PAP is Hiring an Executive Director

Posted November 18, 2010 by papnews
Categories: Announcements

Position Title: Executive Director
Organization: Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP)

The Executive Director is responsible for:

§ Overall leadership of PAP secretariat staff in the implementation of plans
and activities as instructed by the PAP Officers and Board of Directors.

§ Supervising the development and management of a membership database system in coordination with the Membership Committee.

§ Supervising the development and management of an online system of
application, renewal, and payment of membership.

§ Supporting the work of the Programs Committee by coordinating the secretariat work for conventions and CPE (continuing professional education) workshops.

§ Supporting the work of the Publications Committee, Ethics Committee,
Certification Committee, and other special and ad hoc committees, by
coordinating the secretariat work for these committees.

§ Performing other duties as may be assigned by the Officers of the PAP Board
of Directors.

Qualifications:

The applicant must have an MA or be an MA candidate in any field of Psychology, with good
organizational management, administrative, oral and written communication skills and computer literate.

Administrative Details:

The Executive Director will report 2-3x a week (a total of 20 hours a week) to
the PAP secretariat office. The position is equivalent to a half-time job and
Initial contract is for a six-month period.

To Apply:

Interested individuals may email their application (cover letter) and CV to the
PAP Executive Secretary Dr. Angela V. Regala at ola228@yahoo.com and the PAP Secretariat at pap_1962_08@yahoo.com. Deadline of application is December 3, 2010.

PAP OFFICERS FOR 2010-2011

Posted November 2, 2010 by papnews
Categories: Announcements

The officers of the Psychological Association of the Philippines for 2010-2011 were elected by the Board of Directors in a meeting September 24, 2010 at the Philippine Social Science Center in Quezon City. They are:

President: Dr. Ma. Caridad Tarroja
Vice President: Dr. Mira Alexis Ofreneo
Executive Secretary: Dr. Angela Regala
Treasurer: Dr. Carmencita Salonga
External Relations Officer: Dr. Margaret Udarbe-Alvarez

Similarly, in the absence of former PAP President J. Enrique G. Saplala, the board approved last July 3, 2010 that Dr. Allan B. I. Bernardo will serve as ex-officio of the PAP.

SEMINAR on THE PSYCHOLOGIST AS EXPERT WITNESS IN FAMILY COURT (April 26-30, 2010)

Posted September 19, 2010 by papnews
Categories: News & Events

by Gina Ylaya

In the Philippines, the psychologist’s traditional stomping grounds are the academe and private practice. In the past decade,  however, the intersection between psychology and the law has brought more and more psychologists into the arena of the legal profession. What may be considered the watershed moment for this was the enactment of the Family Code in 1987, which paved the way for the use of psychological incapacity as basis for providing  relief to couples in unhappy marriages (Jacob, 2010).  In the late 80’s, Philippine courts started to recognize the expertise of those whose professions (i.e., psychiatrists and clinical psychologists) made them ideally suited to explain human behavior in the forensic setting,  particularly for cases involving declaration of nullity of marriage. When the courts began tapping this specialized knowledge to shed light on the actions of those who appear before them, expert witnessing became a logical career trajectory for the psychologist already established in clinical practice.

Despite 20 years of such recognition, however, the field is still in its infancy (Jacob, 2010). The requirements for qualifying as an expert witness are stringent, but these have not been explicitly articulated in the form of policy or guidelines.  In the meantime, there is a growing number of individuals keenly interested in it as a career choice and have, in fact, already been appearing in court either as private practitioners or representatives of their respective institutions. They handle cases involving marital nullity, child custody, adoption, domestic violence, child and spousal abuse.  This new crop of budding expert witnesses look to the pioneers to mentor them. And the pioneers, concerned about the quality of professional training among these emerging aspirants, want to share knowledge and experience with them. This convergence of aspiration and expertise became the driving motivation behind this seminar.

With her experience as teacher, clinical psychologist, past president of the PAP and International Council of Psychologists, and expert witness in cases involving marital nullity, temporary protection order, custody, adoption, battered wife syndrome, and civil and criminal competencies, Dr. Natividad Dayan took on the task of seminar convenor. 

SEMINAR OBJECTIVES and TOPICS

With Dr. Dayan, the Assessment and Clinical Divisions of the PAP set out to provide seminar participants/ psychologists with tools and techniques to be clinicians in court. Through lectures, mock trials, first-hand accounts of judges and lawyers on their experiences with expert witnesses, and a forum with expert witnesses, participants were taught what the courts expect of forensic psychologists.

