The areas of study known as counseling and guidance, counselor education and counseling psychology have a lengthy history at the University of Wisconsin. In the 1920s, Dr. Alanson Edgerton developed the first courses in counseling and guidance that focused predominantly on career exploration and decision-making. The breadth and depth of these initial courses were expanded through the 1940s by Dr. John W. M. Rothney. With the passage of the National Defense Education Act in 1958, federal resources were brought to bear to provide for the expansion of programs designed to train and educate professional counselors. At this time there was also a rapid expansion of employment opportunities for doctoral-level counselors in social service organizations, government agencies (especially the Veteran’s Administration) as well as business and industry.
In 1964 the Department of Counseling and Behavioral Studies was created, with Dr. Gail F. Farwell as chair. Areas of study offered in this new department included counseling and guidance, rehabilitation counseling, and special education. 1968 brought additional administrative changes that resulted in the creation of the Department of Counseling and Guidance, chaired by Dr. R. Wray Strowig. These changes separated the new department from the Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education departments and refined the focus of the department’s research and training.
The 70s, 80s, and 90s were marked by the constant production of significant research and the recruitment of nationally recognized and established faculty members. The doctoral program received provisional accreditation in 1985 from the American Psychological association, followed by full accreditation in 1988. Then, after the APA had approved a Counseling Psychology doctoral program in 1993, the department became known as the Department of Counseling Psychology. As the field of counseling psychology began to acknowledge the importance of diversity issues and cultural background in the provision of mental health services, the department began to embrace and pioneer the development of this area. The department is still recognized as a national leader in multicultural training and research.
In 2007 the department opened an independent counseling psychology training clinic that offers low-cost and multilingual therapy services to individuals and families in need. This clinic, outfitted with the latest in digital recording equipment provides unparalleled training and practice opportunities for graduate students in the department and enables the department to reach out to underserved populations.
In 2010 the department returned to the newly remodeled Education Building on historic Bascom Hill. The new facility provides substantially enhanced technology capabilities, creature comforts and research opportunities for faculty and students alike while preserving our landmark building.