Ms Kelly Ann Zainal’s passion for exploring human experiences nudged her towards taking a Master of Psychology (Clinical) at the Singapore campus of JCU
By Gary Lim
July 7, 2020
Getting people to share their stories is important in fostering respect and understanding among one another.
Ms Kelly Ann Zainal, co-founder of Human Library Singapore (HLSG) and a master’s student of clinical psychology at the Singapore campus of James Cook University (JCU), is keenly aware of that.
HLSG, which was started in 2016, “loans” out human “books” — people with diverse life experiences like a migrant worker or a Paralympian — to “readers”, who can interact with the “books” and ask them questions. This creates a platform for challenging stereotypes and breaks down barriers among people.
Ms Kelly, 30, says: “I learnt how effective the Human Library format can be in developing mutual respect and understanding.”
But much earlier, she was already aware of the importance of creating dialogue and sharing experiences.
“In secondary school, one of my schoolmates was diagnosed with an eating disorder,” she says. “I’ve also had family members and friends who have been diagnosed with mental health conditions and I have seen the tremendous impact a good therapist has had on them.”
This inspired Ms Kelly, a former mental health researcher, to pursue a career in clinical psychology.
One reason she chose JCU’s Master of Psychology (Clinical) programme is that the university is accredited with the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council.
This would help open up career options in Australia should she choose to work there in the future. She opted to pursue her programme in the Singapore campus, however, as she plans to engage the Singapore population upon graduating this year.
She credits the “non-judgmental approach” of JCU lecturers for helping her “learn in a safe environment”, and helping her develop communication skills, patience and empathy, which are useful when interviewing prospective “books” for HLSG and preparing them for sharing sessions.
She adds: “In my clinical work, I learnt that I also have to be mindful of my own judgments to be an effective clinician.”
Visit jcu.sg/mpsy0620 to register for the course preview webinar of the Master of Psychology (Clinical) programme offered by the Singapore campus of JCU.