SEMINAR TOPICS NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS
Day 1:  Introduction to Family Law and Forensic Psychology Practice 36
Day 2:  The Expert Witness in Marital Nullity and Domestic Violence Cases 47
Day 3:  The Expert Witness in Child Custody Cases  40
Day 4:  The Expert Witness in Spouse/Child Abuse and Adoption Cases  41
Day 5:  Testifying in Court and Deposition 39
   

THE BASICS:  PSYCHOLOGY AND THE LAW

 Dr. J. Enrique Saplala opened Day 1 with the basics of forensic psychology, how it is distinguished from abnormal psychology, its historical antecedents, and how it is practiced in the country.  Putting the psychologist’s role in the larger context of the law,  Dr. Suzette Agcaoili presented The Pillars of the Justice System  (the community, law enforcement, national prosecution service, judiciary and dispute resolution, penal and correctional institutions).  Establishing the roots of the interface between psychology and the law,  Atty. Floranie Jacob delved into American and Philippine antecedents,  the scope of forensic psychology and the historical underpinnings of the declaration of marital nullity or Philippine-style divorce. 

  

What makes forensic psychology different from therapeutic psychology?  Dr. Dayan discussed the distinction, incorporating ethics into the discussion and taking up the psychologist’s role in a forensic scenario, its scope and limits, the preparation that goes into assuming such a role, including contractual agreements made at the outset with the lawyer and the client.

  THERAPEUTIC FORENSIC
 Whose Client is Examinee? Mental health practitioner Lawyer or court
 Purpose Diagnose and treat symptoms of illness Assist decision-maker or lawyer;  aid court in making a decision
 Required Competency Therapy techniques for treatment of problem/ illness Forensic examination techniques relevant to legal claim
 Examiner – Examinee Relationship Supportive, accepting, empathic Objective or neutral stance
 Notification of Purpose Implicit assumptions about purpose shared by clinician and patient

Formal, explicit notification typically not done

Assumptions about purpose not necessarily shared

Formal and explicit notification required

 Amount and Control of Structure in Relationship Patient-structured and relatively less structured than forensic examination Examiner-structured and relatively more structured than therapy
 Response Style of Examinee  Assumed to be reliable  Not assumed to be reliable
Clarification of Reasoning and Limits of Knowledge  Optional  Very important
 Written Report Brief, conclusory

statement;  confidential

Lengthy and detailed (documents findings, reasonings, and conclusions);  everything revealed
 Court Testimony  Not expected  Expected
     

Sources:

Dayan, Natividad.  Developing Principles of Forensic Mental Health Assessment/ Ethics. Powerpoint presentation,  April, 2010.    

Dayan, Natividad. Irreconcilable differences between therapeutic care and forensic examination relationships.  Child Custody. Powerpoint presentation, April 2010. 

 THE EXPERT WITNESS in FAMILY COURT

 Marital Nullity: The decision rendered by the Supreme Court (known as the Molina decision) in 1997 made the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code more rigorous. The guidelines require that psychological incapacity  be proven by showing that one or both parties suffer from a “psychological disorder (that) existed at the time of the marriage;  that it continues to manifest itself in the marriage;  that it is serious and incurable;  that the roots of its origins can be clinically traced;  and that the same must be testified to by an expert” (Jacob, 2010).  When there is a breakdown in the elements that make for a successful marriage, how does one prove the existence of grounds for nullity? On Day 2, Dr. Dayan addressed this question,  focusing on three conditions required in the determination of the existence of a personality disorder: gravity, antecedence, and incurability.  Through testimonies of the parties and witnesses, official records,  a clinical interview (encompassing family background, courtship, and married life), and findings derived from objective and projective tests,  grounds for nullity are established.

 As co-author of the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory III,  Dr. Roger Davis zeroed-in on the nature of personality disorders.  It is not sufficient that the clinician knows how to identify and describe the personality disorder, but also how it manifests in and undermines the marital relationship. The MCMI-III’s theoretical underpinnings were discussed, as were its scales, structural and functional domains, diagnostic efficiency, general approaches to interpretation, and applications.

