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Our purpose ...

to improve the physical and mental health of individuals and organizations around the world by advancing knowledge of vocational psychology and improving career intervention practice.

Our goals ...


The goals of the Society of Vocational Psychology include supporting, encouraging, and promoting the science and practice of vocational psychology and career intervention. The Society is dedicated to:

Providing Leadership within psychology and in the public sphere by …

  • Promoting the development and integration of science and practice,

  • Promoting diversity in the characteristics, work settings, roles, and activities of vocational psychologists, and

  • Presenting Section awards at the annual APA convention to recognize outstanding contributions to the field of vocational psychology.

Promoting Professional Interactions between Section members and members of related specialties by …

  • Providing a collegial, spontaneous atmosphere within which counseling psychologists, especially students and new professionals, can meet and exchange ideas, and,

  • Publishing a membership directory to facilitate networking among Section members.

Advancing the Education of Counseling Psychologists by …

  • Helping define, promote and support the education and training of counseling psychologists,

  • Developing resources to assist in the education, training, research, and practice of vocational psychology and career intervention, and

  • Developing and sponsoring presentations at APA conventions and other international, national and regional meetings.

Our history ...


The Vocational Behavior and Career Intervention Special Interest Group (SIG) was organized in 1987 by Mark Savickas (Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine; now Northeastern Ohio Medical university). Dr. Savickas chaired the group until 1996 when it became a Section of the Division of Counseling Psychology.

In the mid-1990s the American Psychological Association (APA) undertook a self study to identify ways its Divisions could enjoy greater independence of action while strengthening the bonds that enabled the APA to serve the discipline of psychology effectively. One strategy adopted by many Divisons was to adopt the legal identity of a Section that was formally affiliated with the Association. The Division of Counseling Psychology was one of the first divisions to make this change.

Mirroring the concerns of the APA, the Society of Counseling Psychology wanted to create a more flexibly structure that permitted its SIGs to pursue their unique interests while maintaining their common bond with the Society. They approved a set of criteria and a procedure that SIGs could use to qualify as a Section of the Society. SVP was one of the first SIGs to complete this process.

In 1994 the SVP formed a committee to lead the SIG through the process required for formal recognition as a Section of Division 17. The committee consisted of:

  • Linda M. Subich (University of Akron), Chair

  • Nadya Fouad (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

  • Thomas Krieshok (University of Kansas)

  • Ellen Lent (George Washington University)

  • Robert Lent (University of Maryland)

  • Scott Solberg (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

  • Jane Swanson (Southern Illinois University)

  • Howard E. A. (Tony) Tinsley (Southern Illinois University)

  • W. Bruce Walsh (The Ohio State University)

  • Don Zytowski (Ames, Iowa)

Two years later the SIG became one of the original Sections of the Society of Counseling Psychology. An election of officers was held and at the August, 1996 meeting of the APA the officers began their two-year appointments. The first officers of SVP were Linda Subich (University of Akron), Chair; Nadya Fouad (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Chair-Elect; Mark Pope (University of Missouri-St. Louis), Treasurer; and Paul Hartung (Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine), Communications Officer.

Our founding father ...

Philosophers as early as Plato (ca. 400 BC) concerned themselves with the optimal fit between the skills and temperament of the individual and the demands of various jobs. He regarded choosing the correct "life" (vocation) as an issue of critical importance to the state and the person's one supreme duty in life.

In Choosing a Vocation Parsons described the systematic procedures used by the Vocational Bureau to counsel men and women seeking assistance. The approach he described has been refined over the last century and is today known as the trait and factor model for providing career development services.

A brief sketch of Parsons' chaotic career and additional references are available here:

Frank Parsons

Nevertheless, modern vocational psychology traces its beginning to the work of Frank Parsons in Boston. He observed at the beginning of the 20th century that immigrants arriving in the United States were greatly in need of educational assistance and — above all else — a job.

In 1905 Parsons became director of the Breadwinner's Institute, a civic organization in Boston that provided educational and vocational assistance to immigrants and young persons seeking work. Subsequently he founded the Bureau of Vocational Guidance which trained young men to be counselors. This educational program was adopted in short order by Harvard University and it soon becane the first college-based counselor education program.

Frank Parsons

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