Learning to apply psychology to our real-world problems
In recent decades, there has been increasing interest in understanding the drivers of human behaviour, and in the identification and treatment of mental health issues. And the onset of the COVID pandemic has furthered exacerbated the psychological challenges many individuals already faced.
In response to these developments, Lingnan University’s Department of Applied Psychology will launch its new Master of Social Sciences in Applied Psychology (MAP) programme in September 2022.
The MAP will not only provide students with a broad foundation in the practical applications of psychology, but also enable them to lay the foundations for a more specific career, as they will have the option to pursue a Concentration in Counselling Psychology.
As Professor Padmore Adusei Amoah of Lingnan’s Department of Applied Psychology explains, this is a conversion programme. “We can accept students from diverse backgrounds, with or without experience in psychology.”
Growing need and increasing opportunities
“People with a background in psychology can work in a diverse range of fields: in both public and private organisations, in NGOs, in schools, in health settings, almost everywhere,” Prof Amoah points out.
And the demand for such professionals – in Hong Kong, the Greater Bay Area and beyond – is only set to grow.
“The number of psychiatric patients in Hong Kong increased by 20 per cent between 2014 and 2019,” notes Professor Ray Cheung of Lingnan’s Department of Applied Psychology. “While the number of adolescent psychiatric patients grew over 37 per cent in the same period.”
This was, of course, in pre-COVID times, and the Hong Kong government forecasts the social and personal services sector will need to hire a further 67,000 professionals by 2027.
MAP graduates can go on to enrol in professional programmes, such as those in clinical, educational, and industrial and organisational, psychology, as well as in counselling. Alternatively, they can apply to doctoral research programmes. They will also be eligible to join the Hong Kong Psychological Society (HKPS).
A chance to pursue personal interests
In this one year full-time or two years part-time, programme, a range of elective courses enable students to pursue their own specific interests. A number of these courses will cover topics not usually available on postgraduate psychology programmes in Hong Kong, such as sleep and health, positive gerontology, and consumer psychology. Furthermore, MAP students will get the chance to conduct their own research with the support of a supervisor.
As on many other Lingnan programmes, MAP faculty will draw on an international perspective to highlight with is happening globally in this field.
For students wishing to begin training for a specific career, the options open to them include a Concentration in Counselling Psychology. Despite the huge and growing demand for counsellors and clinical psychologists on the Mainland, very few universities in China offer relevant degrees, either at undergraduate or postgraduate levels. This type of expertise is certain to be increasingly sought after in the wider region, as well.
Faculty, facilities and other programmes
The goal of Lingnan’s Department of Applied Psychology’s research and teaching is to apply psychological principles to practical problems. The department has top quality international faculty who have trained and studied all over the world and is recognised as one of the best in its field within the region.
Among the resources MAP students will be able to access is the Wofoo Joseph Lee Consulting and Counselling Psychology Research Centre (WJLCCPRC). The WJLCCPRC focuses on innovative research in the fields of consulting psychology and counselling psychology. Through intervention studies, the Centre works to proactively enhance mental health and well-being in the community. In addition, it brings academic researchers together with teachers and parents who are seeking to promote psychological well-being in the community, in a “train the trainer” model that bridges the gap between science and practice. A laboratory has also been established in the Centre for conducting research on physiological indicators of well-being.
Among the other taught master’s programmes already offered at Lingnan is the MSc in Work and Organisational Psychology (MWOP). MWOP graduates have gone on to pursue a range of different career paths, both in Hong Kong and in Mainland China, including as consulting psychologists and consultants in training, and in fields such as human resources, marketing, estate management and IT. Some have also continued their studies at doctoral level in Hong Kong and in the Mainland China. For example, one PhD graduate has gone on to teach at a university in Guangdong province.
“Both (MAP and MWOP) degrees are professional degrees, with the MWOP focusing more on preparing graduates who have a first degree in psychology to qualify for registration in the Division of Industrial-Organizational Psychology of the Hong Kong Psychological Society,” explains Professor Siu Oi-ling, Lingnan's Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences.
The MAP programme will constitute a first degree in psychology, enabling MWOP graduates to register with the HKPS.