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Thursday, June 08, 2006

The professionalization of Counseling in the Philippines

Yes, Counseling will be a licensed profession in the next two years. If the new law (RA 9258) were to run its course, all those who pass the board exam will be issued the license that will give them the right to practice Counseling. This is something many present counselors seem jittery about. The thought of board exams is very much like any other exam we've had, but passing it will definitely be a big boost in one's practice of the profession. And what if one fails to qualify for the exams, or fail the exams?

Where are we in this process right now?

First, the law was passed in 2004, after a long and harrowing process lasting about thirty years!!! Yes, and most of the proponents of this law, our "ancestors" in the profession have become so old they may no longer qualify to sit in the first Professional Regulatory Board (PRB) in Counseling as mandated by the law. I can also imagine that still some may have left the world with impatience at the slow motion of this law's passage!

Anyway, the names of the nominees for the first PRB have already been submitted to the Presidential Management Staff where they will be interviewed and hopefully they will be announced soon. Quite a few of them are understandably in their 70's. When this Board gets organized, their first task is to compose the Board Exam questions. This should take about two years at most.

Now, some among us may qualify for the "Grandfather's Clause." This refers to those are granted the license without taking the licensure examination. Applications for this privilege must be submitted within two years after the organization of the first PRB, after which the licensure exam shall have become the only means of getting the license to practice counseling. These include: a) those who have PhD and MA in Guidance & Counseling (GC) or Counseling Psychology (CP), with at least 3 years of experience teaching Guidance and Counseling courses and/or full-time counseling practice for the same number of years; (b) those who've passed at least 18 units of MA level courses in GC - Counseling Techniques/Theories (usually 6 units), Organization and Administration of Guidance Services, Tests and Measurements, Group Process/Counseling, and Career Guidance/Counseling; and (c) those had completed their academic requirements for MA in GC/CP and have had 5 years experience as full-time guidance counselors (Article III, Section 14, paragraphs a, b & c of RA 9258).

Now some of us have been into this profession (sans the license) far beyond the minimum time required BUT LACK some units. Hence, there seems at the moment certain concerted actions to help provide those among us without these said units the courses and training which will have to be submitted to the PRB. At the moment, PNU and St. Scholastica have set up their programs to assist in this direction.

Some of us who would be glad to receive the license as guaranteed by the Grandfather's Clause, but I have heard that some will nevertheless take the licensure exams if only to test the validity of the exams. That would definitely add prestige to the license one will have since it will not be via the detested "compadrino" system which the "Grandfather's Clause" sometimes evokes.

What about those who fail the exams? Well, the easiest is to review well and then take it again! Or else, one's practice may be illegal, hence courting the ire of the law. This professionalization thing of Counseling thus challenges those among us who say we're into Counseling. Without the license, one may not call himself a "Counselor." Hence, in order to sort out those who are "legal" the license makes one a "Professional Counselor." Right now, PGCA or Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association is the Accredited Professional Organization or APO. However, in the presence of other counseling organizations like PACERS (Philippine Association for Counselor Education, Research and Supervision), CDAP (Career Development Association of the Philippines), PACC (Philippine Association of Christian Counselors), GCP (Guidance Circle of the Philippines), and PAFSHP, a PNU-based organization of those involved in the "helping professions" an RA9258 mandated federation is currently in the works. Under the able leadership of Dr. Rose Llanes, current PGCA president, this federation is gradually being organized. Since February 4, and every month thereafter, the said counseling organizations' representatives (Presidents and Vice-Presidents) have been meeting regulary to thresh out issues concerning its identity as PCAP or Professional Counselors Association of the Philippines. The federation's charter is currently in the works, even as a rolling fund has been provided via the counseling organizations' contributions so the meetings and the needs get properly funded. We have bought the SEC papers for eventual incorporation, gathered the constitutions and by-laws of each participating organization, and by June 10, we shall be meeting again. In time, when this organization/federation shall have had its identity established, PCAP shall become the APO where a roster of registered counselor will be constructed. It shall likewise become a central body for all counseling organizations to gather. The next thing I bet it will go into is something like that among physicians: specialization. This should be something worth looking forward to, especially since the practice of Counseling shall then have become something the society may in the long run really patronize for better mental health and functionality.

It therefore is a challenge for current counselors to really prepare, and with membership in any of the counseling organizations, one's area of specialization may yet forebode a brighter future.

I hope to talk about professionalization per se in my next blog. That's all for now.


BRC said...

The first meeting of the RA 9258-mandated federation was on Feb. 4, 2006 at Assumption College, Makati. There were six counseling organizations (including IOTA PHI, an organization of PhD holders)that sent their representatives to this meeting, and in every meeting, these said organizations have always been represented. IOTA PHI voted itself out of the federation since most of its members are PGCA members already, and they're not really that many in the organization. PAFSHP was represented for the first time in our May 9 meeting.

Francisco said...

Hello, BRC,

Thank you very much for this extra innovative site, now called blogspot, where we can post comments or suggestions,among others. It is truly a great service to all especially those living in the countryside like myself.

In your article you posted the subjects for the Licensure Exams, but I missed one subject, in particular, the Philosophical, Psychological and Sociological Foundations of Guidance and Counselling. Is this subject still included? What appears now is only 5 subjects from 6 subjects.

I think it will be of help if you post the official subjects that will be taken up for the Licensure Exams as mandated by the law.

Thank you very much. Happy Feast Day at your Christ the King Seminary. Blessings of Christ the King to you and all in the community.

God bless,
FRB (aka Ekku)