Forum: Enact law to regulate practice of psychology in Singapore

The Singapore Psychological Society (SPS) has once again appealed to the authorities to introduce legislation to regulate the practice of psychology in Singapore (Important to ensure quality of psychological services, March 3).

Presently, the Singapore Register of Psychologists (SRP) administered by the SPS is self-regulatory through voluntary registrations of qualified psychologists in Singapore.

It lacks legal muscle to enforce compulsory credentialing of practitioners. This leaves anyone free to call himself a psychologist. The public is largely unaware of this.

To ensure that the public interest is well served, Parliament needs to enact suitable legislation that augments the self-regulatory effort of the SRP. As a former vice-president of the SPS and chairman of the ad-hoc committee that launched the SRP in 2002, I suggest these further actions:

  • Establish the SRP as a professional board that credentials and maintains professional standards and discipline among practitioners to serve the public interest.
  • The SRP should be jointly administered by the profession and relevant government ministries.
  • At least two government ministries should supervise the practice of psychology in Singapore together with the SRP.
  • A process of enforcing ethical standards and redress should be clearly articulated in the legislation.
  • Psychology should be given the standing that it warrants as a profession in its own right. It is a discipline that covers the domains of health, education, sports and community services, and cannot be lumped together with other allied health professions as that would be too narrow a focus.

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)