The Integrated Professional Counselors Association of the Philippines (IPCAP), Inc. recently held its first national convention with the theme The Professional Guidance Counselor and the Law: Status and Prospects. The convention, held at the Silliman University last January 23 to 24, tackled the provisions of RA 9258 which professionalizes the practice of guidance and counseling.
COSCA President Rev. Fr. Thadeu Enrique N. Balongag was invited as a speaker to give an Administrator’s perspective of the law’s implications. He shared views on RA 9258 as one coming from the diocesan schools and in the context of the very unique features of the diocesan schools.
Fr. Balongag’s presentation covered three brief parts: SEE – JUDGE – ACT. SEE presented facts relative to RA 9258 and its implementation; JUDGE analyzes some of the realities surrounding RA 9258 and its implementation; ACT challenges administrators and lawmakers to seek measures to ensure the smooth realization of the objective to professionalize guidance counseling work in the country today and in the coming years.
A quick look at some facts:
1. In RA 9258, the State has declared to professionalize the task of counseling in the country for the development and enrichment of individuals & groups (Rule 1, Section 2).
2. The State has also recognized the important role of guidance counseling in nation building (Rule 1, Section 2).
3. The State has further affirmed the process of counseling as a face-to-face helping relationship (Rule 1, Section 3, par b).
4. The State has tasked the Board to adapt measures for the enhancement of the profession (Rule 2, Section 5, par g).
5. Meanwhile, the Philippine Guidance and Counselors Association (PGCA) in its gathering at the University of the East in Manila on January 12-14, 2009 realized or discovered that around 35,000 schools across the country today need guidance counselors.
Based on a personal analysis by Fr. Balongag, there are lights and shadows in the act and in its implementation.
1. Professionalizing weeds out incompetent guidance counselors at least in the aspect of academic/intellectual grasp of the practice’s principles and theories;
2. It also weeds out fake guidance counselors and people who claim to be efficient counselors;
3. It affirms the scientific way of measuring guidance counseling as a profession;
4. It allows guidance counseling as a profession to become part of the scientific community.
1. Counseling, as a dynamic process, is a face-to-face helping relationship. How can skills required in a face-to-face counseling process be reflected in the results of a paper-and-pencil test? One’s knowledge of theories and principles governing counseling may not necessarily guarantee that one can truly execute counseling task. With all due respect to the licensed counselors, the core skill required in a counseling process may not necessarily be reflected solely through one’s performance in a written assessment, the very manner through which today’s counseling exam is carried out. Corollary to this, there may be a need to ask and examine: How are test items formulated? Student life today is surrounded by unimaginable circumstances. Are the test items case-relevant?
2. According to PGCA, 35,000 posts in schools across the country need guidance counselors. Is there an existing timeframe to follow in meeting the needs of schools in the country and do the HEIs (Higher Education Institute) have the capacity to match industry needs so that the provisions of RA 9258 can be fully implemented and so start hitting the road that leads to the goals of professionalizing guidance counseling?
3. Before 2004 when RA 9258 was passed and approved, most of the diocesan schools never had guidance counselors and have seldom or never received job applications for the guidance counseling post. With the licensure examination, based on the trend, getting licensed guidance counselors will all the more be difficult.
4. With professionalization comes compensation. How many licensed GCs are willing to serve schools located in far-flung areas that can afford only so much? When the government begins to implement RA 9258, said schools will definitely have problems securing or hiring licensed competent GCs. This will be a big problem in the government recognition of institutions and schools that have been in existence long before the thought of RA 9258 was conceived.
The following are suggestions, mere proposals to further enhance and ensure the effective implementation of the Act:
1. Make an inventory of HEIs supplying guidance counselors;
2. identify their location and proximity to receiving schools;
3. review RA 9258 and make amendments when necessary;
4. make an inventory of receiving schools.
Times these days are uncertain. The future even more so. Having the right intentions may not necessarily mean the act is right in itself, or that it is infallible. It must be properly noted that scientific profession also has to consider the practicality of life. It is not to say that any effort at professionalizing certain fields should be erased, removed or put on hold. There is a need, however, to consider all possible angles when undertaking something. As an old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”