Globalising the Counselling Profession: Why it is and will continue to be a success

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Historically, the counselling profession has been proactive in growing and adapting theoretical approaches and new methods to keep up to date with the ever changing world. A more recent example is their research and application of multi-cultural counselling. This was a huge development for the profession as it finally allowed counsellors to receive specialised training to better understand the cultural context of the client and therefore provide an improved service. This shows that counselling as a profession can be globalised and the factors which allow that will be addressed within this post.

It is first necessary to understand what the word “globalisation” means. According to Sachs (2003), it is defined as the “interconnectedness of the world through new systems of communication. A definition that is more relevant and of meaning to the counselling profession is explained as the process of international integration which is brought about by the exchange of world view, ideas and many cultural aspects (Albrow & King, 1990).

As mentioned earlier, the theoretical approach of multi-cultural counselling is an explicit factor that enables counselling as a profession to be globalized successfully. Continual research is being done to assess what must be updated within the framework of multi-cultural counselling, that will allow for an expansion on international and a more global perspective and competency of the counsellor (Chung, 2005).

Cairncross (1997) eloquently transcribed that “distance as a relevant factor in how we conduct business and personal lives is becoming irrelevant” in his eye opening book about the communication revolution. This is of course discussing how the rapid increase in telecommunication and other digital innovations, along with their speedy uptake by populations have allowed us to transcend space, and therefore closed the gap between oceans and countries to unite us as one global digital population. This idea of space transcendence and the inclusion of technology are both factors that will allow counselling to globalise successfully. As the counselling profession has now taken on many different formats (most of which stem from a technological foundation) the services are now   accessible from anywhere in the world.

These innovative formats include email counselling, telephone counselling, online counselling via chat room, online counselling via video chat, SMS counselling (Yes… counselling via SMS messages) and many more yet to be invented. All of these services are provided worldwide, allowing those who were previously unable to access them, to now have the ability to use them via their laptop/mobile phone in the comfort and privacy of their own home.

Above: An add for an online counselling company describing the benefits of using their services (Thriveworks, 2015)

Delving a little deeper into this idea of technological counselling; mobile phone and tablet applications have now been created to assist the counsellors themselves in the area of assessments. This specific application featured in the video below contains an array of psychometric assessments counsellors use to assess clients mental and physical health. The idea of this app is to be used instead of pen/paper assessments, so counsellors would provide the client with a tablet to complete the assessment on, once completed the counsellor then reviews the results and scores them as needed.

The video below provides an in-depth explanation of the app and the benefits that go with it (Novo Psych Assessment, 2013).

Another factor that allows counselling to be a globalised profession no matter where it is being practised is the uptake of highly innovative and advanced technology, showing again that it is a diverse and ever-growing profession that acknowledges the extreme benefits of technology within its field.

In the video below, a French technology has been adopted by the Centre of Autism Spectrum Disorder at Bond University in Australia. The remarkable technology itself is a robot named “Ulysses” whose purpose is to assist children with autism spectrum disorder in learning and applying the skills of socialisation (Bond University, 2015)

To continue the growth and globalisation of the counselling profession and all mental health services, the Global Mental Health was created. This movement aims to improve the services for those living with mental health issues and psychosocial disabilities worldwide (Movement for Global Mental Health, 2010). This organisation places a high priority on achieving equity in the globalisation of mental health services such as counselling (Movement for Global Mental Health, 2010).

In summary, the presented factors allowing the counselling profession to be globalised are only a few of many. This leaves much room for movement and development for the profession, however, it is important to note that difficulties do lie within this globalisation of counselling specifically in terms of culture and the belief that it is not possible to globalise them successfully without damaging the people living within them. This is an implication for further research to be done within this field. Until then, may the globalisation of the counselling profession continue.

 

Stephanie Barnaba

Bond University

 

References

 

Albrow, M., & King, E. (1990). Globalization, Knowledge and Society. London: Sage.

Bond University. (2015, April 7). Robotics to bridge communication gaps with autistic children. Video posted to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmsrgmNmR2E&feature=youtu.be

Cairncross, F. (1997). The Death of the Distance. London: Texer Publishing Limited.

Chung, R. C. (2005). Women, human rights, and counseling: Crossing international boundaries. Journal of Counseling and Development, 83, 262-268.

Movement for Global Mental Health. (2010). About the Movement. Retrieved 27/3/2016, from http://www.globalmentalhealth.org/about

Novo Psych Assessment. (2013, March 31). Psychology App: Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Counsellors on iPad. Retrieved 26/3/2016. Video posted to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlT5F2yAE7s

Sacks, J. (2003) The Dignity of Difference. Continuum: New York.

Thriveworks. (2015, January 24). Online Counseling, Telephone Therapy [Video file] Video posted to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pniBpx21HSI

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