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.