All Professional Bodies, National Associations (e.g. Mental Health, School, Guidance, Addiction, Faith-based etc.) and Accrediting Organisations.
Currently, there is no counselling-specific association available in Fiji. However, there are other mental health-related associations in the country.
Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes
University of the South Pacific (USP)
- University Website: https://www.usp.ac.fj/index.php?id=3034
- Programme Website:
- Programme Name: Skills Based Qualifications (Counselling)
- Programme Types: Diploma of Counselling (Level 5) and Certificate IV in Counselling
Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres
Empower Pacific (in collaboration with the Ministry of Health)
- Services: Marriage, Family, and Personal Counselling
- Website: N/A
- Organisation Size: N/A
Background & Context
Fiji has its own unique view on counselling in comparison with the western view. Fijians believe that counselling is a process of giving advice or direction for the clients by a person with authority, and without hearing their stories (Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017). This causes the perception of counselling in Fiji to be seen “as a corrective process administered by elder family members, village leaders, clergy, and teachers who counsel those who stray from cultural or religious norms” (Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017, p. 22). As a collectivist country, Fijians think of themselves as in a group rather than as individuals. Fijians would be considered violating cultural norms when they take their personal problems beyond their relatives and social groups. Therefore, a professional mental health worker such as a counsellor would be seen as a threat to their cultural traditions. Many Fijians also have a stigma that they view mental health workers like trained counsellors where they only treat severe mental illnesses (Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017). Therefore, they would rather not seek help from a counsellor for personal issues to avoid being called crazy.
According to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2017), the three common places in Fiji that someone can get trained in counselling are at the “APC, Eastern Mennonite University, and Allan Walker College” (p. 36). Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2017) also claims that a certain number of police officers are trained with rudimentary counselling skills for victims who have experienced sexual violence. Fiji still struggles to recognize the psychological trauma that people of the LGBTQ community have endured, but recognition is beginning to take place and changes are on their way (Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017).
Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:
The regulatory body in Fiji is currently being developed. Although the Ministry of Health helps with certain regulations, it is not enough for the establishment of counsellors in Fiji. A lot of training is being done to promote better counselling techniques such as the training that religious leaders receive from The House of Sarah Program (Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017). A lot of these programs that help train counselling techniques are at the basic level of counselling. It is still unclear exactly how much recognition licensed counsellors receive other than the basic level of counselling services that are given to different agencies.
It is unclear how many counsellors there currently are in Fiji. Counsellors in Fiji work in a variety of settings including:
- Care Centres
- Crisis Centres
- Hospital and Mental Health Facilities
- Private Practices
- Marriage, Personal, and Family Counselling
- Non-governmental organization
Challenges & Trends
Several challenges present themselves due to the increasing need of counselling services in Fiji. The government has not yet set any licensing system for the current or future counsellors. Secondly, there’s a lack of counselling training programs available in Fiji. One of the biggest challenges in the counselling profession in Fiji would be changing the stigma and misconceptions that have been established based on religious beliefs. Seeking for help or assistance from a counsellor or mental health professionals is still seen as violating the cultural norms.
Additionally, Fiji counselling approaches are heavily adopted from Western approaches and theories. The challenge for Fijian counsellors is to merge them with the indigenous culture and how to remove the social stigma associated with counselling, mental health services, emotional problems, or mental illness in Fijian society. However, community based programs have helped spread awareness of the benefits of counselling services, which have helped the Fijian population learn to accept the new norms.
Additional Information & References
For a deeper exploration of the counselling profession in the country, interested readers are recommended to read the following journal & website articles:
- Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. (2017). Review of counselling services in the pacific final report. Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development. (pp. 1-74). https://pacificwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ReviewofEVAWCounsellinginthePacific_FINAL_April2017.pdf
- Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts. (n.d.). Policy on school counselling. http://www.education.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/School_Counseling.pdf
- Ministry of Health & Medical Services. (n.d.) Mental health. In R. Hassan (Ed.). http://www.health.gov.fj/mental-health/