One of the core characteristics of every profession is the existence of a professional body that houses and oversees the practitioners and their activities respectively.
The profession of guidance and counselling in Nigeria is not any different. In this article, I will be covering an overview, the history, and the objectives of CASSON, the professional body of counsellors in Nigeria.
What is CASSON?
CASSON is an abbreviation for Counselling Association of Nigeria. It is the first and supreme professional organisation or body that is directly in charge of upholding the standards of the counselling profession in Nigeria.
It was established on the 15th of November 1975 at the University of Ibadan. The motto of the Counselling Association of Nigeria (CASSON) is “service, dedication, and commitment to the adjustment of the person (individual).”
CASSON is an independent body and its members are professional counsellors by training and skills.
History of CASSON
It is believed that guidance and counselling started in Nigeria in the year 1959. That year, some Catholic sisters at Saint Teresa’s college Ibadan organised a quite formal career guidance for graduating students.
During the programme, stakeholders from several government departments and ministries were invited for talks on the world of work and the employment opportunities that existed in their ministries.
The program resulted in the mass employment of that year’s graduating students and because of that, it was continued in subsequent years.
This initiative was what birthed the first association of counsellors in Nigeria called the Ibadan Careers Council in 1962.
Several other career councils were also formed in some other states across Nigeria, and in 1967, the careers council of Ibadan, Lagos, Enugu, Kano, and Kaduna formed the Nigeria Careers Council but their activities were forestalled by the Civil War.
On the 15th of November 1975, 8 years after the formation of the Nigeria Careers Council, the Counselling Association of Nigeria (then CAN) was launched to be the body responsible for the welfare of all career masters and guidance counsellors in Nigeria.
The first president of CASSON was Dr. Olu Makinde. The association had 49 members then but has since grown to over 5,000 members. At the 16th Annual General Meeting held at Bayero University, Kano from the 17th to 21st of August 1992, the acronym for Counselling Association of Nigeria was changed from CAN to CASSON because it was conflicting with the Christian Association of Nigeria also CAN.
During the AGM of the association held in Calabar from August 3rd to 6th 1977, the association resolved to get an affiliation with the American Association for Counselling and Development (AACD) which was then known as the American Personnel and Guidance Association (APGA).
Activities and Achievement of CASSON
At the 12th Annual General Meeting held in Maiduguri in 1988, the Counselling Association of Nigeria (CASSON) proposed a Certification And Licensure Board (CALB) to draft the policy guidelines the association will use to certify and give licence to its members.
The board, however, was not instituted until 2001 at the AGM held in Makurdi. Even after over 20 years of institution, the impact of the board is still not felt today as there is no form of legal ground in charge of issuing licence to trained practitioners or sanctions to practitioners who are not trained and or licensed.
CASSON was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on the 22nd of April 1996 and it became a legal corporate entity and acquired the rights to enjoy privileges that come with being a legal entity.
But we still have not heard of any act of Parliament backing the association; this might be the reason for its unestablished function.
CASSON began releasing some publications during its early years. The first of them was an annual publication and the official journal of the association called, “The Counsellor”
Others include, “Edited Conference Proceedings.” It was also an annual publication containing all papers presented at CASSON conferences since August 2001, “Roles and Function of School Counsellors Within the Nigerian Setting,” it was published in 1991 and edited in 2003 and contains guides on the expected roles and functions of counselors in Nigeria.
The last publication of CASSON was the “Curriculum in Guidance and Counselling” commissioned at the 2003 conference at Ibadan; it was an integration of all states’ publications on the subject.
The counselling association of Nigeria (CASSON) is currently run from its temporary secretariat: Ground Floor, Block BB, Open University Premises, Orlu Street, Area 3, Garlic, Abuja.
It should be noted that effort has been made in the past to set up a National Secretariat and permanent site for the organisation. On the 6th of January 1998, a Customary Certificate of Occupancy was approved for a land at Kuje, Abuja, and work was claimed to have begun. However, not so much is heard of it since then.
