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Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices & Centres
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Background & Context
Statistics show, that people who do not suffer from any mental disorders make up only 35% of the population of Belarus. That means that there is a big part of the Belarusian population with pre-morbid conditions (prenosological forms of mental maladjustment). However half of them do not need psychiatric help because they independently adapt to the environment and only need psychological counselling. Thus, the role of counselling psychologists in supporting the psychological health of the population is increasing. In this regard, there is a need for the development of psychological counselling as one of the main areas of psychological assistance. Psychological counselling is a relatively young branch of psychology.
In Belarus, practical counselling psychology has developed much faster than theoretical. Vygotsky can rightfully be called the founder of counselling psychology in Belarus. His ideas became the fundamental basis for the development of the system of psychological assistance in the post-Soviet space. Since 1974, at the 7th Clinical Hospital in Minsk, a city consultation has appeared, in which the seven who applied could receive psychological assistance. In 1980, the Republican Centre for Consulting “Marriage and Family” was opened, in which doctors and psychologists worked together. G.S. Abramova made a great contribution to the development of counselling psychology in Belarus. She was the author of the first “Workshop on Psychological Counselling” and the tutorial “Introduction to Practical Psychology” (Olifirovich/ Kopteva 2010).
Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition
Since the beginning of the 90s of the twentieth century, a regulatory framework has been created for the activities of psychologists in educational institutions. Significant contribution to its development is made by temporary research teams formed at the initiative of the Ministry of Education (Ю.Н.Карандашев, О.С.Попова, Н.А.Цыркун). Their developments formed the basis of many documents regulating the activities of psychologists.
An educational standard for practical psychology was created, the Regulation on the social, pedagogical and psychological service of an educational institution was developed. As part of the development of the psychology of education, psychological counselling was developing, which today one of the most important types of activities is carried out by educational psychologists of the psychological service of the educational system.
It should be noted that in Belarus the question of the qualifications of practicing consultants is becoming more acute. To address this problem, it is necessary to develop a standard for the accreditation of vocational training programs.
Licensing and certification is the assurance that a consultant’s professional level meets certain standards. The license gives the right to work independently. The certificate allows you to practice, but does not give the title of a specialist in this field, but only confirms the fact that the training of a counsellor psychologist meets certain standards (cf. Domoratsky 2017 135ff.).
HIV Counselling is a widely spread counselling setting in Belarus. The aim of the training is to prepare a team of Belarusian trainers to conduct an educational component at the local level for specialists from healthcare institutions, education and public associations that provide HIV counselling and testing services for adolescents and young people at risk. There are many centres providing counselling in bigger cities that offer anonymous counselling on HIV, reproductive and sexual health issues via a hotline, anonymous and friendly counselling, as well as HIV testing with the help of rapid saliva tests at the youth centres, redirecting young people to other friendly specialists (psychologists, valeologists, narcologists, etc.); conducting group mini-trainings on the prevention of psychoactive substances, HIV, reproductive and sexual health (Belarusian Association of UNESCO Clubs 2020).
In addition to the education system, today specialists in the field of psychological counselling work in territorial centres for social assistance to the population, clinics and medical centres, firms and organizations, banks, consulting agencies, etc. Psychologists-consultants in Belarus are represented by professionals in the fields of individual, family, age organizational, medical consulting.
Challenges & Trends
There are still many problems in the counselling. One is, that there is no methodological and methodological basis for counselling of a psychologist there is no unified conceptual model for training counselling psychologists that would take into account fundamental research and applied developments in this area, as well as the existing relationships between them. Also there is no unity in defining the goals, objectives, forms and methods of work of counselling psychologists in the psychological environment itself. Further there is no internationally recognized professional organization dealing with the problems of professional qualifications and licensing of working psychologist-consultants, as well as tracking ethical problems of relations in the “psychologist-client” system and there are difficulties in separating counselling as a personality-oriented psychotherapy focused on a clinically healthy person from the activities of psychotherapists working with more serious and profound disorders. Last but not least there are no programs for training and advanced training of counselling psychologists. The presence of the above difficulties and problems has led to the fact that instead of seeking highly qualified help from counselling psychologists, the population is increasingly turning to alternative systems, including fortune-tellers, traditional healers, astrologers, spiritualists, psychics, Tarot card specialists, etc. Unfortunately, there are difficulties in separating the activities of a counsellor psychologist and a psychotherapist. We believe that psychological counselling and psychotherapy can be viewed as two poles of psychological help, the content of which is to provide emotional, semantic and existential support for a person or group in difficult situations. The pole of psychological counselling is associated mainly with situational problems that arise in clinically healthy individuals and are resolved at the level of consciousness (Olifirovich/ Kopteva 2010).
Private practicing psychologists appeared, carrying out their activities within the framework of one of the theoretical directions. The most widespread areas in our country are gestalt therapy, family therapy, symbol drama. Thus, all the prerequisites for the development of counselling psychology in the Republic of Belarus have been created. Psychological counselling is primarily aimed at those who have problems in everyday life, for example, have difficulties at work, in the family or in making decisions, insecure, experiencing an age crisis, have low self-esteem, etc. (Domoratsky 2017 135ff.).
Additional Information & References
For a more in-depth examination of the counselling profession in Belarus, interested readers are advised to read the following articles as well as books: