History and Philosophy of Counseling

Categories: Counseling

The purpose of this paper is to explore the various key figures and the philosophy of counseling over the years. These famous figures such as Sigmund Freud and Frank Parsons have shaped the culture of counseling and psychology as we know it. Counseling and psychotherapy were used by many and has changed over the years. For instance, Freud focused on sexual and aggressive drives. He aimed to see how it affects the unconscious mind. Frank Parsons focused on improving the lives of the impoverished.

He founded a program that helped people have lasting jobs. Those two famous figures are just some that we will talk about in the paper. We will also discuss their methods and techniques that have influenced counselors to use some of their own techniques depending on the state of the client. Some counselors may work with people who have addictions. They also may just work with those who have emotional or mental health problems. Different ways of counseling can be used depending on the individual.

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Not one method of counseling will work for all clients. We must note that it is important to learn various techniques and make them our own.

Counseling as a profession was born in the late 1800s to early 1900s in the United States. In Siang-Yang Tans Counseling and Psychotherapy: A Christian Perspective (2011), Gary Collins defined counseling as “a relationship between two or more persons in which one person (the counselor) seeks to advise, encourage and/or assist another person or persons (the counselee[s]) to deal more effectively with the problems of life”.

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He further states: “Unlike psychotherapy, counseling rarely aims to radically alter or remold personality” (Tans, 2011).

The Veterans Association (VA) coined term counseling psychologist. World War I was physically and psychologically traumatizing for almost all veterans. From the 1920s to 1930s suicide was reported to be the leading cause of death in military personnel (Jones, 1994). The VA provided counselors to assist veterans with problems of personal adjustment. In 1957, counseling was provided to all 50 states including the Philippines and in Puerto Rico. About one million veterans that were counseled at the time were disabled. The disabilities were a result of both psychological and physical trauma (McCully, 1957). Counselors involved in the Veterans Association use Talk Therapy. This type of therapy can be beneficial for these veterans.

Sigmund Freud is the founder of Talk Therapy and psychoanalysis. His Freudian Theory was founded in 1901. He used his methods to explore the unconscious mind influences. He believed the thoughts and behaviors aim to offer insight and resolution to the person receiving the therapy. Talk Therapy can involve the client talk freely in the session. According to Sigmund Freud. 1865-1939, Tansley noted positive transference as not necessarily being psychoanalysis. It is normally established with every physician who undertakes the treatment of serious illness. He also mentions that emotional relationship is the reason for being a medical influence. Success is largely based upon this emotional relationship. A relationship of a soldier to officer can have a similar attitude (Tansley, 1941).

Frank Parsons is known for being the father of psychoanalysis and developing the Vocation Bureau in the early 1900s. The Vocation Bureau was intended to aid young people to choose and a vocation and prepare for it. Parsons wanted to be able to provide counseling to them regarding their current situations. The goal of the Vocation Bureau was to improve lives and escape poverty (Jones, 1994). In the 1960s a new therapy emerged that could help these young people become successful in achieving their goals.

This new therapy is psychotherapy known as Reality Therapy. William Glasser founded this type of therapy in 1965. This was unlike most therapies. He did not focus on the client’s mental disorders. Instead he focused on what he called the three Rs: realism, responsibility, and right-and-wrong. He emphasized that people control their own actions. Shortly after Glasser’s Reality Therapy was founded, counseling private practices emerged. (Sangganjanavanich & Reynolds, 2015)

Sangganjanavanich and Reynolds describe in the Introduction to Professional Counseling that counseling had been extended in a variety of new directions in the end of 1980s and beginning of 1990s. There was a rapid growth of professional counseling. There was also demands for professional counselors reflected societal concerns in certain areas. Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was an idea to get those who had experienced welfare dependence for long periods of time. The Aid to Families with Dependent Children program intended to turn unemployed persons to ones that could have lasting jobs. To do this the program intended to train them postemployment (2015). Learning something new can be impossible just by trying the action. This theory proves that a person can only be learned if the action is observed first. Albert Bandura developed this theory in 1963. In the 1960s he conducted an experiment that studied children’s aggressive behaviors. He concluded there was a direct correlation between a person’s perceived self-efficacy and behavioral change (Sanjanavanich & Reynolds, 2015).

Counseling came to be due to the numerous key contributors and their methods. Some methods used in the United States include: Talk Therapy, Reality Therapy and the use of operant conditioning by positive reinforcement. Counseling has changed the lives of many. This paper mentions the various impacts of the different forms of counseling overtime. The veterans of WWI and WWII use counseling as a way to cope with their trauma(s) from war. Private practices emerged around the 1970s but there was not a significant need for professional counselors. It was in the late 1980s and early 1990s where the demand increased.


  1. Jones, L. K. (1994). Frank Parsons’ Contribution to Career Counseling. Journal of Career Development, 20(4), 287–290. https://web-b-ebscohost com.ezproxy.ollusa.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=9&sid=294d2b29-3809-490a 9fce-b8adf06f1551%40sessionmgr101
  2. McCULLY, C. H. (1957). Developments of a Decade of VA Counseling. The Personnel and Guidance Journal, 36(1), 21. doi: https://doi-org.ezproxy.ollusa.edu/10.1002/j.2164 4918.1957.tb00979.x
  3. Tans, S.-Y. (2011). Counseling and Psychotherapy: A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE. 16. http://gospelpublishing.com/store/item_data/downloads/382425_preview.pdf
  4. Tansley, A. (1941). Sigmund Freud. 1856-1939. Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society, 3(9), 247-275. www.jstor.org/stable/768889
  5. Sangganjanavanich, V. F., & Reynolds, C. A. (2015). Introduction to professional counseling. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. https://search-ebscohost com.ezproxy.ollusa.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=psyh&AN=2014-20469 000&site=ehost-live

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History and Philosophy of Counseling. (2021, Dec 31). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/history-and-philosophy-of-counseling-essay

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