Historical Development of the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling (ASERVIC)

by Judith G. Miranti

The history of the association began with two parallel but interrelated developments.
First, in 1951, A Catholic Guidance Council was formed in the Archdiocese of New York to encourage the development of and provide support for counseling and guidance within the diocesan parochial schools. These diocesan councils grew in number across the nation and a need developed to promote communication among them at the national level, resulting in the foundation of the National Conference of Guidance Councils in 1958. Second, at the American Personnel and Guidance Association convention in Chicago in 1955, a small group of Catholic members, many of whom had been instrumental in the development of the New York Diocesan Guidance Council, met to explore the possibilities of developing a national Catholic guidance organization. This original group identified themselves as “Catholic Counselors in APGA.” This special interest group met yearly, usually on the Saturday and Sunday prior to the annual APGA convention. This continued until the 1973 St. Louis APGA convention.

In 1961, the leaders of Catholic Counselors in APGA, the National Conference of Guidance Councils met and formed the National Catholic Guidance Conference (NCGC). The connection between NCGC and APGA was formalized in the new constitution and bylaws. The bylaws required that the NCGC annual conventions be held in the same city and at the same time as the APGA convention. They also required that the elected officers of NCGC be members of APGA.

In 1973, the Executive Director of NCGC, Dr. Willis Bartlett, and the President of NCGC, Dr. James Lee, attended the APGA Board of Directors meeting to make formal application for divisional status. After eighteen years, the small group that had begun as Catholic Counselors in APGA and had developed a separate national professional organization returned to APGA as a national division. The official charter of the division was awarded at the 1974 New Orleans APGA convention.

Robert Doyle, one of the original members of Catholic Counselors in APGA, Willis Bartlett, then president of NCGC and James Lee, past president of NCGC met at the 1977 Dallas, Texas, APGA convention to develop a series of motions that provided the rational for the future directions of NCGC and a new name for the organization, the Association for Religious and Values Issues in Counseling (ARVIC). The motions were all passed at the Board of Directors meeting on March 6, 1977 . The general membership voted its approval of the name change the following fall.

In 1993, at the American Counseling Association convention in Minneapolis , MN , the ARVIC Board of Directors passed the motion to rename the division, the Association of Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling. Today, ASERVIC boasts of a membership in excess of 4,000 which include members of many faiths and beliefs. In the past, the Catholic heritage had served the organization well and had been one of its strengths. Paradoxically, that same heritage was considered by some to be a limitation in that the organization has experienced a great deal of difficulty in shedding its Catholic skin. Today the organization is no longer dominated by members of any particular religious group. ASERVIC is another step in NCGC, ARVIC’s growth and development as an association which is committed to the infusion of spiritual, ethical, and religious values in counselor preparation and practice.