To AI or not to AI, that is the question

To AI or not to AI, that is the question

In the vast and uncharted territories of the human mind, the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a tool in psychology presents a modern-day quandary akin to the existential questions posed by Shakespeare in his timeless play, Hamlet. “To be or not to be, that is the question,” pondered Hamlet, weighing the virtues and vices of existence. Similarly, the psychological community stands at a crossroads: to embrace AI, with all its potential and pitfalls, or to remain steadfast in traditional methodologies, ostensibly unaffected by the relentless march of technology.

The Virtue of Adaptation

In the spirit of adaptation, it’s essential to recognize that “the readiness is all.” As psychologists, our readiness to integrate AI into our practice can revolutionize how we approach diagnosis, treatment, and research. AI’s capacity for data analysis transcends human limitations, offering insights into complex behavioral patterns and enhancing our understanding of mental health disorders. The potential for AI-driven tools to tailor therapeutic interventions presents a future where treatment is not just personalized but predictive, aligning with the prophetic insights of the Bard: “There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.”

The Question of Ethical Imperatives

Yet, this brave new world is not without its “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” The ethical implications of AI in psychology demand rigorous scrutiny. As we navigate this terrain, we must ask ourselves whether the use of AI respects the dignity and autonomy of those we seek to help. The integrity of the therapeutic relationship, the confidentiality of patient data, and the potential biases inherent in AI algorithms are but a few of the ethical quandaries we face. In this context, Shakespeare’s counsel to “give thy thoughts no tongue” is a caution against unbridled enthusiasm for AI without due consideration of its implications.

The Unchanging Essence of Psychology

Amidst the fervor surrounding AI, it’s crucial to remember that the essence of psychology remains rooted in the human experience—something no algorithm can fully replicate. The empathetic connection between psychologist and patient, the nuanced understanding of human emotion, and the therapeutic alliance are aspects of our profession that stand resilient against the tide of technology. In this light, one might argue that psychology, in its purest form, remains “a constant in a sea of change,” unaffected by technological advances.

The Synthesis of Old and New

However, to dichotomize the future of psychology as a choice between AI and traditional methods is to oversimplify the issue. Instead, let us “take arms against a sea of troubles” by forging a synthesis between technology and tradition. By integrating AI into our practice judiciously, we can enhance our capabilities without losing the human touch that defines our profession. This balanced approach allows us to extend the reach of psychological services to underserved populations, democratizing access to mental health care in ways previously unimaginable.

Conclusion: A Brave New World Awaits

As we stand on the precipice of this brave new world, the question “To AI or not to AI?” invites us not to choose between two paths but to pave a new one that harmonizes the strengths of AI with the irreplaceable value of human insight. In doing so, we heed the wisdom of Shakespeare, who understood that the essence of humanity lies not in eschewing change but in embracing it with courage, caution, and compassion. Let us then, with eyes wide open to both the perils and promises of AI, step forward into the future of psychology—a future where technology serves to amplify, not supplant, the healing power of the human connection.

Transition from MyCPD Platform to a New Portal in 2024

Transition from MyCPD Platform to a New Portal in 2024

We hope this message finds you well and continuing to make significant strides in your professional endeavors. We are writing to inform you of an important upcoming change to our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) resources.

Transition from MyCPD Platform: As part of our ongoing commitment to provide our members with the most effective and user-friendly tools for professional growth, we would like to notify you that the MyCPD Platform will no longer be accessible after December 31, 2023. This decision has been made to pave the way for a more advanced and comprehensive portal that aligns with the evolving needs of our members.

New Portal Introduction: We are excited to announce that a new CPD portal will be introduced soon. This upcoming portal is designed to enhance your learning experience, offering a wider range of resources, simplified navigation, and improved tracking of your CPD activities.

Grade 12 milestone: Understanding and coping with your Grade 12 results – a student’s guide to emotional wellbeing

Grade 12 milestone: Understanding and coping with your Grade 12 results – a student’s guide to emotional wellbeing

Important decisions regarding the career journey ahead for high school graduates (and their families)  have to be taken at the end of the final school year. For some graduates, parental guidance may be absent, inadequate, or not to their liking. For others, external circumstances may stifle their own voices in determining their future careers.

What are some advisable and inadvisable steps? When is the best time to initiate this crucial conversation?

Coping with inadequate performance in Grade 12 examinations

First, congratulations to students who have achieved the necessary marks for admission to their chosen institutions and specific career or study fields. Second, for those who have not (yet) attained the desired marks: Relax. There are still good reasons to remain positive and optimistic about the future.

