologist, you may need to do a masters degree with practicum.

Discussion on whether a research postgraduate is accepted for registration

N:  There are so much variety and fields out there.  I am not sure if I'm a people person at all, hence my interest in research.  Anyway, do you think there is a big advantage in becoming registered? Like better employment or business opportunities or international standing?
S:  The main advantage for being registered is that you are a registered psychologist and more networks can be established in your psychological career.

N:  But wouldn't this rule of requiring an "applied postgraduate degree" discriminate against those in certain fields, such as research psychologists or health psychologists?  They have their own curriculum and even if they have a supervised practicum, it may not necessarily involve individual psychologist assessment tools.
S:  It's fine as long as you have the masters and 1000 hours of practicum.
N:  No. The FAQ on SPS website clarified that even if you have 1000 supervised hours after you graduate, it doesn't count if your postgraduate degree doesn't have a supervised practicum. [He was referring to the SRP FAQ Question 11.]
S:  According to the requirements, some of the supervised practicum should be done within the postgraduate program, and hence if all of the 1000 hours is done after the program, it does not count, but you have to ask the SRP to clarify that.

N:  But if I plan to jump straight to a research PhD in the US or UK? Then most likely I would not be able to be a registered psychologist here right?
S:  Some US postgraduate offers supervised training. [Please refer to this previous post on psychological training in US]  However you will have to plan properly.
N:  I'm not sure if research degrees do involve the supervised practicum which SPS is looking for though.  FAQ Question 11 makes it clear that without an applied degree the 1000 hours is pointless.  So I guess one must have an applied psych postgraduate degree.  So certain fields like research and health psychology are likely not to have the practicum and so their corresponding postgraduate degrees won't meet the SRP requirement?
S:  For UK,  students usually finish their masters then find paid supervision to be chartered psychologists in UK.
N:  But if the UK postgraduate degree does not have the practicum component, one may not qualify for SRP registration even after having the post-Masters paid supervision.
S:  So to counter that point,  it would be best to be registered overseas for UK and US before you register with SRP. For Australian postgraduate programs, they will qualify for SRP registration.

*Note: The research degrees mentioned here refer to Phd programs or Masters of Science (Psychology) programs, rather than the applied programs of Masters of Psychology or Applied Psychology.

Hope this conversation creates some thoughts regarding your choices regarding your postgraduate studies, and help you along your psychological journey!!!

SGPsychStud: Why All of Us Should See a Counsellor

According to Singapore Association for Counselling (SAC Singapore),
"counselling is a generic term used to cover processes of interviewing, assessment, testing, guiding, and helping individuals to cope, manage or solve problems and plan for the future."
So why should we see a counsellor??
Image Credit: http://www.nolimitshelp.org.uk/counselling
Some of us feel that we should not see a counsellor unless we have some actual existing problems to overcome.  With most of us living a simple life with each passing day, we wouldn't experience much major crises often. These major crises tend to come in the form of experiencing the death of loved ones, major illnesses, issues in relationships, and other personal issues.  We tend to act strong in times of these crises and overcome it.  However, so what if we overcome the crises?
However, with each issue and/or crisis that we experience, it takes a toll on our emotions on a long term.  Even if we resolved the issue (as it seems), we may not have resolved our emotional issues.

To talk to a counsellor gives us the chance to discuss about these emotions that we may not wish to discuss with our closed ones.  Discussing such topics with closed ones may display a sense of vulnerability, which may contradict the strong front that we wish to display on the exterior.
Only by discussing the unresolved underlying emotional issues, we will then be able to move on with our lives. 

What good does it do for me if I see a counsellor?
Image Credit: http://www.base51.org.uk/support/counselling/
Seeing a counsellor is not to help you solve a problem.  Rather, it is purely to talk  and have someone with good listening skills and empathy listen about your emotional issues.  In the process, you might gain a different perspective about the issue or probably find a solution towards the issue.
But what do I really gain from counselling?  
  • A better insight about your self and your world
  • Maintenance of your own mental health
  • Learning to be open and congruent with your inner self
  • Better relationships with others
  • Many others
You see a doctor when you are sick; you see a psychiatrist if you have mental illness.
You do a regular medical check-up for your health; 
Do you see a counsellor to have a mental health check-up? 


