All Professional Bodies, National Associations (e.g. Mental Health, School, Guidance, Addiction, Faith-based etc.) and Accrediting Organisations.
Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes
Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres
Background & Context
Exploring the background and current presence or extent of professional counselling, as it is generally defined in Western regions like the United States or Europe, proved a challenge for the country of Chile. Research revealed only sporadic references to any type of professional activity that could be defined as counselling. Of those located, most references focused on vocational guidance counselling (Alexandrowicz, 2004; McWhirter & McWhirter, 2012; Vera, Jimenez, & Barreto, 2017; Watts & Fretwell, 2004) and even fewer references discussed training programs.
One program for the study of logotherapy (http://www.icae.cl/) was located; however, this program appears to be targeted primarily to psychiatrists, psychologists, and other unnamed “professionals,” which may or may not refer to counsellors. Additionally, an institute for the study of sexology offers training courses and a master’s degree in clinical sexology, but also seems to target its training to psychologists, individuals in the medical profession (e.g., doctors, nurses, physiotherapists), and “non-health professionals,” such as eductors and people employed in the media, as well as offering some custom training to business professionals, such as those in pharmaceuticals or communication, whose works connects to sexual health (http://insexibe.com/curso-counselling-santiago-de-chile/). With these latter two programs, it is very unclear if anyone identifying as a counsellor may be training or working in these areas related to clinical counselling.
Concerning vocational guidance counselling, the earliest mention of career counselling (then called vocational guidance) as a professional activity in Chile comes from Carey (1947), but the full scope of career counselling activities or of the training and professional identity of those individuals who offer it today is unclear. Vera et al., (2017), state that Chile was one of the first Latin American countries to implement vocational guidance counselling in their public school programs, via the Chilean General Education Act no.20.370; however, this act was instituted in 2009 (Castillo & Lobos, 2017), and although career counselling may have existed in some form in the distant past, it was only formalized in the Chilean educational system within the past decade.
Despite research discussing the existence of career counselling in Chile, no definitive information was located concerning how many individuals provide career counselling, the types of interventions offered (aside from mentions of education and guidance), nor was any information located on the training of these career counsellors or any other aspects of professionalization of the field. Furthermore, it may not be accurate to reference these individuals as counsellors per se, as most of them appear to be middle and high school teachers tasked with covering vocational guidance subjects in classroom instruction, rather than specialist practitioners in career counselling (Alexandrowicz, 2004; McWhirter & McWhirter, 2012). One formalized government program, known as ChileCalifica, was mentioned as being implemented in grades 11 and 12 in Chilean public schools, which also had the goal of forming networks of “school counsellors” to undertake collaborative career guidance endeavors (Watts & Fretwell, 2004, p. 29). This program was initiated with over 240 individuals in 91 networks by 2003 and by 2005, 318 networks were projected to serve the entire country of Chile, but the current extent of this program could not be ascertained (Watts & Fretwell, 2004).
Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:
According to McWhirter and McWhirter (2012), “although orientacion [career guidance] is a required part of the national curriculum, there is no unit within the Ministry of Education responsible for monitoring its quality, content, or implementation at the school level” (p. 389). As such, no official regulating or certification body was located for any professionals conducting counselling, including career or vocational guidance counselling.
One professional association (or guild) for vocational guidance counsellors was identified. The School of Educational Guidance of Arica Chile (COE; http://orientadores-educacionales.cl/) provides some professional development opportunities; however, it is was unclear from research how large the association is or what services it offers.
Vocational guidance and career counselling in Chile appear to be primarily focused in public schools in grades five through 12, and most individuals providing these services are teachers (Alexandrowicz, 2004) who dedicate weekly class time to explore “career interests and vocational guidance, physical and mental health, work and school behaviors and attitudes, and citizenship and life skills” programming (McWhirter & McWhirter, 2017, p. 389). Additionally, some private schools may provide formally designated teaching faculty as the career counsellor for their students or hire career counsellors or psychologists to provide the required vocational guidance programming.
Challenges & Trends
Much work on the development and promotion of professional counselling appears needed in Chile. It is also evident more scholarly research needs to focus on counselling in the country, and there may be room for additional collaborations with international counselling organizations, such as IAC and NBCC International, to expand the reach of counselling in the future. In particular, there may be overlooked opportunities for counsellor education, training, and advocacy for the profession that international counsellors, educators, and supervisors, especially those with interests in school and career counselling, could assist with as the counselling profession in Chile, hopefully, grows.