SGPsychStud: Should you be taking up Psychology??

Firstly, Happy New Year to everyone!!

Towards the new year, everyone would be deciding on which courses they are going to take, with their O's and A's levels results to be out soon. So this post will be focused on whether a student would be suitable to take up psychology as  a choice of study.

For choices of programs to choose from , please see this post. If you wish to know what you are studying in the psychology programs for the diplomas and degrees, please see here.

But the question is how do you know you are suitable to study psychology? and that psychology will be interesting enough for you? I can't really answer this question for you, but you can answer this for yourselves.
Let's look at the following questions:

  1. Do you like to help people?
  2. Do you like to ask "Why"?
  3. Do you like to listen to people talk about their issues?
  4. Do you wish to understand people (or rather people's behaviour)?
  5. Do you wish to come up with reasons for why people behave the way they do? 
  6. Do you wish to explore and research for why people behave the way they do? 
  7. Are you interested in psychological disorders?
  8. Are you a positive person?
  9. Are you intrinsic motivated?
  10. Are you a genuinely altruistic person?
This list of questions may be extensive and all questions may not be here. But if you answered "Yes" to some of these questions, you might be suitable to study psychology and may find psychology interesting. 

I would like to wish everyone All the best for the New Year!

SGPsychStud: (Proposed) Issues with the Singapore psychological arena

Before I start this post, I would like to acknowledge the psychologists in Singapore and the work that they have done in raising the levels of mental health and the work of psychologists to where we are now.  However, there are always some issues, no matter where we are.
This research and post is done as a follow-up from the letter as posted before.  After some research and comparisons with the psychological arenas in other countries, these might be some current 'surface' issues that psychologists in Singapore face.  There might be other issues and/or other 'deep' underlying issues (which may not be so obvious) that affects Singaporean psychologists.

Hence this list is not the full extensive list, but cover the more obvious issues:

1. Professional Regulatory Body
The only professional regulatory body that governs over psychologists in Singapore is overseen by the Singapore Register of Psychologists, and the list only has 236 registered psychologists (updated on January 2014).  To be registered, you need at least a postgraduate degree and fulfil the requirements. However, the question is: "Are there only 236 psychologists in Singapore?"
Issue 1:  Unlike the other health professions, the governing of psychologists is not by the government or Ministry of Health.  Hence there is no compulsory obligation  for all psychologists to follow the rules or code of conduct as proposed by the SPS, if they are not registered with the SRP.
Issue 2:  By right, only registered psychologists are allowed to call them as 'psychologists', which this is the common regulation in other countries.  Following Issue 1, there is no law or whatsoever in Singapore to govern over this, resulting in many unregistered people calling themselves psychologists, whether or not with the minimum  training and education.  This may result in some clients not getting the appropriate professional service which they have paid for.

2. Membership
Issue 1:  Despite the low annual SPS membership fees, the number of members as registered with SPS are low.  There should be much more members, with the increase of interest in psychology in recent years, but the numbers do not reflect so.  To truly promote the psychological arena and interest of psychology in Singapore, membership numbers do help in one way or another.
Issue 2:  Despite the benefits of being a SPS member, they do not seem to be attractive enough to pull in more members.  This may be due to the inclusiveness of the membership or lack of frequent benefits for the members?

3. Classification of psychologists
According to the First Schedule of the Allied Health Professions Act, it indicated that "clinical psychologists" are covered under the Act.  This meant that only those who have the relevant training and education and practicing as "clinical psychologists" are required to to abide by the Act.
Update: This has not been enforced for psychologists till today since the passing of the Act.
Issue:  The Act did not cover the psychologists of other specialities, such as educational, counselling, etc. But other than clinical psychologists in Singapore, there are also other psychologists working in the different areas, though they may be a minority group.  This exclusion may mean that their psychological services may not as recognised as "psychological services" in Singapore and that the non-clinical psychologists may not be truly recognised as "real" psychologists, hence affecting their recognition and pay rates.

4.Prestige and recognition
Due to the above issues mentioned, they may affect the prestige and recognition of all psychologists (experienced or not/clinical or non-clinical) in Singapore.  Though the interest of psychology may be increasing hence resulting in more people to study psychology, but to take up the position and work as a psychologist, the recognition of psychologists should be increased  through the resolving of the above issues.  A contrasting example would be the prestige and recognition of doctors and/or lawyers in Singapore (and probably Asia) resulting in more people taking up those professions, despite similar years of education as a psychologist.

These issues may be pending to be resolved or not resolved at the time of publication of this post, and any changes will be reflected in future posts.
(P.S. Lastly the author apologise for the long delay between posts due to work.)

Letter to Ministry of Health

This is a letter that was submitted via the feedback box in the MOH website. Hereby, it is stated that this letter may cause some controversy in the psychology community in Singapore; hence if you do not read further, please exit now. 

To protect the confidentiality  of the sender, some details have been omitted or slightly altered. According to the sender, an automated reply was sent and that was all that was received. 
To provide more clarity on some of the things mentioned in the letter, links have been provided for you to access them. 

Here is the update of the letter: http://sgpsychstuff.blogspot.sg/2013/06/update-MOH-letter.html
__________________________________________________________________
Sent: [Date removed]-10-11
Subject: Regulatory and Licensing
case number is PQ-11-00xxxx.

This enquiry is about the regulation and registration of psychologists in Singapore. I noticed that in the Allied Health Professionals Act 2011, it only included clinical psychologist, which means that only clinical psychologists will be regulated by this act. And in the HPP site, there is no council for the registration for psychologists. I understand that this registration is done by Singapore Psychological Society (SPS). However it is not compulsory if someone wishes to be a psychologist. Hence there is no formal regulation and registration for psychologists of other areas (educational/organisational/counselling/etc.) in Singapore.

Probably the ministry could look into this, and have some form of mandatory regulation for psychologists in Singapore. This is a vital issue as this affects the prestige and recognition of psychologists(clinical and other areas) in Singapore. This also creates a chain reaction for the academic programs in psychology in Singapore. 

