Career counseling be included in education system: Anum Zulfiqar

Asif Khan Turk

Anum Zulfiqar Zafar is a known clinical psychologist based in Karachi. She has done BS (Psychology) and M.Phil (Clinical Psychology) from the Bahria University, Karachi Campus. She has a sound experience in counseling, psychotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy as well as other psychological therapies and techniques. She has served at various mental healthcare institutes and development sector organisations, including Karwan Hayat, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning, Shifa Hospital and The Brain Clinic. Presently, she is working at The Institute of Mind Sciences as a psychotherapist, whereas she is also associated as a clinical psychologist with Mindcareon and Healing Center – an online psychotherapy platform.

Psychologist Anum has a very dynamic and vibrant personality, having a good exposure to the field of human development in perspective of clinical psychology. She has outstanding interpersonal qualities and is highly capable of addressing complicated psychological disorders. Besides, she is known as a rising mental health expert for her marked contributions to media as well as social media on awareness and solution of different psychological problems of the public.

She spoke to Sunrise Today on Friday about the need and importance of the inclusion of career counseling in our education system as well as other social and economic factors and aspects related to the topic. Following is the excerpt of the interview:

Sunrise Today: What is the need and importance of career counseling? From which level it should be started to rightly know about the interests of the students by taking them ahead in the fields of their choices to secure their futures?

Anum Zulfiqar: Career counseling is a highly important process that enables us to find the interests, trends and choices of the children about different professions. When the students go through this process they have no confusion about the different fields of life as they already know about their directions through which they easily secure their futures. Therefore, career counseling should be started from class one as it is the main principle of this process that a student must be analyzed from day one of the school to class 12th in order to rightly understand his/her psychology about that profession for which he/she is mentally fit.

ST: As you stated that career counseling should be started from class one, but in Pakistan it normally starts after class 12th. So, is it the right way?

A.Z: Actually, in our country there is no proper concept of career counseling as it exists in the rest of the countries, especially the developed countries that’s why we start counseling of the students when they complete their intermediate level. However, the right way is to start it from class one, whereas counseling after class 12th is just completing the formality.

ST: So, what is the way forward in this regard?

A.Z: It is a very important question. Let me give you a detailed answer. Basically, our education system is still based on old and conventional guidelines and has no space for any advanced feature such as counseling. Therefore, it is necessary to establish our educational system on modern and advanced scientific guidelines by including career counseling as a basic part in it. As a result new ways would be opened for the students to scientifically discover themselves as in the prevailing setup almost no student knows about his/her personality with respect to adopting a right career of his/her choice and that’s why the whole system is based on trial and error method. The students are trying and trying again just to find employment opportunities, instead of securing their futures in a proper way.

ST: Well. What do you suggest to government about the inclusion of career counseling as a basic feature in the education system?

A.Z: As it is a fact that without adopting the concept of counseling in our educational system we can’t achieve our goal of “right man for right job”, therefore, the government should make an effective policy in this regard, under which educational psychologists/career counselors should be made part of the education department and in the first phase at least one psychologist should be appointed at every school and college/university and he/she should be assigned the duty to analyze the personalities of the students through psychological testing and make their monthly and annual reports to know about their trends towards their specific fields of interests. Similarly, remedial therapists should also be appointed in schools and colleges to help the weak students in improving their academic problems with respect to understanding different subjects.

ST: In this regard what is the role of parents? What do you suggest to them?

A.Z: The role of parents is of great importance in career building of the children and without their support students mostly unable to achieve their goals and objectives completely. Therefore, parent should pay proper attention to the counseling of their children and give them free hand to select the fields of their own choices. It can be seen that a large number of parents in our society enforce their children for adopting those professions which they even don’t like and as a result the situation becomes abnormal for the children, but to fulfill the wishes of the parents which is a very wrong practice and it must be discouraged.

ST: Lastly, please tell something about the role of other stakeholders in this regard. And what do you think about different types of reality shows that provide a platform to those children and youth who have interest in liberal and performing arts and want to go ahead in the fields of acting, singing, comedy, dancing, painting, sketch drawing and sculpting etc.?

A.Z: Apart from the government and parents other stakeholders are media and civil society. Media is being a catalyst should raise the issue with the help of experts on counseling, whereas the civil society should also play its due role in creating awareness at gross root level. And about different types of reality shows in media I would like to say that it is a very good step that enables the students to perform on national and international level to get recognised, encouraged and motivated in their respective fields. Therefore, such platforms should be more developed and strengthened to provide our youth an opportunity of joining the aforementioned fields as full time professions.

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