How to Become a Clinical Psychologist in Malaysia

Table of Content

Before discussing on the requirements and personal attributes of a clinical psychologist, I would like to provide some insights and information regarding clinical psychology and clinical psychologist in Malaysia. I will also introduce more about Dr. Alvin Ng, who provided most of the information in my process in completing this particular assignment. What is Clinical Psychology? In general, clinical psychology is the scientific study and application of psychology for the purpose of understanding, preventing and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective well-being and personal development.

Its practices are centrally based on psychological assessment and psychotherapy, although clinical psychologists also engage in research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony and program development and administration. In many countries clinical psychology is a regulated mental health profession. (Retrived from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Clinical_psychology) In Malaysia, clinical psychology is a relatively new field. Pioneering Malaysian clinical psychologists started work only about fifteen years ago.

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The profession remained relatively unnoticed until the last five years when there has been a tremendous increase in the visibility and involvement of clinical psychologists in Malaysia. Clinical Psychologists in Malaysia Clinical psychologist in Malaysia is an applied practitioner of clinical psychology with a minimum of a master’s degree in clinical psychology and approved training in assessment, diagnosis, as well as treatment of behavioural and emotional problems, learning and developmental difficulties, using scientific methods.

Clinical psychologists adhere to the scientist-practitioner model of applied practice as they use scientific methods to achieve objectivity and precision in their work. Clinical psychologists use the bio-psychosocial model of understanding behavioural and psychological problems. They are professionals who provide important human services by helping individuals, social groups and communities, solving psychological problems and improve the quality of life following an ethical code of conduct.

Job Description of Clinical Psychologists in Malaysia Clinical psychologists conduct the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of behavioural, emotional, learning and developmental problems. Besides that, follow-ups on assessment and treatment are also included. Apart from individual treatment, psychological assessment and interventions are extended to the group as well as community settings.

As such, clinical psychologists liaise regularly with other allied health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists from other disciplines (such as the developmental psychologists, school psychologists), neurosurgeons, general practitioners, nurses, speech therapists, occupational therapists, social workers and health administrators. Some clinical psychologists collaborate with other professionals in the areas of education, social welfare, corporate management and government administration.

Apart from scientific clinical practice, clinical psychologists are also trained researchers. They are design surveys or experiments, use instruments that assess behaviour and emotions and also analyse data using statistical software. Besides that, clinical psychologists also play a vital role in promoting mental health, by providing psychotherapy to individual and group clients and also through public education. Clinical psychologists based in many different working settings.

They usually work at hospitals (in general or in psychiatric ward), rehabilitation centers, outpatient clinics (community based or specialised psychological services), disability services (intellectual and physical), community-based welfare services, non-government organizations (NGOs), corrective services (justice system), educational institutions and in private practice/consultancies. Who is Dr. Alvin Ng? Dr. Alvin Ng Lai Oon is senior lecturer and a practitioner clinical psychologist who is currently teaching in University Kebangsaan Malaysia, KL Campus.

He received his Bachelor of Arts from University of Western Australia, Bachelor in Psychology and Doctor of Psychology, both from Murdoch University, Western Australia. His services include psychological testing, personality profiling, and therapy of a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, relationship adjustments, learning disorders, challenging behaviours and schizophrenia. After understanding more about Clinical Psychology and know more about Dr.

Alvin Ng, it is time for me to explain the professional requirement and legal requirement of becoming a clinical psychologist with reference to Malaysia. Most of the information obtained to complete this assignment and text came from the interview session with Dr. Alvin. Legal Requirement Until this moment, there is no registration body for Clinical Psychologist in Malaysia. Besides that, there is no Act or Law that covers for Clinical Psychologist in Malaysia. As there is no registration body available, thus clinical psychologists do not have the prestige of receiving license such as professional counselor. According to Dr.

Alvin, a few psychologists are currently getting together to do up a registration board to monitor the profession in Malaysia as there are a few people out there who claimed to be a clinical psychologists when they are not. So at the moment, a person can be qualified as a clinical psychologist when he/she obtains a Master’s degree in applied clinical psychology, which is the minimum academic qualification. Other postgraduate psychology training in Education, Industrial-Organisational, Social, Counselling, Community or other non-clinical fields of psychology does not qualify one to practice as a clinical psychologist.

Some people will mention about PSIMA, which stands for Malaysian Psychology Association and believed that it is the leading and representative organization for all psychologists in Malaysia, including clinical psychologists. Some individuals believed that PSIMA is the licensing body and registration body for clinical psychologists in Malaysia. Some even mentioned about MMHA, which stands for Malaysian Mental Health Association being related to the subject of licensing and registration of clinical psychologist. But I am afraid to say that they are all WRONG.

