Slovakia: Reform of the counselling system
The pandemic, the difficult adaptation to online learning, and the war in Ukraine have had a psychological impact on pupils, affecting the mental health of children and young people. As a result, since 1st January 2023, a reform of the counselling system has been gradually introduced in Slovakia, in order to make support more accessible and provide more efficient and comprehensive counselling services. The reform aims to facilitate the provision of services that respond to the needs of children, pupils, and families, without basing these on mere diagnoses. Inclusive teams will receive methodical support, and they will be able to consult their practising colleagues, cooperating with professionals from various backgrounds, including the healthcare sector.
Two types of counselling centres will operate within the above support system.
A new network of counselling and prevention centres will carry out most professional activities, except for highly specialised ones. The centres will take over the work that has to date been performed by pedagogical-psychological counselling and prevention centres and – to an extent – by special pedagogical counselling centres. They will thus be in charge of diagnostics, but also of re-education, rehabilitation, and prevention programmes. Moreover, for the first time, the services offered will also include coordinated multi-disciplinary care, which will be provided to both children with and without disabilities. Children and pupils will be able to access counselling and prevention centres like before – upon the request of their legal guardian, paediatrician, headteacher, specialist doctor or healthcare professional, or upon their own request if they are already of age.
The pre-existing special pedagogical counselling centres will be replaced by the specialised counselling and prevention centres. These new centres will work with children with disabilities. They will conduct several highly specialised professional activities. Children will be able to access the specialised centres upon the recommendation of their counselling and prevention centre, paediatrician, or specialist doctor.
In addition to the centres, the system of counselling and prevention includes school support teams, pedagogical staff, and professional staff working in schools. Their activity is divided into five levels of support, involving respectively:
1. class teachers, school support teams, and career advisors (through preventive educational activities)
2. professional staff and school-based experts in Social Pedagogy (who perform professional activities aimed at children and pupils with an increased need for support)
3. professional staff in counselling and prevention centres or schools, whenever needed (with diagnostics, re-education, rehabilitation, and prevention programmes)
4. professional staff in counselling and prevention centres (by means of specialised professional activities)
5. professional staff in specialised counselling and prevention centres
As of 1st January 2023, the Network of counselling and prevention centres is comprised of 160 centres.
Source: Eurydice Unit Slovakia