HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 1900-1909 Frank Parson

Frank Parson is known as a broad scholar, a persuasive writer, a tireless activist, and a great intellect. He is rightly called the “father of guidance” and is best known for founding Boston’s Vocational Bureau in 1908. He initiated vocational guidance movement, but he would not have envisioned the growth of the movement from the several dozen, he trained, to 115,000 school counselors by 1994.

Parson (1909) believed that the vocational counselor should have the following traits:

  • A practical working knowledge of psychology
  • An experience involving sufficient human contact
  • An ability to deal with young people
  • A knowledge of requirements and conditions of success
  • Information about courses and means of preparation
  • Scientific method analysis

Frank Parson’s work on vocational guidance classified the facts, identified the causes, and drew the conclusions about several issues pertaining to suitability of people for different work environments.

Clifford Beers: Mental Health Movement

During the same period (1900-1909), other professional developments evolved independently and merged to help form the modern approach to counseling. Mental health movement, like vocational guidance movement, owes much to the efforts of one person. Clifford Beers, a former Yale student, was hospitalized for mental illness several times during his life. He found conditions in mental institutions deplorable and exposed them in a book, A Mind That Found Itself (1908), which became very popular. Beers advocated better mental health facilities and reforms in the treatment of the mentally ill. His work had an especially powerful influence on the fields of psychiatry and psychology, where many of these people referred to what they were doing as counseling. Beers was the impetus for the mental health movement in the United States, and his work was a forerunner of mental health counseling.

He noted abuse of weak and violent patients. Weak patients and violent patients were abused the first day they would admit into a hospital because of the helplessness of the later and aggressive behaviors of the former. This procedure seemed to be a part of established code of dishonor. His descriptions aroused public to humanitarian movements. During 798 days of depression in hospital, he said that he draw countless incorrect deductions.

These and similar descriptions aroused the public to initiate

1. Humanitarian reforms

2. Scientific inquiry into the problems of mental illness and its treatment.

With the help of a few psychologists of the time, Such as William James and Adolph Meyer, the mental hygiene movement was launched to educate the general people. Mental Hygiene movement was responsible for legislative reforms, aftercare, and free clinics for the mentally ill. In 1909 Beers supplied the leadership for National Committee for Mental Hygiene.

Psychopathic Hospitals

Viewpoint that individuals are products of both their environment and heredity gave rise to new type of institutions called “Psychopathic Hospitals”. Psychopathic Hospitals located in communities became the forerunner of modern day community mental health centers. In these hospitals outpatient treatment was preferred rather than custodial care. They Improved standards of treatment, though controversial, and provided base for establishing local clinics for disturbed children.

Other Early Leaders in Guidance Movement

The work of Jesse Davis, Eli Weaver, and Frank Parsons and a host of other pioneers created momentum for the development of a school counseling profession.)

Anna Reed:

Developed guidance programs to judge a person’s worth by his/her employability. Reed was an admirer of the prevailing concepts of the business world. She believed that guidance services are important for developing best educational products. Contrary to today’s philosophy, she placed the business needs above those of the individual.

Eli Weaver:

Eli Weaver established teacher guidance committees in every high school in New York to help youths discover their capabilities for the most appropriate employment

Davis S. Hill:

Davis S. Hill advocated and worked for a diversified curriculum complemented by vocational guidance.

1910s: Standardized Testing

  • Prior to World War I human assessments were made on the basis of individual differences on a variety of tasks. The French psychologist Alfred Binet and his associate Theodore Simon introduced the first general intelligence test in 1905. In 1916, a translated and revised version was introduced in the United States by Lewis M. Terman and his colleagues at Stanford University, and it enjoyed widespread popularity in the schools. Prior to World War I technical efforts to human assessment were limited to the work of individual researchers attempting to measure individual differences on a variety of tasks like reaction time and sensorimotor abilities.
  • World War I was the third important event of the decade. To screen its personnel, the U.S. Army commissioned the development of numerous psychological instruments, among the Army Alpha and Army Beta intelligence tests. Several of the army’s screening devices were employed in civilian populations after the war. These were based on group testing.
  • The first standardized achievement and aptitude tests were constructed at that time. Testing of special aptitudes in music, mechanics, and arts was also started.
  • In 1915, the first guidance journal “Vocational Guidance” was published.
  • The first standardized achievement tests predicted success in areas such as academic performance.
  • Robert Yerks, APA president, headed a committee of psychologists to develop IQ and other measures.
  • In many ways developments in mental measurements and other types of human assessment formed the basis for the early technology of counseling practice


  • The 1920s were relatively quiet for the development of guidance profession.
  • A notable event was the certification of counselors in Boston and New York in the mid-1920s.
  • Another turning point was the development of the first standards for the preparation and evaluation of occupational materials. Certification in guidance profession started in mid-twenties.
  • Along with these standards came the publication of new psychological instruments such as Edward Strong’s Strong Vocational Interest Inventory (SVII) in 1928, which set the stage for future directions
  • In 1921, Cattel founded Psychological corporation to sell tests
  • First centre of Marriage and family counseling by Abraham & Hannah (1929) marked the beginning of the subspecialty
  • This decade not only stimulated the development and usage of standardized tests, but also was significant to the development of one of the early specializations in counseling: rehabilitation counseling. Vocational rehabilitation services were initiated for veterans.
  • In 1921 Rorschach’s very popular inkblot test, Psychodiagnostic, was developed.