PSIMA (the Malaysian Psychology Association) is a society for all and does not provide professional practice. It can only be considered as an interest group, it means that any individuals that are interested can joined the group. On the other hand, MMHA (Malaysia Mental Health Association) is a community based NGO (Non-government Organization) operating solely on public donation and a small annual grant by the Department of Social Welfare. Similar to PSIMA, any individuals who are interested to work as a social worker in MMHA and join the association can registered themselves through he association website. It is considered a voluntary social association in Malaysia. Although both PSIMA and MMHA are partially related to psychology-based association, but both of them do not have the authority to licensed or registered a person to become a professional clinical psychologist. And I again stressed that there is still no representative society, registration body or licensing body for Clinical Psychologist in Malaysia yet. Dr. Alvin also added that a few clinical psychologists and he are trying to obtain a Psychology Act or Licensing in the future from the government of Malaysia.

This may take quite a lot of time and efforts to persuade the current government to come up with an Act and a Registration-Licensing Body specifically for clinical psychologists in Malaysia. The good news is there are reliable sources stated that the Ministry of Health in Malaysia is currently developing an Allied Health Sciences Act. According to Dr. Alvin, that particular Act will regulate the practices of clinical psychologists in the country. However, it might take quite a few years to develop that Act and will come out around 2011 or 2012. So, we hope that the Allied Health Sciences Act becomes a reality one day.

Professional Requirement As there are no registration and licensing body in Malaysia for Clinical Psychologist, thus academic training and practicum that required a professional to achieved before being licensed and registered do not exist. It is quite different compared to other profession such as professional counselors in Malaysia. Those who wanted to be a professional counsellor have to carry out a significant amount of academic training and practicum hours before being qualified to register and licensed by the Board of Counsellor in Malaysia.

Those individual who successfully obtains Masters level degree in clinical psychology, with at least 1000 hours of supervised clinical placement can be already be considered as professional Clinical Psychologist. So, for clinical psychologists, the academic training and practicum are usually being set by the local university that provide Master degree in Malaysia and these units allowed their students to be exposed to the setting of becoming a clinical psychologist. Until this moment, there are only around two local government and private universities in Malaysia that provide those students who are interested to pursue the postgraduate ualification Master degree for Clinical Psychology. The first is a local government university, UKM (University Kebangsaan Malaysia) while the other is HELP University College, a private higher learning education institute. A few years ago, another local university, IIUM (International Islamic University Malaysia) also offered a Master degree in Clinical and Counselling Psychology. The course is a mixture of organisational, counselling and clinical work. However, that particular psychology program has been stopped and being revised.

There is no latest information regarding that Master degree from IIMU. Dr. Alvin expressed his curiosity and doubts regarding that Master degree that was formerly being offered in IIMU. He stated that Clinical and Counselling Psychology should not be a combination. He believed that it will be better if IIMU offers Master in Clinical Psychology and another master degree is in Counselling Psychology in the future. For me, as I am interested to become a clinical psychologist, there are two options for me to choose in achieving my dream career.

After obtaining my Bachelor Degree, I should join either one of the local higher learning education institutes that I mentioned just now to further my studies (either UKM or HELP University College). It will provide me with a platform and take me one step closer in achieving my dreams. Before making any important decision, it is best that we do some researches and find out more about the Master Degree program that are being offered by both universities. It will give us an insight and some guidelines in choosing the higher learning education institute that we want and is also suitable for us. University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

First, let us understand more about the Masters of Clinical Psychology (MClinPsy) that is being offered by University Kebangsaan Malaysia. The UKM course is a purely clinical psychology degree. The program is a 2-year full-time intensive postgraduate study programme comprising of coursework, practicum and a dissertation or thesis. The program adheres to a scientist-practitioner model that emphasizes a systematic, problem-solving approach based on scientific data. Every year, UKM only accepts about 12 students to study in the MClinPsy program. The MClinPsy that is being offered in UKM contains of 6 classes every week. Dr.

Alvin stated that this particular Master program is quite tough and compact as normal universities worldwide usually have only 4 classes per week. During the first year of the MClinPsy program, students will learn four major topics. There are Child and Adult Psychology (Part 1), Research Methods of Psychology, Professional Skills of Psychologist and Psychological Assessment. In the second year, students will further their knowledge by studying another six major units. There are Neuropsychology, Child and Adult Psychology (Part 2), Health Psychology and Community Health, Psychopathology, Cross-Cultural Psychology and Psychopharmacology.

