Complete History of Guidance and Counseling In Europe

The early 20th century saw the establishment of the first programs for guidance and counseling in Europe, notably in Germany, France, and the UK. Vocational counseling was the main focus at the time, intending to assist people in making career decisions. 

The development of contemporary guidance and counseling has been aided by several notable events, pivotal figures, and noteworthy dates over the years as the discipline has developed.

Frank Parsons, an American social reformer who wrote “Choosing a Career” in 1910, was one of the first pioneers in the field of guiding and counseling. 

This book served as the inspiration for contemporary career counseling and helped to establish counseling as a profession.

Guidance and counseling services were employed to assist soldiers with professional placement and post-war reintegration into society during World War II. 

In the 1950s and 1960s, as counselors started addressing themes like personal development, self-esteem, and interpersonal connections, the emphasis on guidance and counseling changed to personal and social development.

The British National Institute for Careers Education and Counselling (NICEC), which was founded in 1951, rose to prominence as a premier institution for advice and counseling. 

The discipline of guidance and counseling continued to develop in the 1960s and 1970s, with a focus on social justice and multiculturalism.

Counseling has also grown outside of the professional sphere to include counseling for addiction, marital, and mental health issues.

Related: Complete History of Guidance and Counseling In America

Founding Fathers of Guidance and Counseling In Europe

John Brewer

John Brewer, a British psychologist who created a humanistic method of therapy that prioritized the therapeutic connection, was one of the major figures in the area of counseling at the time.

Donald Super

Donald Super, an American psychologist who created the idea of career development and stressed the significance of self-concept in professional choice, is another significant individual.

Carl Rogers

The Carl Rogers-created person-centered approach to counseling emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, emphasizing the value of congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathy in the therapeutic alliance.

Erik Erikson

Another key player in the field, Erik Erikson, created a theory of psychosocial development that placed a strong emphasis on identity development and the handling of psychosocial crises.

Viktor Frankl

Holocaust survivor and Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl created a philosophy called logotherapy that placed a strong emphasis on finding purpose in life. 

The establishment of existential counseling, which emphasizes the value of addressing existential topics like freedom, choice, and responsibility, was influenced by the work of Viktor Frankl.

The European Association for Counselling (EAC), which was established in 1974, brought counseling specialists from all around Europe together. The EAC has made significant contributions to the establishment of ethical and professional standards for counselors and to the promotion of counseling as a profession in Europe.

Related: Counseling Association of Nigeria (Overview, History, and Achievements)

In the latter half of the 20th century, there was an increasing focus on the value of career counseling for encouraging lifelong learning and improving employability. 

The need for competent, inclusive, and easily available career counseling services was highlighted in a 1997 report on the topic by the European Commission. 

A rising focus on evidence-based practice and the incorporation of new technologies into counseling services are two ways that the field of guidance and counseling is now evolving. 

Also, there is a growing understanding of the value of mental health and well-being, and counselors are working in a wider range of contexts, such as schools, universities, businesses, and community organizations.

Challenges in the Historical Development of Guidance and Counseling In Europe

There were difficulties in the historical development of guidance and counseling in Europe. 

Lack of recognition

The lack of acknowledgment and comprehension of the profession’s position and purpose was one of the profession’s first problems. Guidance and counseling were frequently perceived as incidental to school and not as crucial steps in the learning process.

A narrow focus on vocational guidance

Early on, the main emphasis of guidance and counseling was on vocational counseling because it was thought that this would help match people with suitable occupations. 

This narrow focus on career counseling, though, has drawn criticism for ignoring people’s wider developmental needs.

Shortage of qualified counselors

The absence of official training and qualification criteria for practitioners presented another difficulty for guiding and counseling in Europe. 

There were several instances where people offering guidance and counseling services lacked proper training or credentials, raising questions about the caliber of the services offered.

Related: How To Improve Counselor Training Programs for Better Counselors

Some of these issues were addressed through the creation of professional organizations and the creation of training programs.

The professionalization of the industry and the establishment of precise norms and standards for practice have been strongly supported by the European Association for Counselling and the European Network for Counselling and Vocational Guidance.

Ignorance of the importance of guidance and counseling

Nonetheless, there is still a problem with how different European nations perceive the function and goal of guidance and counseling. 

Also, there are differences in the recognition and funding levels for guidance and counseling services throughout the many European nations and regions, which can make it challenging for professionals to deliver consistent and efficient services.

Related: 15 Importance of Guidance and Counseling In Education

Cultural barriers

Finally, the diversity of cultures, languages, and experiences within Europe has presented difficulties for the profession of guiding and counseling. 

Counselors must be able to deal effectively with clients from a variety of various backgrounds and with different needs and experiences due to the cultural and linguistic diversity of the continent.

Working together and communicating regularly among practitioners, policymakers, and other stakeholders has been necessary to address these difficulties.

Some of the issues with professionalization and quality assurance have been addressed through the creation of professional organizations and the creation of training programs.

To ensure that the sector continues to develop and adapt to society’s changing demands and that everyone has access to high-quality guidance and counseling services regardless of their background or circumstances, continual efforts are nevertheless required.

Related: 15 Challenges Affecting Guidance and Counseling In Schools

Future Prospects of Guidance and Counseling In Europe

The area of guidance and counseling is anticipated to keep developing and adapting in the future in response to the shifting societal demands. 

Counselors are likely to play an increasingly significant role in promoting and supporting mental health in a range of contexts as a result of the growing emphasis on mental health and well-being. 

Online counseling and virtual reality may both present new chances for counselors to connect and interact with clients as a result of the incorporation of new technology.

Related: 15 Roles and Importance of ICT in Guidance and Counseling

Nonetheless, as the field develops, it is crucial to make sure that moral and professional standards are upheld and that counselors have the necessary education and experience. 

This necessitates the creation of precise standards and rules for practice as well as continual professional development.

Related: 22 Principles and Professional Ethics of Guidance and Counseling


There have been a lot of noteworthy events, influential people, and significant dates throughout the history of guidance and counseling in Europe.

The area has seen considerable changes and has continued to adapt to the requirements of society, starting with the early days of vocational counseling and ending with the current emphasis on mental health and well-being. 

Modern counseling has its roots in the contributions of pioneers like Carl Rogers, Viktor Frankl, and Frank Parsons, while groups like the European Association for Counselling and the European Network for Counselling and Vocational Guidance have been instrumental in advancing the field’s growth in Europe.

Related: History of Guidance and Counseling In Japan (1945 to date)

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