Bruce Fretz contributed to the field of counseling psychology in a varied and significant fashion. He left lasting impressions on students within the field, facilitated the development of new faculty, and contributed to the growing profession, all from his position as director of the counseling psychology doctoral program at the University of Maryland. Over 20 years of service that included authoring a quintessential textbook, writing numerous articles, and holding various leadership positions, Fretz epitomized influential leadership in counseling psychology.
Education and Training
In his early years, Fretz did not plan on nor did he believe in the possibility of attending college. He had planned to drop out of school to work to support his mother and younger siblings, as his father had passed away when Fretz was a young boy. However, after he and other teachers discovered that he had an exceptional talent in mathematics, he was switched to the “college track” in school. This sudden change provided him with a boost of confidence that he could perform academically. From there, he progressed academically in a whimsical fashion, with mentors and teachers handing him opportunities that he accepted, by his own admission, with only a half-understanding of their significance.
Fretz was awarded a full scholarship to Gettysburg College and majored in psychology with the original intent of entering the ministry. As he progressed through his undergraduate schooling, he realized that he enjoyed his psychology courses more than his religion and Greek class work. With mentorship and a recommendation from his advisor, Charles Platt, he applied to and was accepted into a graduate program in counseling psychology at Ohio State University. He obtained his Ph.D. in counseling psychology, and in the year 1965, he and his wife were ready to embark upon a new segment of his life near Washington, D.C.
Overview of Career
Upon graduating with a doctorate degree, Fretz obtained a faculty position with the University of Maryland’s Department of Psychology. After a brief time at his position, he obtained tenure and an associate professor position, as he was steadily publishing research. Then, just four years after graduating with a Ph.D., he was asked to direct the doctoral program in counseling psychology at the University of Maryland, and he held this position for the next 20 years. His leadership helped build a stable and progressive program from one that had previously struggled with its identity, status, and retention of students. Fretz retired from the University of Maryland in 1995, but he continued to play an active leadership role in various organizations in retirement, including participating in the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives.
Over his years working at the University of Maryland, Fretz was cherished by faculty and students as a competent leader and a warm supportive mentor. Students commented on his passionate orientation toward counseling psychology and his ever-present kindness and support. Colleagues emphasized his ability to work with and achieve collaboration among varying staff personalities. Fretz himself suggested that he owed his teaching success to a specific philosophy he had learned from past teachers and implemented. This philosophy consisted of demon-strating one’s enthusiasm in the subject, being student-centered, working hard to make the subject matter interesting, being liked by students, and wanting students and the professor to discover the subject matter together. It seems that his attentiveness to the needs of others allowed him to achieve both popularity and success as a professor and program director.
Fretz was a prolific writer, producing texts and articles that expanded the knowledge of the profession and assisted students in learning. His research was consistently on the cutting edge of counseling psychology research, even from his beginnings as a doctoral student researcher. His dissertation project using factor analysis to examine nonverbal communication in counseling initiated the use of factor analysis for this purpose and also formed the foundation for future study of nonverbal communication’s impact on the counseling session. He also was the first to perform a meta-analysis on career counseling research. Other research interests included career counseling, sexual attitudes, preparation for graduate study, and preretirement issues. He also wrote articles to guide students in the field of psychology, which further demonstrated his devotion to preparing and mentoring future counseling psychologists. Through such articles as Finding Careers With a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, Preparing for Graduate Study in Psychology, and Licensing and Certification of Psychologists and Counselors, he demonstrated his dedication to the next generation of professionals.
Fretz also cowrote one of the most important and influential textbooks in the field, Counseling Psychology, which was written primarily for graduate counseling psychology students. Through this text and his other work, he assisted the field in distinguishing itself through a clear definition and vision. In addition to training students, writing textbooks and articles, leading various organizations, and consulting with other graduate programs, he was also editor of The Counseling Psychologist. Clearly, he was working hard to improve the profession, directly and indi-rectly impacting both students and professionals.
During Fretz’s career, he held a variety of leadership positions in the field, culminating with his election as president of the American Psychological Association’s Division 17 in 1991. He was the Psi Chi national president between the years 1974 and 1978, and he was elected the board chair of the Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs in 1978. He assisted in the development of some 30 counseling psychology training programs as a site visitor and consultant over the course of 13 years. Clearly, Fretz epitomized leadership in the field, and he played a critical role in developing counseling psychology programs over the course of his career.
Bruce Fretz’s legacy is unmistakable. He was passionate and dedicated to fostering the growth of young psychologists, his own counseling psychology program at the University of Maryland, and the profession of counseling psychology as a whole. He did this via a dedication to passionate teaching, a commitment to leadership in local and national arenas, and a prolific writing career. He was respected by colleagues and students for his leadership style and friendliness, and he will be remembered by all for his commitment and devotion to the field of counseling psychology.
- Fretz, B. R. (1974). Psychology in counseling psychology-Whither or wither? Journal of Counseling Psychology, 22, 238-242.
- Fretz, B. R., Corn, R., Tuemmler, J., & Bellet, W. (1979). Counselor nonverbal behaviors and client evaluations. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 26, 304-311.
- Fretz, B. R., & Leong, F. L. (1982). Career development status as a predictor of career intervention outcomes. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 29, 388-393.
- Gelso, C. J., & Fretz, B. R. (2000). Counseling psychology (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
- Hill, C. (2000). Bruce Fretz: A leader with quiet grace and tact. The Counseling Psychologist, 28, 376-396.