Registered counsellors' perceptions of their role in the South African context
Rouillard, Marie Claire Michelle
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Registered counsellors were regarded as part of the solution to the ever-increasing void in mental healthcare and were acknowledged by the South African government over a decade ago. Some challenges have however arisen regarding the implementing of their vocations in the community, that impact service delivery as well as career satisfaction of registered counsellors, but limited information is available in terms of the exploration of the perceptions of registered counsellors regarding their role in the South African context. This study focused on exploring how registered counsellors perceive their role in South Africa and describing these perceptions. This research is important because little is known about the perceptions of registered counsellors and their experience of their role in the South African context. The research was conducted in Johannesburg and Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. 12 participants (one man and 11 women) volunteered to be part of the research. The size of the sample was not predetermined, but was rather based on data saturation. The participants were purposefully selected on the basis of having acquired the registration of registered counsellor with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Data was collected through conducting semi-structured interviews with all the participants. An interview schedule was used to facilitate the interview process for consistency in the interviews. Thematic analysis was utilised to delineate different themes. To ensure the trustworthiness of the research process, the guidelines suggested by Lincoln and Guba (1985) were followed. The current researcher found that the registered counsellors experienced conflicting perceptions of their role in South Africa. They felt that their role was a necessary and important one in South Africa and in the context of the development of mental healthcare in South Africa. However, some negative feelings were also expressed as they experienced uncertainty regarding their role in the profession as well as the changing scope of practice for registered counsellors in South Africa. Additional negative perceptions were associated with a lack of acknowledgement of their role by other mental healthcare professionals and some ignorance from the public regarding the work of registered counsellors. To promote adequate mental healthcare in South Africa, mental health professionals such as registered counsellors are particularly important. But what appears to be the uncertainty and a lack of information related to the role of registered counsellors, has impacted negatively on their perception of their role in South Africa and, as a result, many individuals do not work in the professional mental healthcare field. It is recommended that the perception of the registered counsellors be acknowledged and taken into consideration to further the development of mental healthcare and treatment for mental health difficulties within the South African context.
- Humanities