Counseling in Italy

By Remley, Theodore P., Jr.; Bacchini, Eugenio et al. | Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD, Winter 2010 | Go to article overview

Counseling in Italy


Remley, Theodore P., Jr., Bacchini, Eugenio, Krieg, Paul, Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD


The counseling profession in Italy is in a very early stage of development. Even though there are counselors practicing in Italy, currently, there are no university academic programs at any level for the preparation. Professional counselor associations in Italy offer counselor preparation programs and issue certificates of completion. A typical program might be 3 years in duration and might include 450 to 500 hours of instruction. Professional counselor associations have existed for less than 10 years in Italy and tend to be centered on theoretical orientations or models of counseling. In contrast to counseling professional associations in the United States, very little energy seems to be devoted by these associations to advancing the profession of counseling in Italy.

Professions in Italy are regulated by the national government, which is different from the system used in the United States, where professions are regulated by state governments. The national government of Italy does not regulate the profession of counseling, but counseling has recently been listed as an unregulated profession (Consiglio Nazionale dell'Economia e del Lavoro [CNEL; National Council for Economy and Labor], 2005), meaning the counseling profession is at least acknowledged as existing by the government. Psychologists in Italy are opposed to recognition of or regulation of counseling as a profession. The Italian government is currently considering reforming the laws related to professional regulation, and counselors are hopeful that this reform movement could lead to counseling being more fully accepted.

Italian schools, as elsewhere in Europe, emphasize academics and do not employ counselors or offer counseling services. Aides sometimes are employed in schools to mainstream students with special needs, but there are no career, personal, or academic counselors in Italian schools.

Increasing numbers of persons in Italy have studied counseling theories and practices. Individuals who have completed counselor training from an association and identify themselves as counselors might have the equivalent of a high school education or may hold a university degree. A large number of counselors in Italy have the equivalent of bachelor's degrees in pedagogy or philosophy of education, and some are physicians or psychologists who have an interest in the humanistic orientation of the counseling movement.

It is interesting that Italians have adopted the English word counselor rather than using an Italian word equivalent. The English word counselor became the accepted title because a proper translation to Italian with the same meaning could not be found.

* Description of Italy

To understand the development of the profession of counseling in Italy, one may find it helpful to have a perspective on the history of the country and a basic understanding of the people who live there. The Roman Empire was a unifying factor more than 2 millennia ago; however, modern Italy, which dates from only 1860, is a very new nation (Greenspun, 2006). Italy sits in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, with the Balkans and Greece to the east, Spain and France to the west, and Africa barely off its southern coast. The richness of its economic and cultural life has made the peninsula a crossroads, as well as an object of contention, among various outside powers over the centuries. Of course, the social needs and the resulting development of counseling in Italy are profoundly influenced by location, history, peoples, religious heritage, culture, politics, and living conditions.

With a population of more than 58 million persons on 116,000 square miles of land, much of it mountainous, Italy is very densely populated. There are approximately 500 persons per square mile (WorldAtlas.Com, 2009) compared with 80 persons per square mile in the United States. Despite its low numbers of immigrants, like most political entities in the world, Italy is not homogeneous. …

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