Hospital Kuala Lumpur
Clinical Psychology Internship
Unpaid non-credit internship (8 weeks). Non-research in clinical setting.
Would you recommend your internship to a friend?
Yes. I would recommend this internship to any friend interested in pursuing clinical psychology, as many clinical psychology postgraduate courses require hands-on experience with clinical patients. Moreover, the internship gives you a very thorough introduction into life as a mental health clinician.
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What were you looking to gain from your experience?
My main aim was to find out whether a clinical psychology role was the right one for me. I hoped to gain experience interacting with psychiatric patients and learning how clinical psychologists administer cognitive tests to discern patients' neuropsychological difficulties.
What attracted you to the company you interned with?
I preferred to intern in a public hospital compared to a private clinic as I was under the impression that the services being offered at a public hospital would be representative of the kind of care/treatment the general Malaysian public would have access to. I was interested in seeing how mental health systems in Malaysia function. Furthermore, HKL offered me more freedom to sit in on sessions and to help out with psychological assessments, whereas private clinics were more restrictive.
What was a typical working day like?
I would start my working day at 8am in the office, and would spend a bit of the morning working on administrative duties (copying down patient information into a spreadsheet. Throughout the day, depending on patient visitations, I would shadow the clinical psychologist on duty while they treated/consulted patients (if the patient did not mind of course). Some days I would represent the clinical psychology unit at meetings, and on Fridays we would have 'case conferences' where psychologists and psychiatrists would discuss interesting cases and debate on how best to handle them. Work would end around 5pm.
What did you enjoy about your internship?
I was given many interesting tasks, and often times my supervisors would trust me to help them with patients. Among the interesting tasks were that I made educational materials for patients with anxiety, to help them cope with their stress via breathing techniques.
What was the most challenging part?
Some patient cases were very intense and difficult to witness. Many patients we saw come from underprivileged, very traditional families where their mental health difficulties were not taken seriously. This was especially heartbreaking with paediatric patients. Some parents would bring their kids in for one mental health check-up session (as they were advised to by their GP), but not ever bring them back as they did not believe their children were genuinely suffering from mental health conditions. Day to day I would often hear of patient cases linked to difficult topics such as self-harm, suicide, and sexual/physical/emotional abuse. Indeed, I had learnt that being a clinical psychologist is not an easy career, and it requires a great deal of mental fortitude.
How did the experience benefit your career?
Doing this internship strengthened my resolve to continue working within the realm of mental health. My hands-on experience working with clients who have mental health difficulties gave me an advantage when applying for postgraduate research courses that require testing human patients.
What is one advice that you would give to others who are planning to do an internship?
Unfortunately in Malaysia, especially within the public sector, it is much easier to get internships if you know someone in the institution who may be able to recommend you. I managed to get my internship in HKL as I knew a PhD student working on a project within the clinical psychology unit, and she had put in a good word for me. Otherwise, do not stop applying! It takes a lot of work, but the more places you send your CV to, the more likely you'll hear back positively. Also, it is very much advised to tailor your internship-seeking email to each place you apply to, as many employers will ignore 'template' emails that have obviously been forwarded to many places.