I am not a clinical psychologist, so the regulations and the act do not really affect me at all; however I feel that for the benefit of our clients, there should be some regulation into the registration and control over the other areas of psychology as well. Doesn't "Do no harm to clients" not apply to all psychologists practising in Singapore?

Hope to hear back from you. Thanks for reading this feedback. 

Tips on getting papers published (by Jean Cote)

Dr Jean Cote is an ex-editor of an International Psychology Journal, hence had been invited to give a talk at a recent conference regarding how to get papers published. Here are the slides that he used. Hope they are of great use to you, the budding authors of upcoming papers to be published!









SGPsychStud: Interest vs Passion

So are u studying (or into) psychology because you like it or love it? Yes I am asking you if you LIKE it or LOVE it....
You may think "Why ask such a strange question?" and "What does it have to do with studying psychology?" Answer: It has everything to do with psychology and pretty much many other things in your life as well.

Firstly let me explain the main two words here: Interest and Passion. There may be many definitions out there, but hear me out and probably the topic would be of more interest to you.

So (in my opinion) "Interest" or "to have interest in something"  (or to like) is to have a liking for that object, activity, person, way of thinking, etc. It may be something that you will pay attention to when you come into contact with it, but it is not really something of utmost important. An example would be having a casual hobby which you might do about 3 to 4 times a month or less, and you definitely will have "interest" in it, otherwise you would not be doing it at all.

However, "Passion" is totally different from "Interest" (in my opinion again). Yes, it is also a kind of liking but of a higher intense level, hence I label "love" as its verb. To have the "passion" (or love) something or someone (or others) to that very high extent, there is an acceptance (in you) for this thing or person to revolve around you for the rest of your life. The thing would probably be something that you would not give up on, regardless of whatever happens, and that it is of the utmost importance to you. You may have "passion" in more than one thing, which is common. However that distinction between your "passions" and "interests" should be known to you.

And when your choice of work/study/activity (regardless of psychology or not) becomes your passion, this passion will actually propel you to greatness or fuel you in times of dire. When your work/study becomes your passion, it will no longer be a chore but something that you will desire to look forward to doing it everyday.

The reason why I am writing this is because when I ask people why they are studying psychology, one of the regular answers would be because I am "interested" in it. Hopefully one day, that interest will develop and become a passion which propels/fuels your future path in psychology. But the question now is: "How much interest do you have so as to endure the hardships (assignments/work/sacrificed time) that you might face till it becomes a passion?"

So is Psychology your interest or passion??

Best field of Psychology to enter

For you students out there, you might be considering a field of psychology (see the link for the whole list of fields) to work in or enter for your postgraduate studies.  However you may start to consider which one you might be interested or which one should be the best for you.

Ans: There is no best field.  The choice is really up to you.  (Though some people may argue that their fields are the best, because blah blah blah....)

To answer this question, you will firstly have to ask yourself some questions:
  1. Which field/area of psychology do you have the most passion for or do you like the most?  (Discussed in Interest vs Passion
  2. Which field/are of psychology best identifies you as a person?  (Discussed in Merge of Psychology with Self)
  3. Will you be okay if your choice of field/area is not a profitable one?  (Discussed in Money vs Passion
For those who are not comfortable with question 3, before you proceed any further, please view this post again.  Yes I do understand that we are in Singapore and hence money is a big issue.  You are not at wrong for having that worry, as it is the same for most Singaporeans.  Hence if that is the case,  I would advise you to do clinical psychology in Singapore, as that is the one that would probably get you a job most easily.

But my advise would be that you pursue your passion and your dreams as much as possible (if that is possible), and explore the different fields through talking to people from those fields or work in that area for a period of time to see if you really like it so as to understand your choice for your future career path in Psychology.  

Back from the SMU Information Session about their PhD in Psychology program

I thought I better wrote this post in case I forget the information from the session earlier this evening. This session helped to clear some questions and doubts that I have about the courses and programs in SMU. Most of the relevant information you will need to know are from their webpage or the brochure as available on the webpage. If you have any further questions about the program, please DO NOT email me; rather send your enquiries to Ms Joyee Yan (phd_psy@smu.edu.sg).

About this program:
This is a 4-year full-time program, which you will be able to drag it up to a maximum of 7 years (though not recommended). The curriculum is as stated on their webpage so I will skip that.
Things to note:
  1. If you managed to join the program next year, you will be the 2nd batch of student undertaking this program in SMU.
  2. The number of students that SMU would be taking for this program would range from 0 to a maximum of 6.
  3. You will be awarded 2 degrees upon graduation, a Masters and a Phd certificate.
  4. The ideal timeline is 4 years, but to finish the program in that timeline would be very hectic. Usually you will have to extend it for a couple months to a year. 
  5. Coursework are done in the 1st and 2nd year, with the focus to be diverted to the 2 theses from the 2nd to 4th year.
  6. You have to do 2 theses, a Masters thesis and a PhD thesis. They can be related or different from each other; however, you can not use the data you got from the Masters to be re-used again in the PhD.
  7. There is a Qualifying Exam to be done in Term 1 of Year 3. You may not be allowed to proceed in the program if you fail the exam, though you may have ONLY one (1) chance to redo the exam.
  8. If you fail the qualifying exam or did not managed to proceed to the 3rd year for whatever reason, you will not get any certificate at all (not even the masters), unless under special consideration for specific reasons. 
Specialisations for the thesis component: Experimental, Social, Personality, and Organizational psychology.


Fees: SGD$10,000 for local students and higher fees for foreign students. However full or partial scholarships are available for students. Also as a scholarship holder, you will also receive a monthly living stipend. Please refer to these admission and scholarship pages.


Application: Please refer to this general instruction page. The application is to be done online. Other than having a good bachelors degree, you will also require your GRE test scores (for the General test and the Psychology subject test - so you better prepare to do this first), your TOEFL/IELT scores (if your undergraduate studies are not taught in English), your 2 (or up to 3) referees' emails, and a personal statement for why you want to do this program, your specific research interests  and the faculty member(s) you are keen to work with. You have to do some research about the faculty members' research interest in the webpage so as to find the one that you will be interested to work with.

