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The Filipino as counsellor and

counseled: Issues in developing a
Filipino counselling psychology

Lorelei R. Vinluan
College of Education
University of the Philippines Diliman


1. Counseling in the Philippines

2. Filipino culture and psychology
3. Sociocultural factors that influence help-providing
behaviour (Filipino-as-counsellor)
4. Sociocultural factors that influence help-seeking
behaviour (Filipino-as-counseled)
5. Implications for the development of a Filipino
counseling psychology



Early beginnings

• Introduced by the • Spread by American-

American colonizers in the trained psychologists and
early 20th century (Salazar- educators
Clemeña, 2002)
– A. Alonzo (Chicago, 1926)
– Period of colonization: 1898 to
– I. Panlasigui (Iowa, 1928)
– S. Padilla (Michigan, 1928)
– A 1913 Bureau of Public
Schools report stressed need to – J. Perpiñan (Iowa State, 1933)
collect information about – E. Bumatay (Texas, 1940)
employment opportunities in – E. Aldaba-Lim (Michigan, 1948)
different industries. – A. Lagmay (Harvard, 1955)
– Teachers made available – M. Obias (Stanford, 1955)
materials for career and
– etc.
educational guidance (1926-


• Early curriculum on psychology (Licuanan, 1985)

– Mixture of philosophy, education, and psychology
– Heavy on guidance and counseling
• Now a regulated profession by virtue of two laws:
– RA No. 9258 (Guidance and Counseling Act of 2004)
– RA No. 10029 (Philippine Psychology Act of 2009)

• Several counseling-related organizations have been

– Association of Placement Practitioners of Colleges and Universities
– Career Development Association of the Philippines
– Family and Pastoral Counselling Association of the Philippines
– Guidance Circle of the Philippines
– Integrated Professional Counselors Association of the Philippines
– Philippine Association for Counselor Education, Research and
– Philippine Association of Christian Counselors
– Philippine Association of Psycho-Social Helpers



• Modern techniques of counselling / psychotherapy:

– are products of European and North Aymerican
research and practice (Gielen, Draguns, & Fish, 2008),
– are basically acultural in content, and
– assumed to be universally applicable (Adair, 1999).
• But there are differences in counselling practice in
the West and in the Philippines (Schumacher & Guthrie, 1984).
– content of problems
– modes of relationships, and
– presumed causes of difficulties.

• The conflict between Asian cultural values and the

values inherent in the Western mental health
system may be the cause of lack of initial contact
with the system (Atkinson & Gim, 1989).
• The inappropriateness of services may account for
the high dropout rate among Asians who do enter
the system (Atkinson & Gim, 1989).


Proper approach

• Counsellors must possess multicultural counselling

competencies that will enable them to address
diversity effectively (Farrell, 2009).
– Includes utilizing the most appropriate form of
counselling and psychotherapy to non-Western clients
• Counsellors must respond to the problem according
to the way that the client perceives them.
– In other words, a culture-sensitive and culture-
informed approach must be adopted by the





• The Filipinos make up a significant group in the

Asian region (seventh largest by population).
• The Filipino diaspora, estimated at 10 million
individuals, is a significant group as well.
• In the United States, Filipinos, at one point, were
also classified as:
– “Pacific Islanders” because of the location of the
Philippines in the Asia-Pacific region
– “Hispanic” because of the country’s colonization by
Spain for more than 300 years (Nadal, 2004).

Colonial history

• Pre-colonial history: trading with China, India, and

the Middle East
• Colonized by:
– Spain (1521 to 1898)
– United States (1898 to 1946)
– Japan (World War II)
• Filipino culture had been described as a product of
400 years in the convent and 50 years in


Filipino culture

• Because of this trade and colonial history, the

Filipino might be deemed a product of diverse
• Filipino culture, as expressed in its system of values
and beliefs and ways of being, had been observed
to be distinct from that of other Asian groups (Nadal,

Psychology in the Philippines

• Psychology in the Philippines had Western roots

(Lagmay, 1984) and this Western influence still permeates

psychological science and practice (Church & Katigbak, 2002).

