SG Psych Stuff @ UniPsych Symposium: Session 2

The SG Psych Stuff team was invited to the UniPsych Symposium that happened on 13 August at NTU The Hive.  Overall it was a very well-organised symposium, with every participant gaining great insights at the end of every talk!  Congrats to the UniPsych Team!
Due to the lack of manpower, we only managed to cover 13 out of the 27 talks that was conducted over the three sessions.  All these talks will be presented on this blog based on their sessions: Session 1Session 2, and Session 3.  The talks are covered by the SG Psych Stuff Team (SGPsychStud, Jerry O., Jon) and two guest writers (N.L. and A.F.)
Thank you UniPsych Team and we hope to see you again next year!!!

Session 2 Room 4:  Psychology in a Correctional Setting
Speakers:  Ms. Joylynn Quek and Ms. Jeraldine Tan
Talk covered by:  A.F.

What was the talk about?
The talk covered the work of a Psychologist and a Correctional Rehabilitation Specialist (CRS) in Singapore Prison Service (SPS).  Ms. Joylynn Quek and Ms. Jeraldine Tan were very engaging in sharing their experiences working with offenders.  In general, the Psychologists and CRSs work closely with the Prison Officers to ensure public safety and prison security by carrying out psychological interventions which address the criminogenic needs of offenders.  The types of offenders which they manage, include sexual offenders, drug offenders, youth offenders, offenders with violence tendency, as well as those with mental health issues.  In addition to facilitating inmates’ rehabilitation during the incarceration phase, CRSs also work with the offenders during the post-release phase.  The speakers also debunked myths of working in SPS.  For instance, “working in prisons is not safe” is a general misconception by members of public.  In fact, staff in SPS work in a secured environment, where deliberate measures are taken to ensure the safety of both inmates and staff.

Conclusion of the talk
The speakers shared a lot of their experiences in working with people in SPS (e.g. colleagues and offenders) which proved to be insightful to many of us.  They put forth the demands (e.g. qualities, skills) that are needed in fulfilling the job criteria, the challenges they face and the opportunities they may gain.  This sharing of their experiences were beneficial for many of us as we were able to have a more realistic preview of the job as a Psychologist and Correctional Rehabilitation Specialist in SPS.  This has been one of the most interesting and beneficial talks.  It is an unique experience hearing from CRS and Psychologist working in SPS.

Session 2 Room 5:  Psychology in Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre
Speakers:  Ms Jane Quek and Ms Penelope Wang
Talk covered by:  Jerry O.

Summary and Conclusion of the talk
The Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre (HTBSC) is a behavioural sciences research centre based at the Home Team Academy in Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore.  HTBSC was set up to provide a behavioural sciences angle to support the Home Team’s (HT) operational work.  HTBSC advocates the integration of research science to complement ground operations and to enhance efficiency of HT officers.  Research in HTBSC is translated into real world application through trainings and seminars to HT officers.  Apart from research, HTBSC officers also provide operational support for police operations.

Session 2 Room 6:  Clinical Child Psychology
Speaker: Mr Brian Poh
Talk covered by: Jon

What was the talk about?
The second talk of the day was by Mr Brian Poh, a clinical child psychologist at IMH who started off his talk by sharing about his journey from working at REACH, a community based mental health program at IMH, to taking his masters in Melbourne and Singapore before finally returning and becoming a clinical psychologist at the Child Guidance Clinic in IMH.  He then cleared up the common misconceptions between a counsellor and a clinical psychologist, the main difference being the training received and type of issues that each encounter (counsellors typically deal with everyday issues while clinical psychologist deal with mental illnesses, although there are overlaps).  Following which, Mr Poh shared about the various other types of psychologists out there such as educational psychologist, occupational psychologist, etc.

He then explained about the importance of his job due to the increase in mental disorders amongst young people and the consequences of this situation if left untreated, such as an increase in suicide rates, juvenile delinquency/incarceration, and failure in school.  He also talked about the different developmental theories that help to understand children development, and the differences between child and adult psychiatry.

Next, he explained the different services provided in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in IMH and the importance of a clinical psychologist in a multidisciplinary team.  To end off, he shared some of the qualities of that one may need to be a child psychologist, such as a curious and analytical mind, a persevering attitude especially since working with children who are sometimes unable to verbalize what they feel or are too stubborn and unwilling to change, and the most important of all, a passion for helping the young people.

Thoughts/feedback/comments on the talk
Lastly, on a personal note one of the quotes he shared really stood out to me and I would like to highlight it to share with you: “The child is the father of the man” by William Woodsworth.  This basically means that a man is the product of his childhood experiences.  This powerful quote demonstrates the importance of childhood mental health and why we need well trained child psychologist to ensure that the mental health of our youths are well taken off.

