SAC President’s Annual Report 2016 – Friday June 17 2016

34th Annual General Meeting 2016

S.A.C. Our Past, Our Present, Our Future

Client, Counsellors, Country

Introduction

As the saying goes, “Rome was not built in a day” so it could be said about SAC and the counselling profession in Singapore. As we meet for our 34th Annual General Meeting, we wish to highlight some of the “structural shifts and changes” that took place over the last 4 years that I have been privileged to be the President of SAC.

 Growth in Membership

When the current administration took on the leadership of SAC in 2012, we had a total of slightly over 380 members. SAC currently has more than 668 members (as of March 2016). As a result of this growth, there is greater visibility of the presence and critical role of counsellors in the helping profession. However, the positive growth has resulted in the administration becoming stretched in meeting up with the varied expectations and processes. We are currently looking at ways of addressing these issues and further enhancing the support for our members.

 Introduction of Sub-Committees

In 2012, Sub-Committees were recruited to support critical aspects of the membership and its professional development. The Sub-Committees members were recognised at a special event organised by SAC on 27 November 2012 which was launched by Mdm. Halimah Yacob the current Speaker of Parliament, who at that time was the Minister of State for the Ministry for Social & Family Development. These committees that were formed were:

  1. The Academic Sub-Committee
  2. The Community Counsellors Sub-Committee
  3. The Membership Sub-Committee
  4. The Ethics and Compliance Sub-Committee
  5. The Website Sub-Committee
  6. The Outreach and Events Sub-Committee
  7. The Clinical Supervision Sub-Committee
  8. The Course Recognition Sub-Committee

Over the years, several Sub-Committees were either dissolved after accomplishing their tasks or their roles were absorbed into the existing Sub-Committees. At the same time 2 of these Sub-Committees were transformed into Permanent Boards through the last Constitutional change of the 32nd AGM in 2014.

The present Sub-Committees are:

  1. The Academic Counsellors Sub-Committee
  2. The Community Counsellors Sub-Committee
  3. The Membership Sub-Committee
  4. The Clinical Supervision Sub-Committee

The present Standing Boards are:

    1. The Ethics Board
    2. The Board for Course Recognition
    3. The Board for the Registry of Counsellors

 

 Launch of P.R.I.D.E. – SAC’s Core Values

At the same Event of 27th Nov 2012, SAC’s Core Values, P.R.I.D.E were also launched by Mdm. Halimah Yacob, The Speaker of Parliament.

P.R.I.D.E. stands for:

Professionalism     : We commit to the development of competencies

Respect                    : We believe in human dignity and choice

Integrity                   : We practise honest communication and engagement

Diversity                  : We embrace multiculturalism

Ethics                        : We uphold the standards expressed within our code of ethics

 Constitutional Revision

The journey of revising the SAC Constitution was long and arduous. Nevertheless after several months of dialogues, full-day retreats, countless exchanges of emails and consulting the caucuses, the EXCO finally presented the proposed Constitutional changes to the membership at the 32nd AGM on June 27, 2014. The Constitutional changes were well received by the members and given the seal of approval by Registry of Societies on the 18th March 2015. The New Membership Categories were implemented and the Registry of Counsellors was segregated from SAC Membership. Professional Indemnity became a new requirement for all Registered Counsellors who met the minimum validated standard and who wish to be listed on the Registry of Counsellors which was emplaced from 1st June 2015.

These Constitutional changes are imperative for SAC as it faces the dynamic future. At the same time, it reflects SAC`s commitment to support a more inclusive policy for counsellors and psychotherapists who serves the varied sectors such as the Education, Law, Defence, Health, Correctional, Family Services, private practice, etc.

 Development and Launch of the Code of Ethics and Procedures

Commissioned by the President, Dr Jessica Leong spearheaded the Ethics Board over a period of two years in drafting, refining, developing, proposing and successfully put together a 37-page manual that is now known as the Manual of Ethics and Procedures. The Manual of Ethics and Procedures was officially launched during SAC`s inaugural Counselling Symposium on 15th October 2015 by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health and the Environment and Water Resources, and it is available for download from the SAC website. The document reflects SAC’s concerns of the possible changes, evolving ecological environment in which our counsellors and psychotherapists are practising currently and in the years to come.

 Mandating of Professional Indemnity for Registered Counsellors

Counselling and psychotherapy professionals provide services to varied client groups within their scope of training and competencies. This is further enhanced with the growing global networking with professional counselling and psychotherapy associations. It has becomes a necessity for our members to have a Global Professional Indemnity. This enables our members who need to travel, train, consult or provide clinical supervision outside of the local jurisdiction to be adequately covered. Locally, all members with the Professional Indemnity will likewise be covered whether they conduct therapy within or outside of the agency. We had 171 members register for the Professional Indemnity insurance in 2015. We are expecting an increased in the numbers registering this year as SAC`s membership grows, more will become eligible for the cover.

