Advocacy Interview: Dr. Vicentita Cervera
Interviewed by Hayley Stulmaker, Professional Advocacy Committee Member
It was an honor to hear about advocacy from Dr. Vicentita Cervera; President of MAVEC Specialists Foundation, Inc. (accredited service provider) and Professorial Lecturer at Assumption College. This article documents her inspiration and satisfactions in advocating for the counseling profession along with advice for experienced and new professional counseling advocates.
Dr. Cervera began her advocacy efforts when she was a student at the University of the Philippines (UP). She was an officer of the UP Guidance Majors Association and became actively involved with the Philippine Guidance and Personnel Association (now the Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association), the accredited professional organization of guidance counselors in the Philippines. Additionally, Dr. Cervera joined CSI and helped organize the chapter in the Philippines, serving as President and Chapter Faculty Advisor. Her involvement in professional organizations created awareness of the issues and concerns of the profession.
Dr. Cervera believes it is important to advocate for the counseling profession because she believes we have the responsibility of educating others about our profession. Specifically, she noted that counseling professionals have the responsibility to educate the general public and legislators in order to strengthen the field as a whole, world-wide.
Dr. Cervera described her current role as an advocate as participating in leadership roles. She helps draft resolutions and other documents for the Professional Regulatory Board in Guidance and Counseling. She is also a member of technical committees formed by the Professional Regulation Commission to address issues and concerns related to Guidance and Counseling.
Dr. Cervera encouraged students and new professional advocates who worry that they don't know enough and aren't experienced enough to get involved in counseling associations and organizations, participate in activities, and be involved as members of committees. She would like to promote the counseling profession as a whole, encouraging more students to enroll in counseling programs. Dr. Cervera emphasized the need for more counselors as the demand for counseling services exceeds the current supply of counselors, specifically in the Philippines.
The biggest hurdle Dr. Cervera said that she has overcome while advocating for the counseling profession has been the threat of psychologists. In the Philippines, many psychologists have bypassed traditional school counseling education, obtaining licensure without taking the licensure exam. This has resulted in a displacement of counselors within their professional organizations.
Dr. Cervera stated that the advocacy effort that has brought her the most personal satisfaction was professionalization of the counseling profession. She is proud of the fact that the practice of counseling in the Philippines is now regulated by law, preventing those who are not qualified from practicing.
Lastly, Dr. Cervera discussed her role as an advocate as staying informed with professional matters within her country. She stays up-to-date with issues and concerns of the counseling profession. Currently, she is involved with working for mutual reciprocity agreements (MRAs) with other countries and organizations.
Originally posted April 23, 2014 at csi-net.org.