Catholic School Counseling: From Guidance to Pastoral Care

By Murray, Robert; Suriano, Kristy et al. | Catholic Education, September 2003 | Go to article overview

Catholic School Counseling: From Guidance to Pastoral Care


Murray, Robert, Suriano, Kristy, Madden, Judith, Catholic Education


Those ministering to youth increasingly find themselves having to address numerous issues and complexities, which extend beyond the scope of the school setting. Catholic school students are not immune to these issues, and to address the needs of their students, Catholic school counselors must embrace aspects of the social sciences that affirm and elevate the message of the Gospel. The intent of this article is to present a Christian perspective of guidance counseling and to highlight those orientations and therapies that uphold Christian values.

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THE HISTORY OF SCHOOL GUIDANCE

School guidance began in the early 1900s, when the role of the school counselor was to prepare students for entrance into the work force. However, the school counselor's role grew to include academic advisement and the implementation of broader counseling services. Although cautious about accepting guidance programs from the onset, Catholic schools have emerged to incorporate this broader perspective.

GUIDANCE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS FROM THE TURN OF THE 20TH CENTURY TO 1930

Measures of intelligence and achievement laid the groundwork for the school guidance movement. Thorndike constructed standardized, objective achievement tests, which were of particular assistance in vocational guidance (Humphreys, Traxler, & North, 1967). Binet and Simon developed a test of intelligence, which they administered to individual children in school (Humphreys et al., 1967).

In 1908, the Vocational Guidance Association of Brooklyn was established (Lee & Pallone, 1966). By 1910, approximately 35 cities began to implement school guidance programs, and the first National Conference on Vocational Guidance, representing nearly 45 cities, was held (Lee & Pallone, 1966). In 1913, the first professional guidance organization, The National Vocational Guidance Association, was established at The Third National Conference (Lee & Pallone, 1966). Guidance programs at this time were primarily concerned with occupational counseling, based on student input and discussion of their interests. Students also were assessed for their abilities, using the tests developed by Binet and Simon (Lee & Pallone, 1966).

The 1920s were a time of significant change in the theory and practice of vocational guidance. The school guidance paradigm expanded to include an interest in the quality of student life. One notable development during the late 1920s was the cumulative record. Humphreys and Traxler (Gysbers & Henderson, 1994) considered this to be a landmark because, prior to this, there was no way of knowing how students progressed throughout their school career. The utilization of aptitude tests also made a significant impact (Humphreys et al., 1967). Additionally, during this decade, English psychologist Spearman demonstrated how a student's score varied according to the different sections of the test (Humphreys et al., 1967).

While the middle of the 1920s witnessed the use of intelligence and achievement tests, the development of personality inventories also increased (Humphreys et al., 1967).

With support from organizations and foundations such as the Commonwealth Fund, the school guidance movement of the 1920s gained momentum. However, the momentum soon came to an abrupt halt at the end of the decade, with The Great Depression. School budgets decreased, and school guidance felt the severity of the blow (Lee & Pallone, 1966).

GUIDANCE IN CATHOLIC SCHOOLS FROM THE TURN OF THE CENTURY TO 1930

During the first decade of the 20th century, Catholic clergy generally thought of vocational education as unnecessary and as taking away from a solid education. However, a minority of teaching priests argued that vocational education served a valid purpose (Lee & Pallone, 1966). One such advocate was Dom Thomas Vernor Moore, a prominent Catholic educator with a background in psychology, who proposed that certain aspects of psychology be incorporated into a Catholic education. …

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