Timothy, a dedicated Clinical Psychologist at Viriya Community Services and a recipient of the NCSS Social Service Scholarship, plays a pivotal role in providing a safe space for clients overwhelmed by life’s challenges, to feel contained, as they express their true selves, while improving their mental wellness.
The Path to Social Service
Timothy kindled an interest and connection with the social service sector as a youth mentor with Beyond Social Services prior to his university days. His interactions with passionate professionals and the transformative impact he witnessed, made a lasting impression on him. These experiences encouraged him to apply and take up the Social Service Scholarship to pursue a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology studies in the UK, and eventually joining the social service.
The scholarship provides professional development opportunities, allowing him to attend various training opportunities while on clinical training. It also provided him access to networking opportunities and getting to know other psychologists in the social service. As a scholar, he has learnt that having an entrepreneurial spirit is important in driving motivation, and in seizing opportunities to advocate for the social service sector, the profession and even for the client.
Role of a Clinical Psychologist
As a Clinical Psychologist, Timothy conducts assessments and interventions for people who struggle with mental health, neurodevelopmental or relational difficulties. He engages in a wide range of activities, including clinical supervision, preparing for and conducting therapy sessions, report writing, and various other responsibilities. At times, he would meet clients at the various centres or at their homes, which would require him to spend some time travelling across the island.
Collaboration is fundamental to his work. He collaborates closely with a team of clinical psychologists and associate psychologists. He also works alongside counsellors, grief support specialists, systemic therapists, and social workers, fostering a multidisciplinary approach to client care.
He enjoys working with colleagues who share a similar interest in serving the needs in the community and learning from his clients while having the privilege of being a part of their life story. To him, every day is a memorable experience as he may influence a client or a colleague’s life through either tangible or intangible ways.
Passion, Purpose and People
Timothy believes that the three qualities - passion, purpose and people - are essential in the social service sector. Passion serves as the foundation that sparked his journey as a clinical psychologist, while purpose sustains his commitment for the long haul. As for ‘people’, it is necessary to have a collaborative effort of a diverse team as each of them contributes their unique skill sets in effectively addressing clients’ needs. Sometimes, it is necessary to think out of the box for their clients.
His passion extends beyond his immediate responsibilities. He is committed to the development of the psychology field within social service and across the country. Professionally, he aspires to be a scientist-practitioner - someone who practises as a clinician and who also regularly consumes and produces high-quality research. Moreover, he aims to contribute to professional leadership, management, and policy-making, recognising the potential for impact in these areas.
The Importance of Mental Wellness
Recognising the potential ripple effect of his work on future generations, Timothy believes that the role of a clinical psychologist plays a vital part in clients' lives. With the current efforts of Singapore’s thrust towards a Healthier SG and integrated health initiatives, mental wellness ascends to the forefront. He envisions creating a “uniquely Singapore” model of mental healthcare for the local community, which other countries may want to take reference from in the future.
According to him, the interplay between physical and mental health is increasingly prominent, therefore there will be an increase in demand for psychosocial interventions. These interventions may include reducing the heavy caregiving burden of a rapidly ageing society. This creates an opportunity for clinical psychologists to have an increasingly integral role to play in all these societal issues.
A role of a psychologist is one of many in social service. To find out more, visit https://www.ncss.gov.sg/social-service-tribe/careerdetail/psychology