A study on regulatory frameworks and operation of counseling clinics in Nairobi, Kenya
The demand for counseling services in Kenya has been on the increase over the last few years. Counseling is a process whose aim is to help clients make better choices by understanding themselves and focusing to change specific aspect of their feeling, thinking and acting. The provision of counseling service by competent persons and clear guidelines on its operations are important in ensuring ethical standards and quality service delivery. The objective of this study was to establish how counseling clinics operate in Nairobi, the qualification and accreditation levels of counseling providers, the type of counseling services provided, efficacy and challenges faced by counselors in the provision of their services. The study design was cross – sectional descriptive survey conducted in Nairobi. The study sample was obtained from counseling clinics operating in Nairobi that are registered by statutory body in Kenya. It was estimated that there were 80 counseling service providers operating in Nairobi that are registered at the Attorney General Chambers (AG), government ministries, and from the counseling/psychological associations. The researcher sampled all of them. The Data collection instruments involved a questionnaire encompassing socio demographic questionnaire (SDQ), a general questionnaire on operations and schedule for counselors, and Counselor Activity Self-Efficacy Scale (CASES). The CASES measures the perceived abilities of counselors in various clinically related activities and skills such as listening, self disclosure and immediacy to the counselors’ beliefs about their ability to perform counseling-related behaviors or to negotiate particular clinical situations. The collected data was analyzed using the statistical package for social scientists program (SPSS) version 20. The study found out that counseling providers in Nairobi operate without licenses and there is no legal body to regulate or accredit counselors. Most counselors were good at the use of general counseling skills but there was a significant difference between young and older counselors and the counseling methods used by counselors. The study recommended that there is need for regulated counseling services and a body to enforce ethical compliance and standards. There is need for a minimum level of training and experience for one to be allowed to practices as counselor. There was no significant difference in confidence levels between counselors who are members of a professional body and those that are not. The study recommends further research to establish effectiveness of professional counseling bodies in relations to supervision of counselors and maintenance of best practices.