The history of mental health counseling and philosophies that developed formed the foundation of professional counseling and is responsible for how the profession is perceived today. The current standards, regulation, and credentialing set by the profession in addition help form an identity for the profession.
Mental Health Counseling has always focused on people as they enter different stages of life and grow. Counseling began development in the 1900’s, but was not recognized as a profession until 1971. Prior to 1971, counseling was informal and primarily developed to help improve the lives of people in the community (Gladding & Newsom, 2014). Professional counseling in the future will continue to develop and adapt to the needs of both society and the profession.
The foundation of counseling began its development of pioneering individuals like Frank Parsons, Jessie Davis, and Clifford Beers. Frank Parsons’s work was on prevention and growth and provided the foundation for career counseling. Jessie Davis set up a systematized guidance program in public schools and believed that with the right type of guidance problems in society could be solved. Another pioneer is Clifford Beers who advocated for improved mental health facilities and treatment of the mentally ill (Gladding & Newsom, 2014).
The endeavors of individuals like Frank Parsons, Jessie Davis, and Clifford Beers lead to an interest in testing, and with the involvement the U.S. government group testing became popular, for example the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory by McKinley and Hathaway (Smith & Robinson, 1995). Counseling’s development as a profession began out of the progressive guidance movement.
The main theories that influenced counseling as the profession started to grow were: Sigmund Freud’s
psychoanalysis, E.G. Williamson’s trait-factor theory, Carl Rogers humanistic and client-centered theories, and finally B.F. Skinner’s behavioral theories. New theories emerged and developed in the 1050’s included Joseph Wolpe’s systematic desensitization theory, the rational –emotive therapy from Albert Ellis, and the Eric Berne’s theory of transactional analysis (Gladding & Newsom, 2014).
The American Personnel and Guidance Association (APGA) began working toward state and national licensure and in 1976 Virginia was the first to adopt a professional counselor licensure law. The association continued to strengthen the profession by creating standardized educational programs in master and doctoral level degrees (Gladding & Newsom, 2014). Licensing regulations vary from state to state and even the titles bestowed on licensed counselors differ. Some states refer to licensed counselors as mental health counselor (MHC), licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC), and licensed professional counselor (LPC) just to name a few.
The desire to build a strong unified profession gave way to the formation of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and related Educational Programs (CACREP) in 1981. They streamlined the standardizations for counselor educational programs and began accrediting educational programs and CACREP’s membership into the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation (COPA) placed them in equal standing with other accreditation bodies (Gladding & Newsom, 2014).
The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) formed in 1982 designed a standardized test and defined major subject areas they deemed important for counselors to be knowledgeable. In conjuncture with CACREP the National Academy of Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselors (NACCMHC) defined training standards and certification of mental health counselors. Today the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), established in 1982, is the leading organization to certify counselors, maintain a register of certified counselors, and the re-certification of licensed counselors (Smith & Robinson, 1995).
Mental health counseling today is recognized as a profession through the development of organizations who set forth standards for credentialing and licensing to strengthen the professional identity of counselors. The philosophies and theories on how individuals went through different stages of life and their learning processes during these stages helped clinical mental health counseling evolve. Counseling developed from the humanistic desire to improve the quality of life.
In the past the emphasis of counseling was based on prevention and purposefulness. Today the profession’s focus is on wellness, development, mindfulness, and remediation of mental disorders. Past and present emphasis are similar, but it is important to note that while guidance focuses on helping individuals choose what they value, counseling focuses on helping individual make changes in their lives. Professional organizations not only provide information on licensing, credentialing, but provide mental health counselors a way to maintain a professional identity.
There are a number of associations on the national and state level. They provide support, continuing education, and updates on public policy that can affect communities licensed counselors live and work in. Those in the counseling profession must maintain a professional identity by continuing to earn the credentials necessary to present themselves as a professional to the public.
Mental health counseling is always evolving and with the advent of new technology long distance counseling has been made possible to help those who may not otherwise have access to this service. Innovated ways in which counseling can be provided can bring about positive effects, but at the same time it is necessary to be vigilant in observing a code of ethics and the well-being of the client (Meshriy, 2009).
The role of a counselor is to be an advocate for the client in a way that encourages positive change and to help guide counselors in their role as advocates. In 2003 The American Counseling Association adopted the ACA Advocacy competencies to help counselors in their role as advocates (Toporek, Lewis & Crethar, 2009). Professional counseling will continue to develop and adapt to the needs of both society and the profession
Gladding, S.T. & Newsom, D.W. (2014). Clinical Mental Health Counseling in Community and Agency Settings. (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Meshriy, N. (2009). Technology in counseling. Career Planning and Adult
Development Journal, 25(3), 82-88.
Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/347851409?accountid=27965 Smith, H. B., & Robinson, G. P. (1995). Mental health counseling: Past, present, and future. Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD, 74(2), 158.
Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/218962864?accountid=27965 Toporek, R. L., Lewis, J. A., & Crethar, H. C. (2009). Promoting systemic change through the ACA advocacy competencies. Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD, 87(3), 260-268. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/218972977?accountid=27965