• Therefore, the applicability of concepts and
methods in psychology, including those in
counselling psychology, that were based on a
foreign culture had been questioned.


The rise of Filipino psychology

• An indigenous psychology called Filipino

psychology (Sikolohiyang Pilipino) was developed
• the psychology borne out of the experience, thought and
orientation of the Filipinos, based on the full use of Filipino
culture and language (Pe-Pua & Protacio-Marcelino, 2000)
– WHO:
• Dr. Virgilio G. Enriquez (received his PhD in social psychology
at Northwestern University in 1971)
• University of the Philippines Diliman

The rise of Filipino psychology

• An indigenous psychology called Filipino

psychology (Sikolohiyang Pilipino) was developed
– WHY:
• to liberate Filipino psychology from its colonized state
• to attain the goal of cultural empowerment for Filipinos
– HOW:
• Uses the “indigenization from within” approach (culture as
source), as opposed to the “indigenization from without”
approach (culture as target) (Enriquez, 1979).
• Local languages and culture are utilized as sources
for psychological theory, method, and praxis.


Characteristics of Filipino psychology

1. content emphasis on identity and national consciousness,

social awareness and involvement, and language and
2. use of cross-indigenous method, relevant field methods,
and multi-method, multi-language application of traditional
3. protestation against a psychology that perpetuates
colonial mentality, exploitation of the poor, and the forced
imposition of Western psychology;
4. application of Filipino psychology to different fields
(includes counselling and psychotherapy)

Purpose of the presentation

• Question
– Using Filipino Psychology as a framework, how can a
Filipino counseling psychology model be developed?
• Approach
– synthesize published studies of Filipino values and
cultural practices
– assess their implications on how the Filipino performs
his/her role as either the counsellor or the counseled
– analyze findings for consideration when
proposing an indigenous approach to
counselling psychology




Kapwa (other)

• Kapwa lies at the core of Filipino psychology and

the heart of the structure of Filipino values (Pe-Pua, 2006).
• It means “other” or “fellow being”.
• But the concept means more than that—beyond
maintaining smooth interpersonal relationships with
others, it denotes having a shared identity or the
unity of the self and others (Enriquez, 1977).


• Pakikipagkapwa refers to the sharing or even

merging of the self with others (Guevara, 2005).
– a personal conviction that involves accepting and
dealing with the other person as an equal (Enriquez, 1986)
– emanates from the collectivist nature of Philippine
society (Sanchez & Gaw, 2007)
– one of the foundations of kagandahang loob
(literally, beauty inside)
– one doesn’t want to be called walang
kapwa-tao (without respect for another
human being)

• Therefore, kapwa:
– drives a Filipino to connect to others
– has been observed in many social relationships (e.g., Pasco,
Morse, & Olson, 2004; Bonifacio, 2009; Bankoff, 2004)

– it moves an individual to naturally volunteer help or

advice to another individual deemed in need of it
regardless of whether it is solicited or not.


Pakikisama (to get along well with)

• In social interactions, Filipinos tend to classify an

individual as either Ibang-Tao (outsider) or Hindi-
Ibang-Tao (one of us).
• The levels of social interactions may be ordinally-
scaled such that the lower levels correspond to
interactions with Ibang-Tao and the higher levels
correspond to interactions with Hindi-Ibang-Tao.


• Pakikisama is the highest level of interaction with

• It is derived from two words, namely paki (please or
kindly) and sama (to go along with). It literally
means “kindly go along with” or “to get along well
• The trait also means giving in to the lead or
suggestion of others or adjusting to the will
of the majority.

• In the context of help provision, the counsellor

establishes a personal and trusting relationship with
the client by pakikisama.
– The client remains Ibang-Tao to preserve the authority
status of the counsellor.
– But the interaction at the level of pakikisama will
encourage the client to open up to the counsellor.
• A counsellor might take in a client referred
to by a friend, relative, or colleague because
of pakikisama.


