All Professional Bodies, National Associations (e.g. Mental Health, School, Guidance, Addiction, Faith-based etc.) and Accrediting Organisations.
Asociación Argentina de Counsellors [Argentine Association of Counselors; AAC]
- President: Alejandro Corbalan
Sociedad Interamericana de Counselling [Interamerican Society of Counselling]
- Contact Person: Lic. Cecilia Miranda-Garza
Asociacion Cordobesa de Counsellors [Cordobesa Association of Counselors]
- Contact person: Ivan Esquef
Asociación Mundial de Psicoterapia y Counselling Centrado en la Persona y Experiencial [World Association for Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapy and Counselling; WAPCEPC/PCE7]
Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes
Focus – Instituto de Formación de Consultores Psicológicos con Orientación Sistémica
University of Buenos Aires CBC. Department of Vocational Guidance
Assoc. of Professionals in Psychopedagogy of the City of Buenos Aires
Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres
Background & Context
The field of counselling is well established in Argentina today, as are related fields like psychology and psychiatry (Alonso, 2006; Sanchez Bodas, Ballbe ter Maat, & Sanchez Berneman, 2013). For example, some reports indicate that Argentina is the country with the most psychoanalysts/psychologists per capita in the world (Mander, 2017). According to Alonso, by 2006 there were 154 psychologists per every 100,000 Argentines, translating to 649 citizens for every psychologist in the country. Counselling may not match those numbers, but still has a strong presence in the country, professionalising with the development of the first counselling education program in Buenos Aires in 1986, followed shortly by the creation of Holos, the Argentine Center for Humanistic Psychology and Counselling in 1989 (Sanchez Bodas et al., 2013). Holos Education Institutes (now organised as separately run and owned institutes), remain a premier training centre for counselling professionals today.
In 1991, Holos began providing coursework towards a degree in counselling and applied for government recognition by the Argentine Department of Higher Education that same year; however, counselling was not officially accepted by the government as a degree program until 1989 (Sanchez Bodas et al., 2013). In 2013, Sanchez Bodas, Ballbe ter Maat, Sanchez Berneman, indicated there were numerous educational institutions (over 25) teaching counselling throughout the major cities and provinces of Argentina. These authors further indicated approximately 5,000 counselling graduates existed in Argentina in 2013 with an additional 2,000 enrolled in counselling postgraduate training programs. Clearly, this indicates a well-established profession of counselling poised for growth exists in Argentina today.
Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:
The Argentine Association of Counselors (AAC) exists as a regulatory agency for counsellors in the country; and NBCC Argentina, under the auspices of NBCC International, exists to provide guidelines for counsellor education and certification of counsellors in Argentina (Sanchez Bodas et al., 2013). The Ministry of Culture and Education recognized, as of 2012, degrees in “psychological counselling and/or specialized psychological counselling” as sufficient for the independent practice of counselling and established a clear definition of what counsellors can do using the language of “humanistic psychology” (Sanchez Bodas et al., 2013, p. 367). In 2013, there were over 3,000 counsellors practicing in a wide range of clinical specialties throughout Argentina (Sanchez Bodas et al., 2013). It is assumed those numbers are even higher in 2018, although no current data to support this notion was located. Additional professional associations exist in Argentina and are addressed in a later section. A few specialty associations, some with their own codes of ethics such as for vocational guidance, also exist (http://www.apora.org.ar/index.php).
As of 2013, 60% of counselling program graduates practiced in clinical settings like “organisational boards, educational institutions, labor and non-governmental organisations, health-related fields, community centres, and religious settings” (Sanchez Bodas et al., 2013, p. 362). Indeed, it appears that counsellors in Argentina practice in as many diverse clinical settings as U.S. counsellors do, including the following:
- Hospital settings providing treatment for terminally-ill clients (i.e., Hospice settings)
- Other hospital and private or public mental health clinic settings
- Government entities seeking training in substance abuse and addiction prevention and treatment, interpersonal violence, peer relations, and gender concerns
- In major businesses, such as insurance companies, within the human resources departments
- Private practice and larger agency settings
- Community counselling organisations
- Religious counselling organisations
- Secondary schools, including private schools (in a more limited amount than other settings)
- And other settings where U.S. counsellors may be found (Sanchez Bodas et al., 2013)
Additionally, counselling can be found in the standard formats available in the United States, including individual, group, couples, and family treatment modalities (Sanchez Bodas et al., 2013). Argentine counsellors follow similar treatment protocols as U.S. based counsellors, such as conducting intake interviews, psychosocial evaluations, collaborative treatment planning, and other similar activities. Although, formal diagnosis is less commonly done as the origins of counsellor education in the country are rooted in humanistic theories, in particular Rogerian person-centered counselling (Sanchez Bodas et al., 2013). Argentine counsellors are forbidden to provide clinical treatment to individuals with significant mental health issues and must refer them out to affiliate professionals, like psychologists or psychiatrists; thus, a majority of counselling focuses on relational and related problems (Sanchez Bodas et al., 2013).
