Social workers in Singapore feel ill-equipped to attend to clients with LGBT-related issues according to Straits Times.
In November 2015, a study published in the International Social Work journal by six authors from universities and voluntary welfare organisations ollected data from 89 registered social workers in 2007 and found that 77 per cent felt they did not have adequate skills to attend to LGBT issues.
Nearly 70 per cent of the respondents in the study said there was no struggle between their professional values and handling LGBT clients. One of the author's Teh Yang Yang said the lack of training is worrying.
"Without clear ethical codes, social workers and psychologists may rely on personal or organisational principles to implement or recommend sexual orientation change efforts, which have been found by many countries to be harmful and unethical practice," he told Straits Times.
Another study, carried out by LGBT counselling group Oogachaga in 2011, found that 78 per cent of 91 social workers had not received training despite 40 per cent of them having dealt with LGBT clients.
"An untrained professional might not be able to support the client adequately. A client can sense that and may not feel safe to disclose more," said Mr Leow Yangfa, executive director of Oogachaga and a registered social worker. "
Or the social worker could provide wrong information or advice, which will further stigmatise an LGBT client already struggling with sexuality issues."
Since 2009, Oogachaga has conducted more than 50 training sessions and workshops. Attendees are taught sexuality orientation and gender identity, how to work with young LGBT adults and parents of LGBT children. So far they have trained around 1500 counsellors.