THE NUMBER of registered guidance counselors in the University went up to 33 from just two in a span of four years, despite a shortage of licensed practitioners, an official has bared.

This was amid stringent requirements—UST requires unlicensed guidance counselors to get a master’s degree in two years and take the licensure examination afterwards.

Guidance and Counseling Department Director Lucila Bance said non-registered guidance counselors signed a contract in 2008 to comply with the new requirements.

“If you are not able to finish the degree within two years [and if you don’t get a license], you’ll be out of UST,” Bance said in an interview.

These requirements came with the passage of the Guidance and Counseling Act of 2004, which regulates the practice of guidance and counseling in the Philippines by requiring those who want to become guidance counselors to get a master’s degree in the same field and pass the board examination before practicing the profession.

But exemptions were given to those who had spent at least five years as full-time guidance counselors or three years of teaching guidance and counseling courses, including those who had finished at least 18 master’s units within one year after the passage of the law.

Bance said the University does not accept unregistered guidance counselors, even with a shortage. There are only about 2,000 licensed practitioners in the country, she noted.

The first two topnotchers in the guidance and counseling board exams last year came from UST. Six unregistered guidance counselors will take the board exams in August this year while two master’s degree graduates in psychology are taking up their master’s degrees in guidance and counseling to be able to take the board examination in August next year, Bance said.

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UST has 41 guidance counselors.

Bance said poor information dissemination dragged the implementation of the law.

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