Saturday, October 10, 2009

Psychology in Kenya.

This is one of those articles that consist of one's own opinion that when revised it is full of information at strategic places for the careful reader to identify. Psychology as taught by most in the field, is the scientific and systematic study of human behavior and mental processes. Psychology is just one keen field on what makes us act the way we do and why  some behaviors stand out while others do not.Kenya is a country in East Africa, it's been a "sovereign state" recognized by the international system since it gained independece from the British in 1963. It has a population of approximately, 38.6 million people and covers a physical bounadry of 580,370 square kilometers. That is just about Kenya, and it has Nairobi as it's capital city. Psychology is relatively new to Kenya it has been here since the olden days but only to be taught in universities and considered as a career option during the early nineties.
Just like most African scholars have asked, what is psychology? I also ask myself the same question, only that I ask it in a different tone, what do we Kenyans know about psychology? Is it the kind of science we see depicted in shows like "Criminal minds, " "the Mentalist," "Lie to me" and many more is it that and more, or just a pigment of our imagination. Most of the people that I have interacted with think psychology is mind reading, but then again what kind of information have we handed over to them? Psychology is relatively new indeed in Kenya and the proof is in the increasing number of counseling psychologists in the country. So many colleges and intermediary schools offer certificate courses in counselling but it is never enough for one to practice upon completion. Now more than ever do we need psychology in Kenya, we have been through so much with the post election violence, even the IDP's who are being resettled need some debriefing or counseling when moving into a new environment which is not their known home, but is going to be for the next couple of years.We also need to have standardized tests administered during employment and recruitment processes to ensure that companies and hiring firms get the best qualified personnel for the job. There should also be an educational psychologist working in every district, to check into the school programmes and how they enhance the acquistion of knowledge and enhancement of learning.Counselors should also be posted in secondary schools to help the students ease through school and do their best, thus minimizing the cases of schools strikes.This brings me to the greatest challenge we face as psychologists here in Kenya, regulation and unemployment.
There are no rules regulating how, when and why psychologists should practice and thus most people with certificate courses in counseling go about practising when the service itself needs someone with a phD or least of all a masters degree. There are also no strong well established governing bodies that are set up by psychologists. We do not have also links with other multinational corporations or international organizations that help increase the awareness of psychology in the country. The greatest of all in unemployment with many psychologists opting to work in other fields like marketing, business, IT, hotel and tourism sectors, very few of them do get to enhance their area of specialization because at the end of the day they also have to provide for their basic needs. So what does this hold for those students who are sudying psychology? Are they going to further specialize in the field or are they going to get sucked into other fields and forget about psychology all together? What is the future of psychology in Kenya? Do we have to redefine it or just increase its awareness and how?
The Thinkaholics, a psychology club in USIU-Africa will be hosting a forum "Psychology today and tomorrow" to answer these questions and more. It will be on November 4th 2009, in the school auditorium, from 11:00am to 1:00pm. I do look forward to attending this event, maybe some of my questions will be answered.


Reference:
Plotnik,S. (2008). Introduction to Psychology.(7th ed.) USA: Thomson Wadsworth
Thinkaholics, USIU-Africa: thinkaholics@usiu.ac.ke