SGPsychStud's reflections: Getting a psychological-related career in Singapore

This is purely my own thoughts and views about the type of work and opportunities of getting psychological-related work in Singapore.  This is something I feel that you as students and budding psychologists should have a thought about it as well, as it affects your own career pathways.

In my opinion, there are only three categories of psychological-related work in Singapore:  (a) Counselling / Psychotherapy / Consultation / similar types where it is one-to-one or one-to-group type of consultation,  (b) Research, and (c) Teaching / Lecturing.  For most students, they are studying to get into jobs that involve (a) Counselling / Psychotherapy / Consultation, and/or (b) Research.

For those interesting in (a) Counselling / Psychotherapy / Consultation types of work, it has already been discussed previously that you will need to get a postgraduate degree and it takes you at least 5 to 6 years of training to become a psychologist, regardless of the country you are in.
And for those considering to do (b) Research work, you will also need a postgraduate degree (more commonly a PhD) to become a full-fledged researcher doing research as a full-time job.
Lastly for those interested in (c) Teaching / Lecturing psychology, you will need at least a Masters (or PhD) degree; though it is not uncommon to see lecturers with only undergraduate degrees and teaching the diploma courses.  According to the Private Education Act 2009 Part VI Regulation 26 Paragraph 3, you need to have at least 5 years of working experience in the related field, or "qualifications in that field which are at least a level higher than the level of the course" if not equipped with 5 years of experience.
Though having the goals and aspirations to get into these careers, this may not be the case in reality.

My Advice:
1)  If you plan to get into psychological-related work, do know which category or categories of work (your work might be a mixture of two categories) you would like to do and/or good at.  Focus and invest your time and energy whenever possible.
2)  Opportunities beget experience, which in turn beget opportunities.  Although work opportunities may be hard to come by and most people would grab whatever that comes by, do think carefully of whether or not you want that job.  From my experience, from taking up a job, this may lead to other future jobs in the same category, which may be good if you plan to have a career in that category.  However, if you are not considering a career in that category, this might be limiting your career in certain ways.
3)  Without the required academic qualifications, most often than not, you may be stuck in a certain level at work; however no matter the situations, you should still work hard!! These work experiences will prepare you for the next stages of your career.   

To conclude, in order to plan your psychological career pathway, you should know and choose your choice of job category well, and invest your effort in getting a related job, and work hard at it!!

Pathway for Singapore Psychology Education

Copyright of SGPsychStuff

In Life, sometimes we take the most direct path, sometimes we take a longer route. It's okay, no matter which way we take. The most important thing is that we have a destination.

The most common route for Singaporean students is shown on the left, which is a direct route (after secondary education) to the post-secondary education (Junior University/Polytechnics), followed by moving up to a local university education. Thousands of students go through this similar system every year. This is also very common for psychology students.

Getting to post-secondary education ('A' levels / diploma) after secondary education is quite straightforward (some advice); you pretty much only have three choices - doing your 'A' levels, doing a diploma in the local polytechnics, or in a PEI. However it is the situation after the first post-secondary education that is not so straightforward.

The usual pathway after post-secondary education ('A' levels / diploma) would be to proceed on to do a degree, either in a local university or overseas university. However, there are also situations where:
(a) Students choose to do a Psychology diploma in the local polytechnics or PEIs, after their 'A' levels.
(b) Students choose to do a Psychology diploma, because they did a previous non-Psychology diploma.
Students who did their diplomas in the PEIs would usually tend to stick with the same PEI to do their degrees. You might want to consider these factors and advice when considering and comparing the PEIs.

All these different post-secondary education, 'A' levels or diploma (polytechnic or PEI), should enable you to get to a Bachelors degree (overall comparison), either in a local university (local comparison) or overseas degree provided by a PEI. However, you must still work very hard in your studies to enable you to get into the next level. Studying in a Psychology program can be really tough and difficult, and a lot of people may have difficulties moving up from Bachelors to Honours to Masters.

Most students who have done their Honours degree do hope to do a postgraduate degree. There are some available in Singapore. However, you need to be very dedicated and passionate in Psychology for your studies as well as work, as this passions will decide whether or not you will stay in the psychological field.

Note: In the above pathway, this academic journey might be disrupted for work at any point; however, one can always come back to continue their psychological education in the next level. But do practice good time management if you plan to work and study at the same time.

Good luck in your psychological journey!!!

SGPsychStud: Why the internship/volunteering plan did not work

This post regarding Importance of practicum/work experience/internship was written exactly two years ago, with the urging of students and organisations to email me, while I try to do up a database to connect psychology students to respective possible internships or volunteering opportunities.

Students looking for internships and volunteering opportunities have been constantly sending their details.  However, after two years trying to build this database, it did not really work.  This may also explain for why undergraduate students have so much difficulty in looking for internships as well (assuming it is not assigned by their psychology lecturers). The later reasons may also explain for why some psychologists do not take up internships.  Here's the reasons:

1.  From the organisations
Only 1 organisation replied to look for volunteers during this whole period: NKF to do Mind Stimulation Activities to "enrich the patients' dialysis sessions, improve patients' quality of life and equip volunteers with skills to do befriending".  Though it 'might' be possible to send everyone there, but it is impossible that it would be suitable for everyone.