 While marital nullity cases, with some of its celebrity protagonists and accompanying media mileage, may have thrust the psychologist into the public arena,  the cases involving child custody, domestic violence, spousal and child abuse, and adoption are no less demanding of the psychologist’s expertise. As the persona of the child enters the picture, assessment skills focused on the child take center stage,  which, in the seminar,  became most evident in the mock trials on child custody and sexual abuse. Inputs on the clinical interview (by Ms. Zachele Briones), the country’s policies governing adoption (by Atty. Jacob, former Board Director of the Intercountry Adoption Board),  and the prosecution of child abuse and battered wife cases (by Atty. June Ambrosio) took up Days 3 and 4 of the seminar.

MOCK TRIALS and DISCUSSIONS

Four mock trials were conducted:  on marital nullity and temporary protection order (Day 2), child custody (Day 3), and sexual abuse (Day 4), with Dr. Arnulfo Lopez and  Dr. Natividad Dayan playing the expert witness role.  These were highly instructive and engrossing sessions that presented the expert witness, lawyers for the petitioner and opposing counsel, and a judge in a simulation of a Family Court proceeding using actual cases.  Seminar participants were shown court procedure and language, the phrasing of questions, direct and cross examination, challenges to expert witness credibility, and how an expert witness must comport himself/herself in the face of these challenges. The mock trials highlighted the importance of a solid foundation in clinical psychology and assessment techniques, a thorough case work-up,  a well-written report, confidence and composure under intense grilling.              

The participants were most animated when the resource person engaged them and vice versa. Their questions ranged from observations on the mock trials to real-life dilemmas they encountered in their practice.  Among the issues raised were: Do the courts have a ‘bias’ for psychiatrists as expert witnesses? Does the PAP have a policy on who can appear in court? How does one determine professional fees?  The legal practitioners, for their part, gave helpful pointers on the role, knowledge requirement, and professionalism expected of the psychologist-expert witness.

FORUM WITH EXPERT WITNESSES

On the last day, the clinical psychologists took turns sharing their experiences and the accumulated wisdom and insights of years as expert witnesses.

Relationship with Clients and Colleagues:  Dr. Violet Bautista communicates to clients and legal practitioners that psychology is a profession and psychologists are professionals. To protect the integrity of the profession, one must make clear that the assessment process follows rigorous scientific standards as free from bias as possible, the report is not oriented to suit the interests of the client, and the psychologist is not at the client’s beck and call. To avoid confusing role requirements, she differentiates her role as therapist from that of expert witness. She has a  preference for working with clients to whom she is positively-predisposed and whose character she trusts, and finds helping those with limited financial means an “uplifting experience.” Moreover,  years of expert witnessing have led her to respect colleagues’ different assessment of the same case as one way, among many ways, of viewing reality.  

Preparing for Court Appearance:  Dr. Bautista’s preparation begins with writing a curriculum vitae that presents her credentials as relevant to the case she is handling because this is vital to the authentication of one’s qualifications. Because court appearances usually take place months after report submission, she makes sure she reviews the salient findings and conclusions the day before.  Dr. Claudette Agnes also emphasized the importance of being prepared and having mastery of the facts to avoid inconsistencies. Atty. Polly Dy walked the seminar participants through what to expect before a court hearing—from reviewing her report, anticipating cross examination grilling, meeting with lawyers, to what to wear and bring on the day itself.

Handling Cross Examination:   Atty. Floranie Jacob defined and explained the concepts of testimony, direct examination, cross examination, witness impeachment (for reasons of bias, inconsistent statements, character flaw, competency, and contradiction), and the do’s and don’ts of cross examination.  Focusing on cross examination,  Dr. Agnes also touched on being objective and authoritative and  coming across as credible in order to avoid being impeached.  Dr. Arnulfo Lopez reiterated that whatever responses are given in cross examination must have basis;   the clinical interview is a scientific method of gathering data and is not hearsay;  and the psychologist is the professional qualified to assess the presence of a personality disorder.  In the course of her work with the courts,  Dr. Bautista has been asked what books and articles she had published, what approach she used in analyzing the Rorschach,  how she was able to arrive at a diagnosis without seeing her client’s spouse, and whether what she diagnosed as personality disorders were merely lapses in judgment or indiscretions or bad habits.  All of which are attempts to discredit the testimony of the expert witness, and must be answered using one’s clinical expertise and with the self-assurance that comes from trust in one’s work.

