10 Problems of Guidance and Counseling in Nigeria & Solutions

While in the University as a student counselor, one of the biggest issues we had to come to terms with was the fact that guidance and counseling aren’t thriving in Nigeria.

Years after years, thousands of people keep graduating with counseling degrees but what we see is that the country seems not to be acknowledging the fact that there are some people called counselors and because of this there is no room for counselors in the world of work.

Although not statistically proven, I can safely guess that over 70% of graduates of guidance and counseling never practice as counselors. And for those who are practicing, the two most visible options are to become guidance and counseling lecturers and to work in a public school.

But why is this so? In this article, I have explored 10 problems affecting guidance and counseling in Nigeria and what can be done about them.

Problems Affecting Guidance and Counseling in Nigeria

1. Inadequate sensitisation of citizens

This is the biggest and most obvious reason why counseling is not thriving in Nigeria. People don’t just know about counseling or what it can offer to them.

In fact, a good number of my coursemates in the University then, said they first heard about the course when they were offered admission.

If the counselors who are studying counseling themselves are just getting to know about what they do, how then can others patronize what they don’t know about?

If there is one single reformation that can change the prospect of guidance and counseling in Nigeria, it is to let every citizen hear about counseling and how it can help their lives.

2. Incompetence among counselors

This is another major problem of counseling in Nigeria. Most of the graduates of guidance and counseling cannot practice professionally and people know.

Even counselors know they are not skilled enough to help clients (except for a small proportion). So even among those who have heard about counseling, they are not patronizing Nigerian counselors because they know they can’t deliver.

Various schools have employed counselors and laid them off because they can’t see any contribution the counselors are making in their school.

If a new wave of counselors whose services can change lives rises, more people will hear about it. Counselors need to train themselves and up their games.

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3. Inadequate advocacy from counselors

Now from the counselors who are skilled and can actually deliver, there is no advocacy. Counselors aren’t making enough noise and fighting for their cause in Nigeria. I have not witnessed any campaign from counselors, I have not seen any billboard, Newspaper column, or TV broadcast advocating for counselors.

Even online, when I was trying to do some research to write this article, the only resources I found about counseling in Nigeria were academic research (projects) and we know no one reads projects except they want to write their own project.

Counselors who are sure they have something to offer must take up a stand and advocate for themselves until their voices are heard.

4. Non-functioning professional bodies

So why aren’t counselors advocating? Because our professional bodies aren’t functioning. In the University we were taught of the existence of CASSON and APROCON but that was the end. We weren’t told how to join the bodies, the activities of the bodies, or where their offices are.

At least, in my final year we heard about TRCN and we were given the option to join if we wanted. But nothing is heard of CASSON or APROCON. I just checked CASSON’s Facebook page now and nothing is happening there except for an invitation to an event asking us to pay ₦16,000.

The last publication on CASSON’s website was in 2019. APROCON’s website, on the other hand, was inaccessible when I tried. This shows how the professional bodies of counselors don’t even believe in their cause.

5. Inadequate funding

I know I have been tough on counselors in the last two points but it is understandable. Counseling bodies and advocacy programs cannot run without funding, and a lot of it, but we still need advocacy programs to convince the government to give us funding to do advocacy.

This is a funny situation.

Individuals can rise, however, and start something. We can leverage influential relationships to both source for funds and advocate for us. There are several counselors in government who can make a difference.

6. Unfavourable government policies

This is another problem for counselors in Nigeria. I heard a few years ago that the Kwara State government no longer recognizes counselors in public schools (our only hope). They said you either choose to teach or there’s no job for you.

This is just one of several government policies affecting guidance and counseling in Nigeria and the way out is still intensified advocacy as stated earlier.

7. Proliferation of quasi counselors

If you look at your neighborhood closely enough, you will find that it is not as though people aren’t looking for counsel. It is just that they aren’t going to professional counselors for counseling.

Week after week, the offices of religious leaders are filled with people who go for counseling. So the presence of quasi-counselors is another reason why professional counseling isn’t thriving in Nigeria.

This wouldn’t be an issue though if counselors can portray themselves as solution providers. People will go anywhere for a solution if they are sure they will get it.

8. Over-dependence on government or conventional counseling approaches

The only way to practice as a counselor is not until the government approves of us. Just like I stated in the previous point, since what people are looking for are solutions, if you can come up with creative and innovative ways of rendering your services, you will thrive.

For instance, instead of complaining about quasi-counselors in churches, you can partner with the church by convincing the leadership and making them see how effective you can be.

Don’t say they won’t accept, persuasion is a skill that can be learned. I have covered creative ways you can practice in this post here:

9. Offering counseling degrees to uninterested students

Now, we are back to institutional challenges facing counseling in Nigeria. I didn’t apply for guidance and counseling. I applied for Computer Science but the University of Ilorin offered me Counsellor Education.

Thankfully I later loved the course because I had an interest in the field. But I am just 1 out of 265 students in my set. Till I graduated, I didn’t see any of my classmates who said Guidance and Counseling was what they wanted to study and even after graduation, most of my coursemates weren’t interested in the field.

Graduating more students who don’t want to be counselors only tarnishes the image of the profession even more because those who see a graduate of guidance and counseling who cannot practice because they aren’t interested will think that’s how other counselors are.

Universities should stop making guidance and counseling a dumping ground for students who don’t qualify for other courses.

To get more people to study the course, the approach should be sensitizing secondary school students and increasing career guidance programs so that only those who are truly interested in practicing will become counselors.

If certified counselors are fewer and highly skilled, they will be more respected than if they are many and unskilled.

10. Impracticability of guidance and counseling lectures

This is also an institutional problem against counseling in Nigeria. The practicum exercises in counseling training programs are not effective. In my case, we were asked to go to any secondary school, counsel any student, and record the session and we were graded based on that recording.

Till today, I didn’t get any feedback on how effective I was. I don’t know what I did wrong or right, I just saw a score on my result. Counseling practicum should be more immersive with the aim of practical teaching, not practical grading.

Factors Mitigating Against Counseling in Nigeria

There you have the major problems I have identified to be affecting the thrive of counseling in Nigeria and they are all overcomable. The future of counseling is in the hands of counselors, not the government or the citizens.

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