Frequently Asked Questions about Psychotherapy and Counselling in Singapore.

  • What are the top three mental health disorders in Singaporeans?

    In a yet-to-be published similar study, the Singapore Mental Health Study (SMHS; 2011), conducted by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) of Singapore of over 6600 persons. Using the preliminary figures published in a media release by IMH, the top three mental disorders are:

    • Lifetime prevalence (%)

    • 16.6 %
    • 13.2 %
    • 12.5 %

    Source: The Singapore Mental Health Study (SMHS)(2011). Institute of Mental Health. Media Release. 18 November 2011.

  • What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

    A psychiatrist is a physician who has received training in mental illnesses in addition to physical ones. He can prescribe medication which psychologists cannot. A psychologist is one who has received specialized training in human behaviour, including emotions and how to regulate them through a wide variety of strategies and psychotherapeutic skills.

  • How do I find a qualified psychologist in Singapore?

  • What does research show about the effectiveness of psychotherapy?

    Research suggests that therapy effectively decreases:

    Research shows that emotional and physical health are very closely linked and that psychotherapy therapy can improve a person's overall health status.

    Psychotherapy increases survival time for heart surgery and cancer patients, and it can have a positive effect on the body's immune system. One major study showed that 50 percent of patients noticeably improved after eight sessions while 75 percent of individuals in therapy improved by the end of six months. So there is abundant scientific evidence that psychotherapy can significantly help persons with emotional and psychological problems.

  • What is the cost of psychotherapy/ counselling?

    The following information is not from any objective survey. Its accuracy is not guaranteed. For seeing a registered psychologist in Singapore the fee ranges from approximately 140 to over 200 SGD for a 50 minute period. If this is beyond your budget, lower fees in the range of 50 SGD can be usually be obtained from the various community centres around Singapore (eg. Shan Yu Counselling Centre). The mental health workers in these centres can range from trained registered psychologists to psychology students in training under the supervision of registered psychologists.

    In summary psychological consultations are within the budget of everyone in Singapore. Considering their proven effectiveness and that their likely profound beneficial effects, it certainly makes sense to obtain them if you need help for psychological problems.

  • How long does the treatment take?

    The number of sessions depends on the nature of the problem. Psychological problems usually have been created and maintained over long periods of time. Therefore although it is possible that a single session will be enough treatment, it is much more likely that weekly sessions for periods ranging from several weeks to months will be required for significant progress.

  • Who should consider getting psychotherapy/ counselling?

    People seek psychotherapy for a wide variety of problems including the following:

  • How does psychotherapy or psychological consultation actually work?

    The first step that the psychologist takes is to enquire why you have come for psychotherapy. This is just the beginning step of a careful and thorough assessment which may involve tests of various kinds. On the basis of this information and what you tell your therapist, a tentative diagnosis is made and a treatment plan is discussed. Sometimes clients have very specific goals but most times an initial step of therapy is goal clarification. Most times the goals may change as people progress in therapy.

    A great variety of strategies and types of solutions to your problem are available but the most important ingredient for effectiveness is that you and the therapist develop a positive, trusting, and respectful therapeutic relationship.

  • What is the client's responsibility to make psychotherapy effective?

  • How can the client evaluate whether therapy is working well?

    Many psychologists now use quantitative measurement of improvements in symptoms over time and review amount of improvement each session. Keep in mind that certain conditions or problems require more time to solve than others.

    It should take only a few sessions for you to determine if you and the therapist can communicate well; whether you feel comfortable to expose your softer, more vulnerable side. If a trusting relationship does not develop then something must change and you should discuss this with the therapist.

    You should spend time with your therapist periodically reviewing your progress making use of different kinds of information.

    If you feel there is no change at all in the problem after six to twelve sessions then it is time to have a discussion with the therapist about this. Do not stay in therapy just so as not to hurt the feelings of the therapist. Your therapist is a professional who above all wants you to get better and will appreciate the feedback and take remedial action.

  • How confidential is the information given to a psychologist?

    Everything that is said during psychological consultations is confidential. Your written permission is required to convey personal information to others. However if you threaten to harm yourself or another person then the psychologist is ethically bound to contact the appropriate authorities.