The Systemic Perspective Approach (SPA) – a multi-cultural model for workplace counseling in the Singapore context

Doctorate other than PhD

Fong, Christopher. 2015. The Systemic Perspective Approach (SPA) – a multi-cultural model for workplace counseling in the Singapore context. Doctorate other than PhD Doctor of Professional Studies. University of Southern Queensland.

The Systemic Perspective Approach (SPA) – a multi-cultural model for workplace counseling in the Singapore context

TypeDoctorate other than PhD
AuthorFong, Christopher
SupervisorVan Der Lann, Luke
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Professional Studies
Number of Pages323

Organisations today face the challenge of managing the expectations of a culturally diverse workforce as a result of globalisation. Singaporean organisations, both
governmental and private, face the same challenge due to the prevailing influx of foreign talents and transnational migrant workers in the last decade. There is a growing
need to consider both diversity and multi-cultural issues in the workplace to ensure an effective management of their culturally diverse workforce. Multi-cultural and diversity
issues when not aligned with workplace norms and culture may lead to interpersonal conflicts, challenges in adjusting to organisational culture, poor work performances and maligned communication styles. Organisations are turning to workplace counsellors and Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to support their employees in mitigating these
issues so as to improve corporate organisational behaviour (OB) initiatives like employee engagement, motivation and work performance.

Counselling in the context of multi-culturalism needs to consider not just ethnic and cultural factors but diversity issues such as age, gender, ability, religion, language,
socio-economic status and issues, political factors, sexual orientation and the global environment. Both the client and the counsellor bring their unique personal cultural
identities into the counselling process. Since one’s personal cultural identity is influenced and shaped by these cultural and diversity issues, the counselling process is a multi-cultural interaction. In order to develop more effective therapeutic alliance with
culturally diverse clients, counsellors then need to consider multi-cultural competencies as part of their core professional competencies. A multi-cultural approach would enable practitioners to be more culturally sensitive by becoming aware of their faulty assumptions, stereotyping tendencies, biases and prejudices, and adopt more culturally
appropriate interventions as existing western-style therapeutic approaches may not be adequately contextualised for application in non-western contexts.

In this thesis, the Systemic Perspective Approach (SPA), considers both culture and diversity issues framed by its eight dimensions that include physical, mindset, affect,
philosophy, ethnicity, social, political/economics and globalisation. Each of these dimensions of the workplace system is undergirded by their own defined values, beliefs,
norms and culture (VBNC). The SPA model explores how each dimension of the system may inter-relate with each other and their underlying VBNC’s within the context of a
problem experienced by the client being counselled. In this regard, the SPA model helps provide a multi-dimensional and holistic framework for counselling and also a framework to help develop awareness, knowledge and skills related to multi-cultural competencies. It is proposed to have significant practice value in an increasingly cultural
diverse workplace.

This study investigates the SPA model as applied to the 'Dads for Life' survey project sponsored by the Singapore Government. The programme was implemented across
organisations nationally and yielded valid responses to the survey. Multi-variate statistical analysis was conducted to (a) determine the validity and reliability of the
survey instrument and items and (b) to determine the relationships between variables relevant to the Singapore workforce. The conceptual model underpinning this study
classified the eight dimensions as independent variables. The VBNCs of each dimension was then classified as dependent variables and justified by existing theory.
The findings of this statistical analysis research demonstrated the statistical significance of the relationships between the independent and dependent variables (eight dimensions and the VBNCs). The findings support the applicability of the model within the workplace counselling context and is a valid and reliable instrument for measurement of the dimension / VBNC constructs. Numerous limitations of the study are addressed including the need for further validation of the model. Future research is suggested to further develop the potential of this model to contribute in areas of policy
development, human resources management, social services sector improvement and most of all, in support of professional advocacy.

KeywordsSingapore; workplace counseling; Systemic Perspective Approach
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020520104. Industrial and organisational psychology (incl. human factors)
350503. Human resources management
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Linguistics, Adult and Specialist Education
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