Counselling Associations

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

There were no findings of counselling associations.

Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes

There were no findings of universities or other educational institutions offering counselling training.

Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres

There were no findings for counselling agencies.

Background & Context

Exploring the background and current counselling practices in Pakistan proved not to be as difficult as anticipated. In the past, research in the field of psychology was extremely limited, giving the impression of an overall lower priority to this area (Javed et al, 2020). Research on mental health has also been deemed not significant and there are no forms of incentive from researching such topics for the local professionals. However, “The Advanced Education Commission of Pakistan has now created enthusiasm for advancing research at all levels and is trusted that improvement will be observed in different areas of research in coming years” (Javed et al., 2020, p. 11) . 

This can be due to a surge of new literature piling into academia in recent years (more research is being done on the psychological state of Pakistanis this past 2 years; Javed et al., 2020). With that being said, the public’s acceptance towards counselling or any other form of mental health service remains relatively low in the country. Furthermore, the priority given to mental health in countries like Pakistan is considered low compared to many other developing countries (Bashir, 2018). Javed et al. (2020) indicated a factor that largely contributes to this low priority and overall low public awareness towards mental health stems from their culture of seeking alternative medicinal methods. Javed et al. (2020) explain how faith healing is extremely popular in this culture due to the Pakistani population viewing supernatural influences as the cause of mental illness.

Another factor that contributes to this issue is the taboo that surrounds discussions of mental health and emotional talk. People from this culture are reluctant to reveal they have any mental issues to other individuals as well as family members (Javed et al., 2020). The local community has long been in denial of recognizing mental health issues as a major concern and continues to do so with major societal implications (Ali & Gul, 2018). Javed et al. (2020) further states that Pakistan’s limited political will and priorities in the past towards mental health has negatively influenced “the quality of care provided for people suffering with mental issues” (Javed et al., 2020, p. 8). However, with new policies and structural changes being implemented in recent years, this obsolete societal stigma may finally be curbed (Javed et al., 2020).

Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:

In 2019, “Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi launched the President’s Programme to Promote Mental Health of Pakistanis” (Mirza & Rahman, 2019, p. 2239). [KS1] Mirza & Rahman (2019) explain that a long-neglected local priority has finally been brought to the spotlight with the program emphasizing the role of early-life interventions that helps reduce mental illness. This phased implementation is structured into two evidence-based interventions: the WHO Thinking Healthy Program and the WHO School Mental Health Program adapted for Pakistan (Mirza & Rahman, 2019). Efforts such as this is highly commendable, but much work is needed to reverse the centuries-old mental stigma present in modern day Pakistan. 

There seems to be no active counselling association in Pakistan, especially one that deals with licensing and governing any available practices in the country. There is, however, a psychiatric society, Pakistan Psychiatric Society (PPS), that is responsible for providing and advocating for better mental health provisions (Javed et al., 2020). Javed et al. (2020) explain that the PPS was founded in 1972 and is a professional organization that represents local psychiatrists and aims to facilitate research activities in the country. With over 400 psychiatrists, “PPS is the largest scientific and professional psychiatric” body in Pakistan (Javed et al., 2020, p. 12).

Practice Settings

All psychiatric and counselling practices are focused mainly in hospitals with a psychiatric ward as well as psychiatric centers. There are also a few clinics such as the Islamabad Psychiatric Clinic that provides different models of therapy such as addiction counselling, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Hypnotherapy, etc. School counselling as a whole seems to be a recent endeavor in Pakistan with very few studies highlighting the introduction of such professionals to better improve not only the mental health of students but the self-efficacy of teachers as well (Imran, 2018). 

Challenges & Trends

The challenges that the counselling profession in Pakistan face are as follows: 

  • Lack of an association/governing body for regulation. 
  • Lack of manpower in the field of counselling 
  • Improving the mental health stigma that Pakistani communities possess. 
  • Lack of practice settings and requires an overhaul when it comes to accessibility.

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: 

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