Counseling as Education

Counseling as education—or guidance, as it is often called— is related to the historical use of the term counseling. Dictionary definitions of counseling emphasize giving advice and exchanging information. Since the earliest times, people have sought advice and counsel—from Old Testament prophets, Greek philosophers, and ancient healers. Although such earlier antecedents can be identified, guidance developed in the industrialized Middle West and East. The merger of vocational guidance and psychological testing established an important foundation of counseling. Before the development of testing, vocational guidance relied on vocational education that stressed occupational information and advice. With the development of testing in the areas of ability, interests, occupations, and personality, vocational guidance obtained a scientific means to realize its common-sense notion of improving the worker-occupation relationship. As articulated by the leaders of vocational guidance, perhaps most persuasively by Frank Parsons in Choosing a Vocation, worker-occupation relationships depended on a suitable match between the worker and the job. This match was predicated on the ability to gather accurate information about the individual, his or her abilities and interests, and the job. Scientific methods helped transform guidance workers into professionals, established the respectability of vocational counseling, and facilitated its acceptance by public institutions such as the schools and, later, the Veterans Administration. Such a transformation was largely carried out at the University of Minnesota through the pioneering work of Donald Patterson and his colleagues and students, especially E. G. Williamson.

In the 1950s and 1960s, counseling as guidance—while less popular than psychotherapy—was stimulated by the development of professional organizations (e.g., American Personnel and Guidance Association and now the American Counseling Association) and the reemergence of the importance of schooling (with Russian Sputnik I) and work (with the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1954). As a result, there was a great demand for school counselors (spurred by the National Defense Act of 1958) and rehabilitation counselors. In response, professional organizations lobbied for funds and later established accreditation pro grams (e.g., the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs) for the preparation of counselors. Through their respective journals, the concerns of counselors were given a voice.

On the other hand, another organization with members representing the guidance tradition—originally the Division of Counseling and Guidance, in 1952 renamed the Division of Counseling Psychology (American Psychological Association) and now, the Society of Counseling Psychology, a division of the American Psychological Association—competed for psychological services (e.g., the Veterans Administration). These activities contributed to the further decline of the guidance tradition and to a separation of counseling psychologists with doctoral-level training from school and rehabilitation counselors with subdoctoral-level training.

During this time period, advances in social sciences brought significant conceptual developments (self-concept theory, stage theory) that transformed vocational guidance into career development (with the work of Donald Super, John Holland, Anne Roe, and others). Today the emphasis is on addressing the theoretical and empirical inadequacies of this tradition that neglected the roles of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and disability. New programs are being developed to address these deficiencies, such as the school-to-work transition movement.

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