Pakikiramay (to share feelings)

• It refers to the Filipino’s ability to empathize with

and be of help to others in times of need (Licuanan, 1994).
• From the root word damay (to get involved).
• Usually demonstrated during times of bereavement,
personal crisis, and disasters.

• In the context of help provision, the counsellor

attempts to commiserate with, to show genuine
concern to, and to empathize with the client.
• Genuine pakikiramay can influence a client’s
motivation and help ensure that he/she will return
for the next session.


Pakikiramdam (sensitivity to feelings)

• “A covert individual process by which a person tries

to feel and understand the feelings and intentions of
another” (Mataragnon, 1987).
• Not uniquely Filipino
• Filipinos (and most Asians) sometimes say one
thing while meaning another so as not to offend or
hurt the feelings of others.
• Filipinos (and most Asians) communicate
not only with words but also use gestures.

• Using pakikiramdam, the counsellor is able to:

– sense nonverbal cues from the client
– reconstruct the client’s feeling state or state of being
– adjust (and readjust) his/her actions according to the
client’s responses
– avoid making rash judgments
– be attentive to contexts (time of day, location, people
present, etc.)
– maintain a smooth and harmonious relationship
(Mansukani, 2005)


Paggalang sa nakatatanda (respect for superiors)

• Filipinos are known for deferential behavior not only

towards parents and the elderly but also towards
people of higher social status and authority.
• Perhaps synonymous with the Confucian value of
filial piety (hsiao).
• Demonstrated by the use of po/opo in speech and
elder’s hand-to-one’s forehead gesture.
• Most Filipinos look to superiors for support
and decisions and are willing to accept
their orders or advice (Bonifacio, 1977).

• In a helping relationship, the counsellor must handle

his/her status of authority over the client with great
responsibility. Ethical power relations should be
• Some clients might not know what he/she should do
and are too shy to ask. Counsellors, in such a case,
can dispense advice (without necessarily fostering




Hiya (loss of face due to shame)

• Hiya is “a painful emotion arising from a relationship

with an authority figure or with society, inhibiting
self-assertion in a situation perceived as dangerous
to one’s ego” (Bulatao, 1964).
• Similar to “shyness”, “embarrassment”, or
• This face-saving trait is a result of the use of
ostracism and ridicule in child training
(Sanchez & Gaw, 2007).


• Because of hiya, Filipinos, as clients, are known to:

– be affected by the stigma attached to seeing a
– show difficulty in opening up (or to verbalize intense
emotions) to someone they don’t know fully well
– avoid situations where they are left by themselves as in
a counselling session (due to their collectivist nature)
• A counsellor must be:
– creative in getting the client out of his/her shell
– trustworthy to get him/her to talk

amor propio (sense of dignity)

• Related to hiya; Spanish for “love of self”

• Also described as sensitivity to criticism (Sanchez & Gaw,
2007), vulnerability to negative remarks (Nadal, 2010), and

self-importance (Araneta, 1993).

• Filipinos are proud individuals with a fragile sense
of self-worth (Nadal, 2010).
• Receiving slights or criticisms leads to withdrawal or
vengeance (Araneta, 1993).


• Because of amor propio, the client:

– is likely to keep personal and family ‘secrets’
– refuses to discuss anything shameful or distressing
– takes slights and criticisms negatively (Nadal, 2010)
• The counsellor should:
– be indirect with his/her counselling
– utilize an “asking around” approach
– use informal and nonjudgmental inquiries
– avoid offense and maintain rapport
(Enriquez, 1982)

bahala na (come what may)

• From “Bathala na” or (to let God); no exact English

translation, although equated to fatalism
• Ambivalence of meaning
– Viewed negatively (passive), it means acceptance of (or
resignation over) one’s lot for which nothing can be
done anymore.
– Viewed positively (active), it means to throw away all
cares, going ahead to do something, and face
whatever consequences might arise.


