Talks & Seminars
The NTU Psychology Society seeks to promote the knowledge of Psychology to all members as well as students in NTU. We organise talks and seminars regarding interesting and relevant topics of applied psychology from time to time.
Past Talks & Seminars:
Criminal Profiling in Singapore
NTU Psychology Society recently organized a sharing session on Criminal Profiling in Singapore. It was held on Tuesday, 21 March 2017, commencing at 1430 in LT22 and ending at 1530. Assistant Professor (Adjunct) Majeed Khader, Director of the Home Team Behavioral Sciences Centre (HTBSC) and Deputy Director of the Police Psychological Services Division (PPSD), was present as the guest speaker.
This is the second session of the new initiative that provides a platform for professors to share their work as well as for undergraduates and students to learn more about various fields of Psychology outside of lessons. We also opened limited slots to students from Temasek Polytechnic, National University of Singapore, James Cook University (Singapore) and members of the Home Team Eagles Club.
Dr Majeed started the session by introducing himself and how he came into becoming a pioneering forensic psychologist in Singapore and the first to obtain a PhD in forensic psychology. He then went on to talk about the work he does at PPSD and HTBSC. His range of work includes lie detecting, care for crime victims, personnel selection, terrorism, criminal profiling, and hostage negotiations.
Thereafter, Dr Majeed focused more on criminal profiling in various contexts and how it is carried out in Singapore. He shared relevant case studies and the role profiling played in them. He also talked about the CLIP approach used in Singapore which he pioneered which looks at the various perspectives of a case. They include: Criminalistics and forensic sciences issues, Legal and local issues, Investigative and operational issues, and, Psychological and behavioral issues. He then mentioned the different modus operandi of some criminals in certain case studies and shared that profiling is both a science and an art. Finally, he evaluated the usefulness of profiling by saying that while it has its limitations, it does help the investigators better understand the cases to help solve it.
During the Q&A session, there were a few related questions posed regarding the experiences and encounters of a police psychologist which was answered by Dr Majeed who shared more about his personal experiences as well.
Masters in Clinical and Applied Psychology Programs in Singapore
NTU Psychology Society has recently organized a sharing session on two of the Masters in Psychology programs available in Singapore, on Friday, 17 February 2017, commencing at 1500 in LT28 and ending at 1600. Associate Professor Rebecca Ang, the Head of the Psychological Studies Academic Group at National Institute of Education (NIE) and Assistant Professor Iliana Magiati, research coordinator of the National University of Singapore (NUS) Clinical Psychology programs were present as the guest speakers.
Professor Ang began by introducing the fields of Education and Counselling psychology as well as the job scopes of an Educational and Counselling psychologist. She then moved on to share more about NIE Master of Applied Psychology program’s structure such as the core courses, prescribed electives, electives, and placements for the practicum. Finally, she talked more about the expectations of the program and its career prospects upon graduation.
Thereafter, Professor Iliana shared about the field of Clinical Psychology and the job scope of a Clinical Psychologist. She covered on how Clinical Psychology is an interdisciplinary field, being an art as well as a science, thus requiring various qualities and skills related to these areas. She then shared more about the NUS Master of Psychology (Clinical) program, talking about its curriculum, modules, and placements. Lastly, she ended her talk by sharing about the challenges and rewards of being or preparing to be a Clinical Psychologist.
The sharing session ended off with a Q&A session which the two guest speakers answered some questions from the audience, mostly regarding the type of work experience required to qualify for the programs as well as more specific questions on the programs mentioned.
Sharing Session and Lab Visit on Visual Perception and Cognitive Neuroscience
NTU Psychology Society has recently organized a sharing session and lab visit on Visual Perception and Cognitive Neuroscience. It was held on Friday, 10 February 2017, commencing at 1500 in LT26 and ending at 1700. Nanyang Assistant Professor Gerrit Maus, a faculty member of the Division of Psychology and the principal investigator of the Visual Perception and Cognitive Neuroscience lab in NTU, was present as the guest speaker.