Before we proceed: Please discard the term ‘fail’ from your vocabulary. Instead, use the phrase ‘insufficient achievement’. Students’ current marks may well influence their acceptance into their preferred field of study, but they certainly do not have to determine their overall success in life or limit their career prospects

While it is disappointing when exam results fall short of students’ own and others’ expectations, it is essential to step back emotionally and consider the results calmly. In life, we all experience successes and setbacks. This is entirely normal. If your results were below expectations, consider this a challenge you can overcome – an opportunity to grow personally and to demonstrate resilience in today’s rapidly changing and uncertain world. Consider the words of Carl Jung (one of the most eminent psychologists of our time: “Be grateful for your difficulties and challenges, for they hold blessings. [We] need difficulties; they are necessary for health personal growth [and self-fulfilment].”

Do not to fixate on a particular tertiary institution, whether a university, university of technology, or private training institution. Yes, it is true that people with degrees often find employment more easily and earn higher salaries, yet a university degree is certainly not the only path to success. Non-university study has its own value, and each study discipline and tertiary training institution should be evaluated on how it best suits you.

Exploring options for dealing with a Grade 12 pass that falls short of securing tertiary admission: Practical guidance

Students faced with a Grade 12 pass that does not secure admission to tertiary studies have several avenues they can explore. They could for example request a reevaluation of their exam papers, they could opt to write supplementary exams, or they could opt to repeat grades or specific subjects. However, whatever they decide to do will require diligence and dedication on their part. Most importantly they need to convert their intentions and aspirations into actions. They could also apply to do similar courses at other institutions or to study at a different training level. Consulting with a career counsellor first is essential. If the decision is to reapply in the upcoming year, you as the affected student should consider taking a gap year (but only after consulting with a career counsellor and/or students who have taken a gap year previously). Or you could engage in part-time work or other constructive activities. Speak to people who have successfully navigated similar situations and also to those who have not. But remember, you understand yourself better than anyone else; you are the ultimate authority on your own being. Only you can advise yourself. Others can offer valuable insights, but they can never ‘advise’ you on the most appropriate career for you.

Remember: Becoming employable and leading a purposeful and meaningful life is entirely possible regardless of exam results.

The following is some general advice for parents:

  1. Discuss challenges that may impact your children’s ability to focus openly and honestly on their future beyond the exams.
  2. Maintain a cheerful outlook, encouraging your children rather than blaming or nagging them.
  3. Help your children get professional support and acknowledge the stress of the recent exams.
  4. Talk to your children and enquire about their feelings.
  5. Signs such as significant changes in eating, sleeping, or mood, expressions of hopelessness, or withdrawal from family and friends should be noted. Reach out to organisations like the SA Depression and Anxiety Group, Lifeline, or suicide hotlines for support. 

Tips for coping with sadness, disappointment, anxiety, and depression

In the face of disappointment, sadness, anxiety, or depression following your exam results, dwelling on what might have been serves little purpose. Instead, take active steps to address these emotions.

Remember that this is just one exam, one of many career-live transitions you will have to contend with in the course of your life. There is always hope. Many people who experience challenges in Grade 12 exams go on to achieve success in later life. Understand that you have not ‘failed’ anything. While your current marks may influence your acceptance into your preferred field of study, they do not determine your overall success in life. Avoid negative talk and recriminations.

Do not blame yourself or others. Disappointing exam results do not define you as a ‘bad’ or less valuable person, nor do they make you a so-called ‘failure’. If destructive thoughts or even thoughts of suicide arise, speak immediately with your parents and seek the assistance of a qualified professional such as a psychologist, a registered counsellor, or another suitable individual.

Discovering a sense of meaning and purpose in your career-life journey

It is imperative for students to cultivate a sense of meaning, hope, and purpose in their lives and to gain a clear understanding of their life’s purpose, why they are studying, and what motivates them. While it is critical to choose a field of study that offers financial stability, students should also consult trained professionals, such as career psychologists, to uncover and enact what is really important to them (their central life themes), beyond their ‘job’ goals.

Find someone to help you identify your key life themes

Once students have identified their central life themes, usually with the help of someone such as a career psychologist, they can then articulate their career-life purpose and  address existential questions such as “Why do I live?” “Where am I headed?” “Why am I on this planet?” and “Is life worth living?” Answers to these questions will place them on a sound footing for the future.