 New Clinical Supervision Standards and Procedures

At this 34thAGM, the EXCO recommends and proposes the formation of the Clinical Supervision Sub-Committee through a resolution for member’s approval. The move is geared towards promoting Quality Client Care and Accountability (QCCA). The Clinical Supervisor`s competencies, capacities, capabilities would be further enhanced through a new framework which will look and monitor in detail the training, Clinical Supervision standards and procedures as well as feedbacks from the ground. We will, therefore, maintain a Register of Clinical Supervisors and require a 2-year renewal process that will coincide with the renewal of their Registered Counsellor status.

 Course Recognition

In the past years, the Course Recognition Sub-Committee underwent revisions. The exercise is to ensure SAC maintains a close, positive and professional relationship with our important partners, the Educational Institutions who are providing the training and moulding our future counsellors and psychotherapists. We are appreciative that our Educational partners are current, relevant, reliable, dependable and validated in their curriculum; in providing a quality learning environment and opportunities. Apart from going through the tough rigour of validating the Course Credentials, we held talks, discussions, and dialogues with our Education partners. The collaborative atmosphere bolsters deeper appreciation for the need and aspiration of our counsellors and psychotherapists in response to the current state of the ground and impending trends.

 Board for the Registry of Counsellors

With the Constitutional change approved in March 2015, we are now able to establish a Board for the Registry of Counsellors. However, with the focus on the SAC Counselling Symposium 2015 and with the increased administrative issues that we had to cope, the current EXCO had been managing the Register of Counsellors and Membership matters. It is planned to commit the establishment of this important Board to the newly elected 24thEXCO 2016-2018.

 SAC Counselling Symposium 2015

Commissioned and headed by the President, over two years of planning, co-ordinating and countless meetings, SAC held our First International Counselling Symposium on the 15th October 2015. It was heart-warming to see so many members who worked hard and contributed to making this symposium a success – including our hard-working committee, with their sub-committee members, the keynote speakers, the experts who contributed scientific papers to share their experiences, the workshop leaders, the moderators and all participants. We were also honoured to have Senior Minister of State for Health and the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Amy Khor to grace this occasion as our Guest of Honour. We had over 500 participants from nine countries to share best practices in evidence-based counselling outcomes: the participants came from Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We believe the Inaugural SAC Counselling Symposium with its focus on evidence-informed practice in order to achieve greater well-being for the client will help to promote greater credibility and professionalism in the practice of counselling in the years to come. The Symposium also saw the call for and was overwhelmingly received by the participants for the formation and setting up of the Asian Institute for Counselling Research and, the Asian Counselling Federation in the promotion of two new categories Research Counsellors and Counsellors without Borders.

 SAC has become a Full Member of NCSS since 1st April 2016

Having discussed with the National Council of Social Services for quite some time, we are happy to announce that w.e.f. 1st April 2016 SAC is officially a full member of NCSS, with its accompanying rights and privileges. SAC will work closely with NCSS and the other members of the body in the spirit of Inter-Agencies Support in enhancing our competencies, capabilities and capacities in the pursuance of a common corridor so as to better support the nation`s community at large.

 Future – What’s in the Pipeline?

As this 23rd Executive Committee completes its term, the followings are several tasks and challenges identified for the new leadership to consider bringing SAC progressively forward in the next decade and beyond. They are:

    1. Strengthening SAC’s Administrative processes and function as well as acquiring our own Premises.
    2. Reviewing our Course Recognition requirements to look into non-Post Graduate Counselling Courses to streamline with the new Membership structure.
    3. Securing a training grant or even IPC status so that we could have access to resources to run future programs.
    4. Providing In-House Standardized Training Programs such as Ethics, the Law in Counselling, etc.
    5. Training in additional areas such as Counselling Entrepreneurship Management, Law & Practice, Casework Management, First Aid, Suicide Management, DISC, PEAKS & others will be strongly encouraged.
    6. Advocating the values of Counselling through publicity efforts such as mass media, cyber media, talks, public seminars, corporate lunch time talks, schools talk, Counselling Week etc.
    7. Providing In-House Direct Counselling Services for the members of the public.
    8. Providing In-Direct Counselling Services through Organisations such as The Human Resources Institute, HCA and others.
    9. The promotion of Counselling At The Work Place.
    10. Developing and implementing Agency’s Counselling Competency Certification.
    11. Ensuring Counsellor`s General Well Being, SAC will look at concerns such as self-care, practitioner`s fatigue, burnt-out and others could be address.

 

Conclusion

In closing, I wish to state that all these achievements were possible because as counsellors we stand united together. To realize our future, we have to strengthen our stand. Your faith in this administration and I, have transformed SAC to what it is today. Though we have made significant advancements, we still have a long way to go.

I wish to thank all our members for their support, patients and confidence. To our colleagues who served together with me on the 22ndand 23rdExecutive Committee of SAC, I thank all of you in making that landmark journey with me. The measures we have emplaced today will warrant for a premium level of training, professionalism, and competency in the practice that we likewise endorse through our membership with SAC in the improvement of the lives of our clients, counsellors and country.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Bek

SAC President (2012-2014 and 2014-2016)