Counseling in the Czech Republic: History, Status, and Future
Simons, Jack D., Hutchison, Brian, Bagtecka, Zuzana, Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD
In response to the end of World War II and the ensuing Cold War, the U.S. government provided more funding for the training of counselors (Hutchison, Niles, & Trusty, 2008). The Czech Republic is now following suit during the current postcommunist era (Rosolova, 2009). In this article, we provide an overview of this transition while also making suggestions for the advancement of the counseling profession in the country. Currently, counseling is not a stand-alone profession, but this may change if Czech counselors begin to infuse social justice into their work and forge relationships with Western counselors.
Historically, counselors in the Czech Republic have provided marriage counseling (Kopp, 1938; Novak, 2006) and vocational guidance (Brozek & Hoskovec, 1998). Today, they also practice in academic settings, have extensive training (typically as master's-level psychologists), and participate in professional organizations. Their role continues to emerge because of the influence of the European Union (EU; Hraba, Mullick, Lorenz, Vecernik, & McCutcheon, 2002).
Counselors who are unfamiliar with the Czech Republic are in a position to learn more about its geography, language, politics, population characteristics, and success stories. This awareness sets the stage for effectively helping the Czech people and learning about other postcommunist countries with similar reforms (A. Sobolevska, personal communication, February 8, 2011). The article is organized as follows. The first section reports on a general overview of the Czech Republic, whereas the second deals with social and political considerations. The third section reviews the history of Czech counseling, and the fourth addresses the training of counselors/psychologists. The fifth section addresses current counseling practices in the Czech Republic, and the sixth provides recommendations for the advancement of the profession.
* Overview of the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic (which includes two provinces, Bohemia and Moravia) is a country about the size of South Carolina. It sits in the heart of central Europe, east of Germany, west of Slovakia, south of Poland, and north of Austria (Rosolova, 2009). According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA; 2010), the population is 10.2 million with a--0.1% population growth rate. The Czech people are hard-working and well-educated, especially in math and science. They are artistic, which is supported by a familiar saying, "Every Czech is a musician." Czechs speak cestina, Czech, a Western Slavic language. Counselors who are cognizant of these facts work most effectively with the Czech people. Moreover, they are more likely to know of the many well-known people with Czech roots.
All the following individuals were born in the Czech region: Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis; Max Wertheimer, the father of Gestalt psychology; and Jan Amos Komensky, the teacher of nations. The country has also produced a long line of top models, athletes, and musicians: Tat'ana Kuchafova (Miss World 2006), Petra Nemcova (Sports Illustrated model), Jaromir Jagr (hockey player), Ivan Lendl and Martina Navratilova (tennis players), Pavel Padrnos (Lance Armstrong's cycling teammate), and Bedrich Smetana (composer). In 2009, the former Czech president Vaclav Klaus was appointed as head of the EU. We suggest that the likelihood of knowing someone of Czech descent is high because there have been several waves of mass Czech immigration to the United States over the years ("The Bohemian Emigration," n.d.).
* Sociopolitical Considerations
The Czech Republic presents a unique opportunity for this review because prior to becoming a social democracy, it was communist (Willems, 2008). Consequently, the majority of Czechs were unable to travel to the West for most of the 20th century. They were also influenced in other ways. For example, they were unable to participate in religion. …