The Birth of an Evolution in Thailand Healthcare & Psychology

On Nov 6th, while in the Had Yai province of Thailand, I had the honor of witnessing the birth of an evolution in psychology and health care effectiveness in Thailand. The people in attendance were:

  • Waraporn Wanchaitanawong (“Jip”) , the director of the Baromarajchonanee College of Nursing, Chiang Mai.
  • Jip’s Research Unit Head, Pleumjit Chotiga  (“Jo”)
  • Orawan Quansri, the Assistant Director of the ASEAN Institute for Health Development (
  • Tipawadee Emavardhana and Ladda Kitivipart, both well known psychologist professors in Thailand.
  • America-based psychologists Laura Dodson, PhD, and Maureen Graves

Jip has been working with the directors of the other 29 nursing colleges in Thailand, and administrators at the Nursing Institute (which is inside the Ministry of Public Health). She has their support in creating a new nursing certificate program – a Nursing Counselor Certificate. Nurses currently are required to take one course on counseling in nursing school, for formal training on how to take care of the patient’s emotional needs. It is based on an approach of teaching basic counseling to and by nonprofessionals called “micro counseling”.

Micro-counseling was introduced when HIV became rampant in Thailand in the 80’s as a method to teach counseling to health care workers. Through the years, it was adopted as the predominant theory of counseling for all professionals, even though it is “micro” in nature, and is limited in the situations in which it is effective.

Tipa has been working for twenty years to add more breath and depth to the therapist/client relationship in Thailand. Since the concept of the Nursing Counselor is not limited to only micro teaching of counseling, she sees this as an opportunity to put more breath and depth into the counseling training available to nurses.

Jip, Jo, Orawan, and Tipa asked Laura and Maureen to train professors who will teach students in getting their certificate. It will be a one-year program that consists of three weeklong training workshops. There will be reading, practice, supervision, support group, and participant-led meetings in between the weeklong trainings.

There was a lot of excitement in the room as the year long training was planned. The next step is for Jip and Jo to write an official proposal to get funding. There was a high level of confidence that with the support already present for this new program, it will be approved.

As of this date, I was notified that the funding is approved. Now it is in the process of getting paper work ready and the date set for the project to begin is April, 2013. Toni and I have been invited to return for the trainings that will take place. We are hopeful we will be able to help with at least one of them.

One thought on “The Birth of an Evolution in Thailand Healthcare & Psychology

  1. This is interesting. And I’m wondering what kind of conversations you and Huy must be having around this cultural experience…I’m aware he is Vietnamese..

    Sent from my iPhone

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