POINTS of EMPHASIS

 In the course of five days,  seminar participants were repeatedly reminded of the following salient points:  

 Keep in mind that the psychologist is a professional rendering expert judgment and testimony.

  1. Accept referrals only within your area of expertise.
  2. Clarify roles with the client and lawyer at the outset.
  3. Avoid the dual role of therapist and expert witness of the same client.
  4. Never compromise the integrity of the psychological report—the expert witness is  not hired to provide an assessment that is favorable to the client.
  5. Be thorough and specific in the report.  Expound on the results and particulars of the case.
  6. Know your subject matter.  Be sure of your findings and conclusions. 
  7. Stand by your psychological report;  in family cases, the decision hinges mostly on it.
  8. Be prepared to be challenged on your credentials, methodology, the validity and reliability of tests used, and conclusions reached.
  9. Be honest. Testify only on what you know.

Resource Persons / Clinical Psychology:  Agcaoili, Suzette, PhD;  Agnes, Claudette, PhD; Bautista, Violeta PhD;  Briones, Zachele Marie, PhD cand.;   Davis, Roger, PhD;  Dayan, Natividad, PhD;  Lopez, Arnulfo, PhD;  Saplala, J. Enrique, PhD 

 Resource Persons / Law:  Ambrosio, June (Lawyer);  Bobis, Hannibal (Lawyer);  De Guzman, Elsa (Judge);  Dy, Polly (Lawyer);  Galos, Heidi (Lawyer); Jacob, Floranie (Lawyer);   Soriano, Andres (Judge);  Tantuico, Fina (Lawyer), Villanueva, Candido (Judge) 

 

MEETING ALBERT BANDURA

Posted June 26, 2010 by papnews
Categories: Feature

by Ronaldo A. Motilla
Miriam College, Quezon City

the author with Albert Bandura

If there is one word to describe my meeting with the world renowned social cognitive psychologist, Albert Bandura, on May 17, 2010 at 2:10PM, Jordan Hall, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, it is “serendipitous”.  In the lexicon of Bandura, it is a “fortuitous event”, an unplanned and unexpected meeting.

     After arriving from a 13-hour grueling Philippine Airlines long haul trip from Manila to San Francisco on May 16, 2010, I settled in a modest hotel called Travelodge, which is relatively near Stanford University, the site of the 10th annual Stanford Undergraduate Psychology Conference (SUPC).  Despite my struggle to get a decent sleep on the first night, I decided the following day, May 17, to walk around Palo Alto and looked for Stanford University. I asked the hotel receptionist and instructed me as to where I can take a free ride (the Marguerite bus) going inside the school campus. Although I found my way to the bus station, I became impatient waiting for bus. So I decided to continue my walk until I finally found the Jordan Hall where the psychology department is located. My entire walk took me about 50 minutes but I neither sweat nor gasp for air. It must be the cool spring weather and the unpolluted environment.

     Inside the department building, I asked the receptionist (a Black lady) about Ms. Kyonne Isaac, who was the organizer of the conference because I had so many questions to ask her related to the conference and to personally thank her for granting some of my requests, specifically in extending the payment of the conference fee. But the receptionist informed me that Kyonne could only be reached through the email. I also asked the receptionist if I could sit in the classes of their psychology professors during my stay in Palo Alto City, particularly Albert Bandura’s, for my own professional and personal enrichment. She told me that I need to email the professors whose classes I want to attend.   

     Quite frustrated because I could not get in touch with the conference organizer nor talk personally with the Stanford professors, I decided to loiter around the corridors of the building, and started reading the researches of some Stanford psychology students, whose work were posted on the walls.  Then a few minutes later, my heart leapt. I saw Dr. Bandura coming to my direction. I immediately approached him and introduced myself as the head of the Miriam College delegation to the SUPC. Seizing this rare opportunity, I hastily requested for the typical Pinoy “photo op”. As he did not expect me, however, to ambush him for a photo session, he said he will come back for me because he urgently needed to get something from another room. While waiting for his return, I immediately took out my digicam and prepared for any eventuality. In a few minutes, he came back to see me and he asked his secretary to take a picture of us outside the Jordan Hall building. We had two photographs of us taken together and a solo picture of him.