Professor Gerrit first shared about some of his prior research done as a Cognitive Neuroscience researcher at the University of California in Davis and Berkeley. He then shared more about his recent work done at the Visual Perception and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab in NTU. He described the flash-drag illusion and how his research has shown that it is linked to V5 and MT area of the visual cortex in the brain. He also shared more about his intriguing experiments on the adaptation of the brain between eyeblinks which results in us perceiving the world as a continuous whole, rather than being divided by the duration of each eyeblink. The talk ended off with a Q&A session which Professor Gerrit answered some questions from the audience regarding his field of research and applications of his findings. Professor Gerrit also mentioned the names of other NTU professors who are carrying out related work for those who are interested to know more.
Thereafter, he led the participants to his lab at the Innovation Centre and guided them through a lab visit. He explained more about the eye tracker machine and the related experimental procedures as well as the eye-puff machine which is used to induce involuntary eyeblinks. Two participants also had the opportunity to have hands-on experience to try out the equipment while the others observed the demonstration of the use of the equipment. Professor Gerrit then ended the visit by mentioning that interested students can contact him to join his lab for their final year projects or as an intern.
Sharing Session on Post-grad Education in the UK
NTU Psychology Society has recently organized an alumnus sharing session on post-graduate education in the UK on Wednesday, 1 February 2017, commencing at 1800 in LT28 and ending at 2000. Dr Perpetua Neo, an NTU Psychology alumnae was present as the guest speaker.
Dr Neo first shared about her experiences studying clinical psychology in University College London (UCL) and the requirements needed to get into UCL. She then explained the demands of the course and described further about placements, classes, supervision/seminar groups, case reports, exams, and thesis writing there. She also stated the relevant clinical and research experience required for entry and when the best time to obtain it would be. She explained that what you do now matter and having reflections are essential as you should tell your own story in your personal statement that is to be submitted for entry into university.
Dr Neo then briefly mentioned about the interview process as well as the qualities the interviewers were looking out for in potential students. She highlighted some tips that she wished she could tell her younger self, they include: to seek out mentors, to invest in oneself, to treat yourself kindly, to be reflective and to make mistakes, take risks, live.
As Dr Neo is also a writing coach, she held a mini personal statement writing workshop on the spot for the students who attended the talk and shared about the requirements of a personal statement which many people are unfamiliar with. The talk ended off with a Q&A session which she answered some questions from the audience.
Visit to Prison Link Centre
The NTU Psychology Society recently organized a prison visit to Changi Prison Complex on Thursday, 5 January 2017, commencing at 1400 at the Changi Prison Link Centre, and ending at 1645. The visit was facilitated by: Mr. Desmond Yong and Mr. Reuben James Leong as well as other prison service personnel. A maximum number of 30 was imposed on the size of the group. While registration for the visit was maxed out at 30, 7 students were unable to make it on the actual day, resulting in an attendance of 23 students. As there were more students that registered as compared to the number of vacancies available, this visit is rather popular among the students. Furthermore, it is also an interesting visit as the prison is not something that is widely featured on popular media and few people know how it is run.
The Society provided two-way bus transport from school and back to Tanah Merah MRT. At the Prison Link Centre, students were provided lockers to store their belongings (locked using their identity cards) and were issued with visitor passes. Mr. Yong then gave a brief introduction and overview of the visit, after which students were asked to walk through a metal detector and had a UV stamp stamped on their wrists before boarding a bus which would bring them to Cluster A.
At Cluster A, students were bought around housing unit A5. They visited the dayroom, a sample cell (for 8 prisoners), the recreation yard, and the triage room. Along the way, Mr. Leong talked about how the prison was run, with heavy use of technology and a strong emphasis on discipline. He also helped to answer any questions students had about the workings of the prison. They were then bought to see the prisoners at work in a workshop that does the die cutting of cardboard boxes using light machinery and the gluing of these boxes. The workshop serves various companies including notable ones such as Old Chang Kee and Bengawan Solo.
After the tour, students were bought to the auditorium for some light refreshments made by the prison’s SCORE bakery and were given a talk about the facilities as well as the layout of the entire prison complex. A career talk was then given by a correctional rehabilitation specialist and a prison psychologist. They shared about their personal experiences on how they came to a career in SPS, starting from a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and their aspirations in correctional work. Next, they also dispelled some myths about working in prisons – it is not as dangerous to work in one as one might think, and it is a secure environment. Most inmates are not scary, angry, and uncooperative, but rather cooperative and appreciative. Finally, they also talked about their job scopes and their roles in offender, staff, and R&D services. They then highlighted professional development opportunities, the benefits of working there, as well as internship opportunities in SPS. A video introduction of the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) was also screened thereafter.
