Counseling in the Republica Bolivariana De Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela)

By Montilla, R. Esteban; Smith, Robert L. | Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

Counseling in the Republica Bolivariana De Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela)


Montilla, R. Esteban, Smith, Robert L., Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD


Counseling is seen in Latin America as the coming together of people to help one another through empathic support, a nourishing spirit, empowering solidarity, and a sharing of wisdom. This consilium (Latin etymological word for counseling meaning "coming together") takes place with the intention of generating knowledge to make wise decisions that preserve the dignity and well-being of the community and person. The healing impact of these relational dialogues and encounters hinges on the connections that arise when individuals address one another with respect and mutuality within an atmosphere of trust, faith, and hope.

* History of Counseling in Venezuela

This kind of counseling has taken place among Amerindians in what is now Venezuela for thousands of years. The practice of counseling was initiated by healers and midwives, who, after years of training under the mentoring of more experienced practitioners, were recognized by the authority of the tribe or community to be healers. Their responsibilities were to take care of the person as a whole within the family and social context. Care was given from a holistic perspective using religious elements, natural medicine, healing dialogues, and social prescriptions. Interventions were driven by the need to have a harmonious community in which each member could experience wholeness (Montilla, 2004).

The coming of the Europeans to Venezuela in the late 15th and early 16th centuries altered the traditional methods of delivering care. Although Europeans found well-developed Amerindian societies with sociopolitical and technological practices that reflected their wisdom and entrepreneurial spirit (Fernandez-Armesto, 2003), they considered the indigenous healing traditions as superstitious and demoniac. The encounter of these cultures, although troubled and often filled with injustice, eventually enriched each. The result was the mestizaje, not just in terms of people but also in terms of culture. Formal and higher education was part of the cultural interchange. In the early 16th century, several schools were created throughout the country, giving birth later to universities such as the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas (1725), the Universidad de los Andes in Merida (1810), the Universidad del Zulia in Maracaibo (1891), and the Universidad de Carabobo in Valencia (1892).

The entire education system of Venezuela was initially influenced by the European model because many of the teachers were European theologians, educators, sociologists, psychologists, and anthropologists. The European educational influence continued in the early 20th century with the arrival of scholars who found refuge in Venezuela from the World War 1 and World War II conflicts. The emergence of vocational and guidance counseling in European countries and in the United States was extended to Venezuela. In the 1940s, institutions such as the Instituto Pedagogico de Caracas started teaching psychology, guidance, counseling, and psychotherapy classes. These courses were led by Eugenio Gonzalez, a Chilean philosopher who resided in Venezuela at that time, and his colleague Francisco Del Olmo, a Venezuelan professor educated in guidance and counseling in Brussels, Belgium. About the same time, Jose Ortega Duran, a Spanish professor, created the Servicio de Psicotecnia at the Liceo Andres Bello in Caracas to provide vocational guidance and school counseling (Calonge, 1998; Casado, 1987; Rodriguez & Sanchez, 1996).

In the 1950s and 1960s, universities such as the Instituto Pedagogico de Caracas (today, Universidad Pedagogica Experimental Libertador), the Universidad Central de Venezuela, the Universidad de los Andes, the Universidad de Carabobo, and the Universidad Catolica Andres Bello created undergraduate and graduate programs in vocational guidance and school counseling, but many of the programs were later discontinued. In 1963, the Department of Education of the Venezuelan government along with the United States Agency for International Development created the Servicio Nacional de Orientacion under the direction of Aida Curcho Sifuentes with the intention of developing special training in vocational counseling. …

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