The Caribbean Voice is once again forced to address the issue of untrained personnel presenting themselves to the public as counsellors. While one such person now parades as a social worker even though she has no social work credentials, another person with an undergraduate degree which is not in psychology is working full time as a counsellor with one of Guyana’s leading NGOs.
The fact is that quack counsellors have neither the knowledge nor the skills to diagnose and treat mental health issues, and their actions usually lead to greater harm to those they purport to help.
Occasionally, such harm can be fatal, as happened earlier this year when a young lady counselled by a quack ended up taking her life.
It is criminal for anyone without a medical degree to practice as a doctor, or for anyone with no legal credentials to practice as a lawyer. And since counsellors have the capacity to bring back someone walking the tightrope between sanity and insanity, and even save lives, it should also be criminal for anyone to counsel without requisite credentials – a minimum of a degree in psychology (preferably a Masters’ degree) and supervised clinical internship experience.
So TCV appeals to all political parties to ensure that their mental health plans include putting protocols in place to license counsellors (TCV can help with this), and legislation in place to criminalise the actions of unqualified individuals who offer counselling services to the public.