Counselling Associations

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

MIELI Finnish Mental Health Association 

A-Clinic Foundation 

Ehyt ry 

Vantaa Mental Health Association 

Kasper – Kasvatu-ja perheneuvonta ry 

Crisis Center Osviitta 

Kuopio Crisis Center 

Mikkelin Crisis Center 


Nyyti ry 

Sastamala Region Mental Health Association 

The Children and Youth Center 

Vamos – Support and Activities for Young People  

Young People’s own National Mental Health Club 

Mielenterveyden Keskusliitto 


Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes

Haaga-Helia University of Applied Science 

Häme University of Applied Science 


JAMK University of Applied Science 

University of Jyväskylä

University of Eastern Finland

Oulu University of Applied Science 

Tampere University of applied Science 

Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres

Background & Context

Finland has a long history of good collaboration between the educational and employment sector regarding lifelong guidance, specifically career guidance. Today, this manifests as having a national strategy for lifelong guidance, good access to high quality services and innovative pilots such as the One-Stop Guidance Centres for youth.

Professional vocational guidance and counselling began in Finland in 1939 when a psychologist´s position was created in the employment office in Helsinki. The pioneering career counsellor and counselling psychologist was Professor Niilo Mäki, who worked in the office from 1941 to 1946. In 1948 the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 88 on public employment services gave a recommendation that all nations should provide free public employment services. During the 40s and 50s, 13 Finnish municipalities became involved in career guidance and established vacancies for vocational psychologists.

In the 1960s, the position of career guidance as part of Finnish employment policies and practices strengthened further when it was written in the law. A nationwide organisation of vocational guidance offices was developed under the labour administration and in the 1970s vocational guidance offices and employment offices, were joined into one employment service under the Ministry of Employment. The labour administration in Finland was reorganised in the late 1980’s and regional employment agencies were changed to regional centres for trade and employment. In this new context the role and position of vocational guidance was diminished in regional administration. A new, efficient way to address the needs of individual customers was developed in the employment offices through the tiering of services into self-help, group-based services and intensive case-managed services, including individual counselling.

In 2007, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Labour were merged into the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. The regional administration was reorganised into 15 Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres). One year later in 2009 the employment offices were renamed similarly as ‘Employment and Economic Development Offices (TE Offices)’. Subsequently the vocational psychologists started working in a branch named ’vocational development services’ in co-operation with educational advisors, vocational training advisors, rehabilitation advisors and advisors for labour market training. In 2013, the vocational psychologists started to work within all the three service lines with the overall service model:

  1. Employment and Business Services
  2. Business Competence Development Services
  3. Supported Employment Services

The reform of national employment and economic offices was based on the goals of the national strategies on employment and entrepreneurship. The underlying principles in the reform were customer-orientedness, equal access, societal efficiency and productivity. Attention was given to core functions: the supply of skilled labour, fast placement of job-seekers. As an outcome of the reform the traditional vocational guidance came to an end as an organisational stand-alone service and the previously separate concepts of ‘vocational guidance’, ‘educational advice’ and ‘vocational rehabilitation’ were merged into one concept ‘vocational guidance and career planning’ (cf. Toni/Vuorinen 2020: 127f.).

Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:

The Ministry of Education and Culture published the strategic objectives for lifelong guidance in 2011. The task of the national cooperation group on lifelong guidance is to develop lifelong guidance in Finland from a strategic point of view. Guidance operators from different administrative sectors are represented in the group. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of Education and Culture take turns in chairing the cooperation group. The cooperation group publishes a topical overview of lifelong guidance.

In addition to the national cooperation group on lifelong guidance, the centres for economic development, transport and the environment (ELY centres) coordinate lifelong guidance at the regional level. Together with representatives of the world of work, they coordinate guidance and counselling services and ensure their availability. In addition, they organise guidance-related continuing education in their area. There are 15 regional cooperation groups on lifelong guidance (cf. Finnish National Agency for Education 2020: b).

Practice Settings

Employment service: Employment advisers and counsellors at the Employment and Economic Development Offices help jobseekers and employers find one another. In a job-search interview, the client and employment adviser discuss the client’s job wishes, skill needs and labor market demands, and agree on the required services. Employment services also provide group-based training in job-seeking skills and a job search desk where the clients can find information about jobs and education and training either independently or with the staff’s assistance.

