Listen with humility…
…Act with integrity

The 24th Annual Psychology Congress programme included a diverse range of scholarly and practice-oriented presentations that were of interest to all Psychology professionals and students from the African continent and the rest of the world. Including over 30 symposia and 200 oral and poster presentations as well as six pre-congress workshops from leading scholars and practitioners; the programme reflected global cutting-edge and critical trends, including epistemological, theoretical and applied developments whilst also addressing the need for a relevant, decolonised South African Psychology.
The Executive of SEPSA chaired a couple of sessions and members of SEPSA submitted abstracts and made paper presentations and took part in symposiums, presenting research work they were engaged with in the field of Educational Psychology. A brief overview of SEPSA involvement throught Congress is noted below.

Theme: Autism and Maternal Depression

Chair:  Dr Lizette Matthews

Dr Lizette Matthews chaired the paper presentations on 13 September 2018.  Five paper presentations were made:

  1. Experiences of single parents of children diagnosed with Autism. Makhubela M & Purmasir S
  2. The effects of cultural/religious practices and beliefs on the well-being of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Simelane A & Plaatje S
  3. The experiences of ageing parents of young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Oppong Asante K & Oti-Boadi M
  4. OCD symptoms during pregnancy: The predictive capacity of perinatal depression, pregnancy-related anxiety and clinical anger. Mashegoane S & Malemela R S.
  5. Maternal depressive symptoms as predictors of child development in rural community in Limpopo province of South Africa. Maphula A, Scharf R & Bessong P

Symposium: The role of the educational psychologist in medico-legal work: An advocates approach:

Chair: Mrs Linda De Rooster

The following topics and speakers were part of the session on 13 September 2018.

  1. The role of the educational psychologist in medico-legal work. Van Rooyen M
  2. An educational psychologists approach: The role of the educational psychologist in medico-legal work. Prinsloo E
  3. A neurosurgeon’s perspective: The role of the educational psychologist in medico-legal work. Edeling H

We have received positive feedback regarding this symposium, and members of the audience requested that it be repeated at a future date.

Round Table: Cognitive assessments in South Africa

Chair: Dr Lizette Matthews

The following speakers were part of this session arranged by SEPSA:

  • Ms Linda De Rooster
  • Dr Tumi Diale
  • Professor Ann Shuttleworth-Edwards
  • Dr Nicola Taylor
  • Ms Eleanor Bubb

The contentious issues of obsolete cognitive tests that are still being used, as well as outdated norms,  were  discussed.

Paper Presentation: Soni T D & Mawila D. Cultural diversity and listening: The ways we listen and what we teach our students about listening. 

Listening is important throughout the process and journey of engaging new clients to the time we terminate with clients. Without listening health-care practitioners cannot understand and make meaning of their clients’ narratives. Given the educational psychology lecturers’ cultural identities, and how they teach their students about listening, this study sought to obtain an understanding of and insight into the ways in which the lecturers at a higher education institution in South Africa have developed their own listening skills and what they teach their students about listening. In keeping with the theme of the concept of mamela (listen), the researchers sought to understand and gain insight into how educational psychology lecturers teach about listening with humility and practicing with integrity in a culturally-diverse client population in South Africa. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews and questionnaires. Generic exploratory qualitative research was conducted, and data was analysed thematically. The study’s findings can be used to benefit the curriculum discussions in the future training of educational psychologists at higher education institutions. Correspondence: Trishana Devi Soni, Lecturer and Educational Psychologist, University of Johannesburg.

Symposium. Psychosocial and educational support for orphans of vulnerable children

Chair: Prof. Jace Pillay 

Soni T D. Psychosocial and educational support for children who are living with autism.

This generic qualitative research study sought to obtain the perceptions of parents of children living with autism who utilised the services offered by a Computer Learning Centre in Johannesburg that was using the RethinkAutism programme. The RethinkAutism computer-based programme is housed in a Computer Learning Centre and works across several areas, namely, behaviour, communication, daily living, social and learning development. Drawing on a social constructivist research paradigm this study elicited a purposive sample of four sets of parents who participated directly in the services/intervention offered by the Computer Learning Centre. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews and open-ended questionnaires. Content analysis was employed to identify themes related to the benefits and challenges that the Centre experienced. Adopting Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological systems theory the author makes several recommendations on the provisioning of psychosocial and educational support for children living with autism. Correspondence: Trishana Devi Soni, Lecturer and Educational Psychologist, University of Johannesburg.

Scope of Practice

During the 24th Annual Psychology Congress, The Government Gazette Vol. 639 12 September 2018 No. 41900, was published and made available to all in the Republic of South Africa. Per the HEALTH PROFESSIONS ACT, 1974 (ACT NO.56 OF 1974), and the REGULATIONS DEFINING THE SCOPE OF THE PROFESSION OF PSYCHOLOGY 2018. The Minister of Health intends, in terms of section 33 of the Health Professions Act, 1974 (Act No. 56 of 1974), and on the recommendation of the Health Professions Council of South Africa and the Professional Board for Psychology, to make the regulations in the Schedule.

SEPSA discussed this at length with present members and some members of the Executive attended the HPCSA roundtable discussion on the draft scope.  Educational Psychologists are extremely concerned about the bias of the document and the impact and consequences for current practice.  Further deliberations will be held and comments will be submitted detailing the important and critical work of Educational Psychologists and the important bio-psychosocial, mental health services that Educational Psychologists currently provide across the lifespan of human beings.

In the 21st century and the era of the 4th Industrial revolution mental healthcare services provided by Educational Psychologists from ‘cradle to grave’ are of paramount importance and Educational Psychologists have always worked with individuals, groups and families, especially systemically in the educational and lifelong developmental journeys of human beings.

The suggested scope is found to be inconsistent across various categories of Psychology and the key mental healthcare services provided by Educational Psychologists seem to have been omitted. The scope seems very limiting and runs the risk of further restricting access to psychological services for South African citizens across the lifespan.

The following persons are currently on the SEPSA Executive:

  • Dr Lizette Matthews
  • Dr M Noqamza
  • Dr Chabi Mazibuko
  • Mrs Linda De Rooster
  • Mr Henk Mostert
  • Ms Trishana D Soni
  • Mrs Natalie Pretorius
  • Mrs Philanda Denysschen
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