See the ‘story’ below for an example of what a key life theme is and its role in helping you live a meaning- and purpose-filled career-life.

‘Lebogang stated, “I come from a very poor environment. I was never ‘good enough’ in my parents’ eyes and consequently developed a very low self-concept [a key life theme]. I love helping and being there for students with similar challenges. Therefore, I am studying to become an educational psychologist so I can help children with an impaired sense of self, especially those who do not have access to such services”. This ‘vision statement’ unveils the social significance she envisions for her work        A common thread weaving through people’s career-life stories’ is the transformative power of turning personal pain, hurt, or ‘suffering’ into triumph and social contributions. In essence, it is about converting passive suffering into active mastery. By assisting others who have overcome similar challenges, individuals actively confront the pain they themselves have experienced, finding joy and pride in honouring the legacy of their loved ones in the best way possible. And every time they help others become whole (‘heal’), they also heal themselves.

URL’s of a few useful websites

Here are the URLs for additional websites where you can find information about universities, universities of technology, TVET Colleges, and private higher education institutions, among others:

Examples of diploma qualifications and minimum entry requirements for degree courses:

https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/certificate-vs-degree-vs-diploma#:~:text=The%20degree%20program%20typically%20includes,the%20form%20of%20an%20apprenticeship

All about TVET Colleges:

https://www.news24.com/You/Archive/everything-you-need-to-know-about-sas-tvet-colleges-20170728-2

SAQA – The SA Qualifications Framework:

Home

What is the difference between a certificate, diploma, and degree?

https://www.skillsacademy.co.za/differences-between-a-degree-certificate-and-a-diploma/

For information on bursaries, study techniques, relaxation methods, and more, visit www.kobusmaree.org.

PsySSA Commemorates 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2023

PsySSA Commemorates 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2023

Reflection on the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 13 of 2021 for 16 Days

Recently, changes to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007, came into commencement. Some pertinent changes include the extension of the list of persons who are to be protected in terms of Chapter 6 of the Act and further regulation of the reporting duty of persons who are aware that sexual offences have been committed against persons who are vulnerable (South African Government, 2022).

The definition of ‘person who is vulnerable’, now includes a female under the age of 25 years who: (i) receives tuition at a higher education college, higher education institution or university; (ii) receives vocational training at any training institute, or as part of their employment; or (iii) lives in a building, structure or facility used primarily as a residence for any of the persons referred to in subparagraphs (i) and (ii) (Republic of South Africa, 2022).

Effectively, if females from this group report rape or sexual assault there is now a legal duty to immediately report to the police when there is knowledge, a reasonable belief, or suspicion of an offence, irrespective of the wishes of the female reporting. Failure to report such offences can lead to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding five years, or both. According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), sexual violence is not being addressed adequately and the belief is that by making reporting compulsory a “culture of reporting” will be created, signalling a zero-tolerance approach to sexual violence and warning perpetrators that sexual violence is a crime which will be stamped out

As we approach the 25th anniversary of South Africa’s initiation of the United Nations 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign, we reflect on the power and impact of the current amendment. The 16 Days campaign focuses on raising awareness for the impact that gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) has on women and children (South African Government, 2023). The government has also launched the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NSP – GBVF) (2020-2030). We reflect here on how these programmes contribute to the shift that is needed from women and girls as victims of GBVF to men and boys as perpetrators of sexual violence, reflecting a society in need of intervention, healing, and transformation.

Or put differently, does this change in legislation contribute to women and girls’ survivorship of sexual abuse and violence? For example, the process of compulsory reporting will inevitably affect the agency and autonomy of women aged 19-25 and their readiness to engage with the criminal justice system. From our perspective, the current act also does not account for cases where women may be unsure if a sexual assault has taken place or whether they did provide informed consent. The act makes provision for reporting but this does not necessarily equal support for women or institutional accountability towards safeguarding and change.

The theme for this year’s 16 Days Campaign is: “Accelerating actions to end gender-based violence & femicide: leaving no one behind.” Overall, we believe that the amendments are a positive indication of the government’s serious commitment to curbing GBVF and the protection of women, who do indeed remain a vulnerable group in South African society. However, it remains debatable whether we are actively ensuring that our society is safer for women, or contributing to heightening their status of vulnerability. As we mark 25 years of the 16 Days Campaign, we hope this amendment and its implementation will be the start of a re-renewed exchange about accelerating change actions to end GBVF, not only ensuring women are not left behind but locating them at the forefront of the conversation.

         References