The first school counselors in the United States emerged in the late 1800s, the time of the Industrial Revolution. However, the United States may not be the first place that school counseling was recognized. There have been traces of school counselors dating back to the late 16th century. An argument has been made that says that counseling and guidance principles began in ancient Greece and Rome with the philosophical teachings of Plato and Aristotle. Evidence suggests that techniques of modern-day counseling was practiced by Catholic priests in the Middle Ages. Tomaso Garzoni wrote a book called “Universal Plaza of all the Professions in the World” (1626), which was a text about career options. This relates to what a school counselor in high school and college would talk to students about today.
In the United States, the school counseling profession began as a vocational guidance movement. Jesse B. Davis is considered the first school counselor in the United States because he was the first to implement systematic guidance programs in schools. 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. National Association for College Admission Counselingis founded in 1937. 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.