Greece 2


Counselling Associations

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

Greek Association for Humanistic Integrative Therapeutic Counselling and Psychotherapy (GAHITCP)

Hellenic Association for Counselling (HAC)

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Hellenic Society of Counselling and Guidance

Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF ) 

The Greek Association Of Behavioral Research (ΕΕΕΣ )

Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes

Arts and Psychotherapy Center (APC)

Arts and Psychotherapy Center (APC)

Gestalt Foundation Psychotherapy Training Center

Institute of Psychodrama-Sociotherapy of the O.P.C. (IPS-O.P.C.)

Mediterranean College, Athens

Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres

Background & Context

In Greece, for a long time, there was no specialized service for counselling provided by a trained specialist. Greece is characterized as a collectivist culture where family, friendships and other social relationships are highly valued. Therefore, counselling has traditionally been embedded in the complex support system of social relationships. Although a shift in urban family life has now moved from collectivist notions to individualistic ones, traditional Greek culture remains more collectivist than most individualistic Western countries (see Malikiosi-Loizos, Ivey 2012, p. 113). Consequently, it is not surprising that parents, siblings as well as close friends are still the people to whom Greeks turn to discuss their problems and find solutions to them. Meanwhile, nevertheless, more and more people living in larger cities are seeking professional counselling. It is a process that is very slowly spreading to more rural areas. Thus, there is a growing demand for psychological counselling, which leads to a greater need for experts in the field (cf. Malikiosi-Loizos, Ivey 2012, p. 113).

In most Western societies, professional counselling has been developing steadily, which is due to the psycho-educational and economic changes in the countries. Such growth has not been seen in the same way in Greece. Neither the economic situation of the country, based mainly on agriculture and tourism, nor the educational system provided favorable conditions for the promotion of the counselling movement. Therefore, its establishment and integration into the socio-political educational system of the country took some time (cf. ibid. p. 114).

The first emergence of guidance occurred in the context of vocational guidance, which was introduced by the Ministry of Labor and Education in the 1950s. It was intended to address the problems resulting from the sudden and massive urbanization that led to rapid changes in the economy and the labor market. However, efforts in the 1950s and 1960s to include career counselling in the curriculum were unsuccessful (see ibid. p. 114).

The definition of counselling as psychological assistance and support to help people cope with and overcome difficulties did not become popular in Greece until the 1980s. Two Greeks, Dimitropoulos and Malikiosi-Loizos, returned to Greece after studying counselling in the United States, spread their knowledge, and thus are considered pioneers of counselling and counselling psychology. They wrote the first textbooks “Counselling and Counselling Psychology” (Dimitropoulos) and “Counselling Psychology” (Malikiosi-Loizos), which led to counselling psychology being considered a discipline in its own right in Greece. The first courses in counselling and counselling psychology were offered in the late 1980s as part of the Psychology and Education curriculum at the University of Athens (see Malikiosi-Loizos, Giovazolias 2013, p. 216).

The Hellenic Society for Counselling and Guidance was founded in 1985 and has been active in disseminating career counselling, school counselling, and counselling psychology ever since. The society now has more than 1,000 members and has published a scientific journal entitled Review of Counselling and Guidance since 1986. (See Malikiosi-Loizos, Ivey 2012, p. 114).

Since 1991, a counselling center has been in operation at the University of Athens to meet the psychological needs of students. In 1995, the first ‘Peer Counselling Center’ was established in the Department of Early Childhood Education at the University of Athens. It is staffed by students who have received training on basic counselling skills. Currently, in addition to the peer counselling center described earlier, most Greek universities have student counselling centers. However, funding is inadequate and the ratio of professionals to students is unbalanced (cf. ibid. p. 115).

Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:

The lack of legal requirements motivates professionals from a wide variety of fields to engage in counselling activities for which they may not have received adequate training. The absence of accreditation requirements has as a consequence a threat to the development and recognition of the counselling field in Greece.

The first official degree programs in counselling and counselling psychology with theoretical and practical training started in 2009 (see Malikiosi-Loizos, Ivey 2012, p. 115). Until that time, counsellors* had either studied abroad, mainly in the UK, the US, and Canada, or participated in programs offered by private, non-officially recognized universities and organizations in Greece. This reflects the limited government recognition given to counselling and counselling psychology. Because counselling/counselling psychology was not officially integrated into formal higher education until 2009, society does not yet clearly delineate terms such as counselling and counselling psychology, which exacerbates recognition and acceptance issues (see Malikiosi-Loizos, Ivey 2012, p. 116). Furthermore, counselling cannot be clearly separated from psychology and psychotherapy.

