Counselling Associations

All Professional Bodies, National Associations (e.g. Mental Health, School, Guidance, Addiction, Faith-based etc.) and Accrediting Organisations.

Bharatiya Counselling Psychology Association (BCPA)

Association of Indian School Counsellors and Allied Professionals

Counsellor Council of India (CCI)

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  • Organization Size: N/A

Association Of Professional Counselling Psychologists (APCP)

Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes

Fergusson College 

Christ University

Jamia Milia Islamia

Panjab University 

Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres

Family Counselling Centres (FCCs)

Background & Context

Traditional approaches to mental health treatment come from three distinct eras of Indian history;  ancient India (Bharata), medieval India (Hindustan), and modern India (Jain & Sandhu, 2015). The healing traditions of India could be viewed in three broad streams or forces, namely shamanism, spirituality, and scientific. These three major healing traditions could be viewed as independent approaches of mental health, sometimes working simultaneously with one another. These three traditions have also been described as local and folk traditions, mystical, and medical traditions.

Ayurveda is considered one of the most ancient medicines practiced in India as early as the 6th Century B.C. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means the science of life. It is a system of medicine that classifies most human problems into three major categories – the psychic, exogenous, and the endogenous. Its psychic branch is called Bhuta Vidya and this deals directly with mental health and psychiatric problems. Ayurveda treatment methods include herbs, food restrictions, decoctions, and oils.

Recently, the Indian government developed the District Mental Health Program (DMHP) to help people cope with their mental health problems, as there is a mental health crisis in India and a lack of trained professionals is exacerbating this crisis (Sinha & Kaur, 2011). The DMHP was created to integrate mental health services into primary health care and is presently implemented in 125 districts in India. 

The District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) was started under the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) to decentralize mental health services and to provide mental health service at the community level by integrating mental health with the general healthcare delivery system (Jain & Sandhu, 2015). NMHP was adopted in 1982. India was one of the first developing countries to adopt such a program. The main objectives of the program are as follows:

  • To ensure the availability and accessibility of minimum mental healthcare for all in the foreseeable future particularly to the most vulnerable and underprivileged sections of the population
  • To encourage the application of mental health knowledge in general healthcare and social development
  • To promote community participation in mental health service development and to stimulate efforts toward self-help in the community.

Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:

Counsellors in India are registered under the Counsellor Council of India, and there are also several counsellor associations within the country. Most of these associations are focusing on family counselling and school counsellors. In 2018, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) directed all insurance companies to offer insurance coverage for mental illnesses, however insurance companies were unprepared to offer this coverage (Kapoor, 2018). Yet, according to the Centre for Investment Education and Learning (2019), “Treatment of any mental or psychiatric condition including but not limited to insanity, mental or nervous breakdown/disorder, depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease”(para. 4)  are excluded from most insurance policies.

Practice Settings

Most known counselling practice settings in India are as follows:

  • Hospitals
  • Private psychological centers
  • Schools & universities
  • Non-governmental organizations

Challenges & Trends

The challenges that the counselling profession in India face are as follows: 

  1. Raising awareness levels in the general public about mental health issues and services. 
  • The complexity in terms of educational, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds of such a diverse population needs to be considered (Jain & Sandhu, 2015).  
  1. Lack of manpower in the counselling field. 
  • With support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), each district Hospital (serving approximately 600,000 individuals) is hiring one counsellor for prevention and counselling of HIV/AIDS. Further resources are needed to ensure the even geographical distribution of mental health professionals, particularly for people living in remote and rural settings (Jain & Sandhu, 2015).  
  1. Reducing the brain drain and attracting the Indian diaspora to help increase the number of professionals. 
  • According to Hindustan Times, nearly 85% of experts migrated from India to the United States (Srivastava, 2015).
  1. Setting licensing/certification boards and defining the scope of practice for professionals.  
  2. Evaluating and expanding professional and educational training needs to continue to meet the needs of the profession in the country.  
  3. Improving clinical and applied research by establishing on-campus counsellor training clinics.

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:

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