Good News to all VWOs! The SAC Counselling Symposium 2015 has received pre-approval for VCF Funding for eligible staff and volunteers (Singaporeans and PRs) from NCSS member VWOs and MSF-funded VWOs. 

VCF Funding is being further extended to all qualifying VWOs for SAC Members and non-Members.
The pre-approved funding is at 80% of $458.00. 

1. SAC Members only need to pay $91.60 – based on the registration fee of $458.00 for SAC Members.
2. Non-SAC Members only need to pay $121.60 – based on the registration fee of $488.00 for non-Members.

VCF Local Training Fund application is to be made through the VWO Corner at least ONE month before the date of the Symposium. Please send the approval email from VCF to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as proof of eligibility for VCF funding when submitting your application through the Symposium website

View Day One Agenda HERE


Time Topic/Synopsis Speaker(s)

Welcome Back


Key Note #2

“Listen to What They Say: Engaging Service Users to Improve Counselling Service”

This keynote speech highlights the need to rigorously obtain feedback from service users, who we aim to serve, as an important source of evidence to inform best practices.  This set of practice research data is drawn from an eminent and award winning cyber-wellness programme in Singapore.  The process of engaging the service users, methods used, findings and lessons learnt are delineated.  Inevitably, the voices and views of the service users are crucial to develop effective interventions, while the openness of counsellors and their management to listen to service users’ feedback forms the backbone for excellent services.
Associate Professor Timothy Sim
Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hong Kong

Morning Tea


Panel: Follow up on Key Note

"Theory & Counselling Approaches"

The two areas for discussion by the panellists are:

  1. Why do counsellors need theory in counselling and what is the role of theory in counselling?
  2. Why are there so much diversities of theories about therapy and counselling?



Dr Jessica Leong 
Psychotherapist/Clinical Director, Executive Counselling & Training Academy, Singapore


  • Prof Glen Bates - Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Advancement), Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
  • Mr Benny Bong - The Family Therapist, Singapore
  • Ms Ruth Chua - Executive Director, Counselling and Care Centre, Singapore
  • Prof Rose-Inza Kim - Professor Emeritus, Sogang University, Korea
  • Rev Sam Kuna - Dean, School of Counselling, TCA College, Singapore

Networking Lunch


Concurrent Sessions 4

Workshops: "Application"


Workshop 1:

"Psychological Interventions for Bipolar Disorder: Best Practice and Future Directions"

Treatment outcomes for bipolar disorder (BD) are not satisfactory, but psychological models and treatment approaches show promise for improving symptoms and quality of life. Participants will be introduced to theory, knowledge and skills concerning the assessment and psychological management of BD. Evidence-based treatments will be introduced, and application in everyday practice described.  Emerging international issues will be discussed, including the role of recovery approaches, mindfulness-based therapies, the bipolar spectrum and dimensional measurement of BD, social learning processes in therapy, integrating face-to-face and online treatments, and leveraging patients’ strengths (particularly creativity).  

Process: The workshop will follow an interactive seminar format. Instructional videos will demonstrate the symptoms of BD, and case studies will highlight how a clinician’s existing skill base can be applied to the condition.  Participants will be provided with a handbook of resources and background information supporting the workshop content.  Links to our free, online assessment package for BD will also be provided.

Learning Outcomes:  Participants will deepen their understanding of the assessment and diagnosis of BD.  They will become more confident in the management of clients with BD through learning an integrated treatment-leaning model of the bipolar disorders and understanding key therapeutic process issues.   This strongly applied set of knowledge and skills will be situated in an empirical and theoretical context, supporting participants’ critical engagement with rapidly growing scientific literature.

Level of Expertise: The workshop will assume foundation knowledge/skills in assessment and diagnosis of BD. The section on assessment will build on this knowledge/skill so that participants have a sophisticated appreciation of contemporary diagnostic issues. The workshop will assume foundation knowledge/skills in psychological treatments of disorders, and the section on models and treatment will build on this knowledge/skill so that participants have a thorough understanding of evidence-based approaches to psychological treatment for this particular disorder.

Prof Greg Murray
Professor in Psychology
Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, Swinburne University of Technology

Workshop 2:

"Making Systemic Concepts Alive in Clinical Practice"

Salient systemic concepts will be presented and its application demonstrated in 1 or more cases brought by workshop participants. The workshop is conducted in this manner to illustrate the evolutionary properties of a system – in this context – a workshop at a conference. Attempts will be made to transfer the application of the systemic approach and integrate into the participants’ respective clinical context.

Ms Juliana Toh
Clinical Director, Counselling and Care Centre, Singapore

Workshop 3:

"A Taste of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: An Experiential Understanding of the Key Concepts"

This workshop attempts, in three short hours, to provide the participants with just a “taste” of the key concepts (for example, transference, countertransference, defense mechanisms) and an overview of how they apply in psychodynamic psychotherapy. As psychodynamic psychotherapy is an intense and personal form of therapy, the therapist must be acutely aware of boundary issues; the pitfalls of boundary violations and crossings will be discussed. This interactive workshop will involve role-plays to demonstrate how some of these concepts and issues would emerge during therapy. Participants will hopefully benefit from the experiential sessions through participation in the role-plays. Towards the end of the workshop, there will be time for questions, answers and feedback of the experiences of the role-play participants.  

