In 1970, the Guidance and Counseling Program began in the newly formed Department of Special Education at Madison College. Two years later, the program's faculty requested that Guidance and Counseling be shifted to the Department of Psychology. The young program underwent a major transformation in 1973. First, its title was changed to Counselor Education. Second, many new courses were added to revamp the counselor skills to other human service fields. By the following year, Counselor Education declared five areas of concentration for students: school counseling, college counseling, student personnel work in higher education, employment counseling, and psychological counseling.
Dr. Carl Swanson originally served as coordinator for the Counselor Education program. By the mid-1980s, Madison College had evolved into James Madison University and Dr. Jack Presbury assumed coordination of the program. Later, Dr. Helen Moore assumed the coordinator responsibilities. By the late 1980's, the Counselor Education program began to emphasize the more clinically oriented skills of assessment and intervention. The counseling program reorganized into three programs: school guidance counseling, student personnel administration, and community agency counseling.
In 1987 Dr. Dan Daniel, Dean of Students, became the first coordinator for the student personnel administration program. Dr. Daniel and Dr. Moore worked together to create a partnership between the Department of Psychology and the Division of Student Affairs. Courses required to obtain a M.Ed. with an emphasis in College Student Personnel Administration were divided in a manner where psychology faculty taught counseling courses and student affairs staff taught administrative and student development courses. The program maintained its counseling point of view by way of its curricular design, and provided professional development opportunities for student affairs staff as they researched and prepared for classroom instruction.
Dr. Daniel served as the program coordinator for four years, followed by Dr. Al Menard who was coordinator for one year, and Dr. Teresa Gonzalez who served as coordinator for five years. Dr. Jim McConnel and Mrs. Donna Harper assumed responsibility for the program in 1997 and currently serve as co-coordinators for the CSPA program. During which time program coordinators assumed increasing responsibility for program functions. Enrollment in the program grew with the help of twenty-eight graduate assistantships, created and funded through Student Affairs budgets. This allowed up to fourteen full-time students to enroll in the CSPA program each year.
This increase in CSPA assistantships created a commensurate increase in applications. Eventually the number of applicants and the admissions process grew to the point where it was necessary to separate the CSPA admissions process from the admissions process for other counseling psychology programs. Dr. Gonzalez created a CSPA advisory committee, comprised of student affairs staff members, which provided assistance with the admission process. By the mid-1990s the CSPA program had developed a national reputation attracting applicants from all regions of the United States.
The sequence of courses in the CSPA program has remained relatively consistent over the past ten years. A one-credit group counseling experience was dropped from all counseling psychology programs and two electives - Student Activities Administration and Residence Life Administration - were dropped and replaced by a capstone course entitled Professional Issues in Student Personnel Administration. The remaining course titles have remained the same, while course content and instruction have changed to keep pace with new knowledge and skills necessary for success in the profession.
Today, the Counseling Psychology programs, coordinated by Renee Station , remain a part of the Department of Psychology at James Madison University. This department is part of the College of Integrated Science and Technology.