UAE: FNC report highlights challenges faced by family guidance counsellors

Absence of unified professional requirements affects efficiency in dealing with family disputes, report finds



File photo
File photo
by

Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Tue 22 Mar 2022, 8:41 PM

The lack of regulations for specific requirements such as minimum education qualification, experience and psychological state in appointing family guidance counsellors has negatively affected their efficiency in dealing with family disputes, a member of the Federal National Council (FNC) has said.

During the FNC meeting on Tuesday, Aisha Muhammad Al Mulla, Chairperson of the FNC committee on constitutional and legislative affairs and appeals presented a report by her committee on the challenges faced in the field of family guidance and some recommendations.

The report pointed out that despite the amendment of some articles of the Personal Status Law, Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 and the laws and regulations related to harm from divorce, there was an increase in divorce cases and prolonged litigations.

Al Mulla noted that there were no unified professional license requirements for family counsellors such as a professional diploma or a bachelor's degree that is commensurate with their specialisation which is recognised by the Ministry of Education.

“The absence of such education requirements to evaluate the competence and scientific merit of family guidance counsellors has resulted in some individuals practising this profession, through social media in order to earn money, in addition to an overestimation of the value of their counselling sessions,” she said.

The report highlighted the lack of an integrated strategy for family guidance at the national level, the absence of a unified policy in providing services by family guidance centers, the difference in some family guidance work systems in the courts, and the lack of coordination between the Ministry of Justice and other concerned parties.

The committee's report also touched on the poor budgets allocated to family guidance projects and initiatives, and the lack of fixed standards to measure the quality of the work of family guidance offices and family counsellors which has led to different policies related to the training of family counsellors.

Al Mulla pointed out that the low salaries and job benefits for family mentors has led to the small number of people pursuing this profession and the resignation of some of those who were appointed as family counsellors and moved to work in other good paying agencies.

“Also, there is lack of separate premises dedicated to family guidance and no consideration for the psychological spatial environment of the litigants,” said Al Mulla adding that the findings by her committee also indicated that there was failure to activate the Ministry of Justice’s digital family guidance platform which links the federal authorities with the local authorities. This has led to the lack of connection between the federal and local courts about family guidance, and the absence of a link between the files of the families of the litigants.

Recommendations

The committee recommended that there was need to amend the law regulating personal status (Federal Law No. 28 of 2005) and the related bylaws and regulations to ensure that such legislation keeps pace with social and economic changes and develops the role of family guidance committees and to enable it to provide specialised guidance services.

The committee also called for the review of the requirements of the family counsellors' profession so those selected for the job first pass specialised psychological tests, with consideration of the years of scientific and social experience in the field.

People qualifying for the job should also be married for at least five years to ensure that they had the experience and social skills needed for reform.

The committee suggested for an increase in the functional privileges of the family guidance profession like the “notary public” to encourage people join this profession.

The report also stressed the need to develop an integrated strategy regarding families and work to unify policies related to the qualification and training of family counsellors, standards for measuring the performance and quality of work of family guidance offices, and work systems in the courts.

The committee also recommended increasing the budgets allocated to family guidance projects and initiatives, to ensure the achievement of their strategic objectives and measure the effectiveness of these projects and initiatives.

The report also stressed the need to provide separate buildings dedicated for family guidance centres in all courts across the country to ensure confidentiality and privacy.

ismail@khaleejtimes.com


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