Unit 2 Written Assignment: Applying the Ethical Decision-Making Model


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Historical and Professional
Foundations of Counseling



Chapter 1 History of and Trends in Counseling

Chapter 2 Personal and Professional Aspects
of Counseling

Chapter 3 Ethical and Legal Aspects of Counseling

Chapter 4 Counseling in a Multicultural Society

Chapter 5 Counseling with Diverse Populations

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History of and Trends in Counseling1

There is a quietness that comes
in the awareness of presenting names
and recalling places
in the history of persons
who come seeking help.
Confusion and direction are a part of the process
where in trying to sort out tracks
that parallel into life
a person’s past is traveled.
Counseling is a complex riddle
where the mind’s lines are joined
with scrambling and precision
to make sense out of nonsense,
a tedious process
like piecing fragments of a puzzle together
until a picture is formed.

Reprinted from “In the Midst of the Puzzles and Counseling Journey,” by S. T.
Gladding, 1978, Personnel and Guidance Journal, 57, p. 148. © S. T. Gladding.


Chapter Overview
From reading this chapter
you will learn about
■ The consensus definition

of counseling adopted
by 29 diverse counseling

■ The history of counseling
and important events and
people that have shaped the
profession during different

■ Current trends in
counseling and where the
profession of counseling is

As you read consider
■ What you believe most

people think counseling is
and how that differs from
what it is

■ How world events,
governments, and strong
personalities shape
a profession such as

■ What trends you see on
the horizon that you think
may influence the future
of counseling including
developing needs in

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A profession is distinguished by having

• a specific body of knowledge,
• accredited training programs,
• a professional organization of peers,
• credentialing of practitioners such as licensure,
• a code of ethics,
• legal recognition, and
• other standards of excellence (Myers & Sweeney, 2001).

Counseling meets all the standards for a profession and has done so for a significant period
of time. It is unique from, as well as connected with, other mental health disciplines by both
its emphases and at times its history. Counseling emphasizes growth as well as remediation
over the course of a life span in various areas of life: childhood, adolescence, adulthood,
and older adulthood. Counselors within the counseling profession specialize in helping
individuals, couples, groups, families, and social systems that are experiencing situational,
developmental, and long- or short-term problems. Counseling’s focus on development,
prevention, wellness, and treatment makes it attractive to those seeking healthy life-stage
transitions and productive lives.

Counseling has not always been an encompassing and comprehensive profession. It has
evolved over the years from diverse disciplines “including but not limited to anthropology,
education, ethics, history, law, medical sciences, philosophy, psychology, and sociology”
(Smith, 2001, p. 570). Some people associate counseling with educational institutions or equate
the word “guidance” with counseling because they are unaware of counseling’s evolution. As a
consequence, outdated ideas linger in their minds in contrast to reality. They misunderstand the
essence of the profession and those who work in it. Even among counselors themselves, those
who fail to keep up in their professional development may become confused as to exactly what
counseling is, where it has been, and how it is moving forward. As C. H. Patterson, a pioneer in
counseling, once observed, some writers in counseling journals seem “ignorant of the history of
the counseling profession . . . [and thus] go over the same ground covered in publications of the
1950s and 1960s” (Goodyear & Watkins, 1983, p. 594).

Therefore, it is important to examine the history of counseling because a counselor who
is informed about the development and transformation of the profession is likely to have a
strong professional identity and subsequently make significant contributions to the field.
By understanding counseling’s past, you may better appreciate present and future trends of
the profession.

Visit the site (www.MyCounselingLab.com) for Counseling: A
Comprehensive Profession, Seventh Edition to enhance your understanding of chapter
concepts. You’ll have the opportunity to practice your skills through video- and case-based
Assignments and Activities as well as Building Counseling Skills units and to prepare for
your certification exam with Practice for Certification quizzes.

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Definition of Counseling

There have always been “counselors”—people who listen to others and help them resolve
difficulties—but the word “counselor” has been misused over the years by connecting it
with descriptive adjectives to promote products. Thus, one hears of carpet counselors, color
coordination counselors, pest control counselors, financial counselors, camp counselors, and so
on. These counselors are mostly glorified salespersons, advice givers, and supervisors of children
or services. They are to professional counseling what furniture doctors are to medicine.

