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Fostering a Psychology of Well-being for the Filipino

October 10,2018

The 55TH National Convention of the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) with the theme “Fostering a Psychology of Well-being for the Filipinos” last September 20-22, 2018 was attended by Psychology and Counseling faculty Dr. Maria Victoria Trinidad, Dr. Elisa Bernadette Limson, and Dr. Maria Belen Vergara. This year’s convention, which was held at the Philippine International Convention Center, focused on elucidating the psychological theories, concepts, frameworks and approaches to understanding and enhancing well-being, especially as they apply to the different sectors of Philippine society and the various stages and life of the Filipino.

 Dr. Laurene Chua-Garcia, Vice President for External Relations and Internationalization of De La Salle University, gave the opening remarks and highlighted on the accomplishments of the 2018 Ramon Magsaysay awardee Dr. Bharat Vatwani.  She said that for the past 2 years, the Asian University Network agenda, which included building health capacity of universities, creating advocacies and policies that will involve faculty and students, and well-being activities in different parts of the world, focused on mental health for all. Dr. Garcia stressed that at no moment in the past were psychologists and other mental health professionals been recognized all over the world.

The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Allan Bernardo, a professor of Psychology at the University of Macau who discussed about the hype surrounding positive psychology, happiness psychology, and other well-being topics that has been accompanied by some misinformation, flawed research methodologies, and unrealistic expectations. He presented the different meanings of well-being as studied in psychology, and advocated definitions that link to broader cultural, social and political considerations of well-being that he views as unproductive, and pointed to approaches to research and interventions that might be more relevant   Dr. Bernardo described the misconceptions on the concepts that we use in everyday language (e.g. happiness, creativity, hope, etc.). These concepts he said, tend to have a technical meaning which overlaps when used in everyday language. Dr. Bernardo emphasized the need to come up with precise measure of these concepts.

Dr. Rose Marie Salazar-Clemena’s plenary speech on the ‘Self-care and well-being for Psychology practitioners” gave emphasis on self-care as a vital element of competence in professional psychology. Dr. Clemena described self-care as “an ethical obligation, we do not have bottomless reserve of empathy, patience or tolerance. We are, perhaps, even more susceptible to stressors than our cohorts because of the very work that we do on a daily basis.” She added that as one continues to engage in the professional practice in psychology, one is expected to work on continuing competency and development in this and other domains. She added that given the many occupational hazards faced by practicing psychologists today, it is imperative that they intentionally choose self-care and maintain a balance between caring for others and caring for the self.  Dr. Clemena also presented TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Strategies)  for enhancing psychological well-being of Filipino practicing psychologists.

Dr. Ronaldo Motilla, a faculty and consultant of the Integrated Lifestyle and Wellness (ILAW) of Mirriam College presented as the 2nd plenary speaker a discussion on the “Well-being in the Workplace.” He shared the innovative programs and services for the work life integration of the employees of the said college as an example of how to nurture well-being in the workplace. The health package offered to the employees included free health consultations, massage, manicure and pedicure, etc. and other activities to help employees feel better physically. The “biggest loser” contest that they offer to the employees he said included not only losing the weight at the end of the school year, but also to continue to keep the weight off for a longer specified time frame.  Dr. Motilla noted that participation in wellness programs influence employee affect, general happiness, morale, and job satisfaction. Providing psychosocial support also allows employees to manage their personal and professional issues more effectively; thereby reducing their level of stress.

The post-convention workshops were held at De La Salle University on the last day or the PAP Convention. One of the learning sessions at the PAP Convention centered on the Dementia of the Alzheimer’s disease, a cognitive (progressive) decline that interferes with one’s cognition, behaviour, and daily functioning. Suggested ways of improving one’s cognitive reserve (neuropathological damage) include learning a 2nd language, pursuing higher education, acquiring additional skills, and reading.  Late-life depression was cited as a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Good habits such as positivity, living in the here and now, simplicity, activities that will induce laughter, tai chi, meditation, having enough sleep and exercise were recommended to help alleviate depression later in life and prevent dementia.