Following the career talk, Mr. Yong shared about his experiences as a recruitment officer and gave a brief career talk regarding the role of uniformed officers in SPS. He also talked about the meaningfulness of a career in SPS and how having a positive impact on the lives of the inmates’ can be very rewarding. He then held an informal dialogue session with the students and answered any student queries pertaining to the SPS and the visit.
Sport & Performance Psychology
The NTU Psychology Society recently organized a career talk on Wednesday, 8 April 2015, commencing at 1630 in LT8, and ending at 1800. Mr Edgar Tham, the founder of SportPsych Consulting and his two colleagues Mr Ryan Neo and Ms Michelle Kong, were present as guest speakers for the event.
Mr Tham began by introducing his company and the relatively nascent field of Sport and Performance Psychology. Topics covered included the periodization of mental skills, the mental toughness strategies of Olympic athletes, the application of specific mental skills and a brief overview of the work they do and the people they work with. Mr Neo took over the second part of the sharing on the consulting work that SportPsych does with various schools and organisations such as MINDEF. Ms Kong followed up with a sharing on SPORTIFY.SG which teaches sport psychology skills to preschoolers and is a sister organization to SportPsych. Finally, Mr Tham mentioned that he was looking for interns for the later half of the year, in particular, applicants who are open-minded and willing to learn.
Sports psychology workshops are usually carried out off- and pre-season before the athletes’ competition periods to build up their resilience. The psychological profile is useful for long-term development of the athlete’s self-awareness, mental skills, performance feedback, team cohesion and more. The psychology needed for athlete injury rehabilitation is similar to that of performance enhancement. Some examples of interventions include goal setting, mental imagery, positive self-talk and relaxation. The fundamental skills needed for mental skills training are goal setting, visualization, and self-talk. There are five application skills to be trained, which are namely composure, concentration, confidence, coping with challenges and cohesion.
Mr Neo also shared on the consulting work they did with the Singapore Armed Forces shooting contingent and some secondary schools which had the aim of promoting performance under stress. Ms Kong later shared about how Sportify used the techniques of sport psychology to contribute to the holistic development of young children by exposing them to different sports and providing them with an individual profile.
The NTU Psychology Society recently organized a career talk about psychologists in the Civil Service College (CSC) on Wednesday, 18 March 2015, commencing at 1630 in LT3 and ending at 1800 (due to extension of Q&A segment).
The three speakers hail from the Institute of Leadership and Organisation Development (ILOD) of CSC. Ms Lo is from the talent assessment unit, Ms Soon is from the research unit (leadership) and Ms Yeo is from the organization development unit. Each of them gave a short introduction about themselves and how they eventually entered CSC to work. All of them have been working at CSC for at least 5 years, and industrial-organisational psychology was not their first career, but they all have a psychology background as well.
Next, a brief overview to the CSC was explained, focusing specifically on ILOD and the work they do. Their main objectives are to identify and nurture engaged public service officers, build integrated teams, identify and develop competent leaders, build systems to make organisations stronger and a connected public service. They run on a research-based approach which underpins many of their practices. Talent assessment is about how to promote and place people, run assessments, diagnostics, design assessments and deepen expertise; while leadership development focuses on developing competencies and capabilities in people by running workshops, research and programmes. Organisation development looks at a more macro point of view across the entire system, such as group dynamics and how to use interventions to further organization development.
After talking about themselves, they began the Q&A session. All three speakers tended to give their opinions on a question before moving on. Questions ranged from topics such as the importance of internship experience to work life balance, their motivations for working in the public sector, the need for a Masters degree and future careers at CSC.
The NTU Psychology Society recently organized a senior sharing session on Monday, 9 March 2015, commencing at 1730 in LT20 and ending at 1900. Dr Perpetua Neo, an NTU Psychology alumnae was present as the guest speaker.
