Dr. R. Vance Peavy

For those of us in Canada, it would be difficult to name anyone other than Vance Peavy as the one of the most influential contributors to the counselling profession.  His innovative ideas, that permeate his own and others’ published articles, chapters, and books, have provided tremendous support for those in the helping professions to break new ground in teaching, human science research, and counselling practice.  Taking a meaning making, Sociodynamic approach, Dr. Peavy brought a hopeful and respectful way of treating people as mindful, agentic beings who have the capacity and desire to construct meaningful lives.  And his ideas have been widely embraced.  Lecturing frequently in the United States, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Estonia, his work has gone far beyond the borders of Canada.

Throughout his career, Dr. Peavy received numerous prestigious awards for his contributions to the field.  Particularly noteworthy, he received the Distinguished Senior Contributor Award from the Counseling Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association, and the prestigious Stu Conger Award from the Canadian Career Development Foundation in Ottawa for his outstanding leadership in career  development and counselling in Canada.  As a professor at the University of Victoria, he sat on numerous editorial boards, supervised and taught over 100 graduate students, was nominated for distinguished teaching and research awards, and was the founding faculty member of what is now Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies at the University of Victoria.  As a professor emeritus, he was also a valued adjunct faculty member in the School of Child and Youth Care at UVIC . 

Vance’s many accomplishments are too numerous to list in this introduction, but a glimpse into his legacy reveals dozens of peer reviewed articles and book chapters devoted to the art and science of counselling.  Later in his life he focused his energy on books and substantive manuscripts leaving a wealth of knowledge for those interested in constructively oriented approaches.

When Vance first introduced the idea of working with a person’s life space instead of thinking of intrinsic traits and factors, he risked being criticized for rejecting a well established theory of self and self-identity. But we would all be better off, he argued, if we could move away from thinking of people as constellations of traits and factors and think, instead, of each person occupying a unique life-space. Within a person’s life space he explained, it is possible to explore thoughts, feelings, and actions within a linguistic milieu and not get side-tracked by thinking only of concrete and observable behaviours.  Local and cultural knowledge can also be explored in order to more fully understand how such knowledge shapes people’s attitudes towards living.  This linguistic, life-space approach to human experience allows for a much more holistic and empowering way of working with rich and diverse meanings of experience.

Dr. Peavy unfortunately died much too early, but something he would often emphasize in his teaching is that a life should never be judged by its length, but by the quality of the life that was lived.  Vance’s zest for life, the quality he brought to his teaching, writing, and mentoring, and to his everlasting friendships and family, are testimony to the richness he brought to his own life and others.’  This website stands as a lasting tribute to Dr.Peavy’s lifetime achievements and contributions to the helping professions.  Those working in the areas of child and youth care, social work, conflict resolution, community development, and counselling psychology will find this to be a wonderful resource and one that will continue to support those wanting to work compassionately, ethically, and constructively with people experiencing life challenges. 



Copyright 2008

Return to Home Page Contact Information Search This Site Relevant Links Visualizations & Mapping News Overview Resources Lectures & Articles Training Vane Peavy Memborial Fund