Singapore

Summary

Counselling Associations

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

Singapore Association for Counselling (SAC)

Association of Christian Counsellors (Singapore)

Association of Psychotherapists and Counsellors Singapore (APACS)

Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes

College of Allied Educators Pte Ltd

Counselling and Care Centre

Monash University

James Cook University Singapore

Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres

Singapore Counseling Centre

Background & Context

The root of the counselling profession first developed in the 1960s where a group of doctors, pastors, and missionaries formed the Churches Counseling Service (Yeo et al., 2012). Ever since, counselling services became prominent in Singapore. Despite Singapore being a small, island nation, it has risen from third to first-world status in just three decades (Yeo et al., 2012). However, it is still a growing issue that mental health is still heavily stigmatized which drove many people away from seeking help. Singapore is well equipped with counsellors from schools to assist children in academic progress, behavioral and social-emotional behavior to hospitals, and private practices in which a large number of mental health institutes can be found at this current time (Yeo et al., 2012). The Ministry of Education (MOE) and the National Institute of Education (NIE) have had a focus on school counsellors. The role of counsellor was important so that the government demanded for every school in Singapore to be equipped with a counsellor in 2008. This request has been responded to positively as many counsellors have successfully been trained and implemented in schools since 2010 (Yeo et al., 2012). Based on the Ministry of Health guidelines in Singapore, all counsellors are required to apply for a license under the Private Hospital and Medical Clinics (PHMC) Act/Regulations. In addition, healthcare facilities are required to maintain a good standard of medical/clinical services. 

Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:

There is no governing body that regulates counselling in Singapore, however, the Singapore Association for Counselling (SAC) has established benchmarks and monitors counsellor training and training courses since 2005, roughly. 

Practice Settings

Singapore is well equipped with counsellors in almost every institute. This includes MOE and NIE demands to implement every school with a counsellor. Subsequently, in response to this growth numbers of counselling programs have increased.

  • Community-based counselling centers
  • State-based counselling centers
  • Private Practices 
  • Hospitals
  • Schools & Universities

Challenges & Trends

According to the WHO, the suicide rate in Singapore ranked 105th in the world in 2016. Suicide has been rising exponentially in the country.. Similar to many Asian countries, suicide at this current time in Singapore generally is being viewed as a taboo subject. Mental health has been heavily stigmatized within society. Initially, it had been known in Singapore that all attempted suicides will be seen as a crime (Wei, 2019). The Penal Code review committee issued that the law for attempted suicide to be repealed in 2018 (Wei, 2019). The law was then officially amended to decriminalize suicide on the 6 May 2019. Now, there are many private services and state counselling can be found with diverse languages equipped in many institutes for the client to meet their standard. 

There are still several concerns on the issue of prematurely licensing the counselling profession in Singapore (Yeo et al., 2012). Many counsellors provide services with vastly different credentials. Standardized requirements are only held by professional organizations such as the Singapore Association for Counseling  (Yeo et al., 2012).

Singapore is known to follow the Western codes of ethics, however, in light of the culture-bound characteristics of code of ethics developed within a cultural context, it has been considered vital for the professional bodies in Singapore to adopt the Western codes of ethics with caution (Yeo et al., 2012). This is due to the individualistic culture that may be interpreted by counsellors in the context of client collectivist culture in Singapore.

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:

Singapore
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