Bhutan Board for Certified Counselors (BBCC) certified 147 counselors for the first time in four different categories based on their qualification and the level of training.

The certification of peer, associate, master counselors and supervisor were done at the fourth biennial Bhutan counseling conference in Thimphu.

Peer counselors would require a minimum of high school diploma, an undergraduate degree for associate counselors and a minimum of postgraduate degree or masters for master counselors. The highest level of certified counselors, supervisors will need an academic background similar to master counselors. Professional experience required is different for each category.

Director at BBCC, Tshering Dolkar, said that the certification will allow a counselor to be recognised as a professional and allow them to practice in various fields they are trained in. “In the past, there were no regulations, standards and ethical code of conducts,” she said.

According to BBCC, 11 counselors were certified as supervisors, nine as master counselors, 27 as peer counselors and 100 as associate counselors.

Tshering Dolkar said the counselors will need to recertify the certification every three years, which will require them to fulfil certain criteria such as counselor education, supervised experience and practicing.

At the conference yesterday, it was said that for the Bhutan Medical and Health Council (BMHC) to recognise the counselors as professional health counselors, the counselors would need to fulfil the requirements and criteria set by BMHC.

Registrar with BMHC, Sonam Dorji, said that for the counselors are to fulfill three main principals of counseling – preventive, interventional and rehabilitation. “BMHC is proposing the registration of certified counselors, those who are eligible and has the capability to do interventional and rehabilitation counseling,” he said.

Currently, national certified counselor (NCC) supervisors and master counselors are eligible for registration to be recognised as professional health counselors.

Sonam Dorji said there is a module for mental health counselors. However, the module for reproductive adolescents, STD/HIV, alcohol abuse counseling and post trauma counselling will need to be developed.

Her Royal Highness Princess Kesang Choden Wangchuck launched the guidelines for the National Certification of counseling professionals in Bhutan and the official website. The two-day conference ends today.

BBCC held the conference in collaboration with the Khesar Gyelpo University of Medical Sciences, Samtese College of Education, Minsitry of Health, National Commission for Women and Children, Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority and Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women (RENEW).

Phurpa Lhamo