Counseling as a profession grew out of the progressive guidance movement of the early
1900s. Its emphasis was on prevention and purposefulness—on helping individuals of all ages
and stages avoid making bad choices in life while finding meaning, direction, and fulfillment
in what they did. Today professional counseling encompasses within its practice clinicians who
still focus on the avoidance of problems and the promotion of growth, but the profession is much
more than that. The focus on wellness, development, mindfulness, meaningfulness, and remedia-
tion of mental disorders is the hallmark of counseling for individuals, groups, couples, and fami-
lies across the life span. To understand what counseling is now, it is important first to understand
the history of the profession and how counseling is similar to and different from concepts such
as guidance and psychotherapy.


Guidance focuses on helping people make important choices that affect their lives, such as
choosing a preferred lifestyle. Although the decision-making aspect of guidance has long played
an important role in the counseling process, the concept itself, as a word in counseling, “has gone
the way of ‘consumption’ in medicine” (Tyler, 1986, p. 153). It has more historical significance
than present-day usage. Nevertheless, it sometimes distinguishes a way of helping that differs
from the more encompassing word “counseling.”

One distinction between guidance and counseling is that guidance centers on helping indi-
viduals choose what they value most, whereas counseling helps them make changes. Much of the
early work in guidance occurred in schools and career centers where an adult would help a student
make decisions, such as deciding on a course of study or a vocation. That relationship was between
unequals and was beneficial in helping the less experienced person find direction in life. Similarly,
children have long received “guidance” from parents, religious leaders, and coaches. In the process
they have gained an understanding of themselves and their world. This type of guidance will never
become passé. No matter what the age or stage of life, a person often needs help in making choices.
But guidance is only one part of the overall services provided by professional counseling.


Traditionally, psychotherapy (or therapy) has focused on serious problems associated with
intrapsychic, internal, and personal issues and conflicts. It has dealt with the “recovery of


What do you know about your family and personal history that has helped you in your life? Why do
you find this type of information valuable? What parallels do you see between knowing your family
history and the history of counseling?

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adequacy” (Casey, 1996, p. 175). As such, psychotherapy, especially analytically based therapy,
has emphasized (a) the past more than the present, (b) insight more than change, (c) the detachment
of the therapist, and (d) the therapist’s role as an expert. In addition, psychotherapy has historically
involved a long-term relationship (20 to 40 sessions over a period of 6 months to 2 years) that con-
centrated on reconstructive change as opposed to a more short-term relationship (8 to 12 sessions
spread over a period of less than 6 months). Psychotherapy has also been more of a process associ-
ated with inpatient settings—some of which are residential, such as mental hospitals—as opposed
to outpatient settings—some of which are nonresidential, such as community agencies.

However, in more modern times, the distinction between psychotherapy and counseling
has blurred, and professionals who provide clinical services often determine whether clients
receive counseling or psychotherapy. Some counseling theories are commonly referred to as
therapies as well and can be used in multiple settings. Therefore, the similarities in the counsel-
ing and psychotherapy processes often overlap.


The term counseling has eluded definition for years. However, in 2010, 29 counseling
associations including the American Counseling Association (ACA) and all but two of its
19 divisions, along with the American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB), the
Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP),
the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the Council of Rehabilitation Education
(CORE), the Commission of Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC), and the Chi
Sigma Iota (counseling honor society international) accepted a consensus definition of coun-
seling. According to the 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling group, counseling is
defined as follows:

“Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, fami-
lies, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals” (www

This definition contains a number of implicit and explicit points that are important for
counselors as well as consumers to realize.

• Counseling deals with wellness, personal growth, career, education, and empowerment
concerns. In other words, counselors work in areas that involve a plethora of issues
including those that are personal and those that are interpersonal. These areas include con-
cerns related to finding meaning, adjustment, and fulfillment in mental and physical health,
and the achievement of goals in such settings as work and school. Counselors are concerned
with social justice and advocate for the oppressed and powerless as a part of the process.

