Review counselling system in all institutions

The NUS campus. PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr James Leong was specific in his reference to National University of Singapore's (NUS) counselling department in his letter (Restoring trust in counselling profession, June 17).

As a counsellor in private practice, I have seen many clients from all walks of life.

Many of them have chosen to see private counsellors because they value the confidentiality we have with them.

They know that whatever is shared is kept in the therapy room between the counsellor and the client. The Singapore Association of Counselling has a Code of Ethics which all registered counsellors have to adhere to.

However, in an educational institution such as NUS the counsellors often have a protocol to follow.

When I was an intern-counsellor at an educational institution, the number of people I had to submit my case report to meant I ended up breaking the counselling confidentiality rule.

A counsellor often has to report to a few other people in the system's hierarchy. While the reports were often just "for information only", trust was broken the moment these reports started their circulation outside the therapy room.

Was it really necessary to copy so many people in, who have no idea how to handle a case the way only a professionally trained counsellor would?

It is necessary to ask: Will this help the victim? Can I, as a recipient of this case report, do anything useful and helpful for the client?

Perhaps it is time to have an overhaul of the counselling system in all institutions. Have more respect for the counsellors and the work they do.

Counsellors play an important role which has been, for the longest time, neglected.

People who have access to case notes must be themselves trained in the counselling field.

Shirley Woon Li Lin

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2019, with the headline Review counselling system in all institutions. Subscribe