Louise Douce

In her autobiographical writings and speeches, Louise Douce described herself as coming of age personally and professionally amidst the “wave of feminism” in academia in the 1970s and early 1980s. She identified feminist values as a core part of her identity and has consistently embodied those values as a clinician, administrator, educator, mentor, scholar, and professional leader. Indeed, her career can be seen as an exemplar of the passionate implementation of the values of empowerment, advocacy, and equality. She once used an image of standing on a bridge to describe significant work that she had done as a counseling psychologist. She indeed has toiled in the construction of bridges over which the fields of counseling and counseling psychology have moved toward feminism; lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) affirmation; and multiculturalism. She has labored to build bridges that span the integration of science and practice, to lead the way toward effective responses to the changing milieu of professional practice, to connect the counseling professions with a more global perspective, and to link the counseling professions to the future through more effective approaches to professional training.

Douce grew up on a small farm in southern Ohio in what she described as a “small-town Christian family, with missionaries and ministers on both sides.” Her undergraduate education at Ohio State University (OSU) during the Vietnam War era of the late 1960s was a time of great social change and of great personal change for Douce. She described herself as beginning those years believing that the war in Vietnam was justified and ending that era as an ardent feminist who wore a peace sign on her arm at graduation. From 1971 to 1977, she went to graduate school in counseling psychology at the University of Minnesota and did her internship at the Student Counseling Bureau there. She was one of a cadre of feminist women students in counseling who would come to forever change the profession. She has spoken and written about her experiences with sexism in graduate studies, but she has also noted it was an exciting time for young women like her to be feminists and to come out as lesbians. She has dis-cussed the crucial role mentors played in her own development at this time, and she has passed on this legacy of mentoring by becoming a powerful mentor to so many.

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Upon completion of her doctoral program in 1977, she became a staff psychologist at the Counseling and Consultation Service at OSU and has remained there for almost 30 years, providing extraordinary service and leadership to one of the most prestigious and respected university counseling centers in the country. Douce became the director for the graduate and predoctoral training program in 1980 and then became the director of the center in 1987. Her work in administering the training program, in providing clinical supervision, and in mentoring have had a significant impact on scores of graduate students and interns. It is safe to say that virtually every counseling center in the United States has been touched by Douce’s work as a trainer and mentor to its staff members. She remained significantly involved in training at OSU even as she became the director responsible for providing vision and leadership to a staff of almost 20 with a budget of several million dollars. Of particular note for its impact, and for its significance to Douce personally, is that she has been a pioneer in the training of LGB counseling psy-chologists. In the LGB psychology community, she is a true elder of the tribe and grand-mentor to an entire new generation of LGB psychologists.

Douce’s record of leadership in multiple professional organizations over the last 25 years is far reaching and extensive. Congruent with Douce’s commitment to university counseling centers and professional training, one of the first national organizations for which she assumed a major leadership role was the Association of Counseling Center Training Agencies (ACCTA). She served as secretary from 1981 to 1985 and as president from 1985 to 1988. During this time she provided leadership for the organization in developing policies on intern selection and training, in providing some of the first presentations and workshops on LGB issues, and in establishing an active diversity committee. Around that same time, she also was involved with the American College Personnel Association (ACPA), helping found and lead both the task force on AIDS/HIV and the committee on LGB issues. Douce has also been involved in leadership for the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC), serving on APPIC’s Executive Board from 1988 to 1994, as vice chair from 1989 to 1990 and 1993 to 1994, and as treasurer from 1991 to 1992. During this time, she made a lasting impact on predoctoral internship training in psychology through leadership efforts toward standardizing both APPIC’s internship application and its definition of what constitutes a practicum hour.

In the late 1980s Douce’s professional leadership focus began to center on the American Psychological Association (APA). Her strongest involvement has been in APA’s Division 17, the Society for Counseling Psychology. She has served on and/or chaired many committees, task forces, and sections in the division, including those addressing the advancement of women, proficiencies and specialties in counseling psychology, awards, and fellowship status. Douce has been recognized as contributing significantly to the founding of both the society’s section that addresses LGB issues and the section that addresses women’s issues, being a “founding mother” of the latter. She was elected vice president for education and training for 1995-1997 and was elected to the highest office in counseling psychology as division president for 2002. Though some have identified her as the first LGB president of the division, in her presidential address she identified herself as the first LGB psychologist who became president at a time when open identification would be met with fewer negative consequences. Selecting the globalization of counseling psychology as her presidential focus, she pushed the profession to expand toward a global perspective that would be free from U.S. cultural imperialism. She has represented the division externally in several important ways, including as a representative to APA’s governing council beginning in 2006. Currently, she also serves on the APA’s Board of Educational Affairs.

Douce has also authored a number of important scholarly publications and presented widely at professional conferences. Her scholarly contributions have focused on issues related to the needs of women, particularly in the career area; HIV/AIDS; LGB affirmative training and practice issues; and professional training and education. There can be no doubt that through her scholarship and the aforementioned professional organization leadership, she has had a significant impact on the education and training of psychologists. In addition, she has participated in a host of major national conferences formulating model training policies, including the national conferences on internship training (1987) and on postdoctoral training (1992), the Joint Council on Professional Education in Psychology (1990-1993), the conference on psychology supply and demand (1997), and the APPIC/BEA competencies conference (2002).

Her commitment and service to counseling and counseling psychology have been recognized through numerous prestigious awards. Douce achieved fellow status with Division 17 of APA in 1995. In 2001, the division awarded her the John D. Black Award for outstanding achievement in the practice of counseling psychology as well as the Woman of the Year award from the society’s section on the advancement of women. She received the Distinguished Service Award from the Academy of Counseling Psychology in 2002 and received the Education Advocacy Distinguished Service Award from the APA Board of Educational Affairs in 2005. Her lifetime of service, leadership, and advocacy as a university counseling center psychologist has earned her a number of prestigious lifetime achievement awards from professional organizations that include the Ohio College Personnel Association, ACPA’s Commission for Counseling and Psychological Services, and the American University and College Counseling Center Director’s Association.

Colleagues would find little disagreement with Douce’s own self-description as bringing “emotional intensity” and a “passionate espousal of values” to her work. There can be no doubt that she has wisely employed that passion and intensity in her work as evidenced by the scope and impact of her work advocating for social justice, developing effective professional education, and advancing the relevance and impact of counseling on society.


  1. Boggs, K. R., & Douce, L. A. (2000). Current status and anticipated changes in psychology internships: Effects on counseling psychology training. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 28, 657-672.
  2. Buhrke, R. A., & Douce, L. A. (1991). Training issues for counseling psychologists in working with lesbian women and gay men. The Counseling Psychologist, 19(2), 216-234.
  3. Douce, L. A. (Ed.). (1993). AIDS: Hopes and challenges for the 1990’s [Special section]. Journal of Counseling and Development, 71, 259-309.
  4. Douce, L. A. (Speaker). (1996). New fellows symposium (Cassette Recording No. APA-6-3252). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  5. Douce, L. A. (2002, August). Riding the waves: A feminist’s journey to multiculturalism. Invited address for the Woman of the Year award, presented at the American Psychological Association Symposium, Chicago, IL.
  6. Douce, L. A. (2004). Globalization of counseling psychology. The Counseling Psychologist, 32, 142-152.
  7. Douce, L. A. (2005). Coming out on the wave of feminism, coming to age on the ocean of multiculturalism. In J. M. Croteau, J. S. Lark, M. A. Lidderdale, & Y. B. Chung (Eds.), Deconstructing heterosexism in the counseling professions: A narrative approach (pp. 59-64). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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