Dr Lyn Chua
Adjunct Associate Professor, the Department of Psychological Medicine, National University of Singapore

Workshop 4:

"Working with Offenders and those with Problem Behaviours: A Primer"

The presentation will equip participants with information pertaining to their work with clients with offence histories and/or problem behaviours. Problem behaviours are defined as those activities in which people engage that might result in offending behaviour (e.g., arson, problem gambling, threats, stalking, sexual offending, aggression and violence).  The underpinning ethical principles for dealing with such clients will be reviewed. Information will be provided regarding some foundation issues relevant to this population: demographic factors, lifestyle factors, mental health features, substance misuse, and education. A framework will be presented that allows for an understanding of why [most] people offend: The General Personality and Social Psychological Perspective on Criminal Conduct. Flowing from the framework, the Risk Need Responsivity model will be used to help differentiate forensic counselling work from more general counselling and the roles will be explained based on the type of work in which the counsellor is employed to engage. The presentation will conclude with information about dealing with clients who exhibit challenging behaviour for the counsellor. The presentation will include brief case studies to help illustrate the points being made and time will be allocated for questions and discussion.

Dr Stefan Luebbers
Senior lecturer in Forensic Behavioural Science, Clinical & Forensic Psychologist, Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

Workshop 5:

"Supporting the Dying & Next-of-Kin: A Humanistic Approach"

Many healthcare agencies support patients against dying rather than support them in their dying.  To be with the dying is to be fully open to another’s suffering, identified mutually by our universal human condition of ageing, sickness and death. 

This workshop will highlight what is required of us to support the dying, the place and misplace of compassion, and some skills that might be useful to someone interested in supporting the dying.  It will also discuss loss and grief and how one can continue to journey with the living when the patient dies. 

Dr Tan Yew Seng
Senior Consultant    Bright Vision Hospital, Singapore 


Workshop 6:

"The Eight Core Principles of Child Centered Play Therapy"

Child-centered Play Therapy (CCPT) operates from a solid theoretical base and it is recognized as one of the most effective ways of working with children who have wide ranging emotional and psychological difficulties.

CCPT is an approach originated by Virginia Axline in 1969. With its strong evidence base and wide applicability, it is one of the most developmentally relevant forms of therapeutic intervention for children. This approach emphasises on the provision of therapeutic conditions for children to open up and express themselves fully and naturally through their own language – Play. CCPT emphasises on the underlying belief in and trust of the inner person of the child and their innate capacity to strive towards growth and maturity. The Child Centered Play Therapist works on developing the kind of relationship that facilitates inner emotional growth and children’s belief in themselves. Familiarity with the use of this approach serves as a good base for integrating other more directive play therapy approaches into the process of working with children using play.

This workshop offers participants a glimpse into the child’s world and the efficacy of CCPT to facilitate growth and healing in the child. The participants will learn and practice the 8 core principles of CCPT that are essential in providing the therapeutic conditions for healing. The participants will work in small groups and will have the opportunity to be involved in group consultation and practice. Dr. Pon will present brief lectures, videotaped demonstrations, case studies, and feedback to participants as they practice during roleplays. All is done in a playful, positive learning atmosphere.

Dr Alicia K L Pon
University of Hong Kong/Honorary Assistant Professor, Child Psychotherapist, Psychology Resources Limited, Hong Kong

Workshop 7:

“Happiness is a Choice  - Mental Health and Happiness"

With no hesitation, I believe that no other counselling theories and helping tools work better than William Glasser's Reality Therapy based on Choice theory or help people choose their own way to reach personal happiness more effectively.

We all want happiness, health and longevity. Many believe that we will be happy if we get what we want. Some seek material wealth or fight for social fame or spend all their energy to protect their gains and yet others live contented with little wealth or no fame as such.

There must be more than a thousand different ways to secure happiness. Positive Psychology calls it "Science of Happiness" but I feel somehow it needs a better way of "PLANNING' process for happiness, which RT can help. CBT and Meditation are widely used but RT has the “know-how” that focuses on "Acting" to change one's behaviors to get what we want faster and to be more effective than just changing one's thinking, feelings or physiology.

We encouraged people to use RT cycle composed of 3 key elements: Thomas Gordon's communication skills for building Counselor-Client quality relationship, RT for searching clients' wants and CSV from Positive Psychology for planning. RT works like magic with "self counselling" and peer counselling virtually in very spectrum of life and society.

Prof Rose-Inza Kim
Professor Emeritus, Sogang University, Korea



Workshop 8:

"10-Minute Therapeutic Conversations with Patients Facing Serious Medical Conditions" 

Throughout his career as an Oncology Social Worker, Dr. Fan has made several observations of patients facing end-of-life care. The most common issues that these patients struggled with were acceptance of their grave prognosis, their difficulties in telling their loved ones about their decisions pertaining to treatment and care, their inability to let-go, their search for meaning of their current predicament, their fear of suffering and of losing their mental and physical faculties, and their fear of the unknown after death. Their stories have helped him develop therapeutic short interventions in working with them. This talk will cover some of these therapeutic interventions that he has developed such as the use of therapeutic stories and brief questioning techniques, the use of metaphors and imageries, and experiential exercises.

Dr Gilbert Fan
Department of Psychosocial Oncology, National Cancer Centre Singapore, Singapore

Afternoon Tea


Concurrent Sessions 4

Workshops: "Application" (cont.)


Closing Ceremony

Performance -"A Song for the Counsellor and Client"

 Updated @ 28 Aug

View Day One Agenda HERE