KUALA LUMPUR, Fri:
Those who hold counselling degrees must register with the Counselling Board before they can call themselves "counsellors".
They will also be breaking the Counsellor Act 1998 and risk getting fined up to RM30,000, or jailed six months, or both.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said registration was important because counselling was a serious profession with much at stake.
She said unregistered practitioners could only be called "advisers" or "motivators" and could only advise, not counsel their clients.
"This is a 100 per cent increase from last year where only 400 counsellors were registered," she said after opening the second National Counsellor Board Convention yesterday and launching a counselling training book.
Shahrizat hoped more would register to ensure the quality of service and to enable their counselling skills are improved and updated from time to time.
"The ministry is committed to turning this into a respected profession and we want counsellors to be recognised as professionals," she said.
Shahrizat also said that registered counsellors were much needed in the country to prevent and treat social problems.
Meanwhile, Counselling Board president Datuk Dr Mohamed Mansor Abdullah said those who had yet to register would be given ample time to do so.