In-Conversation with Psychologist Pearl Chu

Pearl is a part of the early intervention support team at SPD@Jurong. A psychologist, Pearl works with both our young clients and their caregivers to achieve the best outcomes. UPDATES [...]

Pearl is a part of the early intervention support team at SPD@Jurong. A psychologist, Pearl works with both our young clients and their caregivers to achieve the best outcomes. UPDATES caught up with Pearl over her experience working at the centre for the past one and a half years.

Q: Share with us your role as a psychologist at the Building Bridges EIPIC Centre at SPD@Jurong.
As a Psychologist in this programme, I work with children predominantly under six years of age, and their caregivers. When a child is referred to our Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC), I’m one of the admissions staff involved in engaging the child in a series of short activities to gauge his/her skills and interests vis-a-vis the child’s admission documents. We also have a short discussion with the parent/s. This allows us to enrol the child in a suitable class. After a child is admitted, I work with caregivers on any challenges they may face – mainly in terms of their child’s social, emotional and behavioural functioning. I also share with caregivers on possible future educational pathways for their child and support them through their decision-making process. I usually discuss with my colleagues (teachers and other allied health professionals) on strategies that we can use with the child in a group setting. Occasionally, I conduct in-house training for staff and caregivers, on topics aimed at enhancing our children’s learning and behaviour patterns.

Q: What sparked your interest in psychology?
It started with being interested in how peers learn during my teenage years and how to use different methods to teach them the same content that teachers have taught in the class.

Q: What is a typical day for you at the centre?
A typical day involves going into class for observation of the children, talking to caregivers and building rapport with them, discussing with team members regarding the children, planning sessions and implementing them.

Q: Which aspects of your job do you find rewarding?
I find it rewarding to see changes and development in the children I work with. I also find it rewarding when caregivers are empowered, find solutions to their challenges and see the improvement in their children.


Q: What do you find challenging?
I sometimes find it challenging to come up with strategies that caregivers can use when they have limited external support and resources, which affects their ability to fully support their children.

Q: In your opinion, how is working with children in psychology different from adults?
When working with a child, I will also need to work with the adults (caregivers) around the child as he/she is still young and is dependent on them. I will need to discuss with caregivers in formulating any strategies implemented regarding the child, as they will be involved in implementing those strategies at home. I have yet to work with adults in psychology, but I believe the approach to working with children and adults will be different as they will be at different stages of their physical, cognitive, and social development. Their experience in life will also be quite different as adults would have many more years of experience than children.

Q: Share with us a memorable experience at work.
Seeing how caregivers are really involved in their children, bringing them to sessions regardless of rain or shine, speaking with these caregivers on what they can do at home and seeing them do it, listening to their journey with their children so far, these are really memorable experiences. These are also what motivate me at work.

Q: What do you see yourself doing if not psychology?
I will most likely be teaching children as I enjoy working with children.

Q: What do you feel most proud of?
Being a psychologist has been what I have aspired to be since I was younger. I also want to help others who are under privileged. So I am happy that I am currently a psychologist with a VWO, doing what I enjoy and giving support to those who need my help.

Q: What is one myth in psychology that you want debunked.
The belief that people who study psychology know what others think just by looking at them. I think that’s a classic as frequently, once I tell others that I am a psychologist, I get the question, “so what am I thinking of now?”