Rational thinking

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 March, 2004, 12:00am

Keeping emotions under control is the key to success for psychologist

Young Post: What does a clinical psychologist do?

Leung: There are three divisions in my profession - clinical, educational and industrial-organisational psychology. As a clinical psychologist, I need to apply psychological theories to medical purposes such as therapeutic treatment. We also provide psychological assessments such as IQ and personality tests for clients. And we offer counselling services in disaster work.

For the educational division, psychologists apply psychological theories to education-related issues, helping educators and students on study matters.

Industrial-organisational duties, which emerged in recent years, include working as consultants for corporate clients, applying psychological theories to human resources and improving staff morale.

YP: What is your daily routine?

L: I'm now working at Castle Peak Hospital. My clients are mainly people suffering from anxiety and depression.

Some of their problems could be quite complicated. They could be traced back to their childhood or past experiences.

Our job is actually quite boring since it's the same every day. Some people may think this is a glamorous profession, like what Kelly Chen does in Infernal Affairs.

In fact, this is not true. Many children wanted to visit my office just because they wanted to sleep on a chair like the one in Chen's office in the movie. Actually, we don't have such a nice chair in the office.

Some people think hypnotism is a common therapy in psychology. This is not true either. Only a small group of psychologists know how to use it. And hypnotism is still a controversial issue in psychology.

YP: What training did you receive?

L: I earned a master's degree in clinical psychology from the University of Hong Kong in 1983. You need to have a bachelor's degree in psychology to study the master's course in clinical psychology. The two-year course included writing a thesis and clinical placements in general hospitals, child assessment centres, psychiatric centres, social service and rehabilitation centres, and a stint in the disciplinary services. It was a really stressful programme.

YP: Where did you work before joining Castle Peak Hospital?

L: After getting my master's degree, I worked for the Correctional Services Department for about five years. Then I left for Canada because of the 1997 handover. In Canada, I worked as a psychologist at the Federal Prison for another five years. Since I returned to Hong Kong, I have been working in hospitals.

YP: What qualities should a clinical psychologist possess?

L: Being a good observer is definitely an advantage. It'll help you treat your patients, as listening to their problems and observing their manners are part of the job.

You need to be curious about people.

Good mental health will help you not be influenced by your patients' negative experiences.

People may have an impression that a psychologist needs to be emotional. In fact, we need to be rational, and not be affected by our own and others' emotions.

You can have the heart to help people, but that's not enough. We are there to help patients analyse their problems and make judgments.

YP: Any advice for people

who want to be clinical psychologists?

L: You have to think carefully before joining the field. This is a life-long career.

Don't think that this is a glamorous profession with a good income. The world has changed. The salary is not actually that good.

We are portrayed as glamorous in the movies - nicely dressed and working in well-decorated offices - but that's not the reality.

Name: Eugenie Leung

Occupation: Clinical psychologist

Age: 45