“Philippine Psychology in Challenging times”
The 54th Annual Convention of the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP), held at the SMX in Bacolod city, was attended by Psychology and Counseling faculty Dr. Maria Victoria Trinidad, Dr. Maria Belen Vergara, Dr. Elisa Bernadette Limson, and Prof. Angelbert Hernandez. The theme of the convention, “Philippine Psychology in Challenging times, signifies the psychology community’s continued dedication and commitment in fostering psychological knowledge that may contribute to the betterment of our nation. The event brought together 1,900 psychology professionals all over the country. The convention featured well-known speakers, oral and poster presentation, learning seminars and workshops.
Bro. Joaquin Serrano Martinez, FSC, president and chancellor of the University of St. La Salle, welcomed the participants and emphasized on the role of psychologists to help others find their meaning and purpose in life as members of the society struggle to deal with the current realities in our society. The conference was keynoted by DOH Assistant Secretary Maria Francia Laxamana and 2017 PRC Outstanding Professional in Psychology Ma. Lourdes Ledesma. Dr. Laxamana reported the partnership between their agency and mental health practitioners in the promotion of mental health awareness in their response to the increasing number of mental health problems in the country. She called on mental health practitioners to do research, and to support the proposed national mental health policy. Dr. Ledesma, a neuropsychologist, discussed about “embracing the uniqueness of the person.” Speaking from professional experience, she narrated how children with neurocognitive disabilities (which she referred to as “neurodiversed individuals” who are “differently wired”) can be empowered to believe in themselves and what they can achieve. She added that in dealing with children with special needs, we should not show our biases, but listen to their minds and hearts, and accept them as persons, whether differently wired or not. Dr. June Lopez emphasized in her plenary speech the need for a mental health act. She noted the inimical lifestyles of many Filipinos that depict high risk behaviors, such as alcoholism and drug abuse. “We still have very few psychologists and psychiatrists to attend to over 43 million Filipinos in our country. The Philippines still belongs to the 30% of countries in the world who’s mental health is still in the primitive stage.”
The SSC psychology faculty also attended the learning session on how to teach the new CHED GE course, Understanding the Self, presented by Dr.Mira Alexis Ofreneo, Chair of the Psychology department of Ateneo De Manila. She said that while it is considered as an interdisciplinary course, the course content focuses on the search for identity (i.e., “who am I”) of adolescents. From the discipline of psychology, this is understood as developmental psychology, and even in the teaching of General Psychology, which also includes a discussion of developmental theories. Dr. Ofreneo added that the teaching of the subject has to begin with personal experience, and not starting with a theory, to reflect on the student’s functioning, growing up, and one’s personal experiences. She noted the importance of the subject being taught by teachers who are highly skilled in facilitating the process for our students, such as psychologists and counsellors. Facilitation of students’ experiences will require narratives, reflections, self-journey, as indicated in the CHED CMO. Dr. Ofreneo presented the syllabus used by Ateneo and made suggestions on possible activities and different ways to teach the topics included in the course outline. In the end, the learning session, which was attended not only by professors in psychology but also from other disciplines in different schools, appreciated the valuable insights shared by Dr. Ofreneo and had a clearer perspective of the teaching of the subject Understanding the Self.
In addition to faculty, two recent graduates of the department presented their undergraduate research paper entitled “ “under the lgbt research group.” The research was well appreciated by the audience. After their presentation, the two researchers were invited to publish their study in an lgbt journal.
By: Dr. Maria Victoria Trinidad
Chair, Psychology and Counseling Department