• Counseling is conducted with persons individually, in groups, and in families. Clients
seen by counselors live and work in a wide variety of settings. Their problems may require
short-term or long-term interventions that focus on just one person or with multiple indi-
viduals who are related or not related to each other.

• Counseling is diverse and multicultural. Counselors see clients with varied cultural
backgrounds. Those from minority and majority cultures are helped in a variety of ways
depending on their needs, which may include addressing larger societal issues, such as
discrimination or prejudice.

• Counseling is a dynamic process. Counselors not only focus on their clients’ goals, they
help clients accomplish them. This dynamic process comes through using a variety of theories
and methods. Thus, counseling involves making choices as well as changes. Counseling

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is lively and engaging. In most cases, “counseling is a rehearsal for action” (Casey, 1996,
p. 176) either internally with thoughts and feelings or externally with behavior.

In addition to defining counseling in general, the ACA has defined a professional counsel-
ing specialty, which is an area (within counseling) that is “narrowly focused, requiring advanced
knowledge in the field” of counseling (www.counseling.org). Among the specialties within
counseling are those dealing with educational settings such as schools or colleges and those
pertaining to situations in life such as marriage, mental health, rehabilitation, aging, addiction,
and careers. According to the ACA, becoming a specialist is founded on the premise that “all
professional counselors must first meet the requirements for the general practice of professional
counseling” (www.counseling.org).


What special talents do you have? How did they develop from your overall definition of yourself as
a person? How do you see your personal circumstances paralleling the general definition of counsel-
ing and counseling specialties?

History of Counseling

Before 1900

Counseling is a relatively new profession (Aubrey, 1977, 1982). It developed in the late 1890s
and early 1900s, and was interdisciplinary from its inception. “Some of the functions of counsel-
ors were and are shared by persons in other professions” (Herr & Fabian, 1993, p. 3). Before the
1900s, most counseling was in the form of advice or information. In the United States, counsel-
ing developed out of a humanitarian concern to improve the lives of those adversely affected by
the Industrial Revolution of the mid- to late 1800s (Aubrey, 1983). The social welfare reform
movement (now known as social justice), the spread of public education, and various changes
in population makeup (e.g., the enormous influx of immigrants) also influenced the growth of
the fledgling profession (Aubrey, 1977; Goodyear, 1984). Overall, “counseling emerged during
a socially turbulent period that straddled the ending of one century and the beginning of another,
a period marked by great change that caused a major shift in the way individuals viewed them-
selves and others” (Ginter, 2002, p. 220).

Most of the pioneers in counseling identified themselves as teachers and social reformers/
advocates. They focused on teaching children and young adults about themselves, others, and
the world of work. Initially, these helpers were involved primarily in child welfare, educational/
vocational guidance, and legal reform. Their work was built on specific information and lessons,
such as moral instruction on being good and doing right, as well as a concentrated effort to deal
with intra- and interpersonal relations (Nugent & Jones, 2009). They saw needs in American
society and took steps to fulfill them. Nevertheless, “no mention of counseling was made in the
professional literature until 1931” (Aubrey, 1983, p. 78). Classroom teachers and administrators
were the main practitioners.

One way to chart the evolution of counseling is to trace important events and personal
influences through the 20th century. Keep in mind that the development of professional counsel-
ing, like the activity itself, was and is a process. Therefore, some names and events do not fit
neatly into a rigid chronology. They overlap.

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Counseling was an infant profession in the early 1900s. During this decade, however, three
persons emerged as leaders in counseling’s development: Frank Parsons, Jesse B. Davis, and
Clifford Beers.

Frank Parsons, often called the founder of guidance, focused his work on growth and
prevention. His influence was great in his time and it is “Parson’s body of work and his efforts
to help others [that] lie at the center of the wheel that represents present day counseling” (Ginter,
2002, p. 221). Parsons had a colorful life career in multiple disciplines, being a lawyer, an
engineer, a college teacher, and a social worker before ultimately becoming a social reformer
and working with youth (Hartung & Blustein, 2002; Pope & Sweinsdottir, 2005; Sweeney,
2001). He has been characterized as a broad scholar, a persuasive writer, a tireless activist, and a
great intellect (Davis, 1988; Zytowski, 1985). However, he is best known for founding Boston’s
Vocational Bureau in 1908, a major step in the institutionalization of vocational guidance.