• Thus, the bahala na attitude might explain two

contrasting events:
– the Filipino client’s inaction to undergo counselling
– the Filipino client’s willingness to undergo counselling
• The counsellor must:
– recognize the religious influence on this cultural value
– empower the client to take personal responsibility for
his/her actions or lack of it.

utang na loob (debt of gratitude)

• It is the internal feeling of need to repay or

reciprocate an act of kindness, generosity, or
sacrifice, sometimes with interest (Hollnsteiner, 1961).
• It sometimes serves as a system of contractual
• Failure to repay utang na loob can cause hiya.


• A client might refuse therapy because he/she

doesn’t want to incur utang na loob.
• But a client who is greatly helped by therapy will
always remember his/her utang na loob to the

mañana habit / ningas cogon

• Mañana habit refers to the tendency to

• Ningas cogon refers to an enthusiastic start that
isn’t followed through so little work is done (i.e.,
good start, poor finish).


• The client either delays seeking help from a

counsellor (mañana habit) or starts seeing one but
drops out (ningas cogon).
• The counsellor must appeal to a potential client to
be initiated into therapy by providing information on
what transpires in such an activity.
• Once the client is initiated, the counsellor must
engage the client so that he/she opts to
remain in the therapeutic process.

pagkalalaki (machismo)

• The Filipino male is also known to exhibit

pagkalalaki (masculinity or macho behavior) and
restrictive emotionality. (Angeles, 2001; Rochlen, Land, & Wong, 2004).
• This implies that he puts up a strong front and a
picture of calm.
• He also finds difficulty in readily expressing his
feelings and to find words to express basic emotion.


• The male client might view counselling as a

‘feminine’ activity and resist it. Studies show that
gender influences willingness to see a counsellor.
• The counsellor must make the entire counselling
process appealing to the Filipino male client.
• Cybercounselling might be a good option.




1. Filipino counselling psychology must take into

account the effect of colonization and religion on
the Filipino’s psyche as expressed in the following:
– acculturation / enculturation
– colonial mentality
– cultural mistrust
– inferiority complex
– discrimination
– strong sense of guilt and shame
– etc.

2. Counselling in the Philippines is still dominated by

Western ideas and methods. This has led to such
problems as lack of standards and validity in
testing and research, and inapplicability of
concepts and methods in counselling psychology
based on a foreign culture.


• Thus, Filipino counselling psychology must adopt

an “indigenization from within” approach.
• In this approach, “the theoretical framework and
methodology emerge from the experiences of the
people from the indigenous culture. It is based on
assessing historical and socio-cultural realities,
understanding the local language, unraveling
Filipino characteristics, and explaining them
through the eyes of the native Filipino”
(Pe-Pua & Protacio-Marcelino, 2000).

3. Based on the analysis of relevant sociocultural

factors, the Filipino counsellor might need to:
– be more active and directive in the initial stages of
– utilize group counselling methods (with family or friends
as group members);
– be warmer and more paternalistic than counselors in
other cultures;
– use the local language (Church, 1987).


• This has implications on the counsellor education

curriculum in the Philippines.
• The idea is not to veer away from Western models
of counselling (which have been helpful to many
clients) but to enhance the capacity of the
counsellor-trainee to perform multicultural
counselling tasks.

4. Further research is needed in order to understand

the Filipino client’s:
– help-seeking behaviours;
– treatment utilization;
– provider preference;
– premature termination tendencies; and
– barriers to help seeking.


5. Crucial to the development of Filipino counselling

psychology is the development of indigenous
research methods. These include:
– pakapakapa (groping)
– pagtatanong-tanong (asking questions),
– panunuluyan (residing in the research setting),
– nakikiugaling pagmamasid (participant observation),
– pakikipagkuwentuhan (story-telling), and
– ginabayang talakayan (collective indigenous