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!!!

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