Besides that, students who are pursuing the Master program are compulsory to go through an internal placement and an external placement prior to graduation. Internal placement is usually being carried out in the university or in the Health Psychology Clinic. The clinic functions as a clinical and health psychology consultancy, as well as a training facility for postgraduate clinical psychology students of UKM. Students who are carrying out their internal placement will be supervised by their lecturers or qualified professionals.

During that period of time, students will be seeing real clients and they are required to use their professional skills to communicate and interact with their clients. On the other hand, external placement is usually being carried out in other psychological-based institutions, such as the Psychiatrist Ward at HKL (Hospital Kuala Lumpur) or Hospital Serdang. The students involved will be required to meet with adult clients and gradually start to meet with children client. They are being allowed to perform assessment and also to carry out therapy if they identified that their client required it.

According to Dr. Alvin, students who are carrying out external placement usually face problems with the children clients. When dealing with children clients, a student is required to explain the whole diagnosis to the parents. Without adequate skills and communication techniques, it may causes confusion and misunderstanding between the students and the clients’ parents. There are about five professional clinical psychology lecturers who are currently teaching in UKM. Besides Dr. Alvin Ng Lai Oon, they are Puan Normah Che Din, Mr. Gan Chun Hong, Puan Shafiyyah Abdul Aziz and Cik Siti Aminah Omar.

HELP University College A local private higher learning institute, HELP University College also started their Master of Clinical Psychology program in January 2009. It is a 66-hour professional course that is being offered by the Faculty of Behavioural Science. Quite similar to UKM, typically only about 15 students are being enrolled per intake as the program is quite rigorous. The Master of Clinical Psychology program of HELP Institute is a 2-year full time program, which consists of coursework (which includes assignments and exams), practical training and research project.

Besides that, students are compulsory to pass a series of clinical competency evaluation tasks within the course duration, in order to successfully graduate from the program. The below table shows the compulsory units that are contained in the Master of Clinical Psychology Program offered by HELP Institute. Semester 1 •Clinical Interview & Basic Intervention Skills •Personality & Psychotherapy •Child Development, Health, & Dysfunctions •Social Cultural Context of Psychology •Diagnostic Testing I •Group Process I Semester 2 • Adult Development, Health & Dysfunctions Clinical Research & Development Skills •Internal Practicum I •Group Process II Semester 3 •Diagnostic Testing II •Cognitive Behavioural Theory and Therapy •Family Systems Theory & Therapy •Internal Practicum II •Group Process III Year 2 Semester 4 •Professional Issues: Ethics, Conduct & Law •Clinical Research Project I •External Practicum I •Professionalism Seminar I Semester 5 •Clinical Neuropsychology •Clinical Research Project II •External Practicum II •Professionalization Seminar II Semester 6 •Psychopharmacology & Substance Abuse •Clinical Research Project III •External Practicum III Professionalization Seminar III All the information above are being retrieved from the HELP Institute official webpage http://www. help. edu. my/faculty_behavioural_sciences/department_psychology/post_graduate_psychology_programmes/master_clini_0 Besides that, all clinical psychology trainees of that program will be required to undergo supervised practical training at the Center for Psychological and Counseling Services (CPCS), which is operated under the Faculty of Behavioral Sciences of HELP University College. The centre is located within walking distance from the Department of Psychology.

The CPCS provides the following services for both internal and external clients: •Psychological assessment •Psychotherapy / Counseling (individual, couple, family and group) •Psychoeducation •Dramatherapy •Employee Assistance Program There are 11 assessment and therapy rooms, including a child therapy room, family therapy room and a multipurpose room for dramatherapy or group therapy. All rooms are fully equipped with audio-visual recording system for training and supervision purposes. The clinical psychologist lecturers who are in-charge of the Masters of Clinical Psychology program in HELP Institute are Dr.

Ng Wai Sheng, Dr. Rachel Ting Sing Kiat and Ms. Winnie Chuah Wei Ling. These are a detailed analysis on the two higher learning education institutes that are providing the best Master of Clinical Psychology degree program in Malaysia based on my intensive research. The standard of the UKM MClinPsy program is quite good and the fees required are quite affordable for everyone who is interested to pursue their studies in Clinical Psychology. On the other hand, a student is required to pay approximately RM 37200. 00 to complete a 2-year Master of Clinical Psychology program in HELP Institute.

The fees are quite expensive and it is not so affordable for people from all walks of life. Some individuals who have financial problems may find it difficult to pursue their education there. Nevertheless, the resources and infrastructures provided by the HELP University College are first class status and among the best in Malaysia. According to Dr. Alvin, HELP’s Center for Psychological and Counseling Services, which is supervised by Dr. Ng Wai Sheng, is among the best clinical psychology research and training centre in Malaysia.