Please also refer to the FAQs page, as most of your questions may be answered there.

Additional note: You will not be eligible to be registered in the SRP, as there is no practicum component in this program. However probably you could find someone to supervise you for the 1000 hours of practical experience in order to be registered as a qualified practitioner in Singapore.

SGPsychStud: Is Psychology useful at all?

You may hear some of your friends say that what they learnt in university and earlier years of school to be not useful in work at all. However, is it the same for psychology? Will everything (if not, some) of what you learn in your psychology degrees to be not useful when you go out to work?

Now, the main questions:
Can we use what we study? Can we even use them in our daily lives?
Psychology courses tend to be all-rounder courses; that is why it seems like you have to learn about a lot of things, from statistics to life and death to pretty much everything...But do you need so much things?? Answer: Yes. Psychological programs are actually based on a model (see this post), that is supposed to teach you to become a psychologist, like all other courses where engineering and IT programs teach you to be engineers and IT people. However, this model is a very huge model, because there are myriad reasons for why your clients may come to you, hence you are "supposed" to have all the answers. (Wow. That sounds like someone we all know whose name starts with G, so let's not go there.) This is the reason why you will have to learn about almost everything. But the questions is will we use them?

You will definitely use that knowledge in your jobs, but by then it will become a question of "Are you able to remember what you learn and apply it?" The wide range of subjects that you study is also partially the reason for the huge range of jobs you might get.

You may not notice that yet; but as you do the program and go through your years of training in psychology, you might see some changes in you. Some people who I have spoken to have told me that people who study psychology tends to think and speak differently. "Huh?? I don't feel much difference." That's our normal response. However, there might be some subtle changes in you.

As we all know, the way you think may actually affect the way you behave. I think one of the main changes would be that you might get used to being rational in your thinking, taking up different perspectives and hypotheses when discussing a topic or issue. This is part of the critical thinking training that you go through during your psychological programs. And with this training, you may tend to look at the world and things a bit differently from before you start the program. So is this useful?

(I used to joke with my classmates that male psychology students are better boyfriends, because they learn about the other sex and the differences about males and females. And because they are able to think critically, they "might" be able to take up the female perspectives and the way that females think, hence making them more sensitive to the subtle changes in the girl's moods and feelings. What do you think, everyone?)

Jobs (Part 3): Which job is suitable for me?

As we know, there are many psych-related jobs out there, and as we know, not all of us get to be psychologists, and some of us may be studying psychology not because we want to be psychologists. The studies could be just an interest for some, or just a stepping stone for others, and for the rest of them, a pathway to their careers.

"But which job should I choose??" "Can I even choose?" You may ask.

As mentioned in a previous post, there are actually many areas (even more than on that post itself) where you actually find some jobs in. However, not all of them may be areas which you might be interested in. In my opinion, it might be better to find jobs where you are familiar with or more interested in, e.g. if you come from a business background, you might tend towards the Human Resource department in the different organisations looking for jobs with your psychology qualifications, and if you are into nursing and want to stay in that industry, you may still choose to go back to the hospital or work in a psychiatric ward. It all depends on your level of comfort with that position.

It also depends on your level of skills and knowledge which you have gained through your degrees (Bachelors / Honours), and your past work experience. I would say the main difference between a Bachelor degree and a Honours degree would be the research skills that one would have gained, hence for those with a Honours degree, this might open an extra venue into the research section for you.

Work experience makes a difference as well, as the same for all other careers areas. If you come from a teaching background, and you wish to go back into that area with the application of your psychological knowledge, you might then choose to change to a special school where your knowledge could be better used and applied.

Some people may not even change jobs. It is really up to you.

Code of Ethics - What is it? General Summary and General Ethical Principles

The reason why I encourage people to be members of their respective associations and to be registered under their respective psychological boards is to enable youselves to be recognised as qualified persons of the psychological profession, and articulates to the public that you, as a member and registered psychologist, are guided by specific standards towards what is considered ethical professional conduct by psychologists in the world.

So what is the code of ethics?  For the laymen and those who do not know yet, the code of ethics is a guide for psychologists towards their ethical practices in psychology, and "expresses psychologists’ responsibilities to their clients, to the community and society at large, and to the profession, as well as colleagues and members of other professions with whom they interact" (APS Code, 2007).  So if you are a member of the respective associations and societies, you will have to abide by their codes of ethics, whether you are a student member, full member, or associate member.

So in this post, let's look at the General Ethical Principles across the APA, APS and BPS.  [The ethical standards may tend to be a little longer (and boring), so just stick to the principles for today]

APA:

