Prof Tholene Sodi

President: Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA)

Dear PsySSA Member

It is unbelievable how fast time flies. Only a few months ago, I wrote my first President’s Corner to thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve and represent the Society. Having now settled in my seat, I have come to appreciate the sterling work that our members and the PsySSA administration are doing to serve and transform the profession. With two very successful conferences in 2017 (that is, the International Neuropsychology Society Mid-Year Congress and the historic Pan African Psychology Union Congress), we can certainly proclaim that we can organise congresses that exceed expectations.

In my first communication, I announced that we had just started with arrangements for the 24th Annual Psychology Congress. It now gives me great pleasure to confirm that the first call for the 2018 Congress to be held in Johannesburg between the 11th and 14th September is available at https://www.professionalhosting.co.za/Mamela2018Conference/. Online abstract submissions are open and the congress pre-booking registration opens on 1st March 2018. Embracing the theme Mamela Psychology, this much anticipated Congress will showcase the best in psychology and its allied disciplines, featuring academics, researchers, practitioners and students from around Africa. Mamela is a Sesotho word meaning “listen”. This indigenous term wonderfully captures the essence of the discipline.

As a caring learned society, we intend to showcase how psychology as a discipline, can listen with humility and act with integrity through a wide range of voices. The Organising Committee is promising you a very memorable congress with an exhilarating plenary day, and an exciting line-up of 6 half-day workshops…. Watch this space!

In terms of membership benefits, we have a lot in store for our members including:

  • The imminent launch of our online CPD system. This will enable PsySSA members to obtain the majority of their CPD points by attending the Congress and completing the online CPD questionnaires.
  • A review of the PsySSA Directory to make it more user-friendly. Members are welcome to forward any suggestions in this regard to the office by emailing us on info@psyssa.com
  • PsySSA has followed up with the Professional Board for Psychology regarding an update on the Scope of Practice and Engagement with Medical Aids. The Professional Board will be holding a Full Board meeting at the end of February and will provide PsySSA with feedback post the meeting.
  • Our Psychology in the Public Service Division (PiPS) has written a letter to the Public Servants Co-ordinating Bargaining Council regarding PsySSA’s concerns relating to online financial e-disclosure for Psychology Professionals working in the public service. Members raised a number of concerns with e-disclosure relating to (amongst others) privacy and security of personal information.
  • The PsySSA website has been updated and features a streamlined and interactive platform for members. The updated website is the product to our members’ feedback and suggestions. Members are encouraged to visit the website regularly.
  • As part of PsySSA’s Social Responsibility Project, the “Donate a Book Campaign” offers members the opportunity to donate R20 upon initiation or renewal of their membership. Proceeds will go to the expansion of a library at the primary school in Johannesburg.

PsySSA has continued to play an active social responsibility role both nationally and internationally.  The Life Esidimeni tragedy has been, and still is, a very sad indictment on our mental health care system. Indeed, we watched with great sorrow and deep regret the hearings that were presided over by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. As a professional society concerned with mental health, PsySSA was one of the organisations that had earlier registered a deep concern about the Gauteng Department of Health’s plan to transfer mental health patients to NGOs that were ill prepared for this move. For example, in September 2016, PsySSA issued a press release calling for the Gauteng Department to stop the mass discharges of mentally ill patients. In the same press release, we urged the government to engage with mental health professional groups such as PsySSA and others in order to allow for more informed decision making on this very sensitive matter. Regrettably, such calls went unheeded. With the hearings now concluded, we can only hope that those who lost loved ones will find closure. We hope that government will in the future consult with mental health professionals before decisions affecting the well-being and quality of life of mental health patients are made.

This year, PsySSA was well represented during the 5th Global Mental Health Summit. Our Past President, Prof Sumaya Laher participated in this very important event that took place on the 8th and 9th of February 2018 in Johannesburg. The Global Mental Health Summit is a biennial event that attracts people from across the globe to share experiences and innovations on a wide range of mental health issues such as how to upscale mental health services to reach more people.

Given the visibility of PsySSA locally and globally, I have been invited to join ECP2019s Scientific Committee. This will be in preparation for the 16th European Congress of Psychology (ECP2019) to be held in Moscow, Russia, from the 2nd to the 5th of July 2019.

With regard to PsySSA publications, I am very excited about the critical engagement demonstrated in the South African Journal of Psychology (SAJP). For example Issue 4 of 2017, titled “Liberatory and Critical Voices in Decolonising Community Psychologies” sought to give a platform to the voices that call for the decolonisation of knowledge creation in community psychology. The special Issue was inspired by the Sixth International Conference on Community Psychology held in May 2016, and was guest edited by Mohamed Seedat and Shahnaaz Suffla. This year’s first issue of the SAJP features a State of the Science paper authored by Ingrid Palmary which focuses on the intersection between migration and psychology. The SAJP will publish a special issue during the latter half of 2018 on Decolonising Psychology, with Brendon Barnes and Anele Siswana as the guest editors. Members are reminded that they have free access the SAJP, as well as a range of other Sage psychology journals.


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