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
According to Medecins sans Frontiers (2017) Honduras has one of the highest rates of violence in the world. Honduras has experienced many years of political, economic, and social instability that has had a significant impact on the medical and psychological experiences of the population. Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Latin American region and there is limited access to health services.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO, 2008), mental health services are organized in terms of geographic areas. However, not all regions or districts have the basic mental health resources required. The current reference/counter-reference system for mental health issues in Honduras is not seen as effective. Limited information is available on counselling and mental health practices in Honduras and according to Gines-Rivera & Panting-Sierra (2010) an insufficient number of studies have explored Honduran counselling practices and how the concept of professional counselling is not familiar to most Hondurans. Alarcon (2003) describes the cultural characteristics of guilt and shame as being serious obstacles to help-seeking behaviours in instances of mental illness among families.
Gines-Rivera & Panting-Sierra (2010) also describe the main providers of counselling as clergy, namely lay pastors and Catholic priests, and it is clear that religious and folk beliefs about causes and treatment of mental health problems play a strong role in the country. Most seminaries offer programs on pastoral counselling skills to lay counsellors. According to Gines-Rivera and Panting-Sierra (2010), school counselling in Honduras is entirely separate from pastoral counselling. School counselling training is primarily delivered by the Universidad Pedagogica Nacional Francisco Morazan [Francisco Morazan Pedagogy University].
Although limited details are available, the government does have a unit responsible for treatment of substance abuse disorders and the treatment of addictions (WHO, 2008). In addition, United States based charities also support some substance abuse disorder rehabilitation such as at the Cerepa Addiction Center (https://predisan.org/cerepa-addiction-center/) near Catacamas.
Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:
According to Sells, Giordano, Bokar, Klein, Panting, and Thumme (2007) counselling and psychology do not exist as professions in Honduras in the same way that those professions exist in the United States. Counselling is not regulated by Honduran legislation and there is no licensure or accreditation system in place. There is more recognition and state input into psychology. For example, the Instituto Hondureño de la Niñez y la Familia [Honduras Children and Family Institute] is a governmental organization that employs psychologists to work on a range of issues concerning child welfare. The level of poverty in Honduras necessitates outside help. Gines-Rivera and Panting-Sierra (2010) highlight the example of Orphan Helpers, Inc. (a U.S.- based charity) who conducts counselling training for their staff in Honduras.
The few counselling practice settings found were with the literature include:
- Faith based organisations via pastoral counsellors and family counsellors
- Non-profit organisations like organizations offering mental health and substance abuse counselling
- Public elementary schools, secondary schools, high schools, colleges, and universities
- Voluntary HIV Testing and counselling centres
- Mental hospitals (two exist in Honduras)
Challenges & Trends
The concept of counselling is virtually unknown to the vast majority of Hondurans. High levels of poverty and the non-inclusion of counselling in the already under-resourced mental health system combine to decrease awareness of counselling.
Social stigma and shame in relation to mental problems are still prevalent in Honduras and act as barriers to the development of services. Sells et al. (2007) highlight that only the wealthy can afford professional psychological care, which is a major current challenge in the face of scarce financial and human resources in Honduras. Clergy continue to be respected as the chief community leaders and those to whom Honduran people turn for mental health needs. Their difficult work is in the context of those living in extreme poverty. Medecins sans Frontiers (2017) identify the need for mental health care including counselling, group therapies, and psychological first aid. However, for the time being, progress on these goals looks to be slow. A collective effort between the Honduran government, aid agencies, and intergovernmental agencies (e.g. WHO and PAHO) is needed to ensure progress.