Dr Neo shared about her experience studying clinical psychology in University College London (UCL) and the demands of the course. She also explained the requirements needed to get into UCL and shared her reflections on the clinical and research experience required for entry and when the best time to obtain it would be. These reflections are essential in the personal statement submitted for entry. Dr Neo further mentioned the interview process and the qualities which the interviewers were looking out for.
Apart from being a clinical psychologist, Dr Neo is also a writing coach. She held a mini personal statement writing workshop on the spot for the students who attended the talk and elaborated extensively on the requirements of a personal statement which many people are unfamiliar with. There was a Q&A session thereafter in which she answered some questions from the audience.
The NTU Psychology Society recently organized a career talk on Wednesday, 25 February 2015, commencing at 1630 in LT8, and ending at 1800. Mr Stephen Lew, founder of the School of Positive Psychology and its Director of Training was present as the guest speaker.
Mr Lew began by introducing himself and the concept of positive psychology, a relatively new field which remains unexplored in Singapore. The main aim of positive psychology is to help people develop a set of skills to be happy and resilient. He mentioned that it is unlike other problem-directed areas of psychology and professions. The keys to success and happiness in life are more than education, training and experience – resilience is important in determining who succeeds and falls. Material comforts do not make us happier in the long run.
He explained that the focus of positive psychology is on wellbeing, and talked about how we can focus more on positive aspects and our strengths to make our lives better instead of ruminating excessively on the negative aspects of our lives. Based on the psychosocial model, people can apply positive psychology to self-treatment and therapy regarding prevention and intervention.
Mr Lew next introduced the Life Satisfaction Scale which is a primary tool used for pre-assessment during therapy sessions, and told a story about a client who had an extremely low score and was eventually empowered to overcome the difficulties in her life to improve her score. In his opinion, happiness is a choice, but it is only possible for it to be so if people have the resources / skills required to be happy. This can be done by changing perceptions.
According to Mr Lew, there are five pathways to happiness taught to his students – pleasure, engagement, meaning, achievement and relationships – which make up the acronym PERMA. To cultivate a positive mindset and resilience, he also encouraged the following: writing a gratitude journal (what one is thankful for everyday), writing letters of appreciation to others, playing to one’s own strengths and acts of kindness. In a major theory of positive psychology, everyone has 24 strengths to varying degrees. It is possible to identify the top 5, further develop them, and use them to work out job fits and so on. The quiz to do so can be accessed at www.viacharacter.org. Mr Lew also offered to do a free preliminary analysis for students who emailed him.
Mr Lew also mentioned that enhancing emotional sensitivity can be done by expanding one’s emotional vocabulary. According to a research study that asked participants to write down a list of emotion words, the longer the list was, the more resilient the participants tended to be. It is postulated that as a result of having a larger emotional vocabulary, they were able to externalise their emotion faster and they were more autonomous.
Negative emotions are not always negative as well, if they are harnessed for positive impacts. Anger can be good as it gives people strength to speak up against bad acts; sadness makes people re-evaluate the world around them, and anxiety pushes us to perform. Fear and existential crises can also have positive impacts. For psychological wellbeing, Mr Lew stated that there needs to be self-acceptance, personal growth, purpose in life, environmental mastery and autonomy.
At the end of the sharing session, Mr Lew introduced the School of Positive Psychology and the courses they offer. To practice as a positive psychologist, one would need a PhD, however, a Masters degree or postgraduate diploma can help one progress towards being a coach or a psychotherapist.
NTU Psychology Society recently organised a prison visit to Changi Prison on Monday, 15 December 2014, commencing at 1.30pm at the Changi Prison Link Centre, and ending at 1700. The visit was facilitated by: Mr Desmond Yong, Mr Dylan Teo, Mr Melvin Lee, Mr Ong Boon Hwee, Ms Ruth Chan and Mr Cheng Xiang Long.
A video introduction of the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) was screened at the auditorium. Mr Lee then gave a talk about the facilities in cluster A. This was followed by a tour to a sample housing unit dayroom/cell, the recreation yard, and the tele-visit room. Along the way, Mr Teo talked about how the prison was run, with heavy use of technology and a strong emphasis on discipline. After the tour, a career talk by prison psychologist Mr Cheng was conducted. First of all, Mr Cheng shared his personal experience on how he came to a career in SPS, starting from his Bachelor’s degree in psychology and his aspirations in correctional work. Next, he dispelled some myths about working in prisons – it is not as dangerous to work in one as one might think, and it is a secure environment. Most inmates are not scary, angry and uncooperative, but rather cooperative and appreciative. Finally, he mentioned the purposes of the prison psychologists and their roles in offender, staff and R&D services. He also highlighted professional development opportunities, the benefits of working there, as well as internship opportunities in SPS.
