Counseling Center History

The University of Illinois Counseling Center opened its doors in 1938 due to the efforts of several faculty members within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Dr. R. G. Bone, a history professor, and Dr. G. Brighouse, a faculty member in the Psychology Department, provided counseling to students at the University of Illinois on services related to academics and probation. From there, the Student Counseling Services Office began and was one of the first in the nation to cover personal, academic, and vocational counseling to students, in addition to psychological testing. By 1940, Psychologists were added to the staff.

In 1948, the Student Counseling Services Office changed names to the Student Counseling Bureau as many more mental health workers joined the staff. Our name changed again in 1970 to the Psychological and Counseling Center office after a reorganization from the University placed the Counseling Center under the advisement of Student Affairs, where it still is today. It was not until 1982 that we officially became named the Counseling Center.

Training has always been an integral part of our work at the Counseling Center. Each member of our staff is invested in teaching and supervising the future of our field about mental health services, outreach, and prevention. In 1978, the Counseling Center began programming that allowed undergraduate students to develop and facilitate peer led workshops. Today, we have one of the most robust and longest standing peer education programs in the country - the Counseling Center Paraprofessional Program. In addition to training undergraduates, the Center has a rich history of training future clinicians. The Counseling Center trains and supervises practicum clinicians and has been doing so since 1982. In 1984, pre-doctoral psychology interns were added to the staff in our APA accredited training program. In 1995, the Counseling Center and the Theatre Department collaborated its efforts in a joint program, INNER VOICES Social Issues Theater to engage with students on a wide range of social issues. In 2016, the Counseling Center added an internship program for students who are enrolled in the University of Illinois MSW program. Each of these programs are essential in the Counseling Center as they allow us to meet students where they are, provide excellent outreach and prevention workshops as well as strong counseling services.

From the beginning, the Counseling Center has been invested in outreach and prevention efforts. Since our beginnings, access to outreach and prevention greatly improved our student’s awareness and access to mental health resources, services, and education. Each of our staff, interns, practicum counselors, graduate assistants, counseling center paraprofessionals and members of INNER VOICES Social Issues Theater group engage in outreach throughout the year. In 1985, the Counseling Center staff began writing and publishing mental health brochures that are found at the Counseling Center and are currently being sold both domestically and internationally to help people across the world grow in awareness about mental health issues.

The University of Illinois Counseling Center staff continues to value collaboration, continued education, and connection. Our staff has been engaging with other Big 10 Counseling Center’s since the first Big 10 Counseling Center conference in 1969. In addition to yearly participation in the Big 10 Counseling Center Conference, the University of Illinois Counseling Center established a yearly conference in 1991 titled the Dennis H. May Conference on Diversity Issues and the Role of Counseling Centers focused on the Counseling Center’s continuous commitment to diversity, inclusion and continued education for staff.

Today our Counseling Center has a robust staff of over 30 clinicians at the Counseling Center’s main facility, several embedded clinicians in various academic departments and Student Affairs locations, practicum counselors, masters of social work interns, pre-doctoral psychology interns, practicum counselors, graduate assistants, counseling center paraprofessional and members of the INNER VOICES Social Issues Theater group, all dedicated to serving the students at the University of Illinois.