Counseling in Malaysia began with school guidance that focused on vocational guidance for secondary school students in the 1960s. It began to be accepted by the Ministry of Education in 1969 when more teachers were appointed as guidance teachers as stated in the Service Circular, KP5209/35/4(4). Counseling became an integral part of education aimed at enhancing an individual’s ability to make decisions independently without being influenced by others. The importance of counseling was highlighted when the drug problem among youths increased and more guidance and counseling teachers were needed in schools.
In 1980, PERKAMA (Persatuan Kaunselor Malaysia) was born. The Association was the brainchild of a group of learned individuals who foresaw the opportunities, meaning and potential that counseling could contribute to human wellness. Fuelled only by their own beliefs, this group voluntarily undertook the challenging journey to make counseling a significant discipline in this region. The establishment of PERKAMA was initiated by Professor Dr. Awang Had Salleh, who was then the Rektor of UiTM, while the Protem Committee was chaired by Datin Sri Fauziah Elyas. PERKAMA was officially registered on 16 January 1982. The name of PERKAMA was then changed to Persatuan Kaunseling Malaysia in 1989. The aim of PERKAMA was and still is to provide a platform for the exchange of knowledge, advocacy and development of the profession. Membership is open to those who are qualified in counseling and related fields. For those who are interested but do not possess a counseling background, they can register as allied members.
The first PERKAMA Convention was held in Universiti Sains Malaysia where an Annual General Meeting was conducted by Dr. Amir Awang (Emeritus Professor Dato’ Dr. Amir Awang). He was elected the first president of PERKAMA while Dr. Abd Halim Othman (Emeritus Professor Dato’ Dr. Abd Halim Othman) was elected Vice President and Mr. Hamzah Sidang Muhamad the first Secretary.
PERKAMA began to grow and expand under the leadership of Puan Sri Fauziah Alyas (1982-1983), Professor Dato’ Dr Amir Awang (1983-1984), Professor Dato’ Dr. Abdul Halim Othman (1984, 1989), Professor Dato’ Dr. Amir Awang (1989-1993), Dato’ Mohd Yunus Noor (1994-1999), Professor Dato’ Dr. Muhammad Mansur Abdullah (2000-2003), Professor Dr. Suradi Salim (2003-2005), Tan Sri Dr. Nordin Kardi (2005-2013), Dato’ Dr. Ismail Alias (2013-2015), dan Dato’ Dr. Abd Halim Mohd Hussin (2015- present). Mental health professionals, especially school counselors, experienced a significant change with the presence of PERKAMA. School counselors, graduate students, and counselor educators were encouraged to publish textbooks and articles in relation to counseling and psychotherapy. The first issue of the official PERKAMA journal was produced in 1984.
Since the inception of PERKAMA, the enthusiasm, determination and advocacy efforts of its leaders and executive members have made it possible for its vision to be realized and compelled various parties to accommodate its demands and proposals. A substantial number of conventions, seminars and conferences have been held in the past 30 years to gather practitioners and students in the mental health professions from within the country and overseas, resulting in continuous and numerous developments in the counseling field in Malaysia. To embrace the impact of globalization on the counseling profession, Tan Sri Dr. Nordin Kardi, the 9th President of PERKAMA, mooted the idea of positioning PERKAMA on an international platform. The proposal to change PERKAMA to PERKAMA International was accepted by the members at its 20th Annual General Meeting in 2011.
Since then, PERKAMA International has not looked back. After 37 years of its presence in this nation, the Association is committed to achieving its objectives, growing with the changing times and needs of society, and ensuring the relevance of counselor competencies. To date, we have more than 3000 members all over the country. The current leadership seeks to build a united front for counselors nationwide while enabling the voice of each and every professional counselor to be heard. PERKAMA International will continue to pursue the development of professional counselors and counseling, promote counselor competence and upskilling, and ensure the integrity and dignity of counselors as they play an important role as key players in human development.