Nonhlonipho N. Biyela

Intern Counselling Psychologist

Supervised by Dr Solomon Makola

Psychology as an academic and professional field of practice has evolved significantly over the years. The same has been true for counselling psychology; it has evolved and developed to branch out in other areas of practice to allow for more a holistic contribution to mental health care and society. As a prospective psychologist I ask myself; what role is counselling psychology to play in South Africa in the midst of current social issues? The focus of this brief contribution is to discuss the role of counselling psychology within the context of therapy and beyond.

Historically counselling psychology was perceived as being limited in scope and often demarcated to the practice of vocational psychology (i.e., career psychology). This misconception has been challenged and rightfully today the role of counselling psychology as a field of practice has expanded to include psychotherapy, psycho-education, behaviour modification and psychological assessments. My view of counselling psychology transcends the boundaries of therapy within consulting rooms in an attempt to reach the masses that are not privileged enough to access or afford psychological services. In the midst of #feesmustfall, the increasing incidence of rape in our universities and the high dropout rates of first-year students in South African universities; I continue to ask: “what role can counselling psychology play? What role can I play as an intern psychologist in a Student Counselling Centre?”

Social justice is a key value of counselling psychology; hence it is our responsibility to create interventions allow people to be strive towards optimal mental well-being. Counselling psychology has an open space for advocating for the rights of previously disadvantaged people that allows for the liberation of women and also acknowledging the prejudices that society imposes on this population. Our role as counselling psychologists is clear in that we have the responsibility to move beyond career counselling (as historically thought) in assisting those in need by using all of our inherent skills as psychological service providers. Such roles I believe can be applied in the university setting so that our role as psychologists go beyond our offices allowing further growth and transformation for our clients and in our field of practice.

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