Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Wellness Counseling the Evidence Base for Practice

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Wellness Counseling the Evidence Base for Practice

Article excerpt

WHEREAS, optimum physical, intellectual, social, occupational, emotional, and spiritual development are worthy goals for all individuals within our society; and

WHEREAS, research in virtually every discipline concerned with human development supports the benefits of wellness for both longevity and quality of life over the life span; and

WHEREAS, the AACD [ACA] membership subscribe to values which promote optimum health and wellness;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Governing Council of AACD [ACA] declare a position for the profession as advocates for policies and programs in all segments of our society which promote and support optimum health and wellness; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that AACD [ACA] support the counseling ... professions' position as an advocate toward a goal of optimum health and wellness within our society.

--Resolution of the Governing Council of the American Association for Counseling and Development (AACD), now the American Counseling Association (ACA)

This resolution, titled The Counseling Profession as Advocates for Optimum Health and Wellness, was adopted by the Governing Council of the American Association for Counseling and Development (AACD), now the American Counseling Association (ACA), July 13, 1989. Rather than being a radical departure from prior goals, the resolution represented a renewed commitment to the history and philosophical foundations of the counseling profession as a whole. Sweeney (1995, 2001) reviewed the evolution of counseling as a profession and underscored its roots in a developmental guidance approach. These roots go back almost a century to seminal writings such as those of Jones (1934), who stated that "guidance is based upon the fact that human beings need help ... in order that decisions may be made wisely" (p. 3). Today, concern in the profession for helping people make wise decisions is reflected in a philosophy variously defined in terms such as prevention (Derzon, 2006), development (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2003), and wellness (Myers & Sweeney, 2005a), terms that share common tenets and, as a consequence, are often used interchangeably (Myers, 1992).

In contrast to counseling, the roots of wellness go back almost 2,000 years. The Greek philosopher Aristotle, writing in the 5th century B.C., was perhaps the first person to write about wellness. His goal in doing so was to offer a scientific explanation for health and illness and to define a model of good health in which one seeks for "nothing in excess." During the Middle Ages, Descartes and others who defined the scientific revolution proposed a duality of mind and body that resulted in a fragmented approach to interpreting human functioning. Only within the latter half of the 20th century has a new paradigm in medicine emerged in which body, mind, and spirit are seen as integral to understanding both health and wellness (Larson, 1999). This new paradigm is consistent with the World Health Organization's (WHO) definition of health as "physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease" (1958, p. 1). Health in this context is a neutral concept, with wellness defined as a positive state of well-being on a continuum that ranges from illness at one extreme, through health in the middle, to high-level wellness at the other extreme (Travis & Ryan, 1988).

Professional counselors seek to encourage wellness, a positive state of well-being, through developmental, preventive, and wellness-enhancing interventions. Although these interventions are based in a philosophy of care, ethical practice requires the use of evidence-based techniques. In fact, the ACA Code of Ethics (ACA, 2005) states clearly that "counselors have a responsibility to the public to engage in counseling practices that are based on rigorous research methodologies" (p. 9). Following a review of research in the counseling field, Sexton (2001) noted the urgent need for evidence-based models to inform clinical practice and remarked that "moving toward evidence-based counseling practice . …

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