     I was damned “star struck” during those brief photo moments. He asked me what my area of interest is in psychology. I said I am a clinical psychologist, but very much interested in health and positive psychology.  Then, he invited me to his room inside the building because he will give me some reprints of his talks, lectures and speeches. That jolted and surprised me. He has a beautiful room, filled with a lot of books on the shelves, and many other books and papers on his table, which is a typical set-up of professors.   Then, he started pulling out one of his drawers and started giving me some reprints. He gave me a lot. To name a few, he gave me reprints on Going Global With Social Cognitive Theory: From Prospect to Paydirt, The Primacy of Self-Regulation in Health Promotion, An Agentic Perspective on Positive Psychology, The Growing Centrality of Self-Regulation in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Impending Ecological Sustainability Through Selective Moral Disengagement, and The Evolution of Social Cognitive Theory, among others.

     In one of the reprints that he gave me, A History of Psychology in Autobiography, which I immediately read when I reached Travelodge, I learned that we have the same birthday, December 04. (He is presently 85 years old). Isn’t that another fortuitous event?

     While still inside his office and continued to be “star struck” by him, I requested for a videotaped message for my colleagues and students (graduate and undergraduate) of Miriam College. He obliged and his message ran for 3 minutes. Essentially, he said we need to continue to have a “resilient belief” in ourselves, in our own efficacy to surpass and transcend the “lousy” realities of life”. This self-belief will serve as the “foundation for our aspirations and goals in life.”

     As I thanked Dr. Albert Bandura for this very precious moment with him, I could not help but thank the Universe and God who orchestrated everything for me, as well as for my students. Honestly, my two week trip to the United States was all part of a divine plan. There were some challenges along the way but everything went well. As I wrote on my journal inside the plane a few minutes it took off from Manila to San Francisco:

     “On several occasions, I doubted the success of this trip.    I even prayed that it will no longer push through so it     will unburden me… But a reassuring thought and feeling kept on surfacing. This is fulfilling God’s plan.  God has    designed this trip and will see the success of this event.   God will protect all of us and He will provide for     everyone’s needs.”

     I could only describe my first USA trip as wonderful and meaningful, filled with a lot of surprises, plenty of “fortuitous events”, one of which is my Bandura encounter. There were many other serendipitous events that came during my trip, which tremendously surprised me. (This will entail another story to tell.) But I sincerely embraced these events and meaningful experiences with love and respect, albeit with initial hesitation, for they were all part of the Greater Design.

     Indeed, there is a Higher Power that love, cares, and guides all of us at all times.

Statement of the PAP on the (Mis)Use of Psychology in the Current Electoral Campaign

Posted May 1, 2010 by papnews
Categories: Announcements, Focus

The Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP)* considers some recent occurrences in the current electoral campaigns as an affront to psychologists and to psychology as a discipline and profession. In particular, partisan individuals and media practitioners have not only presented to the public fraudulent psychological reports, but have also made inaccurate statements about different aspects of the practice of psychology and the nature of psychological functioning. These irresponsible actuations have dangerous long-term effects on efforts of Filipino psychologists and other mental health professionals to address the psychological well-being of Filipinos. In this regard, the PAP would like to respond to and clarify some of the issues raised as a result of these political events.

First, the PAP denounces the release of the results of psychological tests or assessment to media and the public at large. In accordance with the PAP Code of Ethics, the results of psychological tests or assessment cannot be released to the media or the public or to any person other than the client. Any reputable individual psychologist or psychological organization ensures the practice of confidentiality and that the results of psychological tests or assessment are only shared with the client. Psychologists take reasonable steps to ensure that information to be disclosed will not be misused, misunderstood or misinterpreted to infringe on human rights, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

Second, the PAP denounces the suggestions made by politicians, media practitioners, and others to force political candidates to take psychological tests or assessment. In accordance with the PAP Code of Ethics, individuals cannot be subjected to psychological tests or assessment without their informed consent. Any reputable individual psychologist or psychological organization ensures that informed consent is acquired from the client before conducting psychological tests.

Third, the PAP denounces the insinuation that people who see a psychologist or any mental health professional is “abnormal” or “permanently debilitated”. The PAP condemns the insinuation that depression is a permanent disability; and the use of words like “abnoy” , ‘sira ang ulo’and “may diperensiya sa utak” to label individuals. These irresponsible statements and similar acts perpetuate a profound lack of understanding of psychological concepts, of the nature of psychological problems and dysfunctions, and of the nature of psychological health and wellbeing.

