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
There were no counselling agencies that could be found in Tonga.
Background & Context
There was minimal information about the background of the counselling profession in Tonga was found via research, only some information about the history of mental health in Tonga can be found. Before the 1940s, there were no mental health services and facilities in Tonga (Tonga Community Development Trust, 2009). Then, mentally ill patients “were diagnosed in a traditional framework in which the perspective was linked to fesi’ia, fakamahaki, te’ia (spiritual/cultural interventions) according to the order of manifestation and severity” (Tonga Community Development Trust, 2009, p. 21).
In 1948, due to some of the patients in the hospital who started becoming aggressive and potentially dangerous, the Ministry of Health required that they be transported to the national prison in Hu’atolitoli (Tonga Community Development Trust, 2009). In 1978 a shift occurred, psychiatric wards were implemented in communities and the prisoners who needed psychiatric help were given the proper treatment (Tonga Community Development Trust, 2009). In 2004, the Mental Health Review Tribunal Committee was created which helped with regulation of mental health services (Tonga Community Development Trust,
Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:
The Mental Health Review Tribunal Committee serves as a regulatory body for certain mental health services, but it does not cover a broad range of services or the regulation of the counsellors. The Ministry of Health also provides regulations and establishment of legislation for mental health services. Early on in the development of mental health services, the people in the community continued to view mental health services as a backup option to spiritual practices.
Although it is unknown exactly how many practicing counsellors there are in Tonga, the existing counsellors practice in settings that include:
- Private psychological centres
Challenges & Trends
Like many countries and communities around the world that introduced mental health issue resolution, there is a lot of stigmatization on seeking mental health services in Tonga (Tonga Community Development Trust, 2009). There is a lack of services available to assist those experiencing difficulties in coping with the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis (Tonga Community Development Trust, 2009). Most families will seek spiritual healers before they resort to seeking mental health services because of the stigma that would be placed on them (Tonga Community Development Trust, 2009). There is a need to quickly improve mental health advocacy, promotion, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation (Tonga Community Development Trust, 2009). Tonga Community Development Trust (2009) explains that “there is a small budget allocation and minimal resources available in both formal care systems (National Hospital/Ministry of Health) and informal sector services (NGOs/churches), as well as a lack of interest among health professionals to work in this area” (p. 22).
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:
- The Government of Tonga. (2006). Tonga. A situation analysis of children, women and youth. Youth Policy. (pp. 1-84). https://www.youthpolicy.org/national/Tonga_2006_Youth_Situation_Analysis.pdf
- Tonga Community Development Trust. (2009). Youth and mental health in Tonga: A situational analysis. Foundation of the People of the South Pacific International. (pp. 1-48). https://fspiblog.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/tonga-youth-and-mental-helath-analysis09.pdf