  1. Principle A:  Beneficence and Nonmaleficence (To benefit those with whom they work and take care to do no harm)
  2. Principle B:  Fidelity and Responsibility (To be aware of their professional and scientific responsibilities to society and to the specific communities in which they work, regarding their conduct, professional roles and obligations, referrals, and compliance of scientific and professional conduct of themselves and their colleagues)
  3. Principle C:  Integrity (To promote accuracy, honesty, and truthfulness in the science, teaching, and practice of psychology)
  4. Principle D:  Justice (To recognize that fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from the contributions of psychology and to equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services being conducted;  To exercise reasonable judgment and take precautions to ensure that their potential biases, the boundaries of their competence, and the limitations of their expertise do not lead to or condone unjust practices)
  5. Principle E:  Respect for People's Rights and Dignity (To respect the dignity and worth of all people, and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination; To be aware that special safeguards may be necessary to protect the rights and welfare of persons or communities whose vulnerabilities impair autonomous decision making;  To be aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences, including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status and consider these factors when working with members of such groups)
BPS:
  1. Ethical principle:  Respect (To value the dignity and worth of all persons, with sensitivity to the dynamics of perceived authority or influence over clients, and with particular regard to people’s rights including those of privacy and self determination)
  2. Ethical Principle:  Competence (To value the continuing development and maintenance of high standards of competence in their professional work, and the importance of preserving their ability to function optimally within the recognised limits of their knowledge, skill, training, education, and experience)
  3. Ethical Principle:  Responsibility (To value their responsibilities to clients, to the general public, and to the profession and science of Psychology, including the avoidance of harm and the prevention of misuse or abuse of their contributions to society)
  4. Ethical principle:  Integrity (To value honesty, accuracy, clarity, and fairness in their interactions with all persons, and seek to promote integrity in all facets of their scientific and professional endeavours)
APS (APS Code of Ethics, 2007):
  1. General Principle A:  Respect for the rights and dignity of people and peoples (To regard people as intrinsically valuable and respect their rights, including the right to autonomy and justice, and respect the dignity of all people and peoples)
  2. General Principle B:  Propriety (To ensure that they are competent to deliver the psychological services they provide.  They provide psychological services to benefit, and not to harm.  To seek to protect the interests of the people and peoples with whom they work.  The welfare of clients and the public, and the standing of the profession, take precedence over a psychologist’s self-interest)
  3. General Principle C:  Integrity (To recognise that their own knowledge of the discipline of psychology, their professional standing, and the information they gather place them in a position of power and trust, hence they exercise their power appropriately and honour this position of trust.  To keep faith with the nature and intentions of their professional relationships, and to act with probity and honesty in their conduct)
All in all, a psychologist is a person with integrity, honouring their clients' rights and dignity, and at the same time, practicing within the recognised limits of their knowledge, skill, training, education, and experience, and within the boundaries of their competence, hence doing no harm to their clients, and being aware of their professional and scientific responsibilities.

So if you have all the relevant training and experience as a psychologist, are you a member of your local association or society, and registered with the psychological boards?  If not, why have you not done so yet?

Jobs (Part 2) for Diploma and Bachelors graduates (including Honours)

It is expected some psychology students may not be able to make it all the way to the Masters or postgraduate studies in psychology; this is a disheartening fact however there is always a way out to allow you to move towards the career of your desire..
Options that one may have would be: (1) do a Masters in some other areas that are related to psychology, such as social work or counselling, or (2) go and find a job and earn some money (to save, spend, or even pay those university fees). So today this post is focusing on the second option of jobs and what type of jobs u could look for.

So as mentioned in an earlier post, you (as graduates from degrees and diploma courses) can find work in different sectors, such as:
  • Corporate Sector 
  • Uniformed services 
  • Governmental bodies 
  • Educational Institutions 
  • Research and test development organisations
  • Not for Profit Organisations
However your choice of sector and area of work would be of your own choice, e.g. if you feel more comfortable in an office environment, you may wish to try to look for jobs in the corporate sector. Similarly if you feel more comfortable to work in schools, try the education institutions, or if wish to proceed to more clinical psychology work, you may wish to approach the mental health institutions or hospitals.

Type of work that you might be doing may include administrative level work for the psychological or mental health institutions, social workers, counsellors, mental trainers, workshop coordinators, etc. It all depends on your experience and comfort levels on your abilities to do the positions that you might be applying for. 

Question: Where should I start looking for jobs?
Answer: The SPS website do offer some jobs from time to time. However to really widen your job search, you should be applying with all the job search databases and web portals. I would recommend you to just put in "psychology"  (or social work / counselling, etc.) as the main keyword and see what happens.

Every experience is a good opportunity to learn something, hence do not think that a position that you might not be interested in will never be a suitable job for you. In psychology, you have to try everything and experience as much as you can to allow you to have a good idea of what is happening in the field of psychology, allowing you to experience and have a good knowledge of the real world out there.

If you have any specific areas or sectors you might be thinking of entering (such as educational institutions) but not really sure where to start, feel free to comment and tell me. I will try my best to research and give you some directions towards your choices. 

The work of a psychologist..

Who aspires to be a psychologist? You! Me! and many others out there...
But let's pause here and consider the whole picture. Some of you may already have understood the whole story; however it might be blurry for some, as the story is displayed through bits and pieces from the rest of the posts..

Education required: At least up to postgraduate degree of Masters (which probably the whole period will take up to 5-6 years)
It really depends on how well you do to allow you to proceed from one level to the next, hence overall good results are quite important for your bachelors and honours degrees.

Work criteria: involves doing testing and assessment, research, psychoeducation (such as holding workshops) and psycho-therapeutic counselling [Hence through the education, you will learn or be trained to do all those]

Clientele (type of clients you might get): Depends on the specialisation / type of psychology that you decide to take up; However regardless of specialisation, the psychotherapy skills (not mental skills) you acquire should be transferable between the specialisations.

Question: Will I be able to earn a lot?
Answer: That will depend on your pay which your employer/organisation gives you. I cannot really give you an estimate. However if you are thinking of coming into this field to earn money, I would advise you not to go any further, as there is not much to be earned other than the gratifications and enjoyment you may get from being a psychologist

Jobs and job prospects (Part 1)

I should get this started as this is one of the main issues and thoughts when people start studying psychology. I will use the term "job"" rather than "career" as "career" has an inclination towards a long-term planning to reach a certain position and job.

Will I be able to get a job?? What job will I be able to get??
_______________________________________________________

Quoted from Ngee Ann Polytechnic:
"With your training in psychological knowledge coupled with applied skills, you are well placed to find employment as a programme executive or social work assistant at voluntary welfare organisations, or research assistant at private organisations. You can also assist psychologists, support social workers and conduct social research."
What can PCS graduates do?
  • Be change agents in the society to identify, prevent and improve prevailing social problems.
  • Conduct research and work with social organizations.
  • Assist in undertaking assessment, intervention and counselling for learning and developmental issues in various population groups.
  • Work with law, police and rehabilitation services.
  • Support clients with issues such as personal well-being, relationships, work, health and crisis management for better quality of life.
  • Promote healthy behaviours and the prevention and treatment of illness.
  • Coordinate, promote and manage community-based programmes for various population groups.
_________________________________________________________________________

Yeah it sounds very promising.. and in one line (somewhere hidden between the many lines) it also writes.."With further training, you can become certified psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, and counsellors.."  Yes there are really double full-stops. Purpose: You decide for yourself.