At the Bureau, Parsons worked with young people who were in the process of making
career decisions. He “envisioned a practice of vocational guidance based on rationality and
reason with service, concern for others, cooperation, and social justice among its core values”
(Hartung & Blustein, 2002, p. 41). He theorized that choosing a vocation was a matter of relating
three factors: a knowledge of work, a knowledge of self, and a matching of the two through
“true reasoning.” Thus, Parsons devised a number of procedures to help his clients learn more
about themselves and the world of work. One of his devices was an extensive questionnaire that
asked about

experiences (“How did you spend each evening last week?”), preferences (“At a
World’s Fair, what would you want to see first? second? third?”), and morals (“When
have you sacrificed advantage for the right?”) (Gummere, 1988, p. 404).

Parsons’s book Choosing a Vocation (1909), published one year after his death, was quite
influential, especially in Boston. For example, the superintendent of Boston schools, Stratton
Brooks, designated 117 elementary and secondary teachers as vocational counselors. The
“Boston example” soon spread to other major cities as school personnel recognized the need for
vocational planning. By 1910, 35 cities were emulating Boston (Lee, 1966).

Jesse B. Davis was the first person to set up a systematized guidance program in the pub-
lic schools (Aubrey, 1977; Brewer, 1942). As superintendent of the Grand Rapids, Michigan,
school system, he suggested in 1907 that classroom teachers of English composition teach their
students a lesson in guidance once a week, to accomplish the goal of building character and
preventing problems. Influenced by progressive American educators such as Horace Mann and
John Dewey, Davis believed that proper guidance would help cure the ills of American society
(Davis, 1914). What he and other progressive educators advocated was not counseling in the
modern sense but a forerunner of counseling: school guidance (a preventive educational means
of teaching students how to deal effectively with life events).

Clifford Beers, a former Yale student, was hospitalized for depression several times dur-
ing his life (Kiselica & Robinson, 2001). He found conditions in mental institutions deplorable
and exposed them in his book, A Mind That Found Itself (1908), which became a popular best
seller. Beers used the book as a platform to advocate for better mental health facilities and reform
in the treatment of people with mental illness by making friends with and soliciting funds from
influential people of his day, such as the Fords and Rockefellers. His work had an especially

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powerful influence on the fields of psychiatry and psychology. “Many people in these fields
referred to what they were doing as counseling,” which was seen “as a means of helping people
adjust to themselves and society” (Hansen, Rossberg, & Cramer, 1994, p. 5). Beers’s work was
the impetus for the mental health movement in the United States, as well as advocacy groups that
exist today including the National Mental Health Association and the National Alliance for the
Mentally Ill. His work was also a forerunner of mental health counseling.

Doug Deliberates

After reading about the three major pioneers in the profession of counseling, Doug deliberated
about who among them was most important. At first he was sure it must be Frank Parsons be-
cause Parsons seemed the most scientific and influential of the group. Yet as he thought, he was
not sure. Where would counseling be without Clifford Beers’s influence on mental health and
Jesse Davis’s work in the school?

Who do you think was the most important of these three? Why?


Three events had a profound impact on the development of counseling during the 1910s. The
first was the 1913 founding of the National Vocational Guidance Association (NVGA), which
was the forerunner of the American Counseling Association. It began publishing a bulletin in
1915 (Goodyear, 1984). In 1921, the National Vocational Guidance Bulletin started regular
publication. It evolved in later years to become the National Vocational Guidance Magazine
(1924–1933), Occupations: The Vocational Guidance Magazine (1933–1944), Occupations:
The Vocational Guidance Journal (1944–1952), Personnel and Guidance Journal (1952–1984),
and, finally, the Journal of Counseling and Development (1984 to the present). NVGA was
important because it established an association offering guidance literature and united those with
an interest in vocational counseling for the first time.

