Our History

The Hong Kong Psychological Society Limited (HKPS), is both a learned society and a professional association of all specialties of psychology in Hong Kong, founded in 1968.

The Hong Kong Psychological Society (HKPS) was formed in 1968 to promote the development of psychology and maintain professional standards. HKPS established reciprocal membership rights with the British Psychological Psychology (BPS) which remained in effect until the early nineties, a few years before the handover. Similar to the BPS, it consists of three categories of membership, Graduate, Associate, and Fellow. It was set up under the leadership of Professor John Dawson, who was concurrently held the chair in the fledgling Department of Psychology at HKU. As the membership grew, the HKPS became incorporated as a limited company as both a learned society and a professional association. Is has since the early 1970s held an annual conference, run a journal which for financial reasons folded in 2008, and now a Newsletter. It is a full member of the International Union of Psychological Sciences (IUPS) as well as of the International Test Commission. It issues a Code of Professional Conduct and maintains a register of psychologists who meet professional qualifications.

It now consists of four specialist divisions: Clinical Psychology (formed in 1982), Educational Psychology (1987), Industrial-Organizational Psychology (2000), and Counselling Psychology (2006) which operate under the aegis of the Council. Additionally, there are standing committees on Registration, Membership, Ethics, and Continuing Education. There are currently over 1600 members. This number represents an eight fold increase over the membership 30 years ago. Nonetheless it might be considered low in a population of over 7 million, and given that national societies for the most part are made up of members engaged in psychological practice dealing with people’s problems of adjustment in the home, school and workplace, the question of how effective psychologists are in meeting the needs of the local population remains a subject of some debate. It could be argued that because Chinese typically present “psychological” problems as the expression of bodily symptoms, a process known as somatization, and therefore seek a medical doctor rather than a psychologist to help them, a good deal of disturbance goes undetected -- at least initially. It then requires that medical doctors become adept at distinguishing genuine physical symptoms from those of a more functional kind, for which a referral to a psychologist might then be made. The psychologist’s task is to help the patient move from the realm of the physical to the psychical overcoming resistances that such an intervention might invoke. At the same time the vast majority of people caught in a myriad of life’s problems are much more likely to make visits to a temple (Buddhist or Daoist) where a soothsayer is likely to provide the solace needed for those enshrined in the belief of a destiny foretold.

But psychological services across the social spectrum continue to expand and their reception is perhaps best understood in the context of the historical distinction Chinese have always made about the need to retain the essence of their culture against the more practical learning they can obtain from the west, forcing then, a perspective of western psychology as a set of practical skills for the enhancement of performance, rather than as a of the deeper understanding of our human nature and life’s meanings.