All Professional Bodies, National Associations (e.g. Mental Health, School, Guidance, Addiction, Faith-based etc.) and Accrediting Organisations.
Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes
Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres
Background & Context
In 2010, Portal, Suck, and Hinkle conducted an extensive study of the state of the counselling profession in Mexico, past, present, and future. Like many other nations, counselling in Mexico developed out of the fields of psychology and medicine. Just like other native and ancient cultures (e.g., Egyptians, Greeks) had unique ways of understanding the human mind, the early cultures of Mexico influenced the first developments in mental health treatment in the country, also. The earliest mention of philosophical explorations of mental health in Mexico can be traced to 1557 in the book Physica Speculatio [Physics Investigations], in which the author discussed Aristotelian psychology, among other topics (Portal, Suck, & Hinkle, 2010). Other early achievements in mental health treatment in Mexico include: (a) the Hospital of San Hipólito being founded in 1567 in Mexico City; (b) around the same era, the first experimental treatment for hysteria was designed by medical professor Jose Ignacio Bartolache; (c) in 1835 Jesus R. Pacheco published a book on phrenology; and (d) the first high-school course in psychology was implemented in Mexico by the end of the 19th century (Portal, Suck, & Hinkle, 2010).
Moving into the 20th century, the psychiatrist and psychologist Enrique Aragon established the first laboratory for psychology in Mexico and several important books on the subjects of psychiatry and neurology were published following his death (Portal, Suck, & Hinkle, 2010). Again, as in other countries, counselling in Mexico is shown to have early roots in psychiatry and psychology, with additional influences on the field entering the country from Europe and the United States around 1980 (Portal, Suck, & Hinkle, 2010). Around the same time, graduate students from Mexico began studying beyond the country’s borders and bringing back ideas on mental health treatment; just as for the U.S. counselling profession, counselling in Mexico began to develop as a hybrid of related fields of study like psychology, social work, psychiatry, and other related mental health professions (Portal, Suck, & Hinkle, 2010). With these influences, the field of psychological counselling in Mexico broadened in scope to include less medicalized mental health issues like psychosomatic symptoms, problems of the family, career issues, and other problems of social adjustment, and currently exists as a well-established field promoting the mental health of clients (Portal, Suck, & Hinkle, 2010).
According to Portal, Suck, and Hinkle (2010), moving beyond the current state of the counselling profession in Mexico will require inventive approaches to the field, such as integrative services, and promote an environment of innovation for treatment development among Mexican counselors and counselling educators to embrace the changing nature of their culture. For example, Portal, Suck, and Hinkle (2010) recommend that Mexican counselors seeking to develop new counselling treatments and interventions look beyond the U.S. counselling expectations to focus attention on national issues related to poverty and cultural diversity (e.g., gender, values and beliefs).
Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:
There is no state regulation or licensure of counselling in Mexico. Efforts to develop counselling standards, including accreditation for counselor education programs and certification for counselors began when NBCC International opened an office in Mexico City in 2006 (NBCC, 2006; Portal, Suck, & Hinkle, 2010). As of today, certification of professional counsellors in Mexico is done by the Asociación Mexicana de Orientación Psicológica y Psicoterapia (AMOPP; Mexican Counselling and Psychotherapy Association; NBCC, 2014). Although still in a nascent state and needing significant promotion and support within the country (Machorro & Suck, 2014; NBCC, 2014), this certification process benefits from an established ethical code, counselor training standards, supervision guidelines for counselling treatment, and a certification examination (Suck, Kleinberg, & Hinkle, 2013). As certification expands in Mexico, AMOPP is hopeful that specialized counselling certifications can be developed (NBCC, 2014).
In 2005 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported there were roughly 2.7 psychiatrists, 0.2 social workers, and 0.1 psychiatric nurses per 100,000 people in Mexico. Suck, Kleinberg, and Hinkle (2013) indicated there was no reliable count of counselors and psychologists in Mexico, and no current literature could be found to update this information. Currently, only a handful of counselors have received certification, but applications, and hopefully interest, continues to grow for the certification process in Mexico (NBCC, 2014). As of 2014, NBCC indicated there were six individuals who had successfully completed certification and 45 more applications pending. No additional updates to the number of certified counselors was located in the literature.
According to Hinkle and Saxena (2006) the majority of psychological counsellors in Mexico work in hospitals, schools, universities, and child and adolescent centres. It is estimated that 60% of counsellors work in the private sector compared with 20% in the public sector and 20% in the nonprofit sector.
Suck et al. (2013) identified people with disabilities, people with special educational needs, indigenous peoples, and emigrants as being particularly vulnerable and in need of mental health support and counselling. The most common counselling practice contexts and settings are:
- Public elementary schools, secondary schools, high schools, colleges, and universities
- Faith based organisations via pastoral counsellors, family counsellors, professional counsellors, and clinical pastoral supervisors
- Non-profit organisations offering mental health and substance abuse counselling
- Substance abuse counselling
- Private practice
- HIV testing and counselling centres
- Mental health agencies
- Rehabilitation Centres at state, private, and non-profit organisations.
Challenges & Trends
A number of significant challenges to the development of the counselling profession in Mexico exist. Large numbers of the population face economic inequality and insecurity and major public health problems include depression and alcohol misuse. Moreover, according to Cruz et al. (2001), in many states in Mexico, children do not have access to any mental health services.
As pointed out by Hinkle et al. (2010), the role of psychological counsellors is not mentioned anywhere in the Mexican national mental health policy and there is no formal national professional association for psychological counsellors. Also, there is a scarcity of academic programs, no state endorsed licensure for counsellors, and rates of pay are generally low. Counselling is not viewed as an independent profession and therefore there is much room for confusion relating to counsellor identity amongst the public and professionals alike.
Despite these challenges, individuals and associations in Mexico, and overseas, understand the contribution that counselling can make to the lives of Mexico’s citizens. NBCC International opened a field office in Mexico City in 2010 with the aim of serving as centre for counselling advocacy, and the exploration of credentialing and standards. It is clear that more resources are needed to develop professional counselling, and counsellor identity, in Mexico. Hinkle et al. (2010) suggest that Mexico could increase its emphasis on education and aim to train more psychological counsellors with multicultural and systemic counselling skills. In addition, they point out that, given the importance of faith and spirituality to so much of the population, Mexican counsellors should give consideration to integrating spiritual aspects into their counselling processes.