Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Introduction to the Special Issue on the History of Counselling in Canada

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Introduction to the Special Issue on the History of Counselling in Canada

Article excerpt


In this introduction to the CJCP special issue, History of Counselling in Canada, important foundations, milestones, trends, and issues in the history of counselling as a profession in Canada are highlighted. Special attention is given to the evolution of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) from its beginnings in 1965 to the robust national professional organization it is today, based primarily on articles in COGNICA and The Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy. The contributions to this special issue focus on particular aspects of the development of counselling in Canada: career counselling, the profession of guidance counsellors in Quebec, and CCPA accreditation of counsellor education programs.

When we were asked by Dr. Kevin Alderson to be guest editors of this special issue on the history of counselling in Canada, we enthusiastically accepted. Having been involved in the field in Canada and internationally for most of our careers, we saw the need for a written record of how this field has evolved across time. As we approached the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) in 2015, we thought it was timely to reflect on the past and present of counselling in Canada.

Canadian guidance and counselling has its roots in several movements that originated in the United States early in the 20th century: the vocational guidance movement begun by Frank Parsons, the testing movement introduced to North America by James Cattell, and the mental hygiene movement initiated by Clifford Beers. The introduction and development of guidance and counselling in Canada in the first half of the century were greatly influenced by changing societal and educational conditions within the country arising from rapid population growth, increasing industrialization and urbanization, the Depression, and the two world wars (Borgen, 1971; Van Hesteren, 1971). Guidance associations were formed in Quebec and the Maritimes in the mid 1940s. Around the same time, the work of Carl Rogers began to impact the field, and a greater emphasis was placed on individual counselling (Gladding & Alderson, 2012).

In the 1950s and 1960s, counselling in Canada began to gain momentum with the introduction of graduate-level training programs in counselling psychology and educational counselling in both anglophone and francophone universities (Arthur, 1971; Young, 2009). Continuing into the 1960s and early 1970s, the major focus was on guidance and counselling in schools and, to some extent, postsecondary and employment settings (Robertson & Paterson, 1983). Guidance and counselling in Canada continued to parallel developments in the United States across time. In the early 1960s, some Canadian trends began to develop that reflected our geographic, historical, cultural, linguistic, social, and economic diversity (Paterson, Robertson, & Bain, 1979), and these trends have continued to expand since then (Domeñe & Bedi, 2013). As noted by Gladding and Alderson (2012) and Domeñe and Bedi (2013), there has been an expansion in the roles and functions of counsellors; the kinds of settings in which counsellors are employed; the range of theoretical approaches used; the nature, complexity, and severity of presenting client issues; and the diversity of client populations seeking counselling. A particular issue currently facing the field is that of counsellor identity and professional regulation. All of these bring both challenges and opportunities for the profession of counselling in Canada. For detailed accounts regarding the historical development of counselling in Canada, readers are referred to Gladding and Alderson (2012), Borgen (1971), Cournoyer (2014), Domeñe and Bedi (2013), Lalande (2004), Sinacore and Ginsberg (2015), Van Hesteren (1971), and Young (2009).


Given the significant role CCPA has played in the development of counselling in Canada, we have chosen to trace (a) key developments in the history of the Association and its leadership of the profession across time as documented primarily in the Association's bilingual newsletter, COGNICA, and (b) trends in counselling in Canada over time as documented in The Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy and its predecessor versions of that journal. …

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