Gerontological Counselling

Certificate Programmes/Workshops or Customised Workshops

Singapore will witness an unprecedented increase in the number of elderly in the future. Practice and research revealed that older adults experience a myriad of issues which may require counselling intervention. These issues include depression, anxiety, bereavement, loss of functional abilities, health concerns, retirement/loss of financial independence, social isolation, intergenerational and marital conflicts and other mental and emotional challenges related to ageing. Indeed, there has been a sharp increase in the number of parents filing applications with the tribunal in recent years. There were nearly 200 last year, compared to 109 in 2007 (Straits Times 11 Mar 2010). Moreover, the MCYS Social Isolation Survey 2009 revealed that the number of estimated socially-isolated elderly is projected to increase from 31,000 to 42,000 by 2015. Likewise, the number of estimated depressed elderly is going to increase from 19,000 to 25,000 by 2015. Depression is associated with suicide and the rates of elderly suicides across the world, though decreasing, are still amongst the highest compared to other age groups. In Singapore, although government’s policies and attention to issues of mental health have bore fruit in recent years, in bringing the overall rates of suicide down, the rates amongst older adults are still relatively high. Between 2003 and 2006, for every 100,000 men in their 40s, the rate jumped from 14 to 19. For every 100,000 women in their 50s, the rate jumped from eight to 13 in the same period (Straits Times 29 Aug 2007).

Within this context, frontline service providers working with older adults will need to be equipped with key competencies to effectively engage, assess, counsel and make appropriate referrals to specialized services for the elderly. Moreover, they will need to be able to design intervention strategies and manage complex bio-psycho-social problems of the elderly, as well as address the needs of the families. They should be able to employ a range of modalities to work with them, such as individual, family and group counselling, support groups, and adjuvant therapeutic activities to enhance their well-being, as well as effectively utilize a range of assessment tools for appropriate interventions. In addition, they should be familiar with the different theories of ageing, as well as counselling theories, particularly those appropriate to older adults, and apply them in an integrated manner, with the ultimate aim of helping older adults adjust to transitions and life events, so that they can continue to live empowered, happy and meaningful lives.

A suite of courses/training programmes, ranging from three day introductory workshops to six day intermediate courses to more advance skills-intensive specific programmes are available. The duration and topics to be covered in these programmes can also be customised according to the needs and requirements of organisations/ agencies. These courses are provided by a multi-disciplinary team of experts (refer to profiles of Directors and Associates).

An important and unique feature of these programmes is that it will equip participants with an evidence-based, integrative and procedural model for counselling older adults. It could accommodate various theoretical orientations, be used in conjunction with pharmacotherapy and a wide range of other psychosocial interventions and is entrenched in the social cultural milieu of older persons in an Asian context.