Counselling Associations

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

The Philippine Guidance and Counselling Association (PCGA)

Philippine Association for Counsellor Education, Research, and Supervision

Philippines Association of Christian Counsellors (PACC)

Family and Pastoral Counselling Association of the Philippines 

Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes

DeSalle University

Ateneo de Manila University 

University of Santo Tomas

Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres

Background & Context

In 2011, Tuason and colleagues did an extensive study on the state of the counselling profession in the Philippines in the past, present, and future. According to their research, counselling began in the Philippines during the American occupation in 1913-1934, with two colleges in Manila providing guidance services geared toward identifying professions and opportunities for employment and with the establishment of the first psychological clinic at the University of the Philippines (Salazar-Clemeña, 2002). Counselling in the Philippines was significantly impacted by the United States since Filipino counsellors and psychologists often trained there at that time (Salazar-Clemeña, 2002). During those times, two associations which are most instrumental in the regulation of the counselling profession in the Philippines were born; the Psychological Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Guidance and Counselling Associations (PGCA).

Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:

Counselling is recognized as an autonomous profession in the Philippines. Mental health workers in the Philippines are regulated and controlled through the Guidance and Counselling Act of 2004 (Republic Act No. 9258). The Act is intended to professionalize the practice of guidance and counselling and to create the Professional Regulatory Board of Guidance and Counselling, which is under the administrative control and supervision of the Professional Regulatory Commision (Tuason et al., 2012). Section 13 of the Guidance and Counselling Act of 2004 states that in order to qualify for the licensure examination, an applicant must:

  • be a citizen of the Philippines or a foreigner whose country has reciprocity with the Philippines in the practice of guidance and counselling
  • has not been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude by a competent court
  • hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Guidance and Counselling or in other allied disciplines and a master’s degree in Guidance and Counselling from an institution in the Philippines or abroad as recognized or accredited by the Commission on Higher Education

Currently, regular counselling services are not yet being covered by any health insurance company. However, hospitalization due to any acute attacks of mental and behavioral disorders are now covered by The National Health Insurance Program (known as PhilHealth), with a package rate of P7,800 or around US$154.

Practice Settings

Counsellors in the Philippines work in a wide variety of settings that aim to navigate social stigmas regarding the need for mental health assistance and widespread ignorance of the field. The primary field of counselling services in the Philippines seems to focus more on life circumstances issues (e.g., poverty, physical disasters, overseas working, graft and corruption, and economic or political instability). It is not clear how many counsellors exist in the Philippines. Tuason et al., (2012) reported, as of 2011 according to Philippine Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda D. Baldorz, there were 49 guidance counsellor networks with 1,739 members in the country. 

Other practice settings in the Philippines include:

  • Private practices
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • Community & Faith-based Counselling Centres
  • Hospitals
  • Schools and Universities

Challenges & Trends

According to the government Department of Education staffing guidelines, there’s a lack of guidance counsellors where there should be one guidance counsellor per 500 students, which means there is a need for at least 47,000 guidance counsellors. Since 2008, when licensure exams for registered guidance counsellors were first started, there have only been about 3,000 qualified counsellors working in the country ( According to Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, the Philippines needs more guidance counsellors especially for children at risk. He mentioned that, as of July 2017, there were only 3,220 registered guidance counsellors when the Department of Education requires public and private elementary and high schools to hire one guidance counsellor for every 500 students. 

The family is the main unit of Philippine society, and Filipinos value family belongingness. This family orientation is very much a part of counselling because Filipinos would rather go to family members than trust strangers to help them solve their problems (Tuason et al., 2012) . Counselling practices that work best involve the family, and family systems therapies are predominant, along with expressive therapies in different modalities, (Catipon, Dey, Garcia, & Tarroja, 2011) such as play (Carandang, 2009), art, and music therapy for children. Access to a counsellor and the openness to seeking help is best mediated by family or friends who have experienced the benefits of the counselling process, unlike in the United States where counsellors can be found by using the Internet or the telephone book (Tuason et al., 2012). 

Because of the cost of counselling and the absence of the luxury of time, it is usually middle to upper class people who can afford counselling. The impoverished do not usually seek counselling services, or if they do, it is often from a religious person or a barangay captain (i.e., leader of the village). Fortunately, nongovernmental organizations and funded research may also provide counselling to the poor (Carandang, 1996).

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:

  • Carandang, M.L.A. (1996). Listen to their inner voice: Street children speak through their drawings and metaphors. Manila, Philippines: UNICEF, Australian Agency for  International Development.
  • Carandang, M.L.A. (2009). The magic of play: Children heal through play therapy. Pasig City, Philippines: Anvil. 
  • Catipon, M.A., Dey, L.T., Garcia W. G., & Tarroja, C.R. (2011). The local practice of play therapy. Paper presented at the Psy-chological Association of Psychologists Convention, Iloilo City, Philippines. 
  • Gonzales, M. (2020, May). The cost of mental health in the Philippines. Moneymax.
  • Salazar-Clemeña, R.M.S. (2002). Family ties and peso signs: Challenges for career counselling in the Philippines. The Career Development Quarterly, 50, 246–256.
  • Tuason, M.T.G., & Arellano-Carandang, M.L. (2013). Counseling in the Philippines. In 
  • Hohenshil, T.H., Amundson, N.E., & Niles, S.G. (Eds.). Counseling around the world. (pp. 117-126). American Counseling Association. 
  • Tuason, M.T.G., Fernandez, K.T.G., Catipon, M.A.D.P., Trivino-Dey, L., & Arellano-Carandang, 
  • M.L. (2012). Counselling in the Philippines: Past, present, and future. Journal of Counselling & Development, 90(3), 373–377. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6676.2012.00047.x
Scroll to top