National Council of Social Service
Feature | NCSS

Serving with a Shared Purpose

Social Service Scholars Chelsia Lim and Tiang Shu Hui are committed to building a caring and inclusive society for all through their work in the social service.

Left: Chelsia Lim is a Social Worker with SHINE Children and Youth Services, where she conducts school social work programmes for children and youths and provides casework and case management services to students and their families. She is a Social Service Scholar with a Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honours (Distinction) in Social Work from NUS.

Right: Tiang Shu Hui is a Clinical Psychologist at AMKFSC Community Services, Psychological Service Unit. She conducts psychoeducational assessments for children, provides psychotherapy sessions to children and adolescents, and conducts training for colleagues. She is a Social Service Scholar and holds a Master in Psychology (Clinical) from NUS.

Scholars Chelsia Lim and Tiang Shu Hui have chosen to make a difference by impacting lives through the work that they do. They form part of the social service sector in Singapore which employs more than 16,000 professionals who have a passion for helping people in need.

Chelsia is a Social Worker with SHINE Children and Youth Services and Shu Hui is a Clinical Psychologist with AMKFSC Community Services. We sat down with them to discuss their career journeys in social service, and how the Social Service Scholarship has paved the way for them to pursue their passion to work in social service.

Chelsia Lim

Chelsia Lim

What inspired you to join the Social Service?

Chelsia: Previously, I went on a few mission trips with my church, which opened my eyes to the needs of the less fortunate. Those experiences made me consider what was important to me in my career – bringing hope and light to others in practical ways.

Shu Hui: Having worked in schools as a teacher and as an Associate Psychologist, the opportunities to interact with children and youths challenged me to think deeply about how to build resilience among the younger population and to give a voice to the struggles they are facing.

Why did you choose the Social Service Scholarship?

Chelsia: I discovered the Social Service Scholarship on the NCSS and BrightSparks websites. This scholarship provided me with a wide range of social service agencies that I could explore after graduating. This was helpful as I was still in the process of figuring out the profile of clients I desired to work with.

Shu Hui: After setting my mind on pursuing my postgraduate studies in clinical psychology, I chanced upon the Social Service Scholarship. Everything kind of fell into place at that moment. I could see myself working in the community setting, building awareness surrounding mental health and providing direct services that support mental health care.

“Witnessing insight, growth, and positive change in my clients, however small they may be, brings me immense joy and keeps me going.” Tiang Shu Hui

How have you applied what you learnt in university to your current roles?

Chelsia: What I learnt in university provided a foundation for me even as I began my journey as a social worker. Having the knowledge and right perspective was necessary in preparing me to work with individuals from varied backgrounds.

Shu Hui: As a Clinical Psychologist working in the community, the clinical skills gleaned from the clinical psychology programme were applicable and transferable, ranging from psychological assessment skills to therapeutic approaches and research skills.

Tiang Shu Hui

Tiang Shu Hui

Could you tell us more about your key roles and responsibilities on a day-to-day basis?

Chelsia: I conduct school social work programmes for children and youth, where I co-facilitate sessions in a group setting, which are focused on equipping students with socio-emotional skills. The work is not done in silos but in collaborative partnership with the school, to provide more coordinated support to students in need. I also work with families to identify areas where they may require more support and equip or link them to the necessary resources.

Shu Hui: As a Clinical Psychologist, I see children and adolescents from 5 to 18 years old for psychotherapy and psychological assessments. A typical day consists of case conferences, psychotherapy and/or assessment sessions, feedback and discussion sessions with caregivers, and of course, recording case notes and completing psychological reports. Our team of psychologists also conduct internal and external trainings and workshops.

What do you think are important skills to possess in your line of work?

Chelsia: The ability to listen, empathise and withhold judgement. Patience and perseverance are also essential attributes to possess.

Shu Hui: Listening actively with empathy and an open mind is key, so that our clients feel safe, heard, and supported. It is also important to reflect on one’s practice, to ensure that we are providing the best care we can that is tailored to the client’s needs.

What are some challenges that you often face in your job and how do you overcome them?

Chelsia: Working with children and youth in a group setting has its challenges, as students have their own individual needs, preferences and personalities. It can be challenging knowing how to manage differences, while communicating that every child is loved and valued. But I’m glad that I work with a team, and we can tap on each other’s expertise and experience to navigate through the challenges.

Shu Hui: Some of the challenges faced by clients can be very entrenched to the extent that they feel helpless and hopeless. These feelings can be infectious in the sense that as a therapist, one can begin to experience our client’s helplessness as well. Identifying and reflecting on such moments is crucial for me. By pacing with clients, helping them to recognise what is within their realm of control, and highlighting their efforts and strengths can often be empowering.

“My experience in social service has helped me to see that small actions can make a big difference in someone’s life.” Chelsia Lim

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Chelsia: There is never a dull day with the children and youth I work with. It brings me joy to witness their growth even in small ways – when a child grows in confidence or when a youth decides to stay out of trouble because of a recent conversation we had. I also like that the work is dynamic and it often requires me to be creative in relating to every individual differently. That keeps the work exciting!

Shu Hui: Witnessing insight, growth, and positive change in my clients, however small they may be, brings me immense joy and keeps me going.

Lastly, what makes the social service special to you?

Chelsia: My experience in social service has helped me to see that small actions can make a big difference in someone’s life. It gives me a sense of fulfilment knowing that I am serving a purpose greater than myself, and it encourages me to know that I am doing so alongside many others who believe in the same purpose.

Shu Hui: I count myself to be extremely fortunate to be in an organisation that strives to build an ecosystem of care with and for the families we serve, and to work with colleagues who share a similar vision and mission. As a psychological service unit within the organisation, there are ample opportunities for cross-learning and cross-pollination to birth fresh initiatives and ideas on how best to support the families we serve.