SGPsychStud: (Proposed) Issues with the Singapore psychological arena [Revamped Post]

Before I start this post, I would like to acknowledge the psychologists in Singapore and the work that they have done in raising the levels of mental health and the work of psychologists to where we are now. 
However, there are always some issues, no matter where we are.

This research and post is done as a follow-up from a letter to MOH as posted before.  After some research and comparisons with the psychological arenas in other countries, these might be some current 'surface' issues that psychologists in Singapore face.  There might be other issues and/or other 'deep' underlying issues (which may not be so obvious) that affects Singaporean psychologists.

Hence this list is not the full extensive list, but cover the more obvious issues:

1. Professional Regulatory Body
The only professional regulatory body that governs over psychologists in Singapore is overseen by the Singapore Register of Psychologists, and the directory only has 402 registered psychologists (as updated on December 2018).  To be registered, you need at least a postgraduate degree and fulfil the requirements (requirements are stated here).

However, the question is:
"Are there only 402 psychologists in Singapore?"

Issue 1:  Unlike the other health professions, the governing of psychologists is not by the government or Ministry of Health.  Hence there is no compulsory obligation for the psychologists to follow the rules or code of conduct as proposed by the SPS, if they are not registered with the SRP.

Issue 2:  By right, only registered psychologists are allowed to call them as 'psychologists', which this is the common regulation in other countries.  Following Issue 1, there is no law or whatsoever in Singapore to govern over this, resulting in many unregistered people being able to call themselves psychologists, whether or not they have received the minimum training and education.  This may result in some clients not getting the appropriate professional services which they have paid for.

2. Professional Membership
Issue 1:  Despite the low annual SPS membership fees, the number of members as registered with SPS are relatively low at 931 members (accurate as at December 2018), considering the number of psychology graduates a year in Singapore and against the Psychological Societies of other countries.  There should be much more members, with the increase of interest in psychology in recent years, but the numbers do not reflect so.  To truly promote the psychological arena and interest of psychology in Singapore, professional membership numbers do help in one way or another.

Issue 2:  Despite the benefits of being a SPS member (https://singaporepsychologicalsociety.org/sps-membership-benefits/), they do not seem to be attractive enough to pull in more members.  Could this lack of attraction in joining SPS be due to the public’s lack of knowledge about SPS and its membership or purely due to the lack of frequent benefits for its members?
Despite having regular events for their members (i.e. monthly events organized by the SPS events team and Special Interest Groups), it may not seem attractive enough for those who do not wish to join SPS.  Probably they could produce more benefits that are exclusively for members, or have a stronger outreach towards the public?

3. Classification of Psychologists
According to the First Schedule of the Allied Health Professions Act, it indicated that "clinical psychologists" are covered under the Act.  This meant that only those who have the relevant training and education and practicing as "clinical psychologists" are required to abide by the Act.
Update: This has not been enforced for psychologists till today since the passing of the Act and enforcing of the Act in 2013.
Issue:  The Act did not cover the psychologists of other specialities, such as educational, counselling, etc. Other than clinical psychologists in Singapore, there are also other psychologists working in these different specialisations, though they may be smaller numbers as compared to the number of clinical psychologists in Singapore.  This exclusion of the other specialisations under the Allied Health Professions Act may mean that their psychological services may not as recognised as "psychological services" in Singapore and that the non-clinical psychologists may not be truly recognised as "real" psychologists, hence affecting their recognition and pay rates.

4. Prestige and Recognition
Due to the above issues mentioned, they may affect the prestige and recognition of all psychologists (experienced or not/clinical or non-clinical) in Singapore.  Though the interest of psychology may be increasing hence resulting in more people to study psychology, but to take up the position and work as a psychologist, the recognition of psychologists should be increased through the resolving of the above issues.  A contrasting example would be the prestige and recognition of doctors and/or lawyers in Singapore (and probably Asia) resulting in more people taking up those professions, despite similar years of education as a psychologist.

This post was originally posted in December 2011, and these abovementioned issues continue to be pending to be resolved now at December 2018.

Comments

  1. So then what do we need to do to get these issues resolved? Who do we need to speak to to have this addressed? MOH? MOM? Perhaps individually, we can write to our MPs first?

    I imagine collectively, we can move this piece.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Fang, Thanks for your wonderful comments. I would really like to hear back from you. Please email me at sgpsychstud@gmail.com

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