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The history of school counseling around the world varies greatly based on how different countries and local communities have chosen to provide academic, career, college readiness, and personal/social skills and competencies to K-12 children and their families based on economic and social capital resources and public versus private educational settings in what is now called a school counseling program [1].

United States

Early years

In the United States, the school counseling profession began as a vocational guidance movement at the beginning of the 20th century. Jesse B. Davis is considered the first to provide a systematic school guidance program. In 1907, he became the principal of a high school and encouraged the school English teachers to use compositions and lessons to relate career interests, develop character, and avoid behavioral problems. Many others during this time did the same. For example, in 1908, Frank Parsons, "Father of Vocational Guidance" established the Bureau of Vocational Guidance to assist young people in making the transition from school to work.

From the 1920s to the 1930s, school counseling and guidance grew because of the rise of progressive education in schools. This movement emphasized personal, social, moral development. Many schools reacted to this movement as anti-educational, saying that schools should teach only the fundamentals of education. This, combined with the economic hardship of the Great Depression, led to a decline in school counseling and guidance.

In the 1940s, the U.S. used psychologists and counselors to select, recruit, and train military personnel. This propelled the counseling movement in schools by providing ways to test students and meet their needs. Schools accepted these military tests openly. Also, Carl Rogers' emphasis on helping relationships during this time influenced the profession of school counseling.

1950s and 60s

In the 1950s the government established the Guidance and Personnel Services Section in the Division of State and Local School Systems. In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I. Out of concern that the Russians were beating the U.S. in the space race, which had military implications, and that there were not enough scientists and mathematicians, the American government passed the National Defense Education Act, which spurred a huge growth in vocational guidance through large amounts of funding. Since the 1960s, the profession of school counseling has continued to grow as new legislation and new professional developments were established to refine and further the profession and improve education [2]. On January 1, 2006, congress officially declared February 6–10 as National School Counseling Week.

The 1960s was also a time of great federal funding in the United States for land grant colleges and universities interested in establishing and growing what are now known as Counselor Education programs [3]. School counseling began to shift from a focus exclusively on career development to a focus on student personal and social issues paralleling the rise of social justice and civil rights movements in the United States. It was also in the late 60s and early 1970s that Norm Gysbers began the work to shift from seeing school counselors as solitary professionals into a more strategic and systemic goal of having a comprehensive developmental school counseling program for all students K-12 [1]. His and his colleagues' work and research evidence showing strong correlations between fully implemented school counseling programs and student academic success was critical to beginning to show an evidence base for the profession especially at the high school level based on their work in the state of Missouri [4].

1980s and 90s

But school counseling in the 1980s and early 1990s in the United States was not seen as a player in educational reform efforts buffeting the educational community [5]. The danger was the profession becoming irrelevant as the standards-based educational movement gained strength in the 1990s with little evidence of systemic effectiveness for school counselors. In response, Campbell & Dahir (1997) consulted widely with school counselors at the elementary, middle, and high school levels and created the ASCA National Standards for School Counseling with three core domains (Academic, Career, Personal/Social), nine standards, and specific competencies and indicators for K-12 students[1].

The publication of the ASCA standards in 1997 ushered in a unique period of professionalization and strengthening of school counseling identity, roles, and programs. A year later, the first systemic meta-analysis of school counseling was published and gave the profession a wake-up call in terms of the need to focus on outcome research and the small set of methodologically accurate school counseling outcome research studies in academic, career, and personal/social domains[6].

National Center for Transforming School Counseling

Also in the late 1990s, a former mathematics teacher, school counselor, and administrator, Pat Martin, was hired by The Education Trust to work on a project focusing the school counseling profession on helping close achievement gaps hindering the life successes of children and adolescents, including children and adolescents of color, poor and working class children and adolescents, bilingual children and adolescents and children and adolescents with disabilities.

Martin's project developed focus groups of K-12 students, parents, guardians, teachers, building leaders, and superintendents and interviewed professors of school counseling in Counselor Education programs. She hired a school counselor educator from Oregon State University, Dr. Reese House, and they co-created what became the National Center for Transforming School Counseling at The Education Trust in 2003 [7].

Their foci included (1) changing how school counseling was taught at the graduate level in Counselor Education programs and (2) changing the practices of K-12 school counselors in districts throughout the USA to teach school counselors prevention and intervention skills to help close achievement and opportunity gaps for all students. The NCTSC focus groups found what Hart & Jacobi (1992) had indicated—too many school counselors were working as gatekeepers for the status quo instead of advocates for equity. Too many school counselors were using inequitable practices and unwilling to challenge them, which kept students from nondominant backgrounds from the advanced coursework (honors, AP, IB courses) and academic, career, and college readiness skills needed to successfully graduate from high school and pursue rigorous post-secondary options including college.

