How did counseling become what it is today? In this lesson, we will answer that question and look further into the growth of the field from 1940-1980.
Counseling Between 1940 and 1980
In another lesson, we talked about the development of the counseling field in the 1920s and 30s. We talked about vocational counseling, aptitude tests, and mental health institutes. So, what happened next? Well, we are now entering the 1940s. It was a time of new counseling approaches, developments in professional associations, and an increase in professional counselors that would only continue to increase over the next few decades. It was truly a time that paved the foundation for counseling to be as we imagine it today.
When most of us think of counseling, we think of a therapist listening patiently as a client expresses their feelings and life events. We may imagine the therapist saying something like, ‘I hear you saying you were in pain,’ or the well-known phrase, ‘And how did that make you feel?’ We might assume counseling sessions were always a judge free, compassionate place for people to be heard and guided. When we look at the history of counseling, however, we see that the first therapy sessions were a little different.Freud dominated the early 1900s with counseling that was focused on uncovering issues and telling clients what to do, as opposed to listening empathically or helping them find their own way. Freud would not even face his clients, but rather have them lay down facing away from him.
Relating to the client wasn’t important because he believed that what made counseling effective was the therapist’s ability to analyze the client, rather than having a quality emotional connection with him or her.At this time in history, vocational counseling was also on the scene, led by Frank Parsons, which helped guide people to the right careers based on their interests and abilities. While Freud was directing clients and Parsons was filling careers, we might wonder when counseling began addressing personal issues in a supportive, therapeutic relationship. The answer lies in a man named, Carl Rogers, whose greatest work appeared on the scene in the 1940s.Rather than believing people needed to be analyzed and bring forth their unconscious, Rogers believed that what people needed most was a nonjudgmental environment where they could feel safe to share. He believed the counselor was not meant to act as an authoritarian leader, but to serve as a caring companion to walk alongside the client, helping them to uncover their own knowledge of what’s best for them. He believed that counseling should be focused on the client, not the counselor.
And that the quality of relationship with that client was a large part of effective therapy.His new approach to counseling was called person-centered therapy, or client centered therapy, and was explained in his book, Counseling and Psychotherapy (1942). I wonder if Rogers knew that his new presentation of counseling would end up becoming foundational to its future. With the greater focus on counseling came more theoretical approaches to counseling sessions.While Carl Rogers’ person-centered theory had some of the greatest impact on the counseling field, other therapists came along in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s that had their own perspectives on counseling.
The theories created and developed include, but are not limited to, behavioral theory, which focused on changing behaviors; family systems theory, which focused on family interactions; and cognitive theory, which focused on changing thought patterns. While new approaches to counseling were arising, there were still not too many practicing counselors and psychologists. This began to change, however, with the onset and duration of World War II.
Contributions of World War II
When people think of World War II, they don’t usually think about its relationship to the counseling field. In fact, that’s probably not even on the radar of what they think about. But interestingly enough, World War II sparked a pivotal new beginning in counseling.It was then that new demands surfaced for vocational counseling, and men were given tests and guided into appropriate positions during and after the war. It was also then that clinical psychologists became busy with treating soldiers who had issues like grief, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Female psychologists, while not allowed to take part in the war effort, were busy with helping communities handle the stresses of the war and guiding single mothers on child rearing.The need for more counselors and psychologists led the Veteran’s Association to encourage people to go into the field. They granted stipends and paid internships for counseling students and led the way for many new university programs in clinical psychology in the 50s.
Up until that time, the U.S. had no formal degree programs in the field.
The Veteran’s Association also created a new division in the APA, or the American Psychological Association, a professional association which had been around since the late 1800s and was increasing in size and distinction during the war. This new division was called Division 17, or The Society for Counseling Psychology.In 1952, another professional organization for counselors arose called The American Personnel and Guidance Association.
Today, however, the group is entitled the ACA, or the American Counseling Association. The ACA and APA are currently the two most well-known psychological associations in the world.
The 1940s brought about significant growth in the field of counseling. First, several new psychological theories arose, one of the most significant being person-centered therapy by Carl Rogers. Unlike psychoanalytic theory, the previous approach to therapy under Freud, person-centered focused on the quality of relationship between counselor and client, and helping clients find their own way within an environment of compassion and support.
Other theories also arose, like behavioral, family systems, and cognitive.World War II continued to grow the field by creating a greater demand for counselors, offering vocational tests, and creating counseling degrees in universities. At this time, there was also a greater emphasis on counseling psychology within the professional association, the APA, or the American Psychological Association. This occurred with the creation of Division 17, or The Society for Counseling Psychology. Another prominent association came about in 1952 and is known today as the ACA, or American Counseling Association.
After watching this lesson, you should be able to describe the growth of the counseling profession from 1940-1980, and how it became what it is today.