I will most probably choose to study in UKM and obtain my MClinPsy degree there as I am from a middle-class family and I do not wish to burden my family to pay a huge amount of money for my education. Personal Attributes of a Professional Clinical Psychologist In general, personal attributes are the characteristics and qualities that make individuals who they are. Some of the attributes are innate while others may be something that a person learned or gained from experiences. To become a professional clinical psychologist, there are many personal attributes that an individual should have in their own personality. Dr.

Alvin Ng, who himself is a quite famous and experienced clinical psychologist, explained to me some of the key personal attributes that a clinical psychologist should have. I will elaborate the characteristics identified by Dr. Alvin and evaluate my own personal characteristic based on them. A clinical psychologist should be realistic. Realistic can be defined as being aware or expressing awareness of things as they really are. It means that a clinical psychologist should know and identify what are his strengths and also what are his weaknesses. For instance, every psychologist is trained in different fields of psychology.

Some are professionals in clinical psychology; some are trained as child psychologists while some excels as developmental psychologists. Different individuals have different tasks and responsibilities. I can be considered as a quite realistic person. I have clear understanding about my capabilities and also my weaknesses. I try my best to improve on my weaknesses and strengthen my capabilities to become a much better person. For example, if my weakness is having prejudice towards homosexual couples, I will try to change my thinking patterns towards them (from negative feelings to positive).

Before managing to change that particular prejudice, I will not try to diagnose them as I may have assumptions and become judgmental during the assessment. I will refer them to other professional counsellors or psychologist. We must always remember that clinical psychologist is not a Superman. He/she cannot do and perform everything and anything. A person must always understand his limitation. A clinical psychologist should also try to be non-judgmental. Non-judgmental is refraining from making judgments especially ones based on personal opinions or standards.

When a psychologist is judgmental, he/she may have preconceived and faulty assumptions towards their clients. It will affect the psychologist’s judgment, assessment and diagnosis. Eventually it will influence the goals of the whole therapy. It may cause the clients’ condition to worsen. For me, sometimes I also tend to be judgmental as judging others is a human nature. Anyway, I am trying my best to change my attitude and become non-judgmental. It is an important personal attribute in my journey of becoming a clinical psychologist. A clinical psychologist must have the required skills.

Skills are the learned capacity to carry out pre-determined results often with the minimum outlay of time, energy or both. Among the skills that are essential for a clinical psychologist are active listening skills, ability to interpret, diagnose or evaluate mental and emotional disorders of clients through observation, interview and psychological tests. Besides that, he/she also need to formulate goals and administer programs of treatment for their clients. Skills are characteristics that can be learned and mastered. I have mastered some basic active listening skills via studying in Diploma in Social Science (Counselling) at TAR College.

However, at the moment, I am still not being trained to diagnose any mental or emotional disorders. I am also not capable of formulating any treatment programs yet. It means that I need to work harder and learn more specialized skills to achieve my ambition in becoming a clinical psychologist in the future. A clinical psychologist should have empathic feelings. We can say that clinical psychologist should always show emphatic understanding towards their clients. Empathy can be defined as understanding client’s experiences and feeling sensitively and accurately as they are revealed in the interaction during the therapy session.

It can also be expressed that the psychologist senses the client’s feelings as if they were his or her own without becoming lost in those feelings. (Gerald Corey,2005. Theory and Practices of Counselling and Psychotherapy,7th Edition. ) It is believed that when a psychologist shows emphatic understanding towards the clients, it will be easier to build rapport with them. Clients might feel that their psychologist understands their conditions and feel more comfortable to share their problems with the psychologist.

It will enable the psychologist to assess and diagnose his/her client’s condition easier. As I am currently a Counselling student, so we are being trained to have empathy and show emphatic understanding towards client from the beginning. So, I am proud to say that I have this particular personal attribute. I feel that showing empathy is like nurturing. However, I believed that empathy works better when a psychologist is congruence. What actually is congruence? This brings us to the next personal attribute of a clinical psychologist.

