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COVID-19 Outbreak and Guidance and Psychological Counseling Profession - Prof. Dr. Alim Kaya

COVID-19 Outbreak and Guidance and Psychological Counseling Profession - Prof. Dr. Alim Kaya

“The art of helping people in difficulty today” 

Fast changing life standards force us to conform to these changes at the same speed. However these changes occur so quickly, that even humans who are known to have the ability to adapt quickly, face difficulties. One of the best examples of this is the Covid-19 outbreak and what we have experienced afterwards, where along with the rest of the world we have observed how life has changed rapidly, and how we are trying to adapt to this change and flow. Nothing in the world and nobody’s life is the same as it was prior to the outbreak. In our country and across the world, many people have been affected economically, socially and psychologically during this period. This process for all of humanity has undoubtedly been one of the most traumatic and challenging ones. However we also know that humanity will overcome all traumatic and difficult effects, and will find new ways of adapting, will dress its wounds and continue to live on.

As the Covid-19 pandemic we are experiencing poses difficulties upon the whole world, we are all faced with many life events that we have to comply with and adapt to within the flow of our own lives at the micro level. There are many important or insignificant changes occurring within the flow of our lives, inside or external to us, with or without our control, and each change forces us to adapt to it. The ability and capacity of each of us to achieve this harmony is different from each other. While it is easy for some of us to adapt to the changing conditions, it is harder for some of us to overcome.

For reasons such as challenging life events, human relationships, educational and career development and selection, we all resort to our own strengths and possibilities to cope with the internal challenges we face. If our own strengths and resources are insufficient, if we are unable to solve the internal confusion we are experiencing, we apply to our environment and social support resources. If this is not enough, we tend to seek help from a professional. Here the first group of profession, we can seek help from to deal with the confusion and problems caused by these difficulties; are psychological counselors. Psychological counselors; are graduates from the Guidance and Psychological Counseling programs of universities, providing professional, preventive, protective, enhancing and empowering mental health services in subjects such as various life events, human relations, educational and career developments that individuals encounter in life.

As emphasized above, Psychological Counselors can provide preventive, protective, enhancing and empowering mental health services, providing this especially in educational institutions, in the industry and career fields, special education, rehabilitation field and health institutions. Scientific and technological developments all over the world and the rapid changes caused by these developments complicate life more and bring various problems with it. The number of people seeking help to deal with these problems are increasing day by day, with the effect of different and positive perspectives on mental health. In addition to this, governments across the world prefer the application of “preventive mental health services” that focus on preventing, protecting, developing and strengthening the mental health of people who are completely ‘normal’, in a short period of time, instead of expensive, costly and long-term “therapeutic mental health services”. Based on these two developments, we can say with ease that the demand for occupations that offer “preventive and empowering” services, as opposed to “therapeutic” services in the mental health field will increase in the century we are in. From the perspective of our society, we can predict that the demand for psychological counselors will increase in our country when we consider our unique social characteristics and dynamics. To give an example at this point, the average age of our society is increasing rapidly. In the future, this will increase the services for the elderly, and in this context, the demand for developer-strengthening mental health services for the elderly, and thus, the need for psychological counselors will increase. Demand for psychological counseling services will increase in many areas such as this, and the field of psychological counseling will diversify and respond to these increasing social demands. Graduate programs will be opened in these varying fields in response.

Many of our young people, during the Higher Education Institutions Examination and after, in choosing a profession, will make one of their most important decisions of their lives. Making such a decision that concerns many areas of their lives, is one of the most powerful life events that challenge our youth. In this case, the first professional that our youngsters can get help from is a psychological counselor. Psychological counselors are professionals who provide psychological help and support for our young people to make the most appropriate and correct decision in these difficult decision making processes.

The psychological counseling profession, as emphasized above, is the profession of psychological support. Our young people who have a high interest in people, who are happy to help them, assist in their troubles, who are willing to understand, listen to people and help them cope with the difficulties they face, can choose this profession. As we have stated above, our youth who would like to select this occupation must know themselves well and ask, do I have an interest in people? Am I willing to listen to and understand them? Would it make me happy to help them in their times of difficulty? They should ask themselves these questions and be sure that they are definitely answering "Yes" to them.
Another question that our young people who decide to choose the psychological counseling profession should answer is, where should I get this education? In other words, at which university should I study Guidance and Psychological Counseling (GPC)? Turkey and the TRNC have many GPC programs, and we can provide the following recommendations in this regard: 

If you have decided to receive GPC education;

  1. Not every place that says university on its sign is a “university”. University means knowledge, tradition and culture. Even if you bring together the world's best scientists in the most modern buildings and laboratories in the world, it will take years for the university to become a rated university. In short, you must pay attention to the history of the university, you must check the age of the university (At this point we should state that the world’s oldest university, Bologna University is 932 years old, Oxford University is 924, Sorbonne University is 763, Cambridge University is 811; in our country, Istanbul University is 87, Ankara University is 74, Ege University is 65, METU is 64, and Hacettepe University is 53 years old; the TRNC’s first university; Eastern Mediterranean University, is 40 years old. 
  2. You should investigate the number of faculty members in the GPC field of the university you choose and the quality of the faculty members. Keep in mind that there are programs with not even 3 members of teaching staff. The information is at your hand, so definitely examine them. 
  3. The international ranking, recognition, popularity and international experience opportunities of the university you choose are important. Pay attention to these.
  4. Check if the GPC program you choose is accredited by national and international accreditation bodies. In short, being accredited is proof that quality education is provided and under control. In other words, it is the assurance of its quality. 
  5. Do not ignore points such as campus facilities, social cultural events, library, and sports facilities of the university you will choose.

Prof. Dr.  Alim Kaya
Guidance and Psychological Counseling Program