Complementing the founding of NVGA was congressional passage of the Smith-Hughes
Act of 1917. This legislation provided funding for public schools to support vocational education.

World War I was the third important event of the decade. During the war “counseling
became more widely recognized as the military began to employ testing and placement practices
for great numbers of military personnel” (Hollis, 2000, p. 45). In this process, the Army commis-
sioned the development of numerous psychological instruments, among them the Army Alpha
and Army Beta intelligence tests. Several of the Army’s screening devices were employed in
civilian populations after the war, and psychometrics (psychological testing) became a popular
movement and an early foundation on which counseling was based.

Aubrey (1977) observes that, because the vocational guidance movement developed with-
out an explicit philosophy, it quickly embraced psychometrics to gain a legitimate foundation in
psychology. Reliance on psychometrics had both positive and negative effects. On the positive
side, it gave vocational guidance specialists a stronger and more “scientific” identity. On the
negative side, it distracted many specialists from examining developments in other behavioral
sciences, such as sociology, biology, and anthropology.

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The 1920s were relatively quiet for the developing counseling profession. This was a period
of consolidation. Education courses for counselors, which had begun at Harvard University
in 1911, almost exclusively emphasized vocational guidance during the 1920s. The dominant
influences on the emerging profession were the progressive theories of education and the federal
government’s use of guidance services with war veterans.

A notable event was the certification of counselors in Boston and New York in the mid-
1920s. Another turning point was the development of the first standards for the preparation and
evaluation of occupational materials (Lee, 1966). Along with these standards came the publica-
tion of new psychological instruments such as Edward Strong’s Strong Vocational Interest
Inventory (SVII) in 1927. The publication of this instrument set the stage for future directions
for assessment in counseling (Strong, 1943).

A final noteworthy event was Abraham and Hannah Stone’s 1929 establishment of the first
marriage and family counseling center in New York City. This center was followed by others
across the nation, marking the beginning of the specialty of marriage and family counseling.

Throughout the decade, the guidance movement gained acceptance within American
society. At the same time, the movement’s narrow emphasis on vocational interests began to
be challenged. Counselors were broadening their focus to include issues of personality and
development, such as those that concerned the family.


The 1930s were not as quiet as the 1920s, in part because the Great Depression influenced
researchers and practitioners, especially in university and vocational settings, to emphasize
helping strategies and counseling methods that related to employment. A highlight of the
decade was the development of the first theory of counseling, which was formulated by
E.  G.  Williamson and his colleagues (including John Darley and Donald Paterson) at the
University of Minnesota. Williamson modified Parsons’s theory and used it to work with
students and the unemployed. His emphasis on a direct, counselor-centered approach came
to be known by several names—for example, as the Minnesota point of view and trait-factor
counseling. His pragmatic approach emphasized the counselor’s teaching, mentoring, and influ-
encing skills (Williamson, 1939).

One premise of Williamson’s theory was that persons had traits (e.g., aptitudes, inter-
ests, personalities, achievements) that could be integrated in a variety of ways to form factors
(constellations of individual characteristics). Counseling was based on a scientific, problem-
solving, empirical method that was individually tailored to each client to help him or her stop
nonproductive thinking/behavior and become an effective decision maker (Lynch & Maki,
1981). Williamson thought the task of the counselor was to ascertain a deficiency in the client,
such as a lack of knowledge or a skill, and then to prescribe a procedure to rectify the problem.
Williamson’s influence dominated counseling for the next two decades, and he continued to
write about his theory into the 1970s (Williamson & Biggs, 1979).

Another major occurrence was the broadening of counseling beyond occupational con-
cerns. The seeds of this development were sown in the 1920s, when Edward Thorndike began
to challenge the vocational orientation of the guidance movement (Lee, 1966). The work of
John Brewer completed this change in emphasis. Brewer published a book titled Education as
Guidance in 1932. He proposed that every teacher be a counselor and that guidance be incor-
porated into the school curriculum as a subject. Brewer believed that all education should focus

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