Educational and vocational information service: Educational advisers are available to discuss entry into education; courses and syllabi; occupations and occupational fields; and financing one’s studies. The discussions will help the client to bring his/her educational or job-seeking plan to a concrete level. The service is facilitated by national telephone service number and email. The clients can also search information independently or with the educational adviser’s help on the internet or in the library corner Employment and Economic Development Office.

Vocational guidance and career planning service: Vocational guidance and career planning services help to address questions on career choice, professional development and career path. Together with the vocational guidance psychologist, the clients can analyst her current situation, interests, expectations relating to work, education, background, skills and competences, and work experience. They can also minimise or reduce obstacles to employability where necessary.

Vocational rehabilitation: Vocational rehabilitation services are intended for people with disabilities. These services include employment services, career, planning, educational services, guidance in rehabilitation and health checks. Vocational rehabilitation is provided by vocational guidance psychologists and rehabilitation advisers.

Guidance and Counselling services for Immigrants: All Employment and Economic Development Offices also serve immigrants permanently resident in Finland. The larger offices also have designated employment adviser trained in immigrant services. If an immigrant is registered as a permanent resident in Finland and is out of work, he/she is entitled to an integration plan and the services agreed therein. The aim is to ensure that the immigrant acquires a sufficient command of Finnish or Swedish and necessary employment skills in, for example, through preparatory and vocational training.

(cf. Ministry of Education and Culture 2020: 35ff).

One-Stop Guidance Centers: One-Stop Guidance Centers offer information, support and guidance in matters related to education and training, hobbies and employment to people under 30. The aim is to promote employment and education among young people and support a good everyday life.

Koordinaatti: Koordinaatti is a national centre of expertise providing information and counselling to young people. All youth information and counselling services in Finland can be found on the Koordinaatti website. Youth information and counselling is preventative youth work that provides information, guidance and counselling in different questions related to young people’s life.

Suomen opinto-ohjaajat – SOPO ry: Suomen opinto-ohjaajat ry (Association of Finnish guidance counsellors) aims to increase guidance professionals’ opportunities to influence matters and improve the availability and quality of the basic and continuing education of guidance counsellors. 

(cf. Finnish National Agency for Education 2020: b).

Challenges & Trends


Improving the Finnish knowledge and competence base is seen as a cornerstone for the nation’s overall competitiveness on the global market as well as the European Union. Consequently, the national and regional employment, economic and education policy must reflect the goals and facilitate proactive and rapid responses to situations of change in working life and structural changes in the labour market. It is evident that ensuring a high level of competence as well as a sufficient workforce across sectors and regions calls for targeted strategies addressing the decreasing working-age population and diminishing younger age groups. Further, a pretty recent phenomenon is increasing number of citizens, who face alternate periods of work, training and unemployment and who therefore require constant policy level attention (cf. Ministry of Education and Culture 2012: 40).



A big Trend in Finland, is guidance and counselling in school. Every pupil is entitled to guidance during school days. Guidance and counselling promote the successful completion of schoolwork, the progress of the studies, the productivity and effectiveness of education. A key task of guidance and counselling is to support students’ growth and development in a way that enables them to promote their social maturity and capacity to study and to develop knowledge and skills required in life planning. Furthermore, guidance and counselling connect the school to society and the working life. Guidance and counselling promote fairness, equity, equality and participation, and prevent exclusion from education and working life.

Good guidance criteria is a recommendation that has been made for the purpose of developing and ensuring the quality of guidance in basic education, general upper secondary education and VET. The aim of the criteria is to promote the high quality and diverse range of guidance as well as to ensure the availability of high-quality guidance for children and adolescents, regardless of their place of residence and circumstances. Furthermore, the criteria are used to ensure the equality, quality and availability of guidance services for pupils and students throughout Finland.

(cf. Finnish National Agency for Education 2020: a).

Guidance and counselling is a lifelong topic in Finland and also affect adults. Good guidance criteria is a recommendation that has been made for the purpose of developing and ensuring the quality of guidance in basic education, general upper secondary education and VET. The aim of the criteria is to promote the high quality and diverse range of guidance as well as to ensure the availability of high-quality guidance for children and adolescents, regardless of their place of residence and circumstances. Furthermore, the criteria are used to ensure the equality, quality and availability of guidance services for pupils and students throughout Finland (cf. Ministry of Education and Culture 2012: 31).

Additional Information & References

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