This article is adapted from " National Tour" prepared by R. Rono, 2005, which appeared in Wedding, D., & Stevens, M. J. (Eds). (2009). Psychology: IUPsyS Global Resource (Edition 2009) [CD-ROM]. International Journal of Psychology, 44 (Suppl. 1)
Psychology in Kenya is still considered a young science. The study of psychology started in the national universities. Educational psychology as a branch of psychology was first introduced at the university level as part of the teacher training programs as early as 1968. Many of the psychologists who taught these course components were mainly graduates of overseas universities. From the early 1980s onwards, postgraduate programs in educational psychology began in Nairobi University. In the mid 1980s, Nairobi and Kenyatta universities began to offer Ph.D. programs in educational psychology. Since that time more public and private universities were founded. Many of them included a component of educational psychology in their programs.
U.S.I.U.-Africa (a private university) and Nairobi universities are currently the only ones offering a B.A in psychology. This program was started in 1977. In addition, U.S.I.U-A offers an M.A in counseling psychology and a postgraduate certificate in chemical dependency counseling since1977.
research, Practice, Applications
Since it is a relatively new field, psychological practice here in Kenya encompasses both research and applications. However, the application component is relatively higher than the research component. Psychologists acknowledge the need for research relevant to the nature of human behavior in this part of the world. But very often scarce research resources hinder psychology scholars from long term in-depth research.
The dominant focus in psychology applications is in educational practices, counseling psychology and employee motivation and adolescent psychology. Recently, collaboration, networking, and research work with the foreign psychologists has been significant. For example, by making references and consultations with a number of foreign psychologists, Neema Counseling Centre (NCC) was able to do a research on the impact of the 1998 bomb blast in Kenya on infant victims. Lifespring Counseling and Training Center has also been able to liaise with the APA (including the Division of International Psychology), Association of American Christian Counselors (AACC), United Nations counselors worldwide and as a result is doing this research. KAPC has research and training in collaboration with the Durham University in the U.K.
The training available ranges from certificate courses in counseling psychology to the B.A, M.A, M.Ed., and Ph.D. in psychology. This training occurs mainly in colleges and universities.
Many programs incorporate a practicum as part of the training. There are 17 universities, many of them private institutions. Most of these universities offer psychology subjects, but in most cases only as subjects to augment and support majors in other disciplines. Psychology courses are mostly general at most of the universities; however, a few of them have specialized curricula at the master's level. For example, USIU-A has an M.A. in counseling psychology. The universities of Egerton, Kenyatta, Moi, and Nairobi offer M.A.s in educational psychology.
Distance-learning capabilities as well as evening and holiday classes are being offered at most universities to meet the high demand for training in psychology. Most universities are also in the process of developing more programs (e.g., the M.A. in psychology in Kenyatta University). Most of the universities offering educational psychology and counseling psychology have their own distinctive units which are determined by departmental committees, approved by the university senate, and the Commission for Higher Education (CHE).
The university programs are regulated by the University Acts and Accreditation Boards to ensure that the quality of graduates in psychology and other fields are up to the required standard. For colleges that operate outside the university (especially non-governmental ones) they operate the training as a business and may not undergo rigorous professional requirements to get government licensing.
There is no national legal and ethical body governing psychology in Kenya. However there are by-laws and ethical guidelines governing the psychosocial activities within various organizations and institutions. These guidelines are constantly reviewed by psychologists and professional counselors in those organizations and institutions according to circumstances which arise, for example, cross-cultural demands including moral and religious standards.
Psychiatrists have their own governing body, which psychologists can use as reference, but this does not always reflect on non-medical psychological issues. Thus, there is need for such a body for psychologists. The KPsyA is working toward the establishment of a lobby group to urge the government to establish a professional body to regulate psychological practice.
The NGO Council, a consortium of NGOs, provides and updates ethical guidelines and legal frameworks that regulate the activities of psychologists in certain organizations. Ethical guidelines seem to be copied from the West; hence, reference is made to theAPA, British Psychological Society, and British Association of Counselors ethical guidelines by many psychologists and professional counselors. The principles of ethics and code of conduct get updated through contextualization as advised by various committees in a number of the developing major associations like the KPsyA, KCA, and KAPC, often through mid-year and yearly meetings.