Serving the Singapore Psychological Society
I am honoured and humbled to be able to serve SPS again. I am glad I had the opportunity to say yes, because I can. I still have the capacity to do so; more so because I have the task now to look into the regulation of the psychological profession in Singapore. It has always been my interest.
Regulation is not something new for us as psychologist in Singapore. It has been a long standing interest. The heart of it has always been and still is about the well being of users of psychological services.
In 2020, we reported receiving “frequent feedback that includes unethical practice, inappropriate use of the title “psychologist”, and unqualified psychological service providers”. See ST link below.
When I was in the council more than a decade ago, we had to consult psychological associations beyond our shores to guide our actions. There are a few factors to look into for regulation to happen. Here are four:
 Critical Mass – Do we have enough psychologists?
In 2020, MP Christopher de Souza, asked in Parliament whether there were enough of us to help cope with the potential increase in mental illness, if not, how are we promoting the profession?
Then, we had about one registered psychologist to every 11,000 people in Singapore. Today, we are just about slightly more. Seemingly, our local degree programs in psychology also ensure the supply of properly qualified psychologists; promoting the profession.
Do we have enough? I personally think we do have enough, but we need more.
 Education-Career Pathways
With the exception of Singapore Institute of Technology and Singapore University of Technology and Design, Psychology is offered at the other four Autonomous Universities. It is still uncertain how many Psychology Degree graduates move on to pursue their Masters Degree, and become Registered Psychologists. The word on the ground is less than 1%.
SkillsFuture and the National Council of Social Service have mapped out the career pathways with corresponding competencies required and salary ranges. This is helpful for employers looking into training and budgeting for a psychologist headcount, even useful for new entrants into the profession at the specific levels.
 Supervision-Practice Sites
While there may be Registered Supervisors available to provide supervision for psychologists in training. There may not be many practicum sites available.
A large proportion of psychologists are in the public sector, yet not everyone is registered. Conversely, while many private psychologists are registered, they are not many employing other psychologist at their practice-sites, seemingly for practical reasons.
Maybe the private practitioners can consider engaging more Associate Psychologists and the public service engaging psychologists are Post Graduate levels.
 Governing Jurisdiction
In 2021, MP Dr Wan Rizal asked in Parliament which body or institution has jurisdiction over the various organisations or individuals that purport to be providing psychological and mental health services.
In 2022, MP Melvin Yong asked (a) whether psychologists are fully regulated under the Allied Health Professions Act; and (b) whether the Allied Health Professions Council has the power to investigate any complaint made against errant psychologists.
In short, psychologist are not regulated by any Board, Council, Act or Legislation. The Allied Health Professions Council does not have the power to investigate complaints against any psychologists, even clinical psychologists who are under the Allied Health Act Lists of Professions.
Nonetheless, psychologists in hospitals will be subject to the clinical governance framework of the hospitals, and existing healthcare legislations such as the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act.
The journey ahead is going to be an exciting one for me.
In the meantime, I believe SPS will continue to provide guidance on the professional and ethical conduct for its members, whilst maintaining a close working relationship with the government to ensure clients’ interest continue to be safe-guarded.
[ST] Important to ensure quality of psychological services, 3 Mar 2020 –
[MOH] MP Christopher de Souza, 14 Oct 2020 –
[NCSS] FY2022 SALARY GUIDELINES FOR THE SOCIAL SERVICE SECTOR
[SkillsFuture] Skills Framework for Psychologist
[MOH] MP Dr Wan Rizal, 1 Mar 2021 –
[MOH] MP Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye, 11 Jan 2022 –
[AHPC] Allied Health Professions