An International Perspective on Professional Counselor Identity

By Alvarez, Courtney M.; Lee, ShinHwa | Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview

An International Perspective on Professional Counselor Identity


Alvarez, Courtney M., Lee, ShinHwa, Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research


Recent developments in technology and communication contributed to increased international collaboration in counseling practice, education, and research. The availability of information outlining the international trends in professional counseling allows an international perspective on the topic of professional counselor identity. A common aspect of international counselor identity is the early development of school counseling with the exception of Italy and Denmark. A challenge to the development of the counseling profession is the limited availability of training in many countries. Also, early in the development of the profession, it may be difficult to establish training and practice standards. Standards and regulation are necessary to ensure adequate and appropriate training and practice. Regulations and government policies allow counselors to define their scope of practice and professional role. Finally, the cultural implications of the adoption of training and models from other countries pose an additional concern to counselor identity and practice. It is necessary for counselors to inform training and practice with local cultural values and norms.

There is an increased emphasis on the development of a professional counselor identity, as illustrated by the development and adoption of the Vision 20/20 principles (Kaplan & Gladding, 2011). Additionally, with the increase in global communication and trade, there is an awareness and knowledge of education and professional practice internationally. The practice of professional counseling developed in or spread to a variety of countries around the world. As the emphasis on professional development and the accompanying professional and educational standards grows in the United States, similar processes of development for the counseling profession occur in other countries. The Journal of Counseling & Development encouraged sharing research related to the development of the profession internationally through the International Counseling Section (Hohenshil, 2010). Through improvements in communication, unprecedented collaboration between counseling professionals across borders is now possible. The ability to share research and professional developments allows counselors to advocate for and strengthen the profession internationally.

There are common factors related to the practice of professional counseling internationally; however, distinct events shaped the nature of the profession within each country. Similar to diversity in the practice of counseling, there are variations in the development of professional regulation and training programs. Education and training serve as a limitation to the capacity of some countries to meet the need for services. Countries adopted models and practices similar to those of the United States to varying degrees. The adoption of Western or specifically American practices poses cultural challenges in some countries. Additionally, the vast diversity within some countries presents a unique, cultural challenge.

To develop and promote an international counseling profession including counselor identity, several counseling organizations were created. These organizations provided international counseling conferences, promoted collaborative research, and developed educational opportunities between counselors and other helping professionals (Hoskins & Thompson, 2009). For example, the International Association for Counseling (IAC) was created to contribute to the well-being of people worldwide as a major partner in the global counseling community (International Association for Counseling, 2009). IAC hosts international counseling conferences and publishes peer reviewed journals, The International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, to promote the exchange of information of counseling activities throughout the world (International Association for Counseling, 2009).

The National Board of Certified Counselors International (NBCC-I) was created in 2003 as a division of National Board of Certified Counselors, Inc. …

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