Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Cutting through the psycho-babble

Posted by Kimberly on October 14, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
October 14, 2007, page 6 (877 words)

The potential for new business in Macau is unquestionable and those with vision are snapping up the opportunities. One of those companies is Ripples Psychological Ensemble, Macau’s newest, and only, psychological practice.
It’s headed up by Macau-born Dr Kay Chang, a California licensed clinical psychologist, who explained that “knowing Macau has this big gap and need for psychological services is something I wanted to bring back.’
Kay, who also maintains a clinic in Hong Kong, added that the opportunity also provided space for a practise of a more integrated approach.
“We want to use the laws and the impact of psychology to make a difference, positive changes and the name Ripples is also an iconic image of that,” she said, suggesting that the positive changes will begin from ideas the team have, which will have a life of its own.
Stanley Braganza, the practice’s psychological assistant added that the goal was to bring the best of various disciplines.
“A lot of people tend to focus on the problems,” he said, believing that it was necessary to have a more holistic perspective.
The practice began a year ago with the public being informed of available services in January this year.
Kay reiterated her earlier statement, saying that “Macau does not have the infrastructure to support this.
“We hope there will be a market for it,” she added.
In the end, said Stanley, “it’s about helping people identify how such a service could help them in their lives.”
And that’s just the start of what Ripples intends to achieve over time: they hope to undertake research, obtain “hard data”, be a part of projects and “reach communities” as well as eventually publish their work.
Currently Kay is an Assistant Professor and the Internship Co-ordinator at the University
of Macau’s psychology program helping to train the first generation of Macau psychological providers.
“Some people have suggested we do some meditation rooms, but we just have to get our act together,” said Kay.
With the view evident from the practice, mediation wouldn’t require much effort surely.
Right now their services encompass consultations for both adults and children, those as young as four having already attended sessions, diagnostic assessments, workshops, personal coaching and, perhaps most importantly, supervision.
“When you have people providing mental health services, they should be supervised by a senior psychologist,” said Kay.
The corporate world is also able to benefit from their services, most obviously through the means of an EAP program, such as that which currently exists at Wynn resort.
Ripples offers services such as personal and executive coaching, human resource consultation on issue including turnover and absenteeism as well as staff selection procedures using psychometric testing.
Then there are the staff seminars and workshops to deal with stress, leadership, teamwork and expatriate issues, such as the one scheduled for October 20 at Bookachino.
Of this Health Psychologist Pia Astrup said, “it’s about the stress created in expatriate. I’m an expat myself, so I’ll be go into coping strategies and give awareness of the individual’s own coping strategy.”
Pia is a Danish qualified Health Psychologist and trained nurse, experienced in working with families who is based across the border in Zhuhai but travels to Macau.
And while the team is small at the moment, about five in total, other psychologists are onboard depending on the project.
“A lot of people don’t know we exist,” said Key adding that “we’re not an organisation looking to please our shareholders.”
“We’re hoping to develop collaborative partnerships,” said Stanley.
Two other issues came up in the course of the conversation: the first of students and the second on gambling.
With the former, the team would like to work with teachers to “try to be early in the detection of students that have problems” while the problem of gambling, they say, lies firstly with the casino employees, who suddenly find themselves earning a high wage and being constantly surrounded by other gamblers.
The practice believes there are four things that set them apart from the others in Hong Kong that Macau residents may visit.
The first is Kay’s California State board license to practice Clinical Psychology legally, having worked both in the US and local regions extensively. She is also one of only a handful of psychologists in the region qualified to diagnose and treat critical mental health issues.
The second, and for some, most important, is both Kay’s and Stanley’s link to Macau, with both having been born here.
As such, both feel themselves able to understand and integrate the challenges and opportunities faced by Macau people as well as expatriates calling Macau home, with Kay able to speak both English and Cantonese fluently.
The focus on well-being, as a third criteria, means adopting a reactionary approach, allowing people to understand their strengths and build on them.
Finally, it’s all about the big picture, recognising that an individual is part of an intricate and often personal network of relationships, with issues affecting not just themselves but others such as family, friends and colleagues.
It may seem like the ensemble has rather big ambitions for such a small unit, but there’s no doubt their belief in themselves will drive them to achieve all that and more. Further information can be obtained from http://www.ripplesripples.com

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