Mental health is not just a topic of conversation for those who are afflicted with mental health disorders, it also affects all aspects of our social, physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being.
WOU alumni and clinical psychologist trainee, Jayson Lew Chi Kheong, along with Joy Chua Hui Ting, also a clinical psychologist trainee, presented a talk titled “Moving Forward as a Clinical Psychologist” on 4 November 2022. About 15 people attended the talk at the seaside main campus.
Chua outlined the distinctions between psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and counsellors, noting that while all three are permitted to provide psychotherapy, only psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are qualified to examine and diagnose patients.
“Psychiatrists are the only ones that are trained to prescribe medication. In most circumstances, they will accept cases like schizophrenia and individuals with extremely severe cases who need medication to help relieve their symptoms,” she said.
The most essential abilities these mental health professionals need to possess are attentive listening, non-verbal communication, silent empathy, and response. The need for silence during therapy sessions is important because some therapists have a propensity to prattle and they need to give their clients the opportunity to express their feelings.
While sympathy stems from feeling pity and relief from not experiencing the same challenges, empathy is important for these professionals as it demonstrates how much compassion and understanding they can provide to their clients.
“The way you present yourself in front of your clients is crucial. You must maintain good eye contact, appropriate vocal qualities (speak in a pleasant tone), verbal tracking (clarify what your clients have shared), and proper body language (always be attentive),” Chua highlighted.
There are other approaches available in addition to the widely used treatment, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), exposure therapy, person-centered therapy, and group therapy. Individuals are required to complete specialised training to obtain a licence to provide these treatments to patients.
Furthermore, it is significant for mental health professionals to develop a therapeutic relationship with their patients. There are three types of therapeutic relationship; an emotional connection based on mutual respect, care and trust; agreement on the therapy’s objectives; and cooperation on the tasks involved in the treatment.
Lew mentioned that there is currently a demand for psychologists as the government is making sure that people are aware of mental health due to the high number of reported suicide cases during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Every clinical psychologist has their own approach and manner of working. We place an emphasis on real-world scenarios instead of simply just reading and studying,” he said.
Lew made a point of highlighting that it is normal for mental health professionals to seek assistance from one another. “When we are depressed or lost, we are unable to make sensible decisions. I advise you to contact a therapist if you are unable to manage your mental health,” he said.
“It has no bearing on our work and does not diminish our abilities as clinical psychologists or psychiatrists. Just because we have a title does not make us a saviour, because we are all still human beings at the end of the day,” Lew emphasised.
In addition to the seminar, a group of students from the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Psychology programme staged an exhibition to promote mental wellness.