South Africa

south africa


Counselling Associations

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

The Association for Registered Counsellors in South Africa

The South African Association for Counselling Psychology of PsySSA

Council for Counsellors in South Africa

The Counselling Association (Private sector)

Debt Counsellors Association of South Africa

Southern Africa Association of Christian Counsellors

The Association of Certified Bibilical Counsellors

Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes

University of Johannesburg

  • University website: 
  • Programme Types: Bachelor of Psychology, Master in Research Psychology, Master of Counselling Psychology, Master in Clinical Psychology, PhD of Psychology

South African College of Applied Psychology

  • University website: 
  • Programme Types: Bachelor of Applied Social Science (Majoring in Psychology and Counselling), Diploma in Counselling and Communication Skills, Bachelor of Social Science Honours in Psychology, Higher Certificate in Counselling and Communication Skills, Bachelor of Psychology, Master of Social Science in Community Mental Health Promotion

Stellenbosch University

  • University website: 
  • Programme Types: Bachelor of Psychology, Honours programme in Psychology, Master of Psychology, Master of Clinical Psychology, PhD Programme in Psychology

University of Cape Town

  • University website: 
  • Programme Types: Honours in Psychology, Master of Psychological Research, Master of Clinical Psychology, Masters in Neuropsychology, Research Masters in Psychology, PhD in Psychology

University of South Africa

Rhodes University

  • University website: 
  • Programme Types: Psychology Honours programme, Organisational Psychology Honours programme, Master of Clinical Psychology, Master of Counselling Psychology, Masters degree by thesis (in Psychology), Doctorate in Psychology

University of Witwatersrand

  • University website: 
  • Programme Types: BA Honours in Psychology, BA Honours in Industrial/Organisational Psychology, Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology, Master of Arts in Community-Based Counselling Psychology, Master of Education in Educational Psychology, Master of Arts in Organisational Psychology, Master of Arts in Social and Psychological Research by Coursework and Research Report, Master of Arts in Psychology by Coursework and Research Report, Master of Arts by Dissertation, Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD)

University of Pretoria

  • University website: 
  • Programme Types: BEd (Hons) Educational Psychology, MEd Educational Psychology, PhD Educational Psychology, MEd (Learning Support, Guidance and Counselling), PhD (Learning Support, Guidance and Counselling)

Nelson Mandela University

  • University website: 
  • Programme Types: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Bachelor of Psychology (Counselling), BPsych Equivalence (Psychometry), Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology, PhD of Psychology

Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres

Johannesburg Parent & Child Counselling Centre

Vita Nova Counselling Centre

The Family Life Centre

Avah Henn Psychosocial Services

LifeLine Western Cape 

Meriting Therapy Centre

Masithethe Counselling Services

The Family Counselling Centre

Creative Counselling Centre

Light House Therapy Centre

Randburg Counselling Centre

Khuluma Family Counselling 

InPsyght Therapy Centre

Counselling and Wellness Centre

Bryanwood Therapy & Assessment Centre

World Community Counselling Centre

Janet Winterbourne Couples, Family and Individual Counselling

Newlands Therapy Centre

Grace Counselling

Background & Context

The origin and development of counselling psychology in South Africa has been profoundly influenced by the country’s socio-political history and the impact of apartheid. According to Leach, Akhurst and Basson (2003), the researchers claimed that the origin of counselling psychology can be traced to Stellenbosch University and the appointment of H. F. Verwoerd (one of the major architects of apartheid) to the position of professor of applied psychology in 1927. In addition, counselling psychology was set up in opposition to clinical psychology and was primarily concerned with serving the goals of the nationalist government and addressing the needs of the minority White Afrikaans-speaking citizens of the country (Bantjes et al., 2016).

It was not until 1974 that the professional category of “Counselling Psychologist” was recognized in South Africa and professional training programmes were established at four Afrikaans-speaking universities (Stellenbosch, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, and Rand Afrikaans) and at one English-speaking university (The University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg), all of which were at the time only accessible to White students. Counselling psychology has thus been inaccessible to the majority of South Africans for most of the last century.