They found funding for $500,000 grants for six different Counselor Education/School Counseling programs in rural and urban settings, to transform their School Counselor Education programs to focus teaching school counselor candidates advocacy, leadership, teaming and collaboration, equity assessment using data, and culturally competent program counseling and coordination beginning in 1998 (Indiana State University, University of Georgia, University of West Georgia, University of California-Northridge, University of North Florida, and Lewis & Clark University) and then over 25 other Counselor Education/School Counseling programs joined as companion institutions in the following decade. By 2008, NCTSC consultants had also worked in over 100 districts around the United States including most major cities to help transform the work of school counselors to help close gaps and challenge inappropriate policies and procedures through the use of data and assessing equity.

Practitioners, too, jumped on board the school counseling transformation train. In 2008, Rowman Littlefield Education published The New School Counselor: Strategies for Universal Academic Achievement [8]. The text, written by Rita Schellenberg, a practicing school counselor and counselor educator, describes the new vision for school counseling and guides school counselors and pre-service school counselors through accountable, data-driven programming. Schellenberg introduces Standards Blending, a crosswalking strategy that studies have found to be culturally sensitive and effective in enhancing academic achievement and closing the achievement gap [9][10][11].

Recent history

In 2002, the American School Counselor Association released the ASCA National Model framework for school counseling programs, written by Dr. Trish Hatch and Dr. Judy Bowers, comprising some of the top school counseling components in the field into one model—the work of Norm Gysbers, Curly & Sharon Johnson, Robert Myrick, Dahir & Campbell's ASCA National Standards, and the skill-based focus for closing gaps from the Education Trust's Pat Martin and Reese House into one document. ASCA also developed the RAMP (Recognized ASCA Model Programs) Awards to honor school counseling programs that have fully implemented the ASCA National Model with demonstrable evidence of success for K-12 students (

In 2003, the Center for School Counseling Outcome Research [12][13] was developed as a clearinghouse for evidence-based practice with regular research briefs disseminated and original research projects developed and implemented with founding director Jay Carey. One of the research fellows, Tim Poynton, developed the EZAnalyze software program for all school counselors to use as free-ware to assist in using data-based interventions.

In 2004, the ASCA Code of Ethics was substantially revised to focus on issues of equity, closing gaps, and ensuring all students received access to a K-12 school counseling program[14]. Pat Martin left the Education Trust and moved to the College Board. She hired School Counselor Educator Dr. Vivian Lee and they developed an equity-focused entity on school counselors and college counseling, the National Office for School Counselor Advocacy (NOSCA) [15]. NOSCA developed scholarships for research on college counseling by K-12 school counselors and how it is taught in School Counselor Education programs. They also created Advocacy Awards to focus on best practices in college counseling programs in K-12 schools that show effective school counseling practices in creating college-going cultures with demonstrated results in ensuring high rates of college admissions for large percentages of students of nondominant backgrounds.

In 2008, The first NOSCA study was released by Jay Carey and colleagues focusing on innovations in selected College Board "Inspiration Award" schools where school counselors collaborated inside and outside their schools for high college-going rates and strong college-going cultures in schools with large numbers of students of nondominant backgrounds [16]. Also in 2008, the American School Counselor Association released School Counseling Competencies focused on assisting school counseling programs to effectively implement school counseling programs based on the ASCA Model (

The ASCA Model encourages professional school counselors to use crosswalking strategies and to create action plans and results reports that demonstrate "how" school counselors are making a difference in the lives of students. In 2008, Dr. Rita Schellenberg introduced Standards Blending as a crosswalking strategy to aid in aligning school counseling more directly with the academic achievement mission of schools[17]. Studies have identified Standards Blending as a promising approach for enhancing academic achievement and closing the achievement gap[9][18]. At the same time, Dr. Schellenberg introduced the School Counseling Operational Plan for Effectiveness (SCOPE) and the School Counseling Operational Report of Effectiveness (SCORE), a data reporting system to demonstrate accountable practices and program outcomes. The SCOPE and SCORE are designed to simplify the task of creating action plans and results reports with immediate access to the ASCA and core academic standards, data sources, and data analysis tools.[11][19].

The history of the profession continues shifting as more students, parents, guardians, teachers, building leaders, and government officials learn of changes in the profession, and as the evidence base and equity-building skills of school counselor candidates and school counselors in K-12 schools develop through the dissemination of results and successful outcomes of increased student academic, career, college, and personal/social competencies including reduced achievement and opportunity gaps for all students.

Other Countries



Template:Citation style

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 ASCA, 2005
  2. Schmidt[1], 2003
  4. Lapan, Gysbers, & Sun, 1997
  5. Stone & Dahir, 2006
  6. Whiston & Sexton, 1998
  8. Schellenberg, R. (2008). The New School Counselor: Strategies for Universial Academic Achievement. Lanham, MD: Rowman Littlefield Education.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Schellenberg, R., & Grothaus, T. (2009). Promoting cultural responsiveness and closing the achievement gap with standards blending. Professional School Counseling, 12, 440-449.
  10. Schellenberg, R. (2007). Standards blending: Aligning school counseling programs with school academic achievement missions. Virginia Counselors Journal, 29, 13-20.
  11. 11.0 11.1
  13. Dimmitt, Carey, & Hatch, 2007
  16. College Board, 2008
  17. Schellenberg, R. (2008). The new school counselor: Strategies for universal academic achievement. Lanham, MD: Rowman Littlefied Education.
  18. Schellenberg, R. (2007). Standards blending: Aligning school counseling programs with school academic achievement missions.
  19. Schellenberg, R. (2008). The new school counselor: Strategies for universal academic achievement. Lanham, MD: Rowman Littlefield Education.