However You do not have to be disheartened, and worrying about your future and whether or not you will get a job.  People with degrees and diplomas in psychology are of high demand in Singapore. There are many areas where people in a psychology degree can work in. 

A good example would be that as quoted again from the above Ngee Ann Polytechnic website:

"Where can PCS graduates work?
  • Corporate Sector - consultancy, market research, professional associations
  • Uniformed services - prisons, police
  • Governmental bodies - e.g Ministry of Community Development, Youth & Sports; Community Development Council; Ministry of Home Affairs; Subordinate Courts, Family and Juvenile Justice Centre
  • Educational Institutions - Schools, Universities
  • Research and test development organisations
  • Not for Profit Organisations - community and social welfare"
There are actually many areas, however you often will have to look for the right job that suits you.

To end this first post on Jobs, I shall introduce a method of understanding the structure of what jobs you may be able to get when you study psychology. Some of you may remember the Healthy Diet Pyramid that you may have learnt in primary/secondary school? Yes. The idea is similar to it.

Diplomas/Degree holders: A lot of jobs to choose from, however they tend to be more general and of a lower status level and pay
Honours Degree Holders: Jobs may include those of the degree holders as well, but fewer jobs as they now become more specific such as research assistants.
Masters/Postgraduate Degree holders: Jobs now become very very specific and little. Common jobs include psychologists, lecturers and tutors. 

There will be more posts regarding Jobs in the future, so TO BE CONTINUED....

How much am I willing to pay for Membership? (also "What do I get from my Membership?")

Okay I will focus this post regarding Membership just on Full Memberships (not affiliate memberships) and Student Memberships, as there are too much to talk about if all the others are included.

So how much are you willing to pay for Membership?  $20/$50/$100 or $200?
Let's look at the membership prices of the different associations.  Prices are for per annual.
SPS:  Student:  SGD$30;  Member:  SGD$75
APS:  Student:  AUD$85 (SGD$87.75);  Member:  AUD$620 (SGD$640.04)
APA:  Undergraduate Student:  USD$35 (SGD$46.97);  Graduate Student:  USD$67 (SGD$89.92);  Member:  USD$247 (SGD$331.56)
BPS:  Student:  GBP 25 (SGD$43.82);  Member:  GBP 130 (SGD$227.86)
Conversions as produced by XE.com.  As updated on 10th August 2016.

So we can see that the SPS membership is the cheapest, but why?  This is something to ponder on.

Singapore is the top earners or richer countries among others, but we can argue that probably psychologists are not among the top few earners.  Fine.
It can also be argued that the socioeconomic statuses of the other countries are higher, which means the psychologists there earn a higher pay (e.g. Full-time Australian psychologists earn an average of $1500 a week) hence the cause for higher cost for membership.  Okay that's reasonable.

In my opinion, my guess is that it has to do with the recognition of psychologists in Singapore and that there is a vicious cycle to this issue.  The people in Singapore are not very familiar and knowledgeable about the role of psychologists and what we do.  Anyone in Singapore unfamiliar with psychology or about the profession of a psychologist would have a first impression that all psychologists work with mental health patients or in the Institute of Mental Health.  Sorry we are not all clinical psychologists.
From the lack of knowledge, this affects psychologists in Singapore by probably not receiving the adequate prestige and recognition that should come with the role and profession.  This subsequently results in insufficient people and resources (including money) to actually rise this standard of the profession of psychologists in Singapore.  With the standard not risen, public education is not achieved and hence the profession lies low.
Perhaps currently the government is doing something about it, having put out an Act to regulate the clinical psychologists.  I am not sure if this act will cover the other areas of the psychologists, but hopefully something will happen there, so that this cycle will be broken.

So we pay lesser membership fees in Singapore; that is just one good thing. So what do we get from paying this membership?  Please refer to the different societies and association websites (SPSAPAAPSBPS) for their member benefits.
For all of the associations, you will be able to use the acronym in your title, such as MSPS, MAPS, etc., and you will have access to the the online website for documents and resources which only psychologists (or psychology students) need, such as the Code of Ethics, case studies, and access to job information.  Most also provide newsletters, journals and publications (hardcopy) on a bi-monthly (APS), 9 times a year (APA), or even up to monthly (BPS) basis for free.  What are also usually included are: discounts to conventions and books and other products, free access to online databases, and reduced rates for professional indemnity issues (in case you are sued by your client)

So what do you get for being a MSPS?
  • Yes, that name. Tick.
  • Code of conduct... which is available to everyone to see..
  • Professional development meetings and networking opprtunities..for interest-groups and social meetings..
  • Discounts for events..
  • Ezine magazine.. Accessible to all.. 
Putting two sides of the picture, some people may ask:  "So what am I getting (other than the name of MSPS) after I pay that $75?", and some may say:  "Wow so cheap!  It only costed me $75 to get the MSPS, when I need to pay AUD$620 for a MAPS."

Which side are you on?


NOTE to SPS: I am not trying to scorn or disrespect the SPS in any way. I am just stating what I see on the website, and hoping that things can be improved for psychology in Singapore.

Can I get in Honours / Masters?? [Caution: Post may be distressful for some]

There is no explicit rule on how much you need to get into these post-Bachelors education. However, I will try to give you an idea of what happening as you try to transition from Bachelors to Honours to Masters.

Most people who come into the area of psychology somehow will have a dream of being a psychologist, however let us be realistic and understand that it is not as easy as we think. Just the education part take about 6 years, and this is with the assumptions that you do not take any breaks in your studies to work and do other stuff, that you pass all your subjects in every semester successfully, and that you get accepted into the Honours and Masters program successfully.