Following the career talk was an informal dialogue session in which many questions were posed to the facilitating officers who helped to warm up the discussion. Their friendliness, willingness to share and openness to questions added to the insightfulness of the session. The officers also talked about the meaningfulness of a career in SPS and how having a positive impact on the lives of the inmates’ can be very rewarding. Apart from a psychologist career, careers in the uniformed services in SPS were also highlighted. The type of questions asked were of a wide range, ranging from specific questions pertaining to the psychologist career and psychological treatment in SPS to more personal ones such as advice on helping difficult friends. The officers were also asked about careers in SPS as non-psychologists.
NTU Psychology Society recently organised a career talk on Wednesday, 5 November 2014, commencing at 1530 in SPMS LT 3, and ending at 1700. Ms Vyda Chai, a clinical psychologist, and Ms Pamela See, a developmental and educational psychologist, both from Think! Psych Services, a private psychology and counselling practice, were present as the guest speakers.
The speakers began by introducing themselves and the services they offered at their practice. They also work with another branch called Think Kids, which provides intervention services for children with special needs and challenging behaviours. Many of their behavioural interventions are comprehensive and highly customised for individuals with different needs, designed after gathering feedback from those close to them and observing them.
They also mentioned job opportunities at their practice for fresh psychology graduates who are seeking some experience before they decide on further studies. Specifically, they talked about jobs as behavioural therapists. Training is provided on the job, and people who just join them are highly supervised by certified psychologists. The speakers also mentioned that they turn to medical interventions only as a last resort and do not really prescribe medicine for psychological disorders at their private practice.
NTU Psychology Society recently organised a career talk on Wednesday, 29 October 2014, commencing at 1500 in LT1A, and ending at 1630. Present as the speaker was Associate Prof Rebecca Ang, head of the Psychological Studies Group at NIE, who was later joined by Ms Iris Chen, an educational psychologist with MOE. Prof Ang began by introducing herself and presented an overview of her talk: the differences between “education psychology” and “school psychology” in various countries, important issues in education psychology, countries for professional training, the job scope of a school psychologist, a sharing session by Ms Iris Chen, and finally graduate school opportunities and issues. Questions were entertained at the end of the talk during a Q&A session. Some brochures on courses from NIE such as the Masters in Applied Educational Psychology and the Masters in Counselling were distributed to the audience.
At the end of the talk, a feedback session was conducted where many participants strongly realised that they had learnt new things from the talk, and acknowledged that it had given them a rare glimpse into the careers discussed while recognising that they would not have the chance to do so elsewhere. They even complimented that the speakers had been able to deliver their talk informally and interactively, and that they would comment favourably about the talk to a friend.
The Science of Smarter Studying
In 2011, Dr Michael D Patterson discussed recent findings in Cognitive Science that indicated new, more efficient methods for studying. He demonstrated the use of mnemonics, the testing effect, and deeper levels of processing. He even had interactive exercises to learn the immediate application of these methods. After the event, he warmly entertained our questions and even provided his email address for later reference. He definitely proved that studying can be easier than we think. Since numerous non-psychology attended the even as well (i.e, Engineering and science students), Dr Patterson also showed them that Psychology can be fun and relevant for any of us!
Sex and the City, The Psychology of Sexual Deviance
In March 2012, NTU Psychology Divisions’ Adj Asst Professor Majeed presented a talk on the psychology of sexual deviance. He focused mostly on various paraphilias and the basic psychology theory behind them. He discussed the different types of sexual deviance like incest, exhibitionism, paedophilia, etc and discuss the reason behind their occurrence, how the people usually do it, and how forensic psychologists deal with them. He also provided some real life examples of sexual deviance in the Singapore society. With the audience being eager in asking more questions, it sure was a very eye-opening and interesting discussion.
Disclaimer: Adult content and mature languages were used during the talk. Audiences were adviced to attend at their own discretion.