Taiwo Oluwadare, Ibadan
Many people seem not to recognise the relevance and place of counselling psychology in individuals and group performances and in national development. This is just as everyone needs one form of professional counselling or the other, given the social, economic, political, emotional, educational, career and vocational problems facing Nigerians and counseling is indispensable in this regards.
Professor of Counselling Psychology, Samuel Olayinka Salami, Faculty of Education, University of Ibadan, Oyo State, stated this while delivering the 430th inaugural lecture of the faculty titled; “A counselling psychologist’s reconstruction journey: The call for relevance.” He add that, the lecture was based on the analogy of a counselling psychologist who is on a journey that involves reconstructing the individual’s life and existence in the environment, in order to promote individuals’ optimum performance and contributions to national development.
He stressed that there is confusion in the counselling profession in the use of three terms: guidance, counselling and psychotherapy, but, from theory and practice, all of them show more similarities than differences in their use of techniques.
The scholar posited that in many countries, various circumstances led to the establishment of Guidance and Counselling in their educational system. For example, the fear that Russia was ahead in space science and technology prompted the establishment of guidance and counseling in the USA, while in the 1981 National Policy on Education (NPE) the Federal Government noted:
“In view of the apparent ignorance of many young people about career prospects, and in view of personality maladjustment among school children, career officers and counsellors will be appointed in post-primary institutions. Guidance and Counselling will also feature in teacher education programmes.”
He added that, since then, the Counselling Association of Nigeria (CASSON) is making remarkable progress on the legal recognition of the association.
Some of the reasons for include, population explosion in the enrolment of pupils/students in primary and secondary schools; repeated changes in the educational system; unrest in universities and other tertiary institutions; HIV/AIDS – Its effects threaten the nation’s development including the youth, while enlightenment programmes should be organised by counsellors to prevent the youth in reckless sexual experimentation; drugs and alcohol; problem of cultism\; automotion in the world; skilled workforce; growing needs of the youth; general unemployment; changes in home and family life as well as problem of national integration.
He listed attributes of an effective counsellor to include; ongruence/genuineness; empathy; warmth; unconditional positive regard; confidentiality; acceptance; honesty; patience; understanding; emotional intelligence; openness; trust; tolerance; flexibility and maturity.
Salami argued that the general unemployment situation in Nigeria and its attendant problems, as such, the youth could be encouraged and counselled to go into entrepreneurial careers for them to create jobs and demonstrate innovation and creativity so that they are empowered to earn a living instead of searching for jobs that are non-existent.
He recommended that policy makers should regard guidance and counseling as an integral part of the educational system. The educationist reiterated that qualified counsellors should be appointed on full-time basis to take up guidance and counselling duties also, adequate budgetary provision should be made for them to cater for their needs and attend relevant in-service training courses, seminars, workshops and conferences.
He implored various people concerned with guidance and counseling programmes, such as, government officials, administrators, principals, teachers, parents and students, should develop more positive attitudes counselling, instead of the present negative and lukewarm attitudes.
He also pointed out that counselors should not only focus on school setting, they should be involved in the business, industrial, hospital, private and rehabilitation settings. He urged CASSON to implement the report of the Certification and Licensure Board (CALB) to allow for the development of a national register for professional counsellors and gaining legal recognition.