Student Division ExCo


Why the soul, needs obstacles.

Reflecting on my role as a psychology student I often ask myself why we run into obstacles?

Some would say everything happens for a reason and perhaps when we want obstacles the least it is then, when we need them the most. Perhaps it is when we are ready to be strengthened, to become a deeper-feeling, more kindred, but also more resilient person. As young students, I think if we take a learned attitude towards life, to allow these obstacles to strengthen us, it becomes our resolve to that inner conflict to contend with pain to attain peace. In this unveiling of who we really are, it is this movement of our wounds that make us relatable to those around us, and through our wounds something beautiful can be made from us, if we let it. Now be courageous, be steadfast in your studies, believe in your abilities and take obstacles with a determination of growth. In closing I leave this here:

When night falls, you wither, for night can be likened to states of descent, which are inevitable and mean only one thing: that you are advancing. (Indeed, obstacles are sent only to those who are advancing. Obstacles are necessary for strengthening one’s resolve in order to wage an “inner battle” and come to a genuine prayer: “I know that morning will come, and I ask for the strength to endure, to overcome all the descents. I know that at present I am undergoing a cleansing of my desires, which are resisting, demanding that this process be stopped, appealing to my reason and logic. But I don’t want to hear them. Instead, I ask You for the strength to endure…”) And then morning invariably comes—a state of ascent, confidence in knowing that you’ve acted correctly in choosing the spiritual path—and like a flower, you open to the Light. – Semion Vinokur



The Hate Crimes Working Group (HCWG)

Hate and Bias Crime Monitoring Research Project – PsySSA Students in action

The Hate Crimes Working Group (HCWG), a multidisciplinary workgroup formed in 2009, is conducting research in respect to the nature and psychological impact of hate crimes on individuals, communities and society. The group comprises of civil society organisations and other interested parties that play a role in lobbying government to develop interventions that will act against hate crimes in South Africa. The Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA) is a member of the HCWG Steering Committee since 2016 and also leads its research sub-committee.

Case data was gathered on hate crimes between January 2013 and March 2016 for the purpose of gaining a better understanding of the nature of hate crimes, hate speech and intentional unfair discrimination in five provinces of South Africa. The second leg of field work starts in February 2017 and PsySSA Student Division members have gladly offered their assistance on multiple levels of the Hate and Bias Crime Monitoring Research Project.

The HCWG Research team, now with administrative assistance provided by PsySSA and research assistance by the PsySSA Student Division, has taken responsibility for the implementation of the baseline study into the nature, extent and impact of hate crimes.

Related training of the student volunteers took place at the PsySSA Head Offices in Oakhurst, Johannesburg from the 1st – 2nd February, with seven members of the Student Division represented. As the team moves across the country they will be joined by our regional representatives in their respective provinces. Our regional Director for the Western Cape, Mr Josh Yeatman has availed himself to help coordinate field work in the Western Cape from 20-23 February. We will also be joined from 6-9 March by Ms Kiransa Parusnath in KwaZulu-Natal and Regional Director Ms Onelihle Makedama in the Eastern Cape from 14-17 March.

The student division hopes that this initiative opens more doors for student members to assist on similar projects through PsySSA in the future.

From left to right, front: Mr Shaun Nortje, Ms Galaletsang Taunyane, Ms Maham Hasan, Ms Chelsea Bekker. Back: Ms Cecilia Steenkamp, Prof Juan Nel, Mr Hennie Nel, Ms Zindi Steenkamp, Ms Yolanda Mitchell.


by Hennie Nel

Student Division Main Directives for 2017

Last year at the Annual PsySSA Congress, the Student Division hosted a round table where Ms. Nishola Rawatlal and Dr Tracey-Lee Austin, from University of Pretoria and University of Johannesburg respectively, shared with us their experience on the low amount of master level students being accommodated at a tertiary level.

This roundtable discussion was aimed at finding constructive channels to address these issues by sharing knowledge and experience between all stakeholders of this ongoing challenge to the discipline of Psychology. Students, professionals and academics observed and participated in discussion on feasible and sustainable solutions that can best serve the needs of the students and the country.

What we learned is that there seems to be a disconnect between the curriculum and national needs as most of our universities are geared towards an academic psychology degree with little facilitation of practical experience and training. With the B-Psych programmes struggling with sustainability and the masters internships being scarce, students are left to fill this gap on their accord along with shown commitment to the community through volunteering prior to application to a Master’s programme.

Our executive team is committed to provide interim guidance on these matters and have formed various initiatives such as our FAQ Ambassadors assisting students with frequently asked questions and our Mentorship Programme where we work with prospective leaders in psychology to help shape the student journey into a more wholesome experience. We have received messages of support from various psychology professionals in order to achieve this directive which is the most enthusiasm that this issue has seen in the last ten years.

In addition, we are working with various university psychology departments to ensure we have a student presence in the form of Psychology Societies on campus. Our aim is to either start a society on campus if none exists or have student members on the executive of existing student societies to ensure a national integration of student representation. We have also recently been given the go-ahead to nominate a student representative to sit in as observers with the Psychology HoD Forum to have representation on the departmental level.

2017 looks like it will be an interesting year and we look forward to sharing in the progress with all our constituents in the PsySSA Student Division.

Call to volunteer: Try your hand at Volunteering and/or Presenting at Conference

The Student Division has been approached to invite students to participate in two international conferences this year, as volunteers and presenters. If you are looking to increase your experience in everything currently happening within the field of Psychology. The INS and PAPU conferences of 2017 has opened their doors to students and trusting on the Student Division’s professionalism and enthusiasm to help make it a success.

The Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA) and the South African Clinical Neuropsychological Association (SACNA) is hosting the historic 50th Anniversary celebration of the International Neuropsychological Society (INS) Congress, that will take place from 5 to 8 July 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa. For more details on the INS mid-year congress, please click here. Abstract submissions close 28th February 2017.

The Pan-African Psychology Union (PAPU) and the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA), together with PAPU members in Africa, is hosting the first-ever continental psychology congress from 18 to 21 September 2017 in Durban, South Africa. For more details on the PAPU congress, please click here. Abstract submissions close 17th March 2017.


Volunteer opportunities

SADAG is calling for volunteers to run more support groups in local areas and will offer basic volunteer training and support in starting up the groups. They are looking for recovered patients, family members, psychologists or teachers to help run a Support Group in their community.


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