A beautiful mind

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 July, 2005, 12:00am

Name: Kathleen Kwok Pik-san Age: 32 Occupation: Clinical psychologist

Young Post: How did you become a psychologist?

Kwok: I studied medicine at university in the beginning.

I chose it because my friends advised me to, but I later realised that I was not interested in medicine at all.

After about one and a half years, I got so tired of it so I quit and transferred to the psychology department, which I really loved.

But I did not immediately join the industry after graduating with a bachelor's degree because I wanted to gain some work experience first.

I worked as a personnel officer at the railway corporation for three years and after that I studied for

a master's degree in psychology.

After graduation, I joined a mood disorder centre as a clinical psychologist, which is my current job.

YP: Are psychologists subject to regulation in Hong Kong?

K: Sadly not. I think to be a clinical psychologist, one should have at least a master's degree in psychology.

But since the government has not taken any action to regulate the field, those without professional qualifications can claim to be psychological therapists.

Therefore, people must be very careful when they go to a therapist.

YP: What is the difference between psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors?

K: Clinical psychologists

use psychological theories and applications to help patients resolve their mood disorders.

Counsellors provide counselling on things like family relationships, but cannot make a diagnosis or provide therapy to patients.

Psychiatrists are medical practitioners.

They focus on prescribing medicine to relieve the patients' symptoms of mental illness.

Clinical psychologists may refer serious cases to psychiatrists.

YP: How do you get your patients to tell you their feelings and concerns?

K: I am a good listener and I am understanding.

It is only natural that people want to be understood and accepted. If they know I understand them, they will follow my instructions.

Sometimes people may feel more comfortable talking about something with a stranger rather than a friend. If my friends needed therapy, I would introduce another psychologist to them.

It is important to have a good relationship with my clients, but I do not consider them my friends because I have to keep a clear head

to help them from a professional point of view.

Friends help each other, but I do the helping in therapy.

YP: Many people think that only rich people can afford a psychologist. Is that true?

K: At my centre, we charge $900 to $1,200 for each session, which lasts about 45 minutes.

On average, therapy lasts 12 to 16 sessions. Prices and duration vary with different clinics.

I guess Hong Kong people seldom seek help from psychologists because it is taboo.

Many people do not know much about mood disorders and are reluctant to talk about their feelings.