Looking Backwards & Forwards

Rev. Dr. Mervyn Fernando, who inspired the formation of a National Association serving counsellors, can easily be named the ‘Father’ of Counselling in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka National Association of Counsellors (SRILNAC) was formally inaugurated at the Family Studies and Services Institute at Paul VI Center, Front Street, Colombo on the 9th September,1985, with the following objectives in view:

  1. To bring together qualified and competent counsellors, who are practicing in Sri Lanka, by registering of such persons.
  2. To maintain a register of Institutions in Sri Lanka, competent to train counsellors.
  3. To take steps to ensure high standards of training of counsellors, to assess the competence of such trainees and the services rendered by such counsellors.
  4. To draw up and promote the observation of a Code of Ethics for counsellors.
  5. To promote ongoing study and research for the advancement of counselling in Sri Lanka.
  6. To encourage collaboration and exchange of experiences and expertise with other national, regional or international bodies (outside Sri Lanka) committed to the advancement of counselling.

Anniversaries should be occasions for both looking forwards and looking backwards. SRILNAC can claim the distinction of being the first ever organization of counsellors in Sri Lanka. As such it has given an organizational profile to the Profession, even though in a small way. But beginnings are always small and fragile. The pathfinders have to literally “grope” their way in uncharted territory. The going has no doubt been difficult and often discouraging. But SRILNAC has stuck to its task with determination all these years. The office-bearers down the years deserve our warm praise for what they have done to keep the organization going with much sacrifice on their part.

Looking forward, SRILNAC must engage itself in a task of consolidation. The profession of counselling is still building up in Sri Lanka. The recognition and support it deserves is not yet in keeping with the need. One critical task of SRILNAC in the future would be to create an awareness of that need, particularly in schools. It is a pity that in these times of rapid socio-cultural change, youth are left to fend for themselves, with hardly any help from parents, who themselves feel lost and helpless in a new and unaccustomed social environment, so different from the one they grew up.

Another concern of SRILNAC should be the “standardization” of counsellor training. Perhaps in the early stages a certain “Laissez-faire” situation was inevitable. But now I feel it is time to ensure that all training facilities conform to certain standards, which will ensure adequate competence of those who graduate from them, it is both immoral and unjust to let incompetent “Counsellors” loose on unsuspecting clients. The outcome is not difficult to imagine.

So, there is no dearth of work for SRILNAC in the years ahead.


Name Period
Rev. Fr. Dr. Mervyn Fernando 1985-1988
Mr. Godwin Mendis 1988-1991
Ms. Anne Abayasekara 1991-1993
Brig. George D. Fernando 1993-1995
Ms. Priya Kodippily 1995-1997
Sr. Janet Nethisinghe 1997-2000
Mr. A Corsini Perera 2000 -2001
Ms. Manel Jayatunge 2001-2003
Prof. Charles Senerath 2003-2006
Mr. Nilu Fernandopulle 2006-2009
Ms. Nandhini Wijayaratnam 2009-2011
Mr. Nilu Fernandopulle 2011-2014
Rev. K.J. Arulrajah 2014-2016
Mr. Nilu Fernandopulle 2016-2017
Mr. Neville Thilakaratne 2017-2020
Sr. Janet Nethisinghe 2020-2023

Present Office Bearers (2022-2023)

President Sr. Janet Nethisinghe
Vice Presidents Mr. J. Neville Thilakaratne
Mr. Allan David
Secretary Ms. Carol Gooneratne A.
Asst. Secretary Mrs. Kusumanjali Thilakaratne
Treasurer Ms. Judith Jayaratnam
Asst. Treasurer Mr. Anil Gomis
Executive Committee Ms. Sakuni Weerasinghe
Mrs. Beenuka Wickramatunge
Mrs. Jeevani Seneviratne
Fr. Dilanka Perera
Mrs. Nirmali De Silva
Ms. Shiromi Fernando
Ms. Fahria Larief