guidance and counseling, concept that institutions, especially schools, should promote the efficient and happy lives of individuals by helping them adjust to social realities. The disruption of community and family life by industrial civilization convinced many that guidance experts should be trained to handle problems of individual adjustment. Though the need for attention to the whole individual had been recognized by educators since the time of Socrates, it was only during the 20th cent. that researchers actually began to study and accumulate information about guidance.
This development, occurring largely in the United States, was the result of two influences: John Dewey and others insisted that the object of education should be to stimulate the fullest possible growth of the individual and that the unique qualities of personality require individual handling for adequate development; also in the early 20th cent., social and economic conditions stimulated a great increase in school enrollment. These two forces encouraged a reexamination of the curricula and methods of secondary schools, with special reference to the needs of students who did not plan to enter college. The academic curriculum was revised to embrace these alternative cultural and vocational requirements (see vocational education).
Early guidance programs dealt with the immediate problem of vocational placement. The complexities of the industrial economy and the unrealistic ambitions of many young people made it essential that machinery for bringing together jobs and workers be set up; vocational guidance became that machinery. At the same time, counseling organizations were established to help people understand their potentialities and liabilities and make intelligent personal and vocational decisions. The first vocational counseling service was the Boston Vocational Bureau, established (1908) by Frank Parsons, a pioneer in the field of guidance. His model was soon copied by many schools, municipalities, states, and private organizations.
With the development of aptitude and interest tests, such as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test and the Strong Vocational Interest Blank, commercial organizations were formed to analyze people's abilities and furnish career advice. Schools organized testing and placement services, many of them in cooperation with federal and state agencies. Under the provisions of the National Defense Education Act (1958), the federal government provided assistance for guidance and counseling programs in the public secondary schools and established a testing procedure to identify students with outstanding abilities. The U.S. Dept. of Labor has been an active force in establishing standards and methods of vocational guidance, helping states to form their own vocational guidance and counseling services. The personnel departments of many large corporations have also instituted systems of guidance to promote better utilization of their employees.
Modern high school guidance programs also include academic counseling for those students planning to attend college. In recent years, school guidance counselors have also been recognized as the primary source for psychological counseling for high school students; this sometimes includes counseling in such areas as drug abuse and teenage pregnancy and referrals to other professionals (e.g., psychologists, social workers, and learning-disability specialists). Virtually all teachers colleges offer major courses in guidance, and graduate schools of education grant advanced degrees in the field.
See E. Landy et al., Guidance in American Education (3 vol., 1966); B. E. Schertzer and S. C. Stone, Foundations of Counseling (1980); W. G. Herron, Contemporary School Psychology (1984).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.