2.  From my side
I have also tried collating a database of all possible VWOs (Voluntary Welfare Organisations) and a list of (possible) psychologists and their work organisations, with the help of a volunteer.  This was in the plans that I would be able to come up with a proposal to send to all these organisations requesting for possible internships or volunteering opportunities.  However, trying to manage this website, and my Facebook page on a daily basis, on top of my own personal work life, doing up the proposal seemed like an impossible task to even start or finish. 

According to the SRP Code of Professonal Ethics:
Principle 1.3 (Responsibility):  "As a practitioner, the psychologist knows that a heavy social responsibility is borne because the work may touch intimately the lives of others."
Principle 2.1 (Competence):  "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."
Principle 6.2 (Confidentiality):  "Information obtained in clinical or consulting relationships, or evaluative data concerning children, students, employees, and others are discussed only for professional purposes and only with persons clearly concerned with the case. Written and oral reports should present only data germane to the purposes of the evaluation: every effort should be made to avoid undue invasion of privacy."

This bring us to the following reasons:
3.  Responsibility to clients
The psychologist is responsible for their clients, and hence the psychologist would need to be responsible for the intern/volunteer in the office, if the intern/volunteer would be interacting with the clients.  Taking up the intern/volunteer might be extra work for the psychologist, hence if the psychologist is unable to handle the extra supervision work on top of the current practice job duties, it is advisable not to take up the supervision.  The decision to take up the supervision and if so, guiding the intern/volunteer adequately, should be based on one's ethical responsibility towards the clients.    

4.  Competence issues of students
Undergraduate students equipped only with general knowledge in psychology will not be allowed to practice their psychological skills, as this violates Principle 2.1.  At most what they are allowed to do is to have some non-clinical interaction with clients, or shadowing or observation of the psychologists at work.  It will be really unethical of the supervisor psychologist (with a violation of 1.3) if an inadequately trained student was allowed to have a session with a client.

5.  Confidentiality issues
As the confidentiality of the client may be violated with the intern/volunteer in the session or having access to the files, the psychologist has to be very clear to the intern/volunteer about the boundaries and ethical issues regarding confidentiality to clients.  This might be very difficult to manage for the psychologist, unless the intern/volunteer follows the Code of Professional Ethics very strictly.

Due to the ethical obligations that the psychologists have to comply in terms of doing supervision, they may not be so willing to take up interns or volunteers in their offices.  Add this to the lack of responses from organisations and my lack of time and manpower to do up the required connections between the students and organisations, this resulted in the failure of this potentially successful project, if all things actually went well as I hope.

Again, I conclude that this project is closed for now till any further notice, and I deeply apologise for that.  

SGPsychStud: Top 10 and Bottom 10 of 2013 Posts

Similar to companies where they have to do an annual report of 2013, I decided to do a compliation of the Top and Bottom 10 posts of 2013.  There was a total of 39 posts in 2013, which meant that there was more than an average of 3 posts every month.  There was also a total of 9 invited posts, which was much higher than the other years.  The rankings are based on the total views on each of the respective posts, from the dates they are posted till 1st April 2014.

Here are the top 10: 
  1. Overhearing conversation about psychologists' pay in Singapore
  2. Forensic and Criminal Psychology in Singapore
  3. Stage 2: Reflections of a NUS student
  4. Stage 2: Reflections of a JCU (Singapore) student
  5. Diploma or A levels? A post for the secondary schoolers
  6. Psychology Program Comparison Between Local Universities
  7. Writing a thesis (Part 2) - Preparation
  8. 2013 Update: Academic requirements for local psychology diplomas and degrees
  9. Confusion about Australian vs UK degree programs
  10. SGPsychStud - The name
So it seemed like most readers are considered about topics revolving education and choices of universities, forensic psychology and pay.  Note that the top 2 posts were viewed over 4700 and 3600 views respectively (at least 6 times more than the No. 3 post), which meant that there are really a lot of people interested in forensic psychology and pay of psychologists!  And you are also interested in knowing who I am...Hum...

Here are the bottom 10 (1 being most viewed and 10 being the least viewed):
The views of these posts range from lower than 50 to slighter over 100.  Due to some of the posts being posted in late 2013 and the views collected on 1st April, they may not have been read enough by viewers (i.e. No. 4, 6, and 8).  
I thought you guys are interested in education topics?  You should also be interested in the accreditation and recognition of your programs, and how to become a good therapist and/or researcher!  Though registration and membership are two of my least used labels (see Labels on the right of the first post), however they are quite important if you plan to become a psychologist; you need to know the difference and how they affect your career as a psychologist.   
You are interested to know who I am, but you are not interested on why I started the blog?? 

Again, THANKS for reading my blog for the last year!!!