Clinical psychologists seek 'service structure therapy' -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Clinical psychologists seek ‘service structure therapy’

Mansoor Malik

With doctors, nurses and paramedics already vying for service structure and pharmacists campaigning for creation of posts in public hospitals, clinical psychologists too have entered the arena, starting with demand for improving their service structure but pledging to remain peaceful.

Under the banner of Pakistan Association of Clinical Psychologists (PACP), they last week organised its third general body meeting at the Centre for Clinical Psychology, Punjab University. The association for the first time finalised Ethical Code of Conduct for practicing clinical psychologists all over the country.

The PACP, under the leadership of Dr Nashi Khan, demanded improvement in clinical psychologists’ service structure and their job description in health department.

Dr Khan said the profession was still in infancy in the country where there were only 500 clinical psychologists who were either working with different NGOs or were in teaching profession.

Dr Khan said despite having an important role in health sector, the clinical psychologists were not being offered approved service structure for their smooth promotion.

The association representatives demanded that the health department should create BS-20 seats for senior and doctoral degree-holding clinical psychologists. The association also sought independent sections for psychologists in the teaching hospitals where they were working under psychiatrists in psychiatry departments.

“When social workers, pharmacists, physiotherapists, radiologists and pathologists have separate entities, why clinical psychologists are not recognised as a separate mental health unit,” Dr Khan argued. PACP president Dr Khan, vice-president Dr
Humaira Mohsin and secretary general Dr Saima Dawood said clinical psychologists were working independently in every field whether its education or special education, child guidance etc. While in health department clinical psychology was always considered as an allied health science and the professionals had to work under psychiatry department, they added.

In a formal request made to the Punjab health secretary, the chief minister and the governor, the PACP has stated that in the absence of a formal service structure, once recruited they remain in the same grade for years which becomes quite frustrating for the professionals.

In view of small number of clinical psychologists against an ever-growing population, they said, the stress level was growing in the country. In order to counter this situation, they said, the seats of clinical psychologists in hospitals as well as in the community needed to be enhanced and outreach programmes be designed.

Dr Nashi Khan said the association would never take to street to get their demands accepted and instead it would approach the people at the helm of affairs in a ‘proper’ manner – “after all we are clinical psychologists”.

LAST week, the Punjab University again witnessed an altercation between IJT activists and the varsity administration.

The row reportedly erupted after Khalid Bin Waleed Hall, Old Campus, Superintendent Asim Rasool stopped some Islami Jamiat Tulaba activists from pasting posters on hostel walls. Jamiat activists, taking it as an insult, later called their fellow students and misbehaved with the superintendent and some faculty members of the College of Information Technology.

However, the incident ensued allegations and counter allegations from both parties. The PU Academic Staff Association (PUASA) strongly condemned the IJT “goons” for misbehaving with senior teachers and ransacking PU property in Khalid Bin Waleed Hostel.

PUASA spokesman said IJT activists misbehaved with hostel superintendent Asim Rasool and when a teachers’ delegation tried to express solidarity with him, they again used derogatory language against them. He claimed that IJT activists also injured Mr Rasool.

The association leaders condemned IJT activists’ unruly behaviour and demanded that the government should take notice and launch a ‘clean-up operation’ in the varsity hostels.

On the other hand, the IJT information secretary alleged that Prof Mansoor Sarwar called security guards and attacked the activists. He alleged that at least four activists got injured in the attack and leg of another was fractured who was admitted to the Mayo Hospital.

An IJT spokesman also claimed that an FIR was also registered with the Anarkali police against PUCIT principal Prof Dr Mansoor Sarwar and two other teachers.

Meanwhile, the PUASA executive body at an emergency meeting, condemned IJT ‘hooliganism’. The association, comprising pro-administration members, demanded the chief minister should direct quashing of the FIR. It said the varsity’s Disciplinary Committee should be revitalised.

The association demanded that all those residing illegally in PU hostels be expelled, especially the evening classes students. The association stated it had learnt that many students had been admitted to evening classes in violation of merit. It demanded an independent inquiry officer be deputed to investigate the matter.

The ASA also demanded that Khalid Bin Waleed Hostel should be converted into girls’ hostel as it was a long-standing demand of female students.

“JOURNALISTS face a number of pressures internally as well as externally, which sometimes prove a hurdle in the way of free press.”

This was the consensus among speakers at a panel discussion held in connection with the World Press Freedom Day, organised by a private university’s mass communication department’s ‘Media Cultural Club’ last week.

The speakers stressed that the young journalists must work hard, do investigative stories and stay impartial. The speakers also criticised the role of anchors in electronic media and agreed that shouting in talk shows should not be confused with press freedom.

Dean Prof Dr Mughees-ud-Din Sheikh said the US was thought to be a ‘role model’ for press freedom but even the American media blacked out many news stories. Citing example of an incident wherein a Chinese student studying in University of IOWA
killed six professors and committed suicide, he said, this news was not given much space and was never followed up. “If such an incident had happened in the Third World, it would have been among top stories in the US,” he added.

Prof Sheikh said the lesser killings of journalists had nothing to do with the measure of press freedom in a country. “If journalists are not killed in Russia and China it does not mean that they have full freedom of press”. Moreover, he said, media house owners wanted freedom from government while journalists wanted freedom from the owners.

Public Affairs Officer of US consulate Brinille Eliane Ellis said Washington had always been promoting the cause of investigative journalism and free press. “Investigative journalism has been a source of improvements in American society,” she said.

She said the first amendment made in the US Constitution was related to freedom of press and religion. “The future of journalism can be citizen journalism as every citizen these days carries mobile phones that have camera, sound recorder and other facilities,” she suggested.

Department’s programme manager Sohail Riaz Raja and local journalists also discussed freedom of press and said that electronic media was still immature and would gain maturity with the passage of time.