A critical review of industrial–organisational psychologists as counsellors
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Industrial-organisational (I-O) Psychology is known for specialising in the study of human behaviour in the workplace (Van Vuuren, 2010). It is clear that the problems associated with individuals in the workplace form the basis for the existence of I-O psychology. Veldsman (2001) stated that it is imperative to reflect upon the future of I-O psychology and that I-O psychology must be repositioned in future. Therefore, it is emphasised that additional roles should be elicited for I-O psychologists in South Africa (Barnard & Fourie, 2007). Moalusi (2001) has recognised the need for I-O psychologists to reposition themselves in future by focusing on significant workplace issues. Upon further investigation it should be noted that many factors that exert an influence upon workplace behaviour do not necessarily derive from the workplace. These factors, such as family responsibilities, cultural influences and traumatic events, suggest that the sphere of influence of the I-O psychologists stretches far beyond the physical borders of the workplace (Landy & Conte, 2004; Van Vuuren, 2010). According to Strümpfer (2007), it is the I-O psychologist who is concerned with the deep-rooted problems of individuals. The objective of the study was therefore to critically review the role I-O psychologists play as counsellors, and to determine whether counselling should form part of the I-O psychologist’ scope of practice. A qualitative research design was utilised in the study following a phenomenology strategy. Convenience and snowball sampling were used to identify (n=22) I-O psychologists across the Gauteng and North West provinces. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, where the participants were asked to reflect upon seven interview questions which were later transcribed verbatim and analysed using content analysis. Nine themes were extracted from the data, namely, the meaning of counselling, counselling situations that I-O psychologists face, counselling skills required by I-O psychologists, characteristics displayed by I-O psychologist during counselling, counsellor competencies required of I-O psychologists, post graduate counselling training received by I-O psychologists, additional counselling training received by I-O psychologists, recommendations made for future training of I-O psychology students and lastly the inclusion of counselling in the scope of practice. From the results it was clear the I-O psychologists are familiar with the meaning of counselling and that they are faced with a diverse range of counselling situations requiring a unique set of skills and competencies. Participants had divergent experience and opinions with regard to the training received in preparation of their role as counsellor. In relation to their training participants made recommendations for the future training of I-O psychologists. Finally, participants mentioned that it would be in their best interest if counselling is formally included in the scope of practice of the I-O psychologists.