Every Friday, I return to a familiar place with people who share similar values and vision as I do.
— Sim Yin Ling, Educational Psychologist

Hello! My name is Yin Ling and I’m an Educational Psychologist. I have been with Community Psychology Hub (CPH) since early 2016 and am currently deployed to an EIPIC (Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children) Centre.

A place of family

To me, CPH is like family. Every Friday, I return to a familiar place with people who share similar values and vision as I do. This family consists of members of different functions – from the caring leaders who guide the freshly-minted, raring-to-go psychologists, to the mothering administrators, to the energetic and youthful research team. This is a family where our opinions are heard and considered whenever the senior team make decisions with regards to the growth of CPH. And who can forget our resident feline, Meowvis and his escapades? Meowvis has opened doors for us to extend a welcome to people within the Enabling Village (EV).

In CPH, I have received much-needed emotional and social support from fellow colleagues, psychologists or otherwise: a listening ear after having gone through a challenging week and mini celebrations for making steps forward. The fantastic thing is that most of us would have had similar experiences through working or volunteering in the community and so we all become more intentional in looking out for one another. Help is always there on Fridays. And since humour is an effective coping mechanism for stress, the intermittent laughter heard throughout the day.

The importance of self-care is regularly emphasised at CPH. Like most people in Singapore, food is essential. During lunch, we either eat out or buy food back to gather snugly around the table to catch up. Nom Nom Friday is a defining feature of CPH, which includes grander feasting, as well as birthday celebrations. Tsum Tsum mobile game is a serious affair among the trendier ones (FYI, I had to search the game on Google while writing this). I am also looking forward to the non-sedentary activities the Recreation Club will be organising.

A place for learning                                                                                                                 

Before you think it is all fun and games at CPH, we do take our work seriously. CPH creates such a space for professional development. Don’t know much about epilepsy or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy? Unsure how to communicate effectively with others? Or learnt about using play for intervention? These were some things that were shared during various seminars and TEACH@CPH sessions, where one of us would share about our area(s) of interest/expertise or on a recent training that we attended.

Of course, individual clinical supervision from a more senior psychologist plays a key part of professional growth. In addition, because the psychologists (e.g., Clinical Psychologists, Educational Psychologist, etc.) all vary in experience and areas of expertise, there would always be someone we can approach whenever we come across a difficult case. For example, a psychologist with expertise on epilepsy could be consulted about what to do with a client with seizures. A research assistant with better skills in Excel can assist during auditing period. As we do not see clients on Fridays, it is also a day that we can catch up on our own learning and other paperwork that we may not have time for during the rest of the week.

But my Social Service Organisation (SSO) feels like home too!

(Note. This section only describes my personal experience. The experiences and circumstances of every CPH psychologist are different.)

I know I have spoken of CPH being family – this is definitely truth. However, I have been blessed by the openness of the SSO that I am deployed to four days a week. At the SSO, I wear two hats – to my clients, I am “teacher Yin Ling” representing the SSO; to the staff, I am from CPH. When my colleagues found out that a few of us were not hired directly by the SSO, we were peppered with questions, including: You mean you’re not a [SSO] staff? What’s CPH? How come [another psychologist] is from [SSO] and you’re not? What do you do on Fridays? How long will you be staying at the SSO? Tricky questions that had to be answered with care and honesty.

Once the dust settled, my SSO colleagues have warmly welcomed the four other CPH psychologists and me into the EIPIC Centre and a few of us have forged strong friendships with them and planned other activities with them, such as steamboats, karaoke and dinners. Even though I am from CPH, I am incredibly thankful that they see me as part of the team, which includes social workers, therapists, teachers, who work together to understand and plan goals for each child that enters the EIPIC Centre. They are the ones who have seen me trying to figure out why a child is displaying outbursts in class, willingly go along with intervention strategies, heard me explain why certain changes are needed in the classroom and cheered together when a child succeeds! They have sat through sessions with parents – some easy, others more painful. While Fridays usually serve as a reprieve for me, I do occasionally wish I was at the SSO doing interventions whenever I have that one particular struggling kid. In short, my journey as an early career psychologist has undeniably been influenced by my colleagues and experiences in the SSO.

Growing in numbers

CPH has tripled in size since I started. It is a healthy growth, but it does have its drawbacks:

 “How do we maintain the family-like culture of the hub?”

“Wow. So crowded!”

“There’s too much talking, I can’t concentrate on work”

“That cat!!”

When once I could choose where to sit at the hub, we now have to share desks with fellow colleagues. This also means more chattinginformal peer supervision. We can choose to go to another place within EV, where it is much quieter. When once I could easily hold longer conversations with most of my colleagues, I barely say “hi” to some of them now. A recently-hired psychologist once commented, “I love it now, but when I first came to CPH, the number of people in the office was overwhelming”.

Despite its challenges, everyone has been making huge efforts to preserve the spirit of unity within CPH. A new psychologist starts off with a buddy (usually deployed to the same organization) who would guide him/her through CPH, Enabling Village and the SSO. During lunch, we mix around and talk to different people.

So, yes, we are growing and the space is almost bursting at its seams. But we’ve managed to work around it. Work is getting busier. But Friday is a break from the crazy week and I get to learn new things on Fridays. I am well supported by enthusiastic, like-minded people. After weighing all the pros and cons (for myself), as an early career psychologist working in the community, I can’t think of a better place to be.