Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Programs: A Rich History and a Bright Furture

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Programs: A Rich History and a Bright Furture

Article excerpt

How did guidance and counseling in the schools begin and then evolve to where it is today? How is guidance and counseling in the schools organized and practiced currently and what is its future? In answering these questions we first describe the evolution of guidance and counseling in the schools from a position to a service to a comprehensive program. Then we turn our attention to the present and describe the prevailing organizational structure, the comprehensive guidance and counseling program. Finally, we look into the future and briefly describe what we think is a bright future for comprehensive guidance and counseling programs in our nation's schools.

A Rich History

By the beginning of the 20th Century, the United States was deeply involved in the Industrial Revolution. It was a period of rapid industrial growth, social protest, social reform, and utopian idealism. Social protest and social reform were being carried out under the banner of the Progressive Movement, a movement that sought to change negative social conditions associated with the Industrial Revolution. Guidance was born during the height of this movement as "but one manifestation of the broader movement of progressive reform which occurred in this country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries" (Stephens, 1970, p. 5). Its beginnings can be traced to the work of a number of individuals and social institutions. People such as Frank Parsons, Meyer Bloomfield, Jessie Davis, Anna Reed, E. W. Weaver, and David Hill were instrumental in formulating and implementing early conceptions of guidance-- working through a number of organizations and movements such as the settlement house movement, the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education, and schools in Grand Rapids, Seattle, New York, and New Orleans.

A Position

The implementation of guidance and counseling in the schools during the first two decades of the 20th Century was accomplished by appointing teachers to the position of vocational counselor, often with no relief from their teaching duties and with no additional pay (Ginn, 1924). They were given a list of duties to perform in addition to their regular teaching duties. No organizational structure other than a list of duties was provided for vocational guidance, as it was called then. As a result, guidance and counseling in the schools was being carried out by persons in positions without formal organizational structures in which to work.

In the 1920s and 1930s, concern was beginning to be expressed about the position orientation to guidance and counseling and the lack of a unified program. In a review of the Boston system, Brewer (1922) stated that the work was "commendable and promising" (p. 36). At the same time, however, he expressed concern about the lack of effective centralization. Myers (1923) made the same point when he stated "that a centralized, unified program of vocational guidance for the entire school of a city is essential to the most effective work" (p. 139). This situation presented a serious problem. If there were no agreed-upon centralized structure to organize and direct the work of vocational counselors, then other duties as assigned could become a problem. As early as 1923 this problem was recognized by Myers (1923) when he stated that:

Another tendency dangerous to the cause of vocational guidance is the tendency to load the vocational counselor with so many duties foreign to the office that little real counseling can be done. The principal, and often the counselor himself, has a very indefinite idea of the proper duties of this new office. The counselor's time is more free from definite assignments with groups or classes of pupils than is that of the ordinary teacher. If well chosen he has administrative ability. It is perfectly natural, therefore, for the principal to assign one administrative duty after another to the counselor until he becomes practically assistant principal, with little time for the real work of a counselor (p. …

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