ISSUES ON GUIDANCE AND COUNSELING
Like any other discipline, school counseling is anchored with issues subject to debates and dialogues. Among the array of issuer are: what the professional title should be; how counselors should be evaluated; and to what extent counselors should work on prevention instead of remediation.
With regards to the professional title, some prefer the term guidance counselors, while others prefer to be called school counselors. Another issue, the trends in the education systems had required counselors to sail with the flow, thus an increasing concern on evaluation of and counseling standards for professionals in the discipline.
Since counselors are found in various institutional settings, a nomenclature for professionals may be suggested. In the academe, the term school counselor may be used. However, in the Philippines, since we have Republic Act 9258, also known as the Guidance and Counseling Act of 2004, the term guidance counselor could be said as the one preferred and recognized as the term appears in Section 3 of the said Act. Also, professionals of the discipline are called Registered Guidance Counselors (RGC), thus it is more appropriate and formal to use the term guidance counselor.
As with the evaluation of professionals, the Professional Regulatory Board of Guidance and Counseling in the Philippines should and takes charge of it. It is clear in Section 5 of RA 9258 that the board has powers, functions, duties and responsibilities like the adoption of measures necessary and proper for the maintenance of high ethical and professional standards in the practice of the profession. Besides, the purposes of evaluation are for maintaining standards and achieving desirable outcomes. That is why, there are licensure exam, renewal of license, continuing professional education and a Code of Technical Standards for Guidance Counselors in the Philippines.
On the issue of Prevention versus Remediation, I would like to believe that intercession prior to any event is a must. As it goes, prevention is better than cure. Who would want to see learners victimized by gangs, dropout cases, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, school violence, child abuse and terrorism? No one… More so, I strongly believe that any form of any amount of pain inflicted is irremediable. Thus, counselors, who are in the position to ascertain whether anyone is “at risk” of any unlikely activities, could assist in providing a safer environment for individuals.
SCHOOL COUNSELING AROUND THE WORLD
As recognized, every student around the world has the same need to feel well. However, in what form and how the need to feel well is met varies from individual to another. More over, there are significant differences occurring based from students’ cultures and environments.
Although counselors around the globe use different strategies depending on the client, they come up with the same goal of creating a well-functioning individual. And the dialogues and exchange of information among countries is a great benefit, especially in developing mutual understanding and establishing networks and linkages among peoples.
Confucius stated, “All men are pretty much alike. It is only by culture that they are set apart.” The orientation of Asians may be far different from the orientation of Europeans, Africans and Latinos. True enough, thus the term multiculturalism.
As for counselors, there is also multicultural counseling where professionals in the discipline are required to have generic characteristics like: expression of respect for the client in a manner that is felt, understood, accepted and appreciated by the client; feelings and expression of empathy for culturally different clients; personalization of one’s observations; withholding of judgment until information is sufficed; and toleration of ambiguity. Most of all, the skill of adapting the counseling models, theories or techniques to the unique individual needs of each client is a necessity.
Furthermore, as discussed in the Multicultural Awareness Continuum by Locke, a counselor should undergo the process of understanding areas of awareness to cater to culturally different clients. The levels included in the linear and developmental continuum are: self-awareness; awareness of one’s culture; awareness of racism, sexism and poverty; awareness of individual differences; awareness of other cultures; awareness of diversity; and the implementation of skills/techniques gained as a counselor of general competence.
Multicultural counseling anchors on the diversity of individuals. And to accommodate the diversity of individuals, a counselor should: be sensitive and aware of racial, ethnic, cultural and gender groups other than his/her own; never make assumptions about people; and avoid stereotyping.
Acquiring the skills and practicing multicultural counseling is rather a tedious task and a difficult one. However, it will aid in developing understanding of other people belonging to other cultural groups.
As is could see it, it takes great courage, greater skills and the greatest perseverance for multicultural counseling.
by Ria D. Lacson and Dexter Andrew O. Manalo