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Counseling Profession: Origin and Description


The paper concentrates on the introduction that gives brief information about the origin of counseling and the people who pioneered it. It also gives a somewhat detailed description of their works and how they helped the development of guidance and counseling. Their discoveries and achievements are also highlighted.

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Counseling has a long history dating back to the 19th century. There are many people both men and women who played a significant role in the founding and subsequent development of the counseling profession as we know it today. Many people, however, regard Frank Parsons as the father of counseling (Kinra, 2008, p 76). Besides Parsons, there are other key players like Lysander S. Richards and Vocophy, Jessie B. Davies, Dorothea Dix, Wilhelm Wundt Anna Y reed and Eli Weaver, William James and Granville Stanly Hall, all of whom contributed variously to make professional counseling what it is today.

This paper will not dwell on all the above but just a few whose contribution is thought to have born the greatest influence on the profession. Before any analysis is done its important to note that the history and development of counseling as a profession has its roots in career guidance, many scholars found it necessary to counsel young people during the industrial revolution when agrarian ideas were being discarded and the new industrial age offered numerous job opportunities in large cities.


Frank Parson

Frank Parson is touted as the father of guidance and counseling. He is thought to have been the first true counselor. He was a vocational educator who later established the education to work center in Boston. His work mainly concentrated on using scientific procedures to help people choose careers. His vision for counseling was to transform counseling to help people in making vocational choices that centered on three components namely; the knowledge of the work world, education attainment, and fitting between work and personal values, attributes, aspirations, and interests (Kinra, 2008, p.98).

The early counseling activities pioneered by parsons emphasize education and work as well as effectively developing the field through a vocational perspective. In a nutshell, Parsons is thought to have helped the field of counseling especially career guidance and counseling through championing the establishment of the program in schools, training of counselors, development of steps and guidelines some of which persists to date and laid the necessary framework for the continuation of his work.

Dorothea Dix

Early in the 19th century Dorothea Dix has envisioned and advocated for the establishment of institutions that were primarily charged with the responsibility of treating emotional disorders humanely. She was a social reformer whose tour to an insane asylum facility prompted her to commit her life to changing the conditions that these people lived under (Biggs & Porter, 1994, p. 100).

. She operated on the belief that these people with emotions can make a complete recovery and lead a normal life again. She started processes that influenced the passage of legislation in many states in the US that guaranteed better treatment for the mentally ill people. Her main contribution, therefore, was the establishment of institutions especially hospitals that specifically catered for the mentally ill. These facilities gave employed counseling techniques that sought to help these people make full recovery. Besides, her influence and work helped the development of the legislation and subsequent recognition of the role of guidance and counseling.

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Anna Reed and Eli Weaver

In Early 20th century Anna Y. Reed and Eli Weaver mooted the idea of providing counseling services based on social Darwinism concepts. The goal of there counseling approach was to ensure students emulate successful people in whatever fie that they want to be. Anna Reed proposed, for instance, the use of the dollar bill that was familiar to every student to be kept before the students so that those that aspired to be successful business people can be motivated (Biggs & Porter, 1994, p. 196). They also advocated for the social training of students to help them cope with common problems in schools such as peer rejection and hostile behavior. They proposed the use of hypothetical situations like role-playing, modeling, and problem-solving social dilemmas (Biggs & Porter, 1994, p. 198).

Granville Stanley Hall

Granville Stanley Hall on his part proposed the development of the scientific approach in studying social problems. Besides, he founded the first-ever psychology lab in the United States (Biggs & Porter, 1994, p. 150).

His main areas of contribution towards the development of counseling were in pre-adolescent teens that he characterized as savages. The lab he founded at John Hopkins focused mainly on collecting mental data on children. He, therefore, aided the use of psychology in determining the method o approach to teens when undergoing counseling.


The above figures are hardly enough to be called the fathers or mothers of the profession. However, their contribution and the fact that they were pioneers in what they did regarding counseling makes it fair to accord them the status. Their contribution in many ways laid the foundation for the development of the profession. It’s important to note that although many of the early pioneers are found in the US, their influence is well beyond the US and various counseling movements that started after that borrowed heavily from their works.


Biggs, D. A. & Porter, G. (1994). Dictionary of counseling. New York: Greenwood Publishing.

Kinra, (2008). Guidance and Counseling. New Delhi: Dorling Kinderslay.

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