Historical Background of Counseling Essay

610 Words Sep 20th, 2011 3 Pages
Historical background of counseling

Historically, guidance & counseling emerged as a synthesis of ideas & practices derived from religion ( search for spiritual meaning/ identity; concepts like "pastoral care"), C19th philosophy ( concept of the "unconscious mind" - in fact, pre Freudian/ philosophical in origin), the Arts ( self-expression through performance, literature, autobiography, journalism, poetry, plastic arts, music etc. ), and the needs of people to maintain & promote individualism/ sense of autonomous selfhood in the face of large bureaucratic institutions & an increasingly depersonalized, alienating urban industrial society. To some extent, they were substitutes for traditional community life & religion: in a more
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Sigmund Freud was the key figure in the transition from hypnotism etc. to what became "psychotherapy": he was extremely adept at assimilating & integrating many ideas & practices
( personal interaction between physician & patient; C19th biological theories - Freud's unitary life force or "libido"; the notion that all emotional problems have a sexual cause; the concept of the "unconscious mind" - from contemporary philosophy, literature, & the hypnotists ) into a coherent theoretical model that seemed generally applicable. Freud was a figure of huge cultural as well as scientific significance, but his thinking was situated in his time and place; a very hierarchical, class dominated society. 1950s America saw the emergence of theorists/ practitioners who reinterpreted Freud to suit the emerging needs of a newer, more egalitarian/ socially mobile, and culturally pluralistic society - Carl Rogers, Eric Berne, Albert Ellis, Aaron Beck, and Abraham Maslow. Prominent European thinkers of this era ( Fromm Erikson) tended to relocate to the USA because it was easier (and better remunerated!) to reformulate classical European psychoanalysis for a new, affluent, egalitarian clientele from the wider & more open social/ cultural perspective prevalent there. That stated, it should be noted that they faced considerable opposition & criticism from the academic psychologists (especially the "Behaviorists"!) who

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