The PAP would like to stress to politicians, to media practitioners, and to the public at large that seeing a psychologist or any mental health professional does not make a person “abnormal”. Seeing a psychologist means ensuring our mental health and psychological wellbeing.

Board of Directors
Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP)
1 May 2010

*Note: The Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP), a professional organization of psychologists founded in 1962, is committed to the promotion of excellence in the teaching, research, and practice of psychology. It is a non-stock, non-profit corporation whose national membership includes teachers, researchers, and practitioners of psychology. Its members adhere to the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists which recognizes that “ethics is at the core of every discipline”.

Reflection on being a Visiting Researcher

Posted May 1, 2010 by papnews
Categories: Feature

by Gina Hechanova

This year, I was fortunate to have received the Asian Public Intellectuals Fellowship. Sponsored by the Nippon Foundation, it allowed me to serve as visiting researcher in Indonesia and Thailand to do a cross-cultural study on the impact of globalization and transformation in local Asian organizations. As part of my fellowship, I worked with other faculty members from the University of Indonesia and the Assumption University, Thailand. I also found myself delivering lectures to graduate students.
The experience has been life changing. The first challenge I had to overcome was homesickness – it was my first time to be away from my family for this long and there were times when all I wanted to do was pack my bags and go home.

Then there were the misadventures of traveling to non-English countries – mixing up currencies, getting lost, not being understood and having to resort to miming, ordering food and getting something unexpected, feeling alone in a crowd because you can’t understand what they are saying and stumbling over foreign phrases and intonations (note to self: the words for ‘excuse me’ and ‘I farted’ are the same in Thai – the difference is how you pronounce it :-) )

Yet there was also the exhilaration of seeing new places, tasting new flavors, discovering new things, making new friends, and simply the satisfaction of knowing I can survive. There was also the experience of meeting other FIlipino OFWs. Or just seeing them during Sunday mass – even if I don’t know who they are, there is a sense of community that brings comfort beyond words.

Then there is the solitude. Stretches of time to write, to read, to research, to reflect, or simply just be. I tried to revel and not be daunted by the silence knowing that when it was over, my life would return to its breakneck pace and I would not have this luxury again.

Gina Hechanova


In these pockets of solitude, I’ve discovered strengths I never knew I had. I also unearthed vulnerabilities I didn’t know were there. Just when you think you’ve grown up – experiences like these stretch and shape you. Entering new worlds make you realize there are other ways of doing and being. It makes you question your assumptions and perspectives. And although I do see the differences in language, customs, and religions, I was continually amazed at the similarities in histories and cultures. More than this, I’ve realized that at the personal level, – there are many things that are still shared across the planet. The human frailties. The search to be relevant. The desire to love and be loved.

So despite the difficulties, I am glad I did this. Beyond the work I set out to do, I feel I’ve grown as a person. And perhaps even more important than what I have learned professionally, is experiencing the joy of finding people you can connect with despite the barriers.

How Being a Psychologist has Helped Me as a Barangay Captain

Posted April 26, 2010 by papnews
Categories: Feature

by Angela Fabiola D. Regala, PhD

Psychology is a behavioral science very relevant to everyday life.  It contributes to the health, productivity, well-being, and resilience of people, family, and societies in a world of differing personalities.  I believe that the most important type of skills to succeed in life are psychological skills. This includes the ability to show real concern for others and knowing how to express that concern in interactions with others. Other skills I learned as a psychologist include the ability to help others develop and grow, the ability to create harmony in difficult situations, knowing how to motivate others, being able to understand another’s true motives during an interaction, and many others. Being a psychologist, I am better able to increase the motivation and energy of others, which has contributed to my being more effective in my line of work. 

     My job as a barangay captain is a mix of a certain level of intellectual and administrative skill and a lot of psychological know-how.  Being a psychologist has sharpened my social skills.  In today’s atmosphere of public life, these skills acquire a premium. Knowledge on how to deal with the public, understanding the art of persuasion and presentation, presence of mind, being attentive and energized, observation of others, considering and sometimes adjusting to others’ viewpont/s and, finally, accomplishment, fall under social skills. Manners, disposition and character play a very large part in one’s role as a barangay captain.

What makes me say this? – my own experience as a barangay chairperson for the past 8 years. 

     The barangay captain is the executive head of the smallest unit of government. My duties and responsibilities include governance, fiscal administration, development planning, barangay legislation, basic services and facilities and compliance to directives.