Objectives of CASSON
CASSON’s constitution was published in 2002 and on the second page, it contains the goals and objectives of the organisation. The objectives of CASSON include:
- Encouraging the free flow of ideas and professional knowledge on issues relating to the practice of guidance and counseling among members
- Promoting and monitoring training and continuing education for professional counsellors
- Advancing the scientific discipline of guidance and counselling by stimulating, promoting, and conducting programs of scientific research and maintaining high standards of professionalism
- Creating awareness of the counseling profession in the general public thereby promoting Guidance Services and facilities for the interest of the individual and the society
- Publishing and disseminating scientific educational informative and professional literature
- Acting to establish contact with institutions, organisations, educational and social groups on the roles and functions of professional counsellors
- Acting to eliminate obstacles to human growth and development
- Providing a forum for the discussion of guidance counselling practice in relation to the development of manpower needs of the country and making necessary recommendations to appropriate authorities
- Promoting guidance and counselling knowledge and practice through cooperation, affiliation, and interrelationship with other reputable national and international counselling associations and other related professional bodies
- Encouraging the establishment of counselling centres
- Creating and maintaining an endowment fund for the proper observance and discharge of the association’s aim and objective and providing various services to the general public particularly the disabled, destitute, orphans, widows, and other distressed groups.
SCASSON (Students Counselling Association of Nigeria)
SCASSON is an acronym for the Students Counselling Association of Nigeria. It is the association that oversees the welfare of student counsellors across various tertiary institutions in Nigeria. The association is run by students with the support of some staff.
In some institutions, however, there is the presence of the Association of Student Counsellors in Nigeria (AS ON), which is the student subset of the Association of Professional Counsellors in Nigeria (APROCON).
Problems and Recommendations for The Development of CASSON
A whole lot of policies have been passed and even more boards have been established which are instrumental to seeing the growth of guidance and counseling in Nigeria but they are not being implemented.
If the existing structures are implemented, guidance and counselling in Nigeria and CASSON will take a new course towards actual not paper development.
There is literally no information about CASSON and her activities available. You’ll be surprised if I told you how much time I spent in research to gather the information for this short article. The CASSON website and social media handles should be maximized as information conveyors.
I know of many people who are constantly asking about how they can practice counselling as a full-time job, the association they should join, where to get licensing, professional courses they should take, and so on. But they still don’t find any information.
If CASSON takes on the responsibility of disseminating information, they will be surprised by the response they will get.
3. Registration and licensing
The process of becoming a member of CASSON is not clearly spelt out. You will need to visit their secretariat in Abuja. The CASSON website has a registration portal but with no information.
When I tried to register, they said it was successful but I didn’t hear anything since then. I was not redirected to any page, wasn’t sent any mail, or anything. If the association takes registration seriously, it could be a major revenue source for the association.
In fact, like TRCN registration, CASSON can make the process seamless for student counsellors to immediately register to be part of the organisation while graduating.
4. Involvement of student counsellors
Another way to make the counselling association of Nigeria stronger is to hammer it to student counselors while still in school. Workshops and seminars to be organised by the association with the national executive6 present.
This way, the presence and activities of the association will be known by students and they are more likely to be a part of it, compiled with the registration strategy and talked about earlier.
5. Establishment of professional courses
Apart from being another revenue stream for the association, the establishment of counselling professional courses by CASSON will create a more solid ground for certification, as well as further professionalisation of the Counselling profession in Nigeria.
Once there are available professional courses, graduates of guidance and counselling can increase their skills. Interested counselors who didn’t study guidance and counselling can also have a platform to enter the profession, it will also create a well-laid out career ladder for its members who are outside academia.
6. Establishment of state counselling centres
If I want to see a counselor today, apart from the counseling centre at the University of Ilorin, I don’t know of any other counselling centre in my state here. So we can’t say people are not patronizing counsellors if we haven’t given them the opportunity to.
Establishing CASSON-owned counselling centres across the states of the federation will strengthen the activities of the association, create more jobs, advance the profession, and be another revenue stream for the association.
I have made some other recommendations that can be recalibrated and implemented for the growth of CASSON in this article.
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.