New Zealand


Counselling Associations

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

New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC)

New Zealand Christian Counsellors Association (NZCCA) 

New Zealand Psychologists Board

New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists

Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes

University of Auckland

Canterbury University

Massey University

Waikato University

Auckland University of Technology

Bethlehem Training Institute (BTI)

Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT)

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT)

Otago Polytechnic

Waikato Institute of Technology (WINTEC)

Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres

Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand

Background & Context

Counselling began being introduced to New Zealand in the early 1900s as vocational guidance (Winterbourn, 1974). The services were first offered through the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) as a way to give the youth structure (Winterbourn, 1974). In 1935, free guidance counselling services were offered for students in targeted schools and the Vocational Guidance Services was brought under the control of the Department of Education (Winterbourn, 1974). Back then, there was not specific training available for those who delivered guidance and counselling services. Teachers that were interested in offering these services were granted the chance to do so with almost no training. The year 1960 served as the year where the government gave approval of making guidance and counselling services available in all secondary schools (Winterbourn, 1974). Winterbourn (1974) explains that due to this new implementation, the Department of Education started to run a 12-week training program for these counsellors. 

By 1973, specific training for guidance counsellors became available at a number of universities. In 1974, The New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC) was established under the  name of NZ Counselling and Guidance Association (Winterbourn, 1974). This organization has served as the largest and most active group of mental health service providers who identify themselves as counsellors up until today. Most trained counsellors who seek for approval and licensure are registered under NZAC. They also provide accreditation for both public and private educational institutions offering counselling training from basic certificate level to Master’s degrees (Winterbourn, 1974). 

Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:

The New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC) serves as the professional body of counsellors in the country. In order to qualify as a professional counsellor and to attain membership in NZAC, counsellors need to hold either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in counselling. NZAC also has a code of ethics in which each member needs to abide by. This code needs to be read in conjunction with the Treaty of Waitangi and New Zealand Law. Thus, counselling in New Zealand is emerging as a recognized profession with its own set of ethical principles to guide the delivery of services.

Practice Settings

Based on the 2018 Census in New Zealand, there were 5,223 counsellors registered in the country. Counsellors in New Zealand work various settings including:

    • Private practices
    • Online counselling
    • Schools, Universities, and Polytechnics
    • Community-based counselling centres
    • Religious-based counselling centres
    • Hospitals and mental health facilities
    • Care centres 
    • Vocational and guidance centres

Challenges & Trends

Though the counselling profession has become more popular in New Zealand, there are several challenges that the country is still facing. First, there are limited training opportunities available in the country. Counselling in New Zealand has been very much influenced by the United States and the United Kingdom. The major models and theories adopted have accordingly been culture-bound, being developed mainly for the white middle and upper classes in a different context. It is a challenge for New Zealand to merge these models and theories with more of a culturally diverse approach in the country. Due to this, the counselling field in New Zealand has not been adequately addressing the needs of minority groups, especially Maori and Pacific Island Polynesians. 

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:

New Zealand
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