Having problems with your husband or wife? Certified marriage counselors now offer free consultations through a 24-hour hotline.
The hotline, 6605-0606, which opened on Sunday, received more than 20 calls by yesterday. Callers asked for suggestions on dealing with problems such as extramarital affairs and difficult relationships, as well as their child's education.
Eight volunteer marriage counselors will answer the phones. If people have complicated problems, the counselors will visit them to talk face to face. More counselors are expected to join the service, and a consulting center is expected to be set up in future, said officials of Shanghai Marriage Instructor Training Office, which organizes training courses for marriage.
"When they offer free consultations, the counselors, who have only had theoretical training, can accumulate practical experience," said the office director, surnamed Kang.
He said about 500 marriage counselors have obtained certificates from the All-China Women's Federation since training started a year ago. Some have already begun practice in local communities.
"Almost every family will have conflicts in marriage. The duty of marriage counselors is to help couples to solve problems and avoid divorce as much as possible," Kang said.
According to statistics from the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, about 37,000 couples divorced last year, a rise of 21.6 percent from the previous year.
But many newly qualified marriage counselors still have to work part time to make ends meet. The profession is still new to China.
"I'm interested in studying marriage problems and offering my suggestions to others," said a hotline counselor surnamed Huang, who works in a joint-venture company. "If marriage counselors have a better future, I'd consider working full time in the profession."
Xu Anqi, a marriage expert at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said local marriage counselors still need improvement. In some countries, marriage counselors are licensed only after 2,000 hours of practice and should master psychology, sociology, medical science and law.
Editor: canton my