     As a basic political unit, the barangay serves as the chief planning and implementing unit of government policies, plans, programs, projects, and activities in the community, where the collective views of the people may be expressed, crystallized and considered, and where disputes may be amicably settled.

The following are some of the duties and functions of a barangay captain and how I am able to blend psychology in the performance of these tasks:

(1)   Enforce all laws and ordinances which are applicable within the barangay.  Enforcing laws within the barangay sounds simple but it requires a certain level of firmness and a lot of human understanding.  It is not easy to please everyone but I have to do what is necessary to put order in my area of responsibility. The ability to listen, negotiate, and collaborate has been very useful in my eight years in office as a barangay captain.  I consider everyday as a learning experience to better myself for the service of my community.  Patience is the key to handling people.  I view them as part of my team so I can effectively deliver results for the good of the barangay.  Because of this philosophy, I am able to deal with others more efficiently and resolve disputes immediately.  This results in higher compliance with minimal resistance.

(2)   Negotiate, enter into, and sign contracts for and in behalf of the barangay. Negotiating is a skill and I can personally say that I was able to develop it because of a better understanding of human behavior. This would not have been possible if not for my education as a psychologist.  I believe that because I am able to communicate effectively, I am able to use this as a link or tool for all parties to bring on the table their concerns and negotiate on it.  I always remind them that whatever the decision is, it is always for the good of the majority and not for a personal agenda.  Win-win negotiation is all about finding a solution that is acceptable to all involved and to achieve the feeling that they have won in some way.

 (3)   Maintain public order in the barangay and assist the city mayor and the sanggunian members in the performance of their duties and functions. Motivation has a lot to do with maintaining public order in our barangay.  I believe because of my understanding of it and application among my barangay council members that maintaining public order within our barangay has not been too difficult a task.

(4) Call and preside over the sessions of the sangguniang barangay and the barangay assembly.  My secret in being able to handle barangay sessions effectively is practicing positive self-talk before every meeting.  I do not get stressed because I prepare for it and make sure there is an agenda for the assembly.  By managing the time during our meetings, we are able to cover all the concerns related to our barangay. 

 (5) Organize and lead an emergency group whenever the same may be necessary for the maintenance of peace and order or on occasions of emergency or calamity within the barangay.  Whenever there are emergency situations, I always focus my energy on “team effort.”  I believe that in teamwork, we are able to achieve more, especially in emergencies.  Focus is not only on peace and order but more importantly, going beyond the physical – the emotional and psychological effects of stress-filled situations on people.

 (6) Administer the operation of the Katarungang Pambarangay in accordance with the provisions of this Code.  Katarungang Pambarangay requires that anyone from our barangay who has a problem with someone else in our barangay has to go through our office before they can file the case in court.  The problem can be anything: domestic fights, failure of one to pay rent, arguments between household help, resident owner vs. helper, verbal harassment, and others.  The Barangay captain must try to resolve the problem within her level so that it does not need to go to a higher court.  This can be really difficult when the complainant and the respondent do not see each other’s point.  It is always easy to settle a dispute when both parties are willing “to fix” the problem.  My style in conflict resolution depends on the scale of disagreement, misunderstanding, or problem.  First, I set the goal/s for the meeting.  Some of the questions I ask the parties involved include:

  • What are the expected outcomes?
  • Is it possible to reach a compromise?  How?
  • What are the consequences?
  • What are the possible solutions?

I want both parties to come up with a mutual and acceptable decision and my role is to process and guide them in achieving this.

 (7) Promote the general welfare of the barangay.  I strongly believe that psychological skills are competencies that make life better. Academic and work skills are part of the set which also include efficiency, cheerfulness, compassion, determination, decision-making, conflict-resolution, nonviolence, and self-discipline.  As barangay captain, I know that I will never be able to please everyone – but with these traits, I have a better chance of attaining a higher level of “customer satisfaction”.  As a chairwoman, having these qualities definitely facilitates my performance of all duties and responsibilities. 

     Although I was tasked to write on how being a psychologist has helped me as a barangay captain, I would like to say that being a psychologist has helped me also in other very important roles in my life: as wife, mother, teacher, and therapist.  Being an “expert” in human behavior has given me the tools to become a constructive influence in my everyday life.  Psychology has prepared me well to make a difference in whatever path I choose.


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