The Rise Of Counseling in America (1900s-1940s): Background information when reading The Driest Season

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Driest Season

by Meghan Kenny

The Driest Season by Meghan Kenny X
The Driest Season by Meghan Kenny
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Feb 2018, 192 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Dean Muscat

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
The Rise Of Counseling in America (1900s-1940s)

Print Review

Much of The Driest Season revolves around the suicide of Mr. Jacobson and the effect it has on his youngest daughter—and main protagonist—Cielle. As Cielle tries to better understand the reasons why her father took his own life, she discovers that he was secretly seeking help for depression through a counselor, a fact he kept hidden even from his wife because "[h]e was embarrassed he couldn't help himself."

In the 1940s, counseling was only just gaining popularity among everyday Americans, and its benefits in helping all sorts of mental and emotional troubles were still a recent discovery. In fact, until the 1910s, counseling's primary focus was simply to offer guidance to students choosing careers and vocations. While this may seem an almost trivial start, the focus on matching jobs to individuals' personalities was actually quite revolutionary at a time when many were expected to either take up their father's profession or pursue careers deemed worthy by their parents.

Another major catalyst for popularizing counseling in America was the military during World War I. The focus of counseling in the military was initially an extension of its use among students. The military however used a number of psychological tests and counseling interviews to screen soldiers, to better determine whether potential recruits were mentally, as well as physically, fit for service. Counseling post-battle, to treat mental trauma and shock was not considered at the time and was a development that only really began to be seriously researched in 1952, with the introduction of the first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-I), which attempted to diagnose patients who had symptoms from traumatic events including combat.

Outside of the military, the establishment of the first marriage and family counseling center in New York City in 1929 made the practice more readily available and accepted by civilians. This New York center was such a great success, that more centers were set up across America, all focusing on the specialty of treating marital and family problems. The popularity of these centers helped spread the importance of counseling outside of careers and military service, and introduced a domestic, everyday aspect to this psychological practice.

In the 1930s, the Great Depression influenced psychology practitioners to gear counseling strategies to help the vast number of men who were experiencing a sense of despondency due to unemployment. The Minnesota Employment Stabilization Research Institute was established at the University of Minnesota, which furthered what was being labelled "trait-factor" counseling, in order to assist workers who had lost their jobs. During the same decade, the U.S. government also introduced guidance and counseling positions in state departments of education throughout America.

By the 1940s and the beginning of World War II, the government needed counselors to help specialists in the military. Due to the huge numbers of men fighting abroad, women were able to apply to be military counselors for the first time and many of these female counselors continued to work once the war ended. Another important development for counseling in America happened through the G.I. Bill, signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944. Among many things, the bill promised veterans "improved machinery for effective job counseling [...] for finding jobs for returning soldiers and sailors." (The Air Force was part of the Army until 1947 which is probably why the GI bill references only soldiers and sailors).

In four decades counseling had evolved from being a therapy practiced by a privileged few, to being a more commonplace career option and therapy available to Americans from all walks of life. The '50s saw counseling move away from its common remits of vocational guidance and continue to develop and cater for mental and emotional trouble of increasingly various types.

Article by Dean Muscat

This article is from the March 7, 2018 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Eat the Apple
    Eat the Apple
    by Matt Young
    Truth is stranger than fiction. Matt Young's memoir tackles the space in between truth and ...
  • Book Jacket: Educated
    by Tara Westover
    Tara Westover had the kind of upbringing most of us can only imagine. She was the youngest of seven ...
  • Book Jacket: The Girls in the Picture
    The Girls in the Picture
    by Melanie Benjamin
    Melanie Benjamin's fine historical novel about the relationship between two women in the early ...
  • Book Jacket: The Driest Season
    The Driest Season
    by Meghan Kenny
    On a summer afternoon in 1943, an almost sixteen-year-old Cielle Jacobson walks into the family barn...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano

    A charming, bighearted novel starring Auntie Poldi, Sicily's newest amateur sleuth.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Sometimes I Lie
    by Alice Feeney

    This brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something a lie if you believe it's the truth?
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Y L D W D, Y'll G U W Fleas

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.