This is a very competitive field and like any other area, in order to climb to the top, there will always be only a few "survivors" and a lot of "casualities" who do not make it. For those who are more visual, I would say it is like a pyramid, with a lot of people who may finish their Bachelors and may not be able to move up, followed by the top few who managed to go into Honours, followed by the cream of the crop moving up into Masters.

To give you a even better idea, let us assume there are about 100 students in your year / level doing psychology. I understand that there are definitely more but 100 is a nice number. Out of this 100, only about half make it in the Honours / PGD program. After that, out of  that half, only  about 10 make it into the Masters. so probably only that cream of the crop (5% -10%) of your year/level can make it to the finish line. There is also one more consideration. Your university is not the one offering psychology undergraduate studies, and hence competition may actually come from other universities as well. Please understand that this is not the exact percentage but more of a very very rough estimation. No, I am not trying to scare you but this is what is really happening. For the exact numbers, please check with the coordinators of your universities.

As this is happening, some people may also decide to move out of this climb to Masters or postgraduate studies and decide to go to work or study something else, hence sometimes the competition may not be as tough as it seems. This move to work will be covered further in future posts.

Masters in Psychology..Hum..

The focus of this page is to point you to the different areas of psychology, such as clinical psychology and educational psychology, and to introduce the difference of a Masters program to the earlier studies. Hopefully this page provides a further understanding in the world of studying psychology.

Ok. We are done with talking about what the honours program covers. The next level is the Masters level if you can make it there. So what is the Masters program? Like some courses, they have specialisations ( such as engineering has civil engineering, mechanical engineering, etc..). Psychology has specialisations as well.. For the list, see the types of psychologists there are.

So this is what happens..You will take your Bachelors and Honours in general psychology and learn to do everything (almost everything..), and only in the Masters program, you will finally get to that fixed specialisation which you like.

Question: So what do you do in a Masters program?
Unlike the Honours, this time it is more focused on building you up more as a psychologist. Hence you will learn things that lean more towards the practitioner side of the model. Here you probably will do more counselling roleplaying and practices, more sessions and discussions about the different situations and clients that you may encounter. Also not to forgot about the researcher side, you will once more do a thesis which this time goes over 2 years unless the Honours year where you only have about 9 months to 1 year to finish it.

Question: What can I do for my thesis?
Often the thesis topic is something of your choice in your area of psychology. Sometimes people would just follow a topic which their supervisor is interested in.

I am not sure what other questions you may have. Feel free to ask and I shall update either this post or follow up from the comments below.

Why do I (or should I) do my Honours or 4th year in psychology?

Ok now for the 4th year in a degree in psychology. This is with the assumption that your bachelors course do not come with the Honours degree. If it does, good for you, you can continue your bachelors straight into the Honours year.

so what is the Honours (or 4th year)? Is it still a bachelors?
Yes, it is still a bachelors, however an extended year. Usually the honours year is an extended year where you learnt extra stuff in most courses. In psychology, the honours year is usually focused on the research part, where you will learn a little more on research and other psychological areas depending on the institution. YES research; You will be taught how to do and what to do for a thesis and you will have to prepare to do a thesis in the honours year.

Question: I am enrolled in a postgraduate diploma (PGD) for psychology. Is that still a 4th year program? What is the difference from a PGD and honours?
Yes the PGD is a 4th year program. I am commenting this for Australian courses (I am not sure about if there are PGD from other countries and their information). The Australian universities usually offer them to in order to have students to go through the 4th year, rather than just the Honours batch. Each batch of honours will have about 15-20 (or more or less, depending on the universities), and hence the PGD batch will have about the similar number of people.

It really depends on the universities on whether there will be a difference for the PGD and honours studies. I would believe the coursework would be very similar across both of the programs. For some universities, the main difference is that the Honours students do their theses alone and the PGD students do a group work for the theses. For some others, it is totally the same for both the honours and PGD students.

It is really up to you which one you wish to do, but I think it depends on your grades from the first 3 yrs as well. You may want to check for more information from the institution you are applying with.

Question: Now for the why? why do i need to do this 4th year studies?
Answer: If you wish to enroll into an accredited postgraduate course, you will need your 4th year results to get in. To get into the postgraduate courses, the usual minimum is a second lower class honours.
If you think that psychology is not for you, probably you should not enroll into the 4th year. But if psychology is what you want, I would say the 4th year is a good step for you to explore further and improve your skills in research.

So what am I going to study in Psychology? (Diploma/Bachelors)

Some of you may be just starting off in your studies in psychology or deciding whether you want to take up psychology or not. So this is probably the first post you should be reading if you find the earlier posts a little too heavy for your liking. Some people may enroll into a psychological course or program, but may find it rather tough so it has things that they did not expect to have, hence this post would look into what you will see in a psychological program (such as diploma or Bachelors). Hope this post enlightens you onto your choice of psychology.

Ok so what are you going to study in Psychology?

Basically, most programs (I am not sure about all of them hence I will not use "all programs) are based on a model: the scientist-practitioner model. From Wikipedia, "According to this model, a psychologist is a scientist and a competent researcher, and also a practitioner who applies knowledge and techniques to solve problems of client". This means that a psychologist should be a good researcher and a good practitioner at the same time. Is it possible? Yes. It sounds difficult to do; is it difficult to do? Of course. That's why the minimum recognised training (aka education) is so long.

Let's talk about the things people expected to study first. The common topics you might see are:
Biological Psychology; Developmental Psychology; Social Psychology; Personality and Individual Differences; Cognitive Psychology; Abnormal Psychology, etc.. and the list goes on..Why so much? This is because you will need to know the different aspects of psychology and how the the different aspects may affect the different people. Like I said before in a previous post, bao ga liao. The subjects that you may do in your diploma/bachelors will depend what the core subjects are as chosen by your institution.
This is to build up your knowledge for the "practitioner" part.

