Ursula Delworth was a pioneer in many ways in counseling and counseling psychology. In fact, she was one of the early counseling psychologists who easily made her home in both counseling and psychology, and her contributions were outstanding in both professional domains.
Delworth was the first of two daughters born to a U.S. naval officer and his wife in 1934. She received a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Long Beach in 1956 and worked for several years in school guidance and counseling. She then chose the University of Oregon for her doctoral study in counseling psychology, and she earned her Ph.D. in 1969. Her dissertation compared the work of members of a group of professional counselors and counselor support personnel conducting group counseling with students of junior high school age. This research interest was paralleled by activities during graduate school as educational director of Anytown USA, a peer support network in Los Angeles, California.
Her professional career began with an appointment at the Counseling Center of Colorado State University. At that point in time, unrest over civil rights was at a peak, and Delworth began her lifelong interest in outreach, using outreach teams on campus to address racial tensions. She continued that interest with her next professional appointment to the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, where she provided training and consultation to many institutions of higher education on the use of campus mental health systems and prevention and outreach programs.
Delworth joined the faculty at the University of Iowa in 1976. She served as director of the counseling center there and as a faculty member in the counseling psychology program, where she supervised many students and served as an encouraging mentor to many more who may have had other advisors but counted on Delworth for support and direction. Her research interests were in supervision, consultation, outreach, and prevention, and she published widely in these areas.
Within the fields of counseling and psychology, Delworth was a passionate advocate for change, and change for the better. She took on issues of equality, diversity, the rights of women and underserved populations, students, early career professionals, and the like with commitment, enthusiasm, and activism. She nominated people for awards, advocated for positions for them within the profession, and mentored many new professionals. Her achievements were recognized with a variety of awards: the Contribution to Knowledge Award from the American College Personnel Association, the Outstanding Contribution to Literature Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, and the Leona Tyler Award from the Counseling Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association (APA); she was also named one of the 100 Outstanding Women in 100 years of APA.
Perhaps one anecdote illustrates her vibrant commitment to those she believed were under-recognized and underserved. During her year as president of Division 17 of the APA, she began several projects to recognize and promote early career psychologists. Her presidential address that year focused on the need to mentor and encourage those in the beginning stages of their careers. At the end of the talk, she invited all in attendance who had just earned their degrees to join her at the upcoming social hour, where she would personally buy each of them a drink. And she did! And she was surrounded by a happy, chattering group of new professionals who, it is believed, saw a bright future in counseling.
Her death in May of 2000, literally a month away from her retirement, cut short a life that would have clearly kept on giving to psychology, to counseling, and to her own community. She is deeply missed still by colleagues and friends.
- Delworth, U. (1989). Student services: A handbook for the profession. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Loganbill, C., Hardy, E., & Delworth, U. (1982). Supervision: A conceptual model. The Counseling Psychologist, 10, 3—12.
- Stoltenberg, C., & Delworth, U. (1987). Supervising counselors and therapists: A developmental approach. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Stoltenberg, C., McNeill, B., & Delworth, U. (1998). IDM supervision: An integrated developmental model for supervising counselors and therapists. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.