“Provocative”, “informative”, “compelling”, “interesting”, “educational”, and “engaging” were amongst the words used by delegates to describe this years congress.
With the theme, ‘Psychologys Response/ability’ at the forefront of everyone’s mindset, the four days provided a space for constructive engagement for all psychology professionals. The start of Congress coincided with the start of the 2017 #FeesMustFall movement.
The call for a free, quality decolonized education was very much at the forefront of conversations at Congress. Indeed many of the inputs at this years Congress spoke to the broader themes of free quality, decolonized education. The Simphiwe Ngcobo Memorial lecture address by Prof Norman Duncan, DVC Academic at University of Pretoria and the plenary debate chaired by Prof Garth Stevens, Assistant Dean at the Wits Faculty of Humanities spoke directly to these issues.
The Congress programme included a number of roundtables, symposia and presentations by students, academics and practitioners that were directly linked to #FeesMustFall. Issues of curriculum transformation were core on the HOD Forum agenda.
Trauma and violence have both been a part of the protests. Congress this year featured a stream on trauma and violence where psychology professionals were able to engage constructively on the challenges facing the South African context in this regard. These discussions will continue at PsySSA under the auspices of the Trauma and Violence Division. This group was launched as an interest group at the 2015 PsySSA Congress and was accepted as a Division at this years Congress. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Kempie van Rooyen in spearheading this initiative.
Linked to decolonization, the Plenary Day Keynote Address by Prof Saths Cooper set the tone for interrogating Psychology’s Response/ability within the profession but also to broader society. This was explored further in the plenary discussion on ‘South African Psychology’s Response/ability: Crisis or Catharsis?’, which I had the pleasure of co-chairing with Prof Juan Nel. Core amongst the issues discussed were the possible paradigm shift needed for psychology in South Africa so as to create a more relevant discipline that speaks to societal needs. Within this the identity of the psychology professional was interrogated with panelists questioning the need to focus on how psychologists are the same rather than different. A concern in doing this was voiced in terms of whether psychology has the ability to respond to societal needs. Is there not the possibility in doing this that we would be moving away from the identity of a psychology professional?
Congress saw many other highlights this year from the visits by international delegates from the American Psychological Association and the Association of Black Psychologists to the interactive Diversity in Culture displays and presentations during tea and lunch times.
The private practitioner focus was continued in this years Congress and once again received an excellent response. Case presentations were also introduced at Congress this year and feedback from attendees was also positive for these sessions. The Clinical, Counselling, Educational and Gender and Sexuality streams included topical presentations that were well received. So too were the roundtables convened with Professional Board for Psychology (HPCSA) representatives
Sadly, we also bid farewell to Prof Juan Nel and Mr Tebogo Fafudi on the PsySSA Executive. Prof Tholene Sodi and Dr Kgamadi Kometsi were welcomed onto the Executive.
The PsySSA Executive for the 2016-2017 term are:
- President: Prof Sumaya Laher
- President-Elect: Prof Tholene Sodi
- Past President: Prof Anthony Pillay
- Treasurer: Dr Ewald Crause
- Additional Member: Mr Rafiq Lockhat
- Additional Member: Dr Kgamadi Kometsi
- Additional Member: Helen Dunbar-Krige
- Additional Member: Ms Lucinda Johns
- Additional Member: Ms Neo Pule
Last but not least, in my capacity as Congress Chair, I would like to say thank you to all who attended Congress and made it the vibrant, dynamic event that it was. If you have not done so already please download your attendance certificate as per the email sent to you. I would also like to thank everyone who contributed to making this years Congress happen. Fatima and the office staff, the PsySSA Executive, Divisions and Standing committees, the Student Division volunteers, the media crew and the service providers who regularly support Congress – Thank you!