There are now two officially recognized master’s programs in the field of counselling/counselling psychology offered by Greek universities with a relatively similar curriculum. This includes approximately 10-12 theoretical courses, 2-3 seminars in counselling skills and processes, approximately 1000 hours of supervised practicum, and approximately 40 hours of individual therapy. These are two-three year full-time programs that require a research-based master’s thesis (see Malikiosi-Loizos, Giovazolias 2013, p. 221).

Furthermore, there are also private and public continuing education institutions that offer counselling and psychotherapy programs. These courses are completed with a certificate from the institution, which, however, is not recognized by the state (cf. Malikiosi-Loizos & Giovazolias, 2013, p. 218).

Practice Settings

Counsellors engage with common emotional problems of clients. They are employed together with psychologists, other therapists and social workers in social institutions and hospitals (cf. Malikiosi-Loizos, Giovazolias 2013, p. 218).

As already mentioned, the fields of activity of counselling and psychology are not clearly separated from each other. Psychologists* receive a license as soon as they receive their bachelor’s degree and can practice therapeutically privately, in hospitals or other institutions. Counselling, as an independent discipline, has developed in recent years, but does not yet have a clear professional identity (cf. ibid. p. 218).

Currently, there is increasing growth in the professional and research sectors in Greece. This results in an increased demand for specialized higher education and public and private consulting services. The number of textbooks, leadership and counselling magazines, newsletters and articles, and courses in counselling and counselling psychology available in Greece is steadily increasing. In addition, professional development programs in career counselling are being offered.

„Presently, psychological counselling in Greece is being practiced by psychologists, counsellors, social workers, and other  professionals privately and also in (a) mental health centers; (b) several higher education institutions and some private schools; (c)  parental counselling groups conducted by the Ministry of Education, local parishes, and schools; and (d) health and social service centers (e.g., hospitals, rehabilitation centers)” (Malikiosi‐Loizos, Ivey 2012, S. 115).

Counselling or counselling psychology focuses on topics such as well-being, training and improving parenting skills, improving relationships, conflict resolution, employment problems, problem solving, career development, rehabilitation problems, sexual, existential, and spiritual problems, and many others. These topics illustrate the wide range of counselling applications in various life situations (see ebd.)

Challenges & Trends

Although counselling and counselling psychology exist as professions, they lack a distinct identity. They have not yet been officially recognized in Greece due to the lack of legal regulations and accreditation requirements. The number of counsellors working, teaching and researching clinically is steadily increasing, with a large number of all practicing counselling psychologists and counsellors having obtained their degrees abroad. Therefore, the fundamentally necessary step to strengthen the professional position of counsellors and counselling psychologists is to provide the profession with social and legal recognition (see Malikiosi-Loizos, Ivey 2012, p. 117). Therefore, it is necessary to offer systematically organized trainings that contribute to the development of counselling skills and techniques. “Therefore, the focus in Greece should now be on training models and ethical guidelines and standards that should be modified to meet culturally specific needs, with the final objective to be relevant in a constantly changing world” (Malikiosi-Loizos, Ivey 2012, p. 117).

In recent years, efforts have been made to raise awareness of what counselling actually is and how it has been successfully practiced in other countries for years (cf. Christodoulidi & Malikiosi-Loizos 2019, p. 13f). Counselling can help people deal with certain life events and give them more confidence. However, the overall income of Greek society has dropped drastically, so there are difficulties to financially support such services. It could be argued that a reduction in counselling fees is necessary, but this would lead to a decrease in the income of counsellors* (cf. ibid.).

The rapid development of technology opens up new forms of counselling and psychological therapies. This leads to a change in counselling methods and creates the possibility to solve distance problems.  In this context, some interesting initiatives have taken place. For example, online counselling is offered to students at the University of Athens. Students can make contact through an anonymous online form or their personal email account. Surveys have shown that online counselling at the University of Athens is very popular among Greek students (cf. Malikiosi-Loizos, Giovazolias 2013, p. 219). Looking to the future, predictions for the professions of counselling and counselling psychology are nevertheless favorable. This trend is also reflected in the large number of applications for the two master’s degree programs in Greece.

Additional Information & References

For a more in-depth examination of the counselling profession in Greece, interested readers are advised to read the following articles as well as books:

  • Christodoulidi, F., & Malikiosi-Loizos, M. (2019). Exploring the perceptions of Greek counsellors’ and counselling psychologists’ professional identity and training experience, through the lens of the first alumni graduates of a Greek state University. European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling, 
  • Malikiosi‐Loizos, M., Giovazolias, T. (2013). Counseling in Greece. In: Hohenshil, T. H., Amundson, N. E., & Niles, S. G. (Hrsg.). Counseling around the world: An international handbook, S. 203-2013. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association
  • Malikiosi‐Loizos, M., Ivey, A. E. (2012). Counseling in Greece. Journal of Counseling & Development, 90(1), 113-118.
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