The Authors

CHARIS’ INTRODUCTION

This website was created to provide information on all you need to know about Counseling and Psychology in Malaysia.

The importance of providing profession counseling services in Malaysia was recognized by the legislators when they enacted the first Malaysia Counselors’ Act (580) in 1998. The Counselors’ Act 1998 sets the minimum competence level for the credentialing of a professional counselor in Malaysia. Only a person who is licensed to practice counseling under this Act is allowed to represent himself or herself as a counselor in the country.

Unfortunately, there is still not professional regulation for psychologists in Malaysia.

I started this website in 2008, when I was in Texas, USA pursuing my graduate studies in Counseling Psychology. Counseling Psychology is still a very new field in Malaysia. In fact, I knew of Clinical Psychology, but I only discovered the lesser known branch of psychology, ‘Counseling Psychology’ when I returned to college to get my Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology at the HELP University College in 2003. When I started thinking about a career change from law to psychology, I was at lost as to where to start. I did not know how is the development of psychology like in Malaysia, what career prospects would I have in this field and where I could go to study counseling/psychology. My friends and the people around me knew little of counseling or psychology. Many Malaysians seemed to have images of therapy as having to lie on a long couch while the shrink sits behind you and taps into your unconscious desires! I wondered whether there were other Malaysians out there who felt as clueless as I did about counseling and psychology in Malaysia.

This site will contain information about Counseling Psychology, Counseling and Psychology in Malaysia. Although they overlap each other significantly and fall within the helping profession, each of these are in fact separate, distinct fields.

This website is for:

  • current students or potential students who are majoring in counseling or psychology (not just counseling psychology, but any area of psychology) who would like to know more about places to pursue their studies in counseling/psychology, whether or not to proceed to graduate school, career prospects in Malaysia and etc.
  • members of the helping profession (counselors, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, pastors and etc) who are interested to read the latest updates on counseling and psychology in Malaysia, licensing and regulation issues, and professional associations.
  • people who would like to seek the services of a counselor, psychologist, marriage and family therapist or even a psychiatrist (and are confused as to who they should go to!). Resources on counseling and psychological services, issues relating to counseling and psychology and guidelines on finding a suitable counselor/psychologists are issues which we will address on this website.
  • anyone who is interested to know more about psychology or counseling in Malaysia.

I practised as an Advocate and Solicitor in Malaysia for almost six years before making a career change. I obtained my B.S. (Applied Psychology) from the Upper Iowa University, under the American Degree Program at Help University College. I then went to USA for my graduate studies and obtained my M.S. (Counseling Psychology) from the University of North Texas in 2008. I am currently completing my Graduate Academic Certificate in Child/Play Therapy at the University of North Texas.

I am also a Texas Licensed Professional Counselor -Intern (License no. 64698) and a Texas Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate. My long-term goals are to be a Registered Play Therapist with the American Association of Play Therapists and to eventually obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology. I also want to be actively involved in developing the field of counseling and psychology in Malaysia.

I recently returned to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for good and will be starting work as a lecturer cum clinician at the Department of Behavioral Science, HELP University College.

If you have any information which you think should be relevant for this website, please contact me at chariswyw@gmail.com.

I am excited!!!

YVONNE’S INTRODUCTION

When Charis Wong invited me to co-found the website of Counseling & Psychology in Malaysia, I was touched and humbled at once. Realizing that our personal commitment and passion are of value, is vital for every student and practitioner in the helping profession. Passion and initiatives can get you started, while peer support and encouragement keep you going.

It is necessary to plow new grounds in this still-conservative society, where the role of counselors is often mistaken or perceived to be all there is in Psychology. But that is far from the truth. Psychology is a basket of sub-divisions that may border with subjects as vast as medicine, biology, sociology, anthropology, law, politics, and education. Although Psychologists are often perceived as institutionalized in hospitals or research centers, they may also work in public services, in courtrooms, or in departments of defense and rescue – just to name a few. They often play important societal roles and become spokespersons for the causes they represent, leading in national political and social developments.

Malaysia has seen a damaging trend in recent years. This refers to the massification of education as private institutions mushroomed to compensate the lack of placement at public universities, coupled with the increasingly commercialized education sector as the over-supply of these profit-oriented institutions compete to enroll students. The quality of private tertiary education is at risk, so as the perceptions and expectations of our graduates, and the careers they would embark. The helping profession, while still at it’s infancy, needs to be protected from these ills of commercialism, that may potentially hinder students from advancing to post-graduate studies, but instead settle for substandard job opportunities.

The public must also be made aware of various roles in the helping profession, to help them distinguish Psychiatrists from Psychologists, Licensed Professional Counselors from Religious Teachers, Play Therapists from Child Psychologists, and so on. Each of these role require additional, specific training and qualifications. But as of today, Malaysians seeking evaluations for their suspected psychological abnormalities continue to be treated by Psychiatrists who may or may not have the qualifications, experience or time to provide substantive long-term therapeutic care. There is also a tendency for patients to seek Psychiatrists for medication without first considering other mental health providers. Psychiatrists are essentially doctors who specialize in Psychiatry, just as there are doctors who specialize in Oncology or Hematology. They are experts in the use of drugs for managing pathologies. But medicine on it’s own has arguable positive, long-term effect in managing mental health. Instead of working exclusively with any one patient, Psychiatrists need to co-operate with Psychologists. But this rest in a subject involving the quality of care, that needs to be pursued by activists and consumers themselves, demanding for tighter regulations on healthcare providers and preventing abuse.

Therefore, the website of Counseling & Psychology in Malaysia seeks to educate and promote dynamics in the helping profession pursuant to individual liberty and empowerment, to overcome the obstacles mentioned above.

Yvonne Foong is a 20-odd Malaysian and Psychology student, who also enjoys writing.

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