Further reading

  • American School Counselor Association/Hatch, T. & Bowers, J. (2005). The ASCA National Model: A framework for school counseling programs. Alexandria, VA: Author.
  • Bemak, F., & Chung, R. C.-Y. (2005). Advocacy as a critical role for urban school counselors: Working toward equity and social justice. "Professional School Counseling, 8 196-202.
  • Brigman, G., & Campbell, C. (2003). Helping students improve academic achievement and school success behavior. Professional School Counseling, 7, 91-98.
  • Brooks-McNamara, V., & Torres, D. (2008). The reflective school counselor's guide to practitioner research: Skills and strategies for successful inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Bryan, J., & Holcomb-McCoy, C. (2004). School counselors' perceptions of their involvement in school family community partnerships. Professional School Counseling, 7, 162-171.
  • Campbell, C. A., & Dahir, C. A. (1997). The national standards for school counseling programs. Alexandria, VA: American School Counselor Association.
  • The College Board. (2008). Inspiration & innovation: Ten effective counseling practices from the College Board's Inspiration Award schools. Washington, D.C.: Author.
  • The College Board. (2008). The college counseling sourcebook: Advice and strategies from experienced school counselors. (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
  • Dimmitt, C., Carey, J. C., & Hatch, T. (2007). Evidence-based school counseling: Making a difference with data-driven practices. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Hart, P. J., & Jacobi, M. (1992). From gatekeeper to advocate: Transforming the role of the school counselor. New York: College Entrance Examination Board.
  • Holcomb-McCoy, C. (2007). School counseling to close the achievement gap: A social justice framework for success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Holcomb-McCoy, C. & Chen-Hayes, S. F. (2007). Multiculturally competent school counselors: Affirming diversity through challenging oppression. In B. T. Erford, (Ed). Transforming the school counseling profession (2nd ed) (pp. 98–120). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.
  • House, R. M., & Martin, P. J. (1998). "Advocating for better futures for all students: A new vision for school counselors. Education, 119, 284-291.
  • Kaffenberger, C., & Young, A. (2007). Making data work. Alexandria, VA: American School Counselor Association.
  • Lapan, R. T., Gysbers, N. C., & Sun, Y. (1997). The impact of more fully implemented guidance programs on the school experiences of high school students: A statewide evaluation study. Journal of Counseling and Development, 75, 292-302.
  • Paisley, P. O. (2001). Maintaining and enhancing the developmental focus in school counseling programs. Professional School Counseling, 4, 271-277.
  • Perusse, R., and Goodnough, G. E., (Eds.). (2004). Leadership, advocacy, and direct service strategies for professional school counselors. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.
  • Perusse, R., Goodnough, G. E., & Noel, C. J. (2001). Use of the national standards for school counseling programs in preparing school counselors. Professional School Counseling, 5, 49-56.
  • Ratts, M., DeKruyf, L., & Chen-Hayes, S. F. (2008). The ACA Advocacy Competencies: A social justice advocacy framework for professional school counselors. Professional School Counseling, 11, 90-97.
  • Schellenberg, R., Parks-Savage, A., Rehfuss, M. (2007). Reducing levels of elementary school violence with peer mediation. Professional School Counseling, 10, 475-481.
  • Schellenberg, R. (2000). Aggressive personality: When does it develop and why? Virginia Counselors Journal, 26, 67-76.
  • Sink, C. A., & Stroh, H. R. (2003). Raising achievement test scores of early elementary school students through comprehensive school counseling programs. Professional School Counseling, 6, 352-364.
  • Sink, C. A., Akos, P., Turnbull, R. J., & Mvududu, N. (2008). An investigation of comprehensive school counseling programs and academic achievement in Washington State middle schools. Professional School Counseling, 12, 43-53.
  • Stone, C. B., & Dahir, C. A. (2006). The transformed school counselor. Boston, MA: Lahaska Press/Houghton Mifflin.
  • Stone, C. B., & Dahir, C. A. (2007). School counselor accountability: A MEASURE of student success (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.
  • Studer, J. R. (2005) The Professional School Counselor: An Advocate for Students. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
  • Whiston, S. C., & Sexton, T. L. (1998). A review of school counseling outcome research: Implications for practice. "Journal of Counseling & Development, 76, 412-426.
  • Winslade, J. M. & Monk G. D. (2007). Narrative counseling in schools: Powerful and brief (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
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