This article is adapted from "Bahrain National Tour" prepared by J. Aluhran, 2002, 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).
The history of psychology in Bahrain can be traced back to the second half of the twentieth century. Topics in psychology were introduced in education and ethics courses in secondary school curricula for students seeking to enter the teaching profession.
However, psychology was not introduced as a separate course of study until the establishment of the Teachers Training College for Boys in 1966 and the Teachers Training College for Girls in 1967. The duration of study was two years, after which students were able to obtain a teaching diploma. In these two colleges, some courses in psychology were taught, such as introduction to psychology, educational psychology, and developmental psychology. Some psychology courses were also taught to students at the Gulf Polytechnic College, which was established in 1968.
Psychology courses have also been offered to secondary school students. A required course in general psychology used to be given to arts students in the traditional curriculum, which has recently been replaced by the credit system curriculum. Under this new curriculum, some elective courses such as General Psychology and Mental Health are now being offered to students attending secondary schools in the Ministry of Education.
Psychology started being recognized as a separate entity in Bahrain when the Psychology Department was established in 1978 under the umbrella of the College of Arts, Science, and Education by the power of the Amiri Decree Number 11, issued by the Amir of Bahrain. At that time, the departments of psychology and education, and later the Department of Physical Education (in 1982), were the nucleus of the present College of Education.
In 1986, the Amiri Decree Number 12 established the University of Bahrain with the integration of the University College of Arts, Science, and Education and the Gulf Polytechnic. In 1992 the University Board of Trustees approved the reorganization of the College of Education to recognize the Psychology Department as one of the five departments in the College of Education at the University of Bahrain.
The objectives of the psychology department at the University of Bahrain are to prepare qualified professionals in the various fields of psychology; to promote self-development among teachers and other educational professionals by providing them with the psychological knowledge and necessary skills needed in their work and in their daily lives; to undertake psychological research for the purpose of promoting the educational process; to serve the local community by participating in various activities within the realm of psychology; and to offer professional consultation to the various psychological institutions in Bahraini society.
The Psychology Department was only a service department at the University College of Bahrain and at the University of Bahrain until recently. It used to offer only a minor in Psychology and some courses in psychology for other programs in other departments. The Psychology Department started its first program, the postgraduate diploma in Counseling Psychology, in 1994. This program offers 33 credit hours and aims to prepare psychological counselors to serve in the Ministry of Education and other social and psychological institutions in Bahrain.
The Psychology Department is now growing rapidly. It has recently proposed a B.Ed. program in the Psychology of Special Groups and is now working on a Master's degree program in psychology with two specializations: educational psychology and counseling psychology. The Psychology Department consists of eleven members; seven are Bahraini and the rest are from other parts of the Arab world. One of the faculty members is a full professor, three are associate professors, two are assistant professors, and the rest are instructors who are working towards obtaining Ph.D. degrees in different fields of psychology.
The Psychology Department serves the Bahraini society through different activities such as workshops, seminars, and consultation work. The faculty members of the department are involved in rigorous research activities and they are members of professional international psychological societies and associations. Many also participate in conferences, symposiums, and seminars – locally, regionally, and internationally.
Although the psychology department at the University of Bahrain is a major contributor of services and activities related to psychology, there have also been contributions to psychology by some other institutions as well, such as: Ministry of Education – Section of Social and Psychological Counseling; Psychiatric Hospital – Clinical Psychology Unit; Bahrain Defense Force Hospital – Social and Psychological Services Section; and the Arabian Gulf University.
There have been some attempts in Bahrain to make psychology encompass both research and applications. These efforts, however, have not yet been consistent. Many researchers have been inspired by the problems they encounter in the local community and try to implement the findings of their research in the educational arena and in some psychological settings. The dominant focus is on research.
In Bahrain training in psychology is mainly offered through the Department of Psychology at the College of Education in the Bahrain University. Three types of training in psychology can be identified:
- The first type of training is mainly done by the Department of Psychology through its different programs for students who want to specialize in the psychology programs offered by the department. The department also organizes workshops and training courses for psychologists and specialists who work in other organizations such as the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, or other private institutions and public agencies in the country. This type of training takes place at Bahrain University or in schools, hospitals, public service agencies, and private organizations.
- The second type of training is done on campus at the University of Bahrain. The University sometimes invites experts from outside Bahrain, from places such as Europe and the United States to conduct workshops with the objectives of staff development and the professional growth of its faculty members.
- The third type of training is done in professional settings outside the country, where some faculty members join professional organizations, attend scientific meetings, and participate in specific training workshops in accordance with their own interests or specializations.
There are no special government regulations or requirements for training professionals. However, our psychologists follow the regulations of the professional psychological organizations of which they become members. These regulations apply only in relation to the training of psychologists in professional settings.
Bahrain psychologists do not have a formal code of ethics. However, all of the psychologists working in the Psychology Department are members of international professional organizations and societies and they follow the ethical standards of the professional associations with which they are affiliated.
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