History of ICA
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History of ICA

Take a pictorial trip back to the past

2018 marked the 70th annual ICA conference.



The roots of our past were set firmly by individuals with not only professionalism and a vision, but also a commitment to strong and continuous leadership. These individuals have left a legacy and have been role models and sources of inspiration to members and leaders alike. Three of the earliest leaders were C.A. Michelman, Leo G. Bent, and Wendell S. Dysinger. They became our first three presidents.

As a result of conversations between C.A. Michelman, Chief of Occupational Information and Guidance Services of the Board of Vocational Education, State of Illinois, and Wendell S. Dysinger., Dean of MacMurray College, an invitation was issued to persons interested in guidance to attend a one day conference at MacMurray College on March 30, 1946. Speakers were Vernon Nickell, Superintendent of Public Instruction and Royce Brewster, Vocational Division of the U.S. Office of Education. About 75 people attended. Preliminary discussions were held regarding the formation of a formal organization of individuals interested in guidance, but no action was taken at the time.

On March 22, 1947 the second meeting was at the Western Illinois Teachers College. Springfield Junior College hosted the third meeting on November 8, 1947. The year 1947 served as a landmark year for two important developments: First, the November meeting set the pattern for fall meetings instead of spring meetings, and second, a decision was made to formalize the organization. A committee was designed to draft a constitution for presentation at the 1948 Conference.

On October 29 and 30, 1948, the fourth conference was held at Illinois State Normal University, the formal organization known as the Illinois Guidance and Personnel Association (IGPA) was formed with C.A. Michelman as its first president. The decision to have a formal organization was made primarily by Michelman, Dysinger, and Dr. Leo Bent, Dean of the College of Education at Bradley University. The specific purposes were listed as follows:

  • To collect, approve, and disseminate information about guidance services and personnel work, and to encourage legislation for, and public support of, guidance programs.
  • To encourage the establishment and development of guidance and personnel services into communities in the State of Illinois.
  • To cooperate with other organizations interested in the development of guidance and personnel services. 

With an initial membership of approximately 100 people, the organization grew to about 1,700 members in the early 1970s and declined to around 1,000 in the early 1990s. The current membership is 2,711 (3/24/17).

During the early years, IGPA's members were not only guidance and personnel workers but also teachers and administrators. While there were not many people employed as counselors or deans, there were generalists who had a real interest in the development of guidance. The predominant philosophy among early leaders was that guidance services could only be extended if all professional people became convinced of their value and that a very good way to market an idea was to recognize that people of different job assignments are often motivated by the same purposes. Thus, the leadership cultivated acceptance and understanding among the generalists and influenced improved guidance services by recruiting promising teachers and administrators into guidance and the Area Guidance Roundtable meetings.


At the sixth annual conference in 1950, an Area Roundtable Structure was organized to promote meetings at the local level. The locally autonomous groups under the sponsorship of IGPA and with encouragement and some assistance from the Executive Board Committee had one common interest: better guidance services for children of Illinois. Under this provision literally hundreds of meetings were held in various sections of the state, and the organization grew in size, activity, and influence. At this time twenty-two geographical areas were established to cover every area of the state.


In 1963, the constitution was amended to permit the formation of state divisions; and two divisions, the Illinois School Counseling Association and the Illinois Counselor Educators and Supervisors, were immediately constituted. Currently, the association has ten divisions. The 1967 Policy Manual provided for the formation of chapters in relatively contiguous geographical areas to replace the roundtable organization. Later, provision was made to allow chapters to be formed by groups with similar interests, hence the past-presidents' chapter. At one time there were twenty-two active chapters; currently there are fourteen chapters.


Simultaneous changes were taking place in the related national organization. The American Personnel and Guidance Association (APGA) was organized with the much older National Vocational Guidance Association as one of its divisions in 1952. Since many IGPA members were members of APGA, at the 1957 Conference held at Bradley University, authority was given to the Executive Committee to arrange for affiliation with the national organization. Conferences were held with Arthur Hitchcock, APGA Executive Secretary, and with representatives of the Chicago Personnel and Guidance Association. Affiliation procedures were completed and the IGPA President Paul Pearson accepted the branch chapter certificate at the APGA annual meeting on April 1, 1958.


During the 1950s and 60s attendance at the annual conferences continued to increase. Programs were planned to meet the needs of the generalists and specialist. The emerging pattern was sharing of knowledge and experience of members.


Over the years discussion had taken place noting the need to recognize outstanding contributions to counseling in the state. When on November 10, 1962, Dr. Michelman unexpectedly died in his sleep while attending an IGPA Executive Committee meeting, the Executive Committee established the C.A. Michelman Memorial Award in his memory.


The late fifties and early sixties was a time of growth. The National Defense Education Act of 1958 gave guidance a strong impetus by providing national funding for the preparation of counselors and counselor educators. Counselors were being added to school systems in large numbers, and IGPA's membership continued to increase. On April 1, 1965, IGPA's membership went over 1,000 marks.  In 1965 the IGPA convention was held for the first time without university sponsorship. The first off-campus convention was held in Springfield. Since that time all conventions have been held in major cities with Chicago as the most frequent site.

It was during the late 50s and 60s that the influence of guidance from the State Department made a significant impact. Leadership from the State Department, particularly from Robert Zellar and Glenn Waterloo, exerted a profound effect on the stability of IGPA. These two men did much to strengthen guidance services in the schools. This effect was further strengthened with the strong leadership from counselor education departments. Leo Bent's name stands out among others because of his role in the development of counselor certification requirements published in what was commonly referred to as "The Golden Book."

In 1969-70 the Association made a stronger commitment to influence legislation relative to its members. In addition, efforts were made to meet the needs of IGPA's divergent groups. These efforts resulted in the formation of several new divisions: The Illinois College Personnel Association (ICPA) – 1965; the Illinois Career Development Association (ICDA) – 1971; now Illinois Association for Multicultural Counseling (IAMC) – 1972; the Illinois Association for Measurement and Evaluation (IAAC) – 1978; and the Illinois Mental Health Counselors Association (IMHCA) - 1979.


The Illinois Counseling Association was incorporated on November 24, 1969 as the Illinois Guidance and Personnel Association, a 501c6.


On August 3, 1984, the name of the organization was officially changed to the Illinois Association for Counseling and Development to reflect a name change in the national organization. In July 1993, the name of the organization was changed to the Illinois Counseling Association (ICA) to once again reflect the name change by the national organization.



In early 1991, the Executive Committee discussed the possibility of employing a part-time Executive Director, subject to Governing Board approval, starting July 1, 1991, on a trial basis. Twy Jones was selected for this position. On July 1, 1993, Richard Longfellow succeeded Twy as Executive Director.  In 2005 ICA hired its first full time Executive Director. Our current Executive Director, Ronna Heinig was hired in July of 2007.



New divisions that were formed in the 1990’s included: the Illinois College Counseling (ICCA) – 1993, the Illinois Association for Adult Development and Aging (IAADA) – 1995; the Illinois Association for Couples and Family Counseling (IACFC) – 1996; the Illinois Association for Specialist in Group Work (IASGW) - 1997; the Illinois Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered in Counseling 2011; and the Illinois Association for Child and Adolescents in Counseling in 2012.  The Illinois Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling was added in 2013.