DEVELOPING PSYCHOLOGY AT A NATIONAL LEVEL: THE IUPsyS CAPACITY BUILDING WORKSHOP 30 September – 1 October 2010

Psychological Association of the Philippines President Dr. Maria Caridad Tarroja, Vice President Dr. Mira Ofreneo, and Board Member Mr. Jay Yacat joined eight other officers and members of national psychology organizations from three other Southeast Asian countries (Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia) and three East Asian nations (India, China and Pakistan) in a one and a half day capacity building workshop on Developing Psychology at a National Level. This workshop was organized by the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS).

Status of National Psychology Organizations in Southeast Asia

Prof. Pam Maras

Chair of the National Capacity Building Work Group

IUPsyS

Prof. Maras led the participants in surfacing issues that national psychology organizations in Southeast Asia grapple with. Membership is a priority issue (attracting and engaging members, member benefits). Other identified challenges pertain to organizational development: funding, staffing, capacity building and continuing education.  Important key issues include:

  • Lack of services to public
  • Culture sensitive applicability of acquired skills and knowledge
  • Education of the public about value and application of psychology
  • Relationship with other disciplines
  • Need for collaboration among psychological organisations

However, despite these challenges, all organizations rely on the commitment and hard work of their existing members. Another important resource is the leadership and guidance of their more senior and well-established members.

An important observation is that the organizations are at different stages in their development (with some organizations existing for almost fifty years while others are in the process of formalizing its structures).

The importance of regulation and licensing of psychologists was a focal point in the discussions. Among the participating nations, only the Philippines has successfully passed a regulatory law. While Prof. Maras underscored the importance of having such a law, she strongly encouraged national organizations to critically reflect on their possible roles in the implementation. She warned that it might be taxing for organizations’ resources to be involved in the actual implementation of the regulation.

In summary, Prof. Maras identified possible roles and functions for national psychology organizations:

  • Maintain the significance of psychology as a science
  • Use psychological science for public good
  • Public understanding and engagement of psychology
  • Influence government on national and international policy
  • Promote and support psychology and psychologists
  • Membership services and organization
  • Education and quality assurance
  • Publication and research

ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies (ARUPS) and National Psychology Organizations

Dr. Allan B.I. Bernardo

President, ARUPS

ARUPS is a union of national associations in Southeast Asia. Dr. Bernardo provided the history, aims and activities of ARUPS. He asked the participants to think about how ARUPS can address the development needs of their respective national associations.  He led the discussion of four issues: promoting communication and cooperation between member countries; training, qualifications and status; research, application and practice; research, application and practice; and dissemination of psychological knowledge.

Cooperation and communication Training, qualification and status
  • Regularly updated website to support national associations (bulletin boards, forum)
  • Faculty exchanges or study tour
  • Documenting lessons learned or good practices by member associations in similar issues (eg., dealing with the government)
  • Regional associations reaching out to emerging national associations (e.g., informing national associations on international standards)
  • Reaching out to non-psychology professional associations (e.g., psychiatry, guidance and counselling, psychotherapy)
  • Identification of possible contact persons from associations from other regions
  • Appoint a liaison officer among national presidents
  • Internet-based communication
  • Include department, colleges, university

 

  • Develop or come up with a set of competencies expected for undergraduate psychology students, psychology practitioners, researchers, educators (competency vs educational attainment model)
  • Recognize exemplary programs of psychology
  • Support the efforts to educate the public (general public, government and other professions) about the functions of psychologists
  • Disseminate success of psychologists in the public sphere (policy level)
  • Support efforts for national regulation and recognition of psychologists

 

Research, Application and Practice Dissemination of Psychological Knowledge
  • Come up with a network/directory of researchers and practitioners to facilitate possible collaborative work
  • Encourage international publishers to accept manuscripts in the local language and have local language editors
  • Support efforts to develop a research culture among national associations (e.g., encourage country members to explore locally relevant research topics, develop local measures)
  • Encourage international bodies to give a voice to and value locally-relevant research

 

  • Support capacity-building efforts by national associations to come up with peer-reviewed journal (e.g., have international experts to come in; provide writing workshops)
  • Engage publishers to support other means to disseminate evidence-based psychological knowledge

 

 

The Way Forward for National Associations

Elizabeth Nair, PhD

Dr. Nair asked the participants to think about the following: a) quality of psychology programs; b) challenges faced by practitioners; c) attracting international academics; and d) influence of psychology on public policy.

It was found that there are no existing accreditation systems among participating nations to ensure the quality of psychology programs (both undergraduate and graduate programs). This could be another area that ARUPS may focus on. Meanwhile, all participants see the importance of a regulatory system to ensure the quality of psychological practice.

The participants also admit that at present, except in Malaysia, there are no active steps in attracting outstanding international academics to teach or do research but recognize the potential of doing so in the development of the discipline.

Last, the participants also agree that there is a need to strengthen the influence of psychology in public discourse and public policy in their respective countries.

The status of global psychology

Sath Cooper, PhD

Dr. Cooper outlined several characteristics of contemporary global psychology which render non-Western psychologies at a disadvantage. These include:

  • Euro-American knowledge base, seminal research, standardized testing instrumentation
  • Boulder Model, feminization of psychology (psychology as becoming de-valued)
  • Peer-reviewed publications (skewed patterns), Citation: Impact factor
  • Influential textbooks, source materials
  • Policy impact, societal recognition, threat/fear factor
  • International visibility

However, he acknowledged that changing geo-political conditions highlight the need for non-Western psychologies to assert themselves in the world stage.

  • Conflict and crisis
  • Globalization and poverty
  • Economics of poverty and health
  • Development imperatives, resources priorities
  • Majority world representations
  • Human, socio-economic issues
  • Advances in brain and neuro-sciences

He also enumerated several features of national psychologies, especially in Southeast Asia, that may help in contributing to a truly global psychology: cultural diversity; indigenous experience; use of electronic communication; and sharing a time zone. Thus, it is important that national associations not only focus on strengthening its respective organizations but also reach out to other associations in the region in order to become a force in shaping the direction of a global psychology.

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