To further illustrate the similarities to counselling in Argentina and the United States, Holos offers a three-year degree permitting counsellors to work in settings like “labor and organisational, educational, pastoral or personal development consulting [specialty areas]. In private practice, [the counsellor] assists individuals, couples or families in topics such as sexuality, addictions, life crises, vocational guidance, maternity, adolescence, work problems and interpersonal relationships.”
According to Sanchez Bodas et al., (2013), school counselling is an unregulated profession by the Argentine government and the profession is not a required aspect of primary or secondary education, and few school counsellors practice within public settings (meeting clear resistance from the already established field of school psychology which handles therapy as well as assessment and testing of students). They do indicate school counselling is making a small entrance into private and international high schools to address training needs around things like interpersonal violence and bullying, substance abuse prevention, and sexuality issues.
However, there is a well-established professional guidance association active in the country known as the Asociación de Profesionales de la Orientación de la República Argentina [Association of Guidance Professionals of the Argentine Republic; APORA]. According to APORA (http://www.apora.org.ar/index.php), this organisation has existed for 27 years and provides professional services in vocational guidance (e.g., training and supervision, a newsletter, networking opportunities, access to a materials library, conferences, code of ethics). APORA indicates their vocational guidance professionals work with all ages and in numerous settings, which may or may not include schools as this information was implied but not explicitly stated.
Challenges & Trends
Although counselling is a well-established and growing field in Argentina, much like the earlier history of U.S. counselling, tensions between competing mental health professionals exist that may be inhibiting that growth. For example, the Colegio de Psicólogos de la República Argentina [College of Psychologists of Argentina] does not consider counsellors to be “legitimate mental health professionals…” and “…argues against the multidisciplinary treatment team and multiple treatment modalities” that exist in some settings where counsellors, psychologists, and social workers practice alongside each other (Sanchez Bodas et al., 2013, P.364). Thus, according to this literature, some psychologists see counsellors as competitors rather than collaborators, and would deny counselling its unique professional identity. Future growth for counselling in Argentina could be aided by addressing these issues of clashing professions.
Concerning issues of diversity in the counselling field in Argentina, counsellors may need to attend to issues of classism and socioeconomic injustice more so than other areas of cultural diversity as the country has been tolerant of other diversity categories more so than attempting to overcome discrimination between the classes; however, counselling does not usually address such issues in daily practice (Sanchez Bodas et al., 2013). It may be difficult to compare how diversity issues are truly handled within counselling in Argentina due to distinct historical and cultural differences than those affecting counselling in the United States or other countries, but clearly this is an area for future professional and pedagogical growth in counselling and counsellor education.
The future of the counselling profession in Argentina appears to be well-aligned with developments of the profession in other regions, like the United States or Europe, with similarly well-established histories, solid educational programs, and government support. Professionalization of the field still has areas needing work, such as further development of school counselling, but strong support from various counselling organizations, institutions, and individuals within the country seem capable of tackling those challenges and promoting the field even further. As counselling in Argentina already has a national and international presence through organizations like NBCC International, NBCC Argentina, IAC, and professional associations like AAC and APORA, the profession’s future seems bright.
Additional Information & References
For a deeper exploration of the counselling profession in Argentina, interested readers are recommended to read the following article in full:
- Sanchez Bodas, A., Ballbe ter Maat, M., Sanchez Berneman, L. (2013). Counseling in Argentina. In Hohenshil, T.H., Amundson, N.E., & Niles, S.G. (Eds.), Counseling around the world: An international handbook (361-369). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.