May 18, 2024

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “guidance”? Oftentimes, guidance is attached to the traditional concept of “admission slips” and “office for children with problems” which is the exact opposite of what a real guidance and counseling profession is supposed to be. These negative connotations tend to hinder the proper function and delivery of guidance services especially now that Guidance and Counseling has been professionalized since 2004 through the enactment of Republic Act 9258 or the Guidance and Counseling Act.
Guidance counselors in the field are grateful for the initial support of the national government through the Guidance and Counseling Act of 2004, which acknowledges the need for professional guidance and counseling in the pursuit of empowering the youth to be of help in nation building. Also, the passage of RA 11036 or the National Mental Health Act of 2017 stipulated the right or every Filipino citizen to avail of mental health services such as guidance and counselling, thus, it is important that such service is not only limited to educational institutions but also to industry and other sectors of our society.
However, those who are on the ground still feel the need for the profession to be empowered and supported in what they are doing as not everyone understood the real function of a guidance counselor aside from issues of sometimes being underappreciated, undercompensated, and misunderstood despite the efforts made by the personnel him/herself and others. These issues sometimes, if unresolved, pave the way for few registered guidance counselors to shift into a different career which again decreases the number of qualified personnel making it a hard to fill job and in return adds up to the load of teachers who have lots of ad hoc tasks already most especially now in the new normal education. These situation has a domino effect whether we like it or not, thus, these calls for an awakening from the national down to the local government and the guidance counselors themselves.
Guidance counselors need to reorient the public and make sure to implement the guidance program to help them understand and appreciate the need for such services as the profession itself is still young especially in our country despite it being old in the history of psychology.
In line with this, such professionals need to work hand and hand with the hope of positive changes through partnerships with LGUs and memberships with regional or national government and non-government organizations such as Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association, Inc. (PCGA).
In Benguet, guidance counselors in the Department of Education who are members of PGCA are being trained and used in the conduct of guidance related programs/activities such as the provision of psychological first aid, psychosocial processing for those affected by disasters and conduct of trainings to teachers in the implementation of guidance related programs as not all schools have guidance counselors. These activities are being done by the guidance counselors aside from the basic services that they have in their own school such as information, placement, referral, counseling, testing, individual inventory, evaluation, research, and follow-up services.
Such activities and trainings are made possible by the Youth Formation Development Division, Disaster Risk Reduction Management Division, and other partners in the industry who have the same mission of helping others towards positive nation-building.
With the help of the abovementioned partners, support from the local and national government, the school with its administrator, teachers and learners and the overall administrator of all things happening, we should continue to strive and hope for more improvements and positive changes in the field of guidance and counseling not just for personal gain but for the youth. (JOAN HERMITIA B. WAGANG)