Congruence or also known as genuineness implies to psychologists who are without a false front, their inner experience and outer expression of that experience match, and they can openly express feelings, thoughts, reactions and attitudes that are present in the relationship with the client. (Gerald Corey,2005. Theory and Practices of Counselling and Psychotherapy,7th Edition. ) Congruence is vital in the process of building a relationship with a client. If a psychologist shows empathy but lack of congruence, the clients might feel that the psychologist is lying, not real and not sincere towards them. The clients may feel isappointed and not be truthful when interacting with the psychologist. It will greatly affect and influence the assessments, diagnosis, goals and treatment plans set by the psychologist. I believed that when we are congruence, trust can be generated and the process of therapy with our client may go on smoothly. So, I try my very best to show my congruence and emphatic understanding towards my clients. But, it is important to remind ourselves that we are not being able to accept every condition. We must never feign acceptance as it will affect the whole therapy. A clinical psychologist should also show professionalism.

Professionalism is the unique character, the standing, practice or methods of a professional, as distinguished from an amateur. (Retrieved from http://dictionary. reference. com/browse/professionalism) A clinical psychologist should choose his personal approach and what subfield is he/she interested in. For instance, Dr. Alvin Ng identifies an eclectic mix of cognitive-behavioural therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy as his approach. Although he is capable of performing many different assessments and diagnosis, but he focuses more and specializes in studying and assessing human behaviours. This shows his professionalism.

For me, I am more prone to the Psychoanalytic therapy as my approach. As I am currently still studying Counselling, so I have not yet choose any sub-field. However, in the future, I will most probably be focusing more on assessing psychological problems and personality profiling. A clinical psychologist should also carry out his research and assessment properly. A psychologist should pay full attention and concentrate when carrying out research and assessment. It is important that psychologist uses appropriate assessment procedures. Misdiagnosis is considered a malpractice and psychologist may face law suits in court.

Misdiagnosis may cause physical and psychological harm to the client. Although I am not yet involve in carrying out any research or assessment, but I am currently studying Ethical and Legal Aspects of Counselling during this semester. This Ethical unit provides me the awareness and importance of ethical and legal issues in the helping profession, such as clinical psychologist. It teaches me to be an ethical and responsible individual, so malpractices should be avoided and reduce at all cost. Finally, a professional clinical psychologist should be ethical.

Being ethical is in accordance with the accepted principles of right and wrong that govern the conduct of a profession. (Retrieved from http://dictionary. reference. com/browse/ethical) Every psychologist based their approaches and practices on an ethical guideline. For instance, Dr. Alvin based his practices on the Australian Psychological Society ethical guidelines combined with the APA (American Psychology Association) guidelines. As for me, I am currently studying and following the ACA (American Counselling Association) Code of Ethics which is being suggested by our Ethical unit lecturer.

The code of ethics is a code that professional psychologists abide by to protect the profession as well as the well-being of the public. It is important and essential for a psychologist to follow the code of ethics. The code can provide us with some guidelines or reference when we are facing ethical and legal issues in psychology. Such as, when we are facing confidentiality issues or felt that we are unable to assist the client. Dr. Alvin insisted that ethics are the most important aspects in becoming a clinical psychologist or any other professions.

He stated that only being ethical can a person be respected as a professional clinical psychologist. Conclusion To quote a statement that Dr. Alvin loves to say, “Everything happens for a good reason”. This is indeed one of the toughest assignments I have ever completed since I started studying in this course. I am quite exhausted and tired after completing this assignment. However, I felt that it is the most worthwhile as the information that I collected and presented in this particular assignment can be a reference for me and all those students that which to pursue their future in clinical psychology.

Besides that, I have identified most of the details of becoming a clinical psychologist in Malaysia. This enables me to plan well for my future to achieve my dream. Since the last few years, clinical psychology is gaining increasing recognition in Malaysia due to the fervour of a number of individuals in promoting this profession. However, the total amount of professional clinical psychologists in Malaysia is still not yet sufficient. More clinical psychologists are needed to satisfy the needs and high demands of the country regarding mental health issues.

I hoped that by one day, there will be a registration, licensing and training body specifically for clinical psychologist in Malaysia. I wish to be part of the future clinical psychologists and can be there to assist the citizens of our country in tackling mental health issues, such as depression. I believe that if all mental health professional individuals (such as counselor and psychologist) can team up and work together, we can indeed improve the mental state and condition of individuals in Malaysia. I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Kuan, my AHLA 3124 Unit Lecturer for setting this particular individual assignment topic.

I am very grateful to have a chance to complete this assignment. It really helps me a lot in my progress of planning for my future and also evaluating my own personal characteristics. I finally know more about myself and also understand what I need to do to achieve what I want. Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Alvin again for his efforts and enthusiasms in providing me with valuable information regarding clinical psychology. Dr. Alvin can be regarded as the best clinical psychologist in our country and I am proud to have the chance to interview him.

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How to Become a Clinical Psychologist in Malaysia. (2018, May 19). Retrieved from

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