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View of The Status of Counselling - 1984


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gressor by subscribing to the notion that the nature of the helping process is best represented as a calculable object of investigation. Conformity to this false paradigm has caused counselling to lose itself in endless trivialities, measurements, and statistics.

Corresponding to the emphasis upon enumeration, the teaching of counselling is carried on by people who no longer share their daily lives with clients. As a result, practicums tend to alternate between the one extreme of a formalistic ritual to the other extreme of a kind of saviourism. The first approach produces a limited specialist who dispenses a favourite technique to all and sundry, while the latter approach never gets beyond the level of a well-intentioned sentimentalism.

The radically new departure for counselling will involve nothing more than to link psychological realities with the whole range of the humanities. The counsellor will then come to approach counselling, not as a natural scientific undertaking, but as a philosophy. However, a philosophy based on understanding can never be gained by the passive contemplation of therapeutic activity, but only through an intensive, daily contact with clients. Of course, the reverse is also true, that is, a philosophy of counselling which is not enriched by therapeutic action is quite meaningless, since anything really meaning­ ful usually has a concrete form.

Insofar as the universities are unable or unwilling to provide an intensive, practical experience in counselling supervised by an inter­ disciplinary team of full-time practitioners, it is difficult to imagine any other future development but the founding of independent pro­ fessional schools. The time is ripe to exchange the current method of training as well as the superstitious belief in the absoluteness of numbers behind it for a training program which will stress a problem­ solving attitude based upon a firm cultural tradition.


Faculty of Education,

University of British Columbia.


Erikson (1959), in describing the developmental stages through which the child moves into adulthood, describes the final stage of identity formation when he writes, "The final identity, then, as fixed at the end of adolescence is superordinated to any single identification with individuals of the past: it includes all significant identifications, but it also alters them in order to make a unique and a reasonably coherent whole of them (pp. 112-113)." And finally, Erikson continues,






true, of course, that the adolescent, during the final stage of his identity formation, is apt to suffer more deeply than he ever did before (or ever will again) from diffusion of roles (p. 117)."

As I reflect on Erikson's sensitive insights it appears to me that we are lingering at the way station of adolescent identity. We have a set of diffuse roles which seem to be encumbered by an overidentifica­ tion with a Parsonian father, a clinical mother, and some measure­ ment and research oriented children. By 1984, I think that counselling will have moved through the adolescent stage, and developed a pro­ fessional identity, and to some extent become that which it has potential to be.

By 1984, the counsellor's functions will have been much more clearly defined. The diffusion and ambiguity of roles so characteristic of the counsellor's work today will have been greatly reduced. Special­ ization will have increased. It may be that the label "counsellor" will disappear in favor of names more descriptive of the counsellor's function.

The word "counsellor" is presently an umbrella term and includes a vast array of professional services including vocational planning, educational programming, vocational and educational placement, psy­ chotherapy, marriage counselling, educational diagnosis, teacher and parent consultation, and research. By 1984, we will have specialists in such areas as vocational placement and employment counselling, group and individual psychotherapy, educational planning, testing and diagnosis, marriage and family life counselling, community life coun­ selling (cultural and recreational), and corrections counselling.

By 1984, computer technology will have reached a high level of sophistication. Schools and community agencies will have installed computer hardware including high speed printout equipment and related electronic scanning input equipment. Record procedures will have been completely reorganized to facilitate computer storage and retrieval. Terminals will be installed in all schools and various com­ munity agencies. These facilities will present a number of possibilities for the counsellor. Consider these spill-offs for the counselor working in the school:

1. Information systems for vocational and educational decision­ making become a reality for the school and community. 2. Screening procedures at predetermined grade levels may be

used to identify children in need of selected special services. 3. Teacher observational data can be systematically collected,

located in the child's cumulative record, and called for upon demand for criterion or predictor purposes.

4. Personnel data on instructional personnel can be related to selected pupil variables.

5. Computer-assisted instruction becomes a reality. 6. Multivariate research becomes commonplace.

By 1984, the novelty and suspicion associated with behavior modification and encounter groups will have disappeared. Behavior modification will become tolerable and acceptable not only in modify­ ing instruction but also in controlling behavior, Behavior modification




will be systematically applied to all children. Similarily, the encounter group will be seen as a useful tool to facilitate human growth. The advocates of the movement will recognize that the encounter group is not life, nor is it a viable substitute for it, but it can be an aid to more effective living. The adversaries of the movement will have stopped condemning laboratory experiences as brainwashing or psychol­ ogical rape. The laboratory experience will have become a useful vehicle for putting people in growthful contact with one another. Fuller interpersonal living will be stressed as a means of overcoming the growing feeling of alienation in the 1970's. In this regard coun­ sellors will be expected to provide leadership in the development of a more humane society.

It would be easy to continue to elaborate upon the divergent directions in which counselling is moving and will move by 1984. Suffice to say that counselling is on the verge of maturing. The maturational process will be an exhilarating as well as sometimes painful experience. Regardless, counselling will probably continue to assume greater prominence and responsibility in the next decade.


Erikson, E. H. Identity and the life cycle. Psychological Issues, 1959, 1 (1, Whole No.1).


"Counselling in the Canadian Mosaic"

June 5 - 8, Winnipeg, Manitoba


You are invited to submit an unpublished research paper, or a proposal for a fully organized program, which would be of value to counsellors and others in the helping professions. Please send to one of the Conference Program Co-chairmen:

Dr. Raymond Henjum or Mr. William Kelsall, c/o 204 -1181 Portage Avenue,

Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C OV8


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