Session 2 Room 7: Allied Educators (Learning and Behavioural Support, LBS) Recruitment Talk
Speaker:  Mdm Lourdes Maria
Talk covered by:  N.L.

What was the talk about?
The talk is divided into two distinct sections.  One section is a personal sharing by Mdm Lourdes Maria about her experiences as an allied educator.  The author found it difficult not to be swept up by her infectious passion to help children with learning disabilities to cope with being in a mainstream school.  Among the many touching  accounts she shared about working with those with disabilities such as ADHD and Visual Impairment, one in particular stood out to the author.  It is the story about a boy suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (a 100% fatal condition where one shows profound muscular weakness and will likely become wheelchair-bound by early teenage years, and will generally not live past adolescent or early adult years).  Initially the boy's father neglected him and did not send him for proper treatment, but after witnessing the patience and combined efforts of the allied educator and other parties, he has changed his attitude for the better and has even thanked her for helping him to become a more responsible father.

The second section is about the perks of the job.  For example, those who sign up will be sponsored to attend a training programme and will be paid their full monthly salary during their training.  To ensure a good job-fit, they will be required to undergo a school stint, which would allow them to understand the job requirements better and affirm their interest.  Furthermore, Allied Educators also work according to the school calendar and can enjoy the school holiday leave scheme.  The duties of an Allied Educator (LBS) include designing support strategies, providing in-class support and individual/small-group specialised remediation for students with mild educational needs in mainstream schools.  He or she will also be liaising extensively with school management teams, parents and external agencies.  There is also a specific window application period for recruitment.
For more details refer to

Conclusion of the talk
The author believes from the sharing session that to be an allied educator, one needs to have a lot of passion in helping children and teenagers with mild learning disabilities.  Besides the fact that it can be exhausting to work with them, their parents may also be uncooperative and may present an additional obstacle.  Nonetheless MOE has provided some great support from personnel such as the educational psychologists at the HQ.  One should consider joining this profession if one loves kids and that these aforementioned challenges can help in one's growth.

Thoughts/feedback/comment on the talk
The author thinks that the video shown near the end about the allied educator giving English lessons to a boy with mild learning disability was a bit too long and many among the audience were getting distracted.  Still, the author felt very gratified when the boy, who had poor interpersonal skills and usually spoke little, opened up towards the end and started talking animatedly about his experiences at the Universal Studios Singapore.

Session 2 Room 8:  Talk by Organisational Solutions Pte Ltd
Speaker:  Dr Alison Eyring
Talk covered by:  SGPsychStud

What was the talk about?
Dr. Alison Eyring is the CEO of Organisation Solutions, as well as the current President of COPS (Community of Organisational Psychologists in Singapore).  In this talk, she shared about her choices and insights from her career.

While taking an undergraduate module on Organisational Development, she found herself loving it!  She continued to do a PhD in Industrial / Organisational Psychology, despite only having a minor in psychology in her undergraduate studies.  She mentioned that different countries require different prerequisites for graduate school.
Early in her career she found that she prefers applied work after working for a year in a Business School.  Alison worked in companies such as Texaco, Pepsi and Caltex.  After moving to Singapore in 1999, she started her own company to help companies solve people and organization challenges of business growth.  She continues to work as CEO and also is an adjunct Associate Professor at NUS Business School.

Alison spoke about the type of work organizational psychologists do and she said the work varies a lot.  It depends on whether you are working as an external consultant, internal consultant or HR professional, or academic.  External consulting work often specializes in assessment of employees and talent management.  An internal consultant or HR professional might get involved in talent management, training and development or even HR generalist work.  Working in academia involves lecturing, curriculum design, research and writing.

Conclusion of the talk
Alison concluded with the question:  "What is your worthy life?"  Answering this question for herself helped her make important decisions about her career and business.
She advised the students to get some practical work experience before going for their postgraduate studies.  To become a qualified IO or occupational psychologist, you have to complete a graduate degree.
She mentioned that a weakness of I/O psychology was that some I/O psychologists may be such specialists that they do not really understand the organization/s they are serving.

Thoughts/feedback/comments on the talk
It was a very wonderful sharing by Dr. Alison Eyring on her career and some insights on her personal life, which reflected her thoughts and reasons for why she walked that path.  From the I/O point of view, her sharing focused mainly on the things that she is doing now in terms of organizational development, which was really what she loved to do.  Her experiences from her personal life directed her in some ways in her career; however everyone’s path may be slightly different, as we experience different things.

Her No. 1 Tip for graduates:
“If you are unsure of your next step, go to the best company and find the best job you can find to build your track record. Get a good experience that challenges you and takes you outside your comfort zone  – this will develop you and prepare for you increasingly challenging roles in the future."