SG Psych Stuff posts related to counselling:
SGPsychStud: For Therapy - Empathy
SGPsychStud: For Therapy - The thinker and the observer
SGPsychStud: Analogies - The passenger and the driver
What's the difference??
Miss Psychobabble: Busting the Myths of Counseling
Miss Psychobabble: Why and How you should apply emotional first aid

Related external weblinks:
http://blog.naturaltherapyforall.com/2011/11/01/why-do-we-need-counselling/
http://www.jennieallen.com/why-i-think-everyone-should-have-a-counselor/
http://www.healtheminds.com/blog/counselling/does-everybody-need-professional-counselling

SGPsychStud: Why Do We Adjust To New Cultures

Copyright of SG Psych Stuff
I just returned from my overseas trip in a Western country.  The above picture is taken from a very high building in that city that I was in.  During my days in that country, I was constantly adjusting myself towards their culture, behaviour, and norms.  This was relatively easy for me as I have been in the country for several years previously;  however, it was difficult for my other family members who have only been there for holidays.  Halfway through the holiday, it got me thinking:
Why am I adjusting to this new culture, resulting in me behaving differently from as in Singapore?
This modification of behaviour is called 'cultural assimilation', where a person or a minority culture gradually adopts new behaviours, attitudes, and languages from that of the host or majority culture.  In my case, I was slowly experiencing cultural assimilation where my experience and exposure in that country has affected me to change; but this may not be the case for my family members.
For more information on culture assimilation please visit:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_assimilation
https://www.quora.com/Sociology-What-do-you-think-about-cultural-assimilation-Is-it-good-or-not

But why am I doing it?
Image from WikiMedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svg
My guess is that it could be somewhat related to Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Physiological:  Being in a foreign country, having or obtaining the basic necessities, such as food, water, shelter, are very necessary.  This resulted in making sure that we know the language, their cultural norms in terms of food and dining, as well as being well prepared in term of arranging for accommodation.  

Safety:  Though travelling overseas in a group (e.g. with family members) is generally safer than travelling alone,  it is still up to the individual to make sure that personal security and well-being is not compromised.
We had a road-trip in the rural areas for four days, and hence making sure we stay and move together for safety reasons.  Having knowledge of details, such as what time the sun sets and other travel conditions, is important too as we need to be aware of what may happen during the road-trip.
My dad did something unknowingly that I had tell him off, as it compromised his safety.  As an elderly man with grandchildren, playing with young kids and joking with them in Singapore is something that he does quite often.  However, during our trip, he told some young kids (of about 3 to 5 years old):  "Come with Uncle..." in front of the children's parents.  Though we knew that he meant no harm, it could be perceived by the parents that he is trying to kidnap their children.  Hence for his safety, I had to tell him to stop doing that.      

Love/Belonging:  This may not be a big issue, as my family were with me, and hence there was a high level of love.  Though it is only a holiday, I do have some attachment towards the country having stayed there for a few years.  Unavoidably, I do have some form of belonging and attachment towards the country and city, which did (sometimes during the trip) led me to consider whether I should migrate there.

Esteem:  Although we are in a foreign Western country, the city has been accepting students and immigrants from different countries, hence it is not uncommon to see a lot of Asian people there.  Being Singaporean and of Chinese descent, it is quite unavoidable that we are seen as the same as those from China, Hongkong, Japan, Vietnam, and other Asian countries.
My parents unconsciously keep speaking in Chinese (though not very fluent in it) for two reasons: a) Convenience of understanding each other, and b) Not to let the locals understand us.  I had to explain to them that "They (the locals) all look the same to you; We also look the same as those from China to them, especially if you speak in Mandarin.".  Perhaps speaking in English there allowed me to have a higher sense of self-esteem that I am different and able to assimilate and localise into their environment, and not just a plain old tourist from Asia.

Self-actualisation:  This may not be very relevant to the question, but considering it as a Singaporean, it do answers it in some way.  Living and growing up in this multicultural Singapore,  there is a high tendency that we are able to adapt and adjust ourselves to others of different cultures, and this is a Singaporean ability that we take great pride in.  To truly be ourselves in a foreign country is a difficult thing to do, and only by bringing in our "leh, lah, lor" once in a while, by looking for our chicken rice or char kway tiao in the restaurants, by showing our kiasuism characteristics, by proudly say that we are from Singapore the small red dot, that is probably truly being who we are as Singaporeans.

So why do I adjust to that new culture in the foreign country?  
It was due to Maslow's hierarchy of needs and being the true-blue Singaporean in me!