Tap growing pool of counselling services

The Singapore Association for Counselling (SAC) and the Association for Marital and Family Therapy Singapore (AMFTS) thank Mr Rajan Chettiar ("Counselling a must for couples before resorting to divorce"; July 19) and Madam Shirley Woon ("Counselling a necessity, not a taboo"; July 23) for highlighting the need for counsellors.

Counsellors' role in society is even more pressing today. However, their services are generally sought only when problems arise.

With the growing stresses and expectations among married couples, we encourage couples looking to work on their marriage or who want to enhance their family life to seriously consider counselling as a first option.

In our experience as counsellors, we see the importance of inviting individuals, couples and families to seek counselling before any meltdown. This difference in attitude towards counselling can offer useful help to clients, as they can focus on "working on and with things", rather than dealing with acrimony and animosity.

SAC and AMFTS are encouraging a shift towards greater awareness of the need for counselling for premarital couples, young married couples and young parents who are adjusting to family life.

We are happy to note the positive impact that counsellors are making on families because of the significant growth of counselling and psychotherapy services in Singapore.

Due to the complex nature of living, studying and working in Singapore, counselling is typically not a service that is provided alone or exclusively.

Counselling processes provided in tandem with family life education, social work support and intervention, family law and other related services can make marriages more resilient and can strengthen families in our community.

SAC and AMFTS represent nearly 1,000 counsellors and therapists operating and working in Singapore. Many of our counsellors operate within the social service sector, the community sector, and ministries such as the education, home affairs and health ministries, as well as the private sector.

However, this can still be improved upon, and we encourage other organisations to hire the services of and/or employ counsellors to provide support to their communities and employees.

This change in attitude and pre-emptive counselling require more collaborative efforts with human resources departments.

Most of our counsellors today have postgraduate degrees, specialised training and certification, and obtain clinical supervision.

Their advanced training equips them to work with complex psychological and social issues such as marital problems, depression, family relationships, work related stress, grief, crises and post-trauma-related concerns.

The availability of professional counselling is more evident today compared with 20 years ago. We therefore encourage organisations to tap this pool of talent.

Maimunah Mosli (Ms)
Association for Marital and Family Therapy Singapore

Sam Kuna
Singapore Association for Counselling

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2016, with the headline 'Tap growing pool of counselling services'. Print Edition | Subscribe