Emerging Counselor Identity through the American Counseling Association and the Texas Counseling Association: An Historical Perspective

Article excerpt

The American Counseling Association (ACA) and the Texas Counseling Association (TCA) both are professional organizations with distinct and unique ties to the counseling profession. Though their existence is nearly parallel, if not congruent, as both officially came into existence in the early 1950s, their purposes and services converged in some aspects but diverged in others. Both have enjoyed growth in membership and in the representation of counselors' special interests. Their professional foci began to distinctly diverge in the 1990s. Though still connected by charter, they now offer their members similar services and representation but seem to maintain different purposes and foci. In this manuscript, I will outline their parallel development in an attempt to discern this recent divergence of purpose and foci.

Strife versus Stability

The American Counseling Association (ACA) and the Texas Counseling Association (TCA) both are professional organizations with distinct and unique ties to the counseling profession. Though their existence is nearly parallel, if not congruent, as both officially came into existence in the early 1950s, their purposes and services have converged in some aspects but diverged in others. Both enjoyed growth in membership and in the representation of counselors' special interests. Their professional foci began to distinctly diverge in the 1990s. Though still connected by charter, they now offer their members similar services and representation but seem to maintain different purposes and foci. In this manuscript, I will outline their parallel development in an attempt to discern this recent divergence of purpose and foci.

Founding and the Early Years

The American Counseling Association (ACA) and the Texas Counseling Association (TCA) were inextricably linked for over 40 years though their origins were unique. ACA, originalIy the American Personnel and Guidance Association (APGA), traces its roots to a joint convention convened in Los Angeles in 1952. Leaders of the National Vocational Guidance Association (NVGA), the National Association of Guidance and Counselor Trainers (NAGCT), the Student Personnel Association for Teacher Education (SPATE), and the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) were hoping to join efforts in an attempt to become a more politically influential professional association. That year, APGA was "officially" established (American Counseling [ACA], n.d.).

TCA, originally the Texas Guidance Association (TGA), began as an interest group of sorts from within the membership of the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA), with vocational guidance personnel choosing to meet, as were other school personnel groups, during the annual TSTA convention, Beginning in San Antonio in 1934, repre- sentatives of TSTA's "Guidance Section" continued to meet annually for the next 6 years, with a hiatus from 1941-1947 because of World War II. The Guidance Section representatives at the 1948 convention decided to develop a separate association. Dr. Royal Embree was elected to chair the group that year and is considered to be the first president of the Texas Guidance Association. At the convention the following year, work began on a constitution and by-laws. With their completion in 1950, TGA became an official organization as a departmental affiliate of TSTA (Mathis, McKay, Mullins, & Schmidt, 1997).

APGA Grows

The American School Counselors Association was added as an APGA division in 1953 by the APGA Senate (ACA, n.d.) With membership in APGA being gained exclusively through one of the divisions, APGA Executive Secretary Sievers reported a total APGA membership of 5,074 with 1,017 multiple members across the five divisions in October 1954. Minutes from APGA Executive Council meetings throughout the 1950s indicate a focus on the annual conventions, membership maintenance and growth, member recognition, and member services such as the journal, newsletter, and yearbook (American Personnel Guidance Association [APGA], 1953, 1954a, 1954b, 1955a, 1955b, 1956a, 1956b, 1956c, 1956d, 1957a, 1957b, 1958a, 1958b). …