Now for the researcher part. To be able to do research = write reports, conducting experiments, collecting data, and analysing the data (and probably critical thinking). This are the 4 (or 5) main parts. Let's go through them. Writing reports: even if you are bad at writing, you will get used to it at the end of 3 years (for Bachelors). Conducting experiments: you will learn to do that over time. Nothing much to be afraid of as most of them are mainly questionnaires or surveys, unless you choose to do interviews or physical experiments. Collecting data: simplest of all, just writing down the figures that you found, and saying Thank You to your participants at the end of the day. Last one, analysing data: you will need to have a knowledge of statistics (not numbers, thank you) in order to do analyses. Fear Factor: A lot of people are afraid of maths...Can you do stats if you are bad at maths? Yes, but stats to some extent still require some level of maths ability, such as knowing that 0.05 is bigger than 0.001. If you can do that, you probably can do stats. They are just huge chunks of numbers and formulas, which you are looking for just a result of a few numbers.


Hope this is clear enough explaining the scientist-practitioner model. See the next few posts to have more understanding of this model.

To be a psychologist: Part 3 (Membership and Registration)

Now after you have got your postgraduate certifications (accredited ones, of course!), you may want to start thinking about being a member of your local psychology society or association, or even be a member of the overseas society where you took your studies. [I am not advocating for the societies or association, but more of providing a link if someone is interested]


Membership:
SPS Membership types:  Student, Affiliate, Associate, Full, and Overseas members
For more information on SPS membership, please view here
Please refer to the websites of the other societies and associations for their respective memberships.

Registration
To be a "Registered Psychologist" in Singapore (Yes, you have to register to be called a "Registered Psychologist" in any country), you need to have (1) A Masters or Doctoral degree in applied psychology from a recognised institution, and (2) minimum of 1000 supervised practical experience, and (3) to be a Full Member of SPS. Information from SRP.

From my current knowledge, it is not a rule that you have to be a member or a registered psychologist to practice as a psychologist in Singapore. However, for clinical psychologists, this might be the case now where they might have to be registered in order to practice, as a result of the Allied Health Professions Act 2011.  

In my opinion, this is a major issue for the other areas of psychology, as this is no regulation and control, and hence may be an issue of lack of duty of care for potential clients, and Professional Responsibility, where psychologists should : "(a) act with the care and skill expected of a competent psychologist;(b) take responsibility for the reasonably foreseeable consequences of their conduct;  (c) take reasonable steps to prevent harm occurring as a result of their conduct" (APS Code of Ethics, p. 20). I should discuss this in future posts.

The need of a postgraduate program and Competence

Why am I stressing this that a postgraduate program is essential for a psychologist?
Probably to me, as a psychologist, the motto is "To do no harm"..hence I believe that we should be competent before we even start to treat our clients.
Having accredited courses is one of the ways to justify that competence of the lecturers and the programs to educate future psychologists. To be registered provides that recognition and identity of a "psychologist". And most importantly, the competence of the psychologist.

According to SPS Code of Professional Ethics,Principle 2. Competence
"The maintenance of high standards of professional competence is a responsibility shared by all psychologists, in the interest of the public and of the profession as a whole.
  1. Psychologists discourage the practice of psychology by unqualified persons and assist the public in identifying psychologists competent to give dependable professional service. When a psychologist or a person identified as a psychologist violates ethical standards, psychologists who know first-hand of such activities attempt to rectify the situation. When such a situation cannot be dealt with informally, it is called to the attention of the appropriate committee on professional ethics, standards, and practices.
  2. Psychologists recognise the boundaries of their competence and the limitations of their techniques and do not offer services or use techniques that fail to meet professional standards established in particular fields."

According to the APS Code of Ethics (p. 18)

Section "B.1.2.    Psychologists only provide psychological services within the boundaries of their professional competence. This includes, but is not restricted to:
(a)  working within the limits of their education, training, supervised experience and appropriate professional experience; (b)  basing their service on the established knowledge of the discipline and profession of psychology; (c) adhering to the Code and the Guidelines; (d)  complying with the law of the jurisdiction in which they provide psychological services; and (e)  ensuring that their emotional, mental, and physical state does not impair their ability to provide a competent psychological service."

So you have to be competent as a psychologist, and believe that you are a competent one. So why are there only 183 registered psychologists in Singapore (SRP as checked on 27 July 2011)? Are we only saying there are 183 competent psychologists in Singapore and the rest are incompetent, in terms of "education, training, supervised experience and appropriate professional experience"? 
(If you are a psychologist practicing in Singapore, please ask yourself: Why are you not registered? What is stopping you from registering in the SRP? Why do you not to be registered and given that recognition?)

Hope this post provide some light towards the competence of the psychological arena for those budding psychologists.

To be a psychologist: Part 2

Ok. So what is the next step after the bachelors?

If your bachelors degree comes with an Honours (such as this from NTU or those from overseas), good for you. You may proceed directly to take up a Masters or a postgraduate degree.
If your degree does not come with a Honours, you will then need to take an Honours degree before moving on.

After the Honours year, you can then proceed to the Masters program (I think minimum entry into Masters is a 2nd class honours for most universities).

You may ask: "What is the difference between the Bachelors, Honours, and Masters?"
Ans: In Bachelors, you learn EVERYTHING..(bao ka liao)...in Honours, the year is usually more focused on the research component, teaching and training you to do research, so that you can do a thesis..in Masters, it is usually more focused on the practical side of a psychologist, teaching you how to become a psychologist, and also having to do a thesis as well.
Like engineering (and some other areas), there is a specialisation that you will have to choose. In an engineering undergrad (Bachelors), you choose your specialisation on your 2nd year, or during your program (I am not too familiar with other courses other than psychology). But in psychology, you only have your specialisation in the Masters, which means that you choose a side of psychology to pursue in. (For the different types of psychological specialisations, see Types of psychologists)

Qn: Do you have to do until Masters to be able to be a psychologist?
Author's ans: This is where the conflict comes in..In Singapore it is not a requirement, depending on your employers. But if you are planning to take up a government job or a public job, it is most likely a requirement of a Masters degree. However, if you plan to be a psychologist in Australia or UK, it is a minimum requirement. Please see the previous post.