Besides, dominated from the outset by especially American intellectual and methodological trends, early South African psychologists enthusiastically imported and adapted various psychological tools and technologies (most notably intelligence tests) for use in education and industry (Painter & Blanche, 2004).

Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:

Counselling psychology in South Africa has been a recognized discipline since 1974, with legislation mandating the registration of psychologists. The legislation made provisions for categories of psychologist that included clinical, counselling, research, and industrial psychologists. Besides, there are many registered psychologists in South Africa, the majority of whom are White, female, and often work in private practices.

Furthermore, beginning in 2001 there was an effort to train 10,000 counsellors (not counselling psychologists) per year for 3 years to help the country cope with the overwhelming social and medical issues mainly stemming from the AIDS pandemic. Counsellor trainees engage in basic counselling interventions, and in the case of HIV/AIDS, counsellors offer support for the afflicted and their families and educate communities on the transmission and course of HIV/AIDS.

Practice Settings

To practice as a counselling psychologist in SA it is necessary to register with the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) (Bantjes et al., 2016).

Counselling psychology in South Africa as practitioners of health psychology have a role to play in general medical settings, for example, in helping patients with issues such as adherence to treatment, management of chronic illness, diseases of lifestyle, pain-management, the psychological issues associated with disability and family functioning in the context of disability and chronic illness. In addition, counselling psychology in South Africa can be found in a variety of public and private sectors, including the police services, military, universities, schools, NGOs, community organisations, social service organisations and industry.

Challenges & Trends

By virtue of SA’s history and the country’s current socio-cultural and mental health care context, counselling psychology faces a number of challenges (Bantjes et al., 2016). These include finding ways to overcome apartheid’s legacy of inequality and engage critically with the call to advance a social justice agenda and work as agents of change while embracing the evidence based practice movement. The specialty also needs to achieve greater racial diversity, make a meaningful contribution to meeting the country’s mental health care needs, apply psychological knowledge to promote physical health and well-being, and respond to the call to indigenize the practice of psychology.

Moreover, HIV/AIDS and other health problems pose a great challenge for the country’s health system. South Africa ranks in the lowest quartile for provision of health care globally. South Africa possesses the largest number of people with HIV/AIDS in the world. AIDS contributes to dwindling employment opportunities; affects productivity; reduces international financial investment; increases poverty, crime, and the destruction of families; and decreases opportunities.

Besides, even Black community members with some knowledge of psychology maintain a general mistrust of Whites in South Africa, leading to a mistrust of the profession because the majority of psychologists are White. The apartheid system caused mistrust of Whites and Western colonial traditions. For changes to occur, counselling psychology must be perceived as having relevance in the larger community. Counselling psychology will need to consider what it can learn from traditional healing practices as well as better train new psychologists to work from a culturally sensitive perspective.

Lastly, South African peoples rooted in traditional families have extended family networks through which to seek support; many have access to traditional healers, particularly in rural areas. Traditional healers are a central source of assistance when psychosocial and medical problems are encountered. A practice of counselling emanating from outside traditional cultural boundaries is thus foreign to many Black South Africans. However, the urbanization of large percentages of the population has meant the disruption of many traditional sources of assistance, and alternate means such as professionally trained counsellors are needed.

Additional Information & References

For more information about the counselling profession in the state, interested readers are encouraged to read the following journal and website articles:

  • Bantjes, J., Kagee, A., & Young, C. (2016). Counselling psychology in South Africa. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 29(2), 171-183.


  • Leach, M., Akhurst, J., & Basson, C. (2003). Counseling Psychology in South Africa:. The Counseling Psychologist, 31(5), 619-640.


  • Painter, D., & Blanche, M. (2004). Critical psychology in South Africa: Looking back and looking ahead. South African Journal Of Psychology, 34(4), 520-543. 


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