Child Guidance Movement:

Child Guidance Movement was primarily initiated as the result of the work of G. Stanley Hall. Hall was also influenced by Freud, and introduced his ideas in USA. He studied different phases of mental life in all ages.

Child-study movement was fourfold:

  • Individual as the focal point of study
  • Importance of the formative years
  • Need for reliable, factual knowledge about children
  • More accurate methods of child study

Child study centers were designed to promote the well-being of children

The first child guidance clinic was founded in Chicago in 1909 by an English psychiatrist, William Halley, who worked on children delinquency and misbehaviour.


Williamson’s Trait-Factor Approach:

Highlight of this decade is the development of first counseling theory by Williamson et al. Williamson used this theory to work with students and unemployed. His theory is a trait-factor, directive, and counselor centered approach. His approach is also considered the Williamson modified Parsons’s theory. He emphasized traits (aptitudes, interests, personalities, and achievements) of the counselor for the effectiveness of counseling. His pragmatic approach emphasized the teaching, mentoring, and influential skills of the counselor. His theory dominated counseling for the next 2 decades. It was based on a scientific, problem solving, and empirical method that was individually tailored to each client in order to help him stop his nonproductive thinking.

John Brewer:

John Brewer helped broaden counseling beyond occupational concerns. He emphasized this change and published a book “Education as Guidance” He maintained that every teacher be a counselor and that guidance be incorporated into school curriculum. The purpose is to teach the student to live outside the school.

Influence of World War I:

World War I resulted in two significant acts:

1.  Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act

2.  Veteran’s bureau

Other Important Developments:

• The term of Rehabilitation Counselor appeared in late 1930.

  • By the 1930s 50 psychological clinics and 12 child guidance clinics were formed.
  • In 1939, Wechseller Adult Intelligence Scale was introduced
  • Establishment of US Employment Service, published the first edition of Dictionary of Occupational Titles in 1939. DOT was used as the major source of career information for guidance specialists working with students and unemployed.
  • New measures of personality, interests, abilities, emotions and traits were constructed.


  • By 1940 over 500 psychological tests appeared.
  • A Measurement Year Book was constructed to catalogue tests

During this decade, three major events radically shaped the practice of counseling:

1.  The theory of Carl Rogers: Client Centered Approach

2.  World war II

3.  Govt.’s involvement in counseling

Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers rose to prominence in 1942 with the publication of counseling and psychotherapy.

More than any other person, Rogers influenced the way American counselors interact with clients.

Client centered approach maintained that counselor serve as a mirror, reflecting the verbal and emotional manifestations of the clients.

He emphasized in his two books: “counseling and psychotherapy” “client centered therapy” that the client assumes the major responsibility for solving his/her problems. His nondirective approach was opposite of traditional method of counselor being the focus of attention. This approach was different from the trait approach of Williamson. After continued research and application efforts, this was a semantic change from nondirective to client-centered approach.

Often it is stated that his contribution to counseling is analogous to Henry Ford’s contribution to the development of automotive industry.

Aubery (1977) noted that before Rogers the literature in counseling was very practical, e.g., a lot of testing, maintaining cumulative records, vocational and placement functions, etc. Rogers emphasized a new approach focusing on techniques of counseling, training of counselor, and research. Due to Rogers’ influence guidance for all intents and purposes suddenly disappeared.

World war II & Govt.’s (US) Involvement

  • After World War II, counseling and guidance movement appeared to be taking a new vitality and focus. Involvement of psychology in World War II was far greater than World War I.
  • There was a postwar explosion effect, e.g., funding as well as stipend and paid internships were available to students.
  • In 1944 alone over 60 million tests were administered to 20 million soldiers and civilians and Veterans Administration (VA) established centers to provide counseling
  • VA coined the term Counseling psychologist and funded the training of counselors and psychologists
  • About 1500 psychologists served in war
  • Wider range of military-oriented tests including Army General Classification for groups was created.
  • Brief measures of TAT and Rorschach appeared.

• By 1960 many people had become highly critical of the practice of using such tests for educational and job selection. The criticism was that these tests are penalizing minority groups who score low on these tests not because of their lack of abilities but due to less equal opportunity.

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