Insight into Psychology in Malaysia and Singapore: MY Psychology + SG Psych Stuff (Part 2)

Psychology is one of the rapid growing fields in South East Asia, including Malaysia and Singapore.  There has been a significant increase in Psychology students and mental health professionals in the related fields of psychology.  ASEAN Psychologists also started to work together to form ASEAN region of Psychology community, providing support for each other.  One of the most significant happenings is reflected by the biennial ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies (ARUPS) Congress held in the respective countries, where different psychologists from different Asian countries come together for this great event.  With these collaborations happening in South East Asia, we hope that they can bring more and more insights or useful information for our readers to have a better understanding towards this fast developing field, especially for those who wish to pursue their studies or careers in Psychology.

Once again, MY Psychology collaborated with SG Psych Stuff for another opportunity for co-writing, to share with you some of our insights into the Psychology field, brought to you by Tim and JY, guest writers from MY Psych, and SG Psych Stud from SG Psych Stuff.
Click here to read Insight into Psychology in Malaysia and Singapore: MY Psychology + SG Psych Stuff (Part 1):

Adapted from
Q4:  What is the common career paths of Psychology graduates in your country?

JY [MY Psych]:
Human resource, consultants, counselors, therapists, trainers, life coaches, teachers and educators in general. those who are interested in research often end up in market research.

SG Psych Stud:
This is very hard to say, as different people might take different career paths.
Your Career =  Your Psychological Knowledge and Skills + Your Speciality
The conclusion on types of jobs from a previous 2011 post was "It also depends on your level of skills and knowledge which you have gained through your degrees, and your past work experience."  It is typical and reasonable that recent graduates have a general psychology degree, and lack of psychological-related work experience.  However, everyone is different, equipped with different skills!
We need to know and understand our own knowledge, skills, abilities, and strengths such that we can use that to our benefit towards getting our ideal jobs.  Hence other than the general psychological knowledge that you obtain from the degree, I would advise that you obtain or have another specialty (which is based on your current interest, skills or abilities).

Adapted from
Q5:  Can I become a Psychologist after completing my Psychology degree?

JY [MY Psych]:
Short answer is yes; long answer is no.  As of now there are no associations regulating the use of the title "Psychologist" in Malaysia, creating quite a lot of questionable practices from the field.  But when it comes to international presence, it is assumed that one does not claim the title of psychologist until one finishes a Masters or a doctorate degree.  The counseling field is regulated by a board however.

Adapted from
SG Psych Stud: 
With the Allied Health Professionals Act enforced in 2011, it will be enforced that all clinical psychologists may have to be registered, with one of the main criteria of being registered with the Singapore Register of Psychologists.  This would mean that all clinical psychologists would need a postgraduate qualification as well as at least 1000 supervised practicum hours.

With the National Psychology Competency Framework announced during the recent SPS AGM 2016, there will definitely be a national framework that regulates the competency standards of practicing psychologists.

With all these in place on a national level, a undergraduate degree will definitely not be enough for you to become a psychologist, though some companies will take Honours students as “Associate Psychologists”.

Adapted from
Q6:  What are the challenges of the Psychology field in your country?

SG Psych Stud:
I think ultimately it is the prestige and recognition of the profession in the country. This has been brought up before in this 2011 post.

There is a high level of interest from students in recent years, due to the positive psychology movement, high humanistic interest to understand oneself, and the mysterious factor of the work of a psychologist.  However, there is not enough public knowledge of what we really do as psychologists.  The general mindset is still of the work related to mental illnesses, but that is not the case for all psychologists.

There is also currently no accreditation of psychology programs in Singapore. Read:

With no accreditation council in Singapore, it is very difficult to verify whether the programs are of high quality and standardised and whether they will suffice for students to move up to the next levels of education and training.
With proper accreditation of programs and a national registration of psychologists, this will definitely improve the clarity of training pathways for current budding psychologists and push the profession to a high level of recognition and prestige among other professions.

Adapted from
Tim [My Psych]:
I think one challenge would be that the general public still has not fully opened up to psychology.  The various achievements and milestones made in the field of psychology are still quite confined within the context of academia and universities, which is ironic considering that the findings of most psychological research are supposed to benefit the general populace, not just students of psychology.  I believe that this calls for a push to spread awareness and to enlighten the public on what is going on in the field of psychology, and to explain to them why it is so important.

On a related note, there still seems to be a prevalent perception that psychologists dabble exclusively in dealing with mental illnesses, which of course is a significant facet of psychology, but not its sole purpose.  The mandate of psychology is to understand all aspects of the human condition, and to find ways of improving our lives in those various aspects.  It would perhaps be beneficial if people begin to realize that the study of psychology permeates different fields, from social studies to cyberpsychology, from cognition to media psychology.  In other words, the role of psychology is relevant across a whole spectrum of fields, not just in mental health.  If this idea is properly conveyed to the general populace, that perhaps may open up more avenues to psychologists to better serve people.

Authors information:
Tan Jia Yue, codenamed JY:  A s̶e̶l̶f̶-̶p̶r̶o̶c̶l̶a̶i̶m̶e̶d time traveler from a dystopian future who settled down in the present hoping to change its course.  Suffering from time-machine lag, he struggles to blend in with peasants of the present and manages to find his way into HELP University’s BPsych programme while picking up a taste for mellow music, video games, anime, inappropriate attempts at jokes, and tea.  Having d̶e̶l̶u̶s̶i̶o̶n̶s visions of humanity’s bleak future, he believes the key to a better future lies in the education of the sciences, psychology, humanism, and cat videos.  Follow his personal ramblings at A Certain Astral Project;ion.

Timothy Liew:  A trueborn kid at heart with a penchant for lame jokes of every kind, Tim enjoys lazy afternoons with coffee in one hand and a good fantasy book in the other.  Having hailed from an imaginary world, he believes in mankind’s inherent duality, and has thus embarked on a quest to uncover the hidden truths of the human mind, armed with the regalia of psychology, philosophy and uncommon sense.  Has a soft spot for plushies and baby animals.

SG Psych Stud [SG Psych Stuff]:  My role in the Singapore psychological arena is to be a critical observer and reporter of what is happening in our small psychology world here.  With a passion for psychology, I am purely writing this blog for students, so my target audience would be current and prospective students of psychology.  This is all in the hope to improve psychology in Singapore and assist students in their journeys in psychology.  If you are interested in psychology and/or wish to pursue a career in psychology, i.e. to be a psychologist or any other related career, in Singapore and surrounding countries in Southeast Asia, and like my blog, please 'Like' and 'Follow' SG Psych Stuff Facebook page ( Thanks!