Needed: a mechanism to licence counsellors

Dear Editor,
Last month, a young lady died by suicide. Her father had paid a ‘counsellor’ to counsel his daughter, having recognised that the young lady was suicidal. Yet, the daughter took her life while under the care of the counsellor. As it turned out, the person doing the counselling possessed neither requisite qualifications nor clinical experience.
However, this is not a one-off situation. The Caribbean Voice knows of a number of individuals who also paid for counselling that failed to help them and who then came to TCV where they obtained the requisite counselling free of charge. We had previously pointed out that there are a number of individuals engaging in counselling others even though they are not bona fide counsellors. We had even queried a few, who as it turned out, considered themselves counsellors either because they had undergone counselling themselves or attended short training sessions of a day or a few days’ duration. In fact, TCV has found that some persons who have a certain public status, feel that even they are qualified to counsel others. There is even an entertainer who once counselled students in a secondary school with the permission of the Administration.
Given this reality and the consequential dangers, which TCV has also pointed out many times over, we once again call on the Government to set up a mechanism to licence counsellors so that all practising counsellors must possess both academic credentials and supervised clinical experience. As we previously pointed out, we have among our diaspora members, a mental health consultant who has experience in licensing protocols, having worked with the International Registry of Counsellor Education Programmes (IRCEP). She not only indicated a willingness to help set up such a licensing mechanism in Guyana but has spoken to IRCEP which expressed a willingness to accredit her towards this end.
Meanwhile, we beseech the Ministries of Health and Social Protection to police the counselling landscape and ensure that those who ply the trade have the requisite qualifications and professional experience to do so. Counselling saves lives but quacks parading as counsellors can and do lead to more suicide.

The Caribbean Voice