After my degree, Can I be a psychologist now?

"Can I be a psychologist after my bachelor's degree?" You may ask...
Ans: "No!"
"Can I be a psychologist with my Honours degree?" You may ask...
Ans: "In US, DEFINITELY NOO!!  In Australia and UK, NO! In Singapore, maybe yes.."
"Why the difference?"
Ans: Because there is no FIXED regulation (or law) in Singapore that you need to have at least postgraduate training to call yourself a psychologist. Worst still, it is not compulsory for a person to be registered with the Register of Psychologist in SPS to be able to work as a psychologist in Singapore.

The only statutory control of any psychologists in Singapore is only the Allied Health Professions Act 2011, which controls over the clinical psychologists but not the others. Too bad for you clinical guys..But in my opinion, there should be an act to have control over all psychologists.

Ok. Rather than telling the story of the requirements of psychologists in Singapore, let's first start with those in Australia and UK. Why? Because they are more advanced countries in terms of psychological areas and hence would be good examples to follow.

In the UK, to be a Chartered (aka Registered) Psychologist, BPS says "Postgraduate study and training is a requirement to become a Chartered Psychologist and to register as a practitioner psychologist with the Health Professionals Council (HPC). " So you need to have at least a Masters degree or some postgraduate degree (at least!) and it has to be accredited by BPS.

In Australia, APS says "Becoming a psychologist requires at least four years of full-time university study. Common courses are a four-year Bachelor of Psychology or a three-year degree followed by an Honours program in psychology. Graduates must then complete two years of either study in a specialist area or supervised practice. Completing this six-year sequence is a requirement for registering to work as a psychologist in Australia." SO you still need an accredited Masters program too. Accreditation from where? See the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council.

So enough said. Ok back to Singapore. Why is there no regulation again? Can someone (like SPS or the Government) do something?

I rest my case.

To be a psychologist: From the start....

Okay let's go from the start...

Obviously everyone knows that to be a psychologist (or any other jobs), you will need the education first. Firstly, I will not comment on the psychology diplomas as provided by the different polytechnics and institutions, as I am not familiar with them. However if you wish to ask any questions about the different diplomas, feel free to ask and I will try my best to answer them.

So we'll start from the bachelor degrees in Singapore. There are a few ways to go about getting them.
1) Local Degrees from NUS (Department of Psychology), NTU (Division of Psychology), and UniSim (School of Arts & Social Sciences)
[I am not sure of the SMU's Bachelor of Social Science as a fully psychological program as I think it is a broad program based on the "disciplines of Psychology, Sociology and Political Science" (from the SMU School of Social Sciences website)]


2) Private courses: There are quite a number of private psychological programs in Singapore, which currently there is a government council (Council of Private Education) which oversees the control of these courses and their institutions who provide these courses.
To see the universities that provide these courses, go to: Home - For Students & Future Students - Find a course and check whether it is permitted by the Council for Private Education
In "Course Title", type "Psychology" and tick "Bachelor" for "Course Level". The approved courses will be shown below and in the next few page(s). They currently include JCU, Kaplan, SIM and others.You will see on the same that that degree is awarded by its original overseas university (from Australia or UK or others).
However, that DOES NOT mean that these courses are definitely accredited programs in their original countries. More research have to be done if you wish to find that out. How? You may ask. Just go back to the governing body for the courses of APS/APA/BPS, and the information should be there. While looking at the original information of the degree from the oversea university, they should also say if the course is being accredited or not.

For the full updated list of programs, please view here: Updated: Comparison of Bachelor Degree programs in Singapore

Why should a course be accredited? Being accredited means that the society/association recognises that program as a proper program that uses the right techniques and have the appropriate modules to allow the student to have the right skills. So by being taking an accredited program, this means that your program provides you with the right pathway towards being a recognised psychologist. So if the program is not accredited, even if it is a postgraduate program, you will still not be recognised as a psychologist in the local country (US/Australia/UK).

About Psychology and Qualifications in Psychology

What is Psychology?

From the SPS:
"Psychology is one of the fastest growing university subjects around the world, and it is becoming more and more available as a service in the community. There is an increasing number of psychologists in Singapore. The general public and organisations want to be more fully informed about who psychologists are and also their professional skills. Psychologists specialise in a number of different areas within the field and identify themselves by many different names.


Statement on qualifications in Psychology
‘Psychology is both an academic discipline and a profession. Both as a discipline and in its professional practice it is based in scientific research. Individual psychologists are specialists either in a branch of academic study or in a professional application of the subject or both. Such a specialisation is acquired by appropriate postgraduate qualifications in psychology, following a first degree in which psychology is the sole or major subject. Professionally qualified psychologists are those who have obtained a postgraduate qualification in a specialised field in psychology from a recognised academic institution. Such training courses include a supervised practical training in a variety of settings. Academic qualifications are not a sufficient basis for recognition as a professional psychologist’ "


So what does it mean? Who can become a psychologist?
What the above is saying is that there are many types of psychologists (for a better list, see here). But to become a psychologist, you need to have "appropriate postgraduate qualifications" in your "specialised field in psychology" from "a recognised academic institution". But what quantifies for the appropriate postgraduate qualification (a Masters, PhD or just merely an honours)? and who gives recognition to the academic institution? In my opinion and according to the Singapore Register of Psychologists and the Psychology Board of Australia (document), to be a REGISTERED (yes I am stressing the word REGISTERED) psychologist, you need to have (1) at least a Masters degree from (2) an accredited institution with (3) at least 1000 hours of supervision. All 3 of them.


Okay. Now for the part of the accreditation of the programs, SPS does not accredit any programs. For the accreditation of programs, please see the accreditation guidelines and institutions as written by the APS, APA, and the BPS. They are the only 3 psychological societies that accredited programs. 


Most accredited Australian Masters programs in psychology are of 2 years. If you see a program or someone that tells you that the Masters is finished in a year, CHECK AGAIN!! They may not be accredited. (Extra Note: Some BPS accredited Masters programs are done in 1 year)