Book Review—My Life with a Theory: John L. Holland’s Autobiography and Theory of Careers

by Jack Rayman and Gary Gottfredson (Eds.)


The definitions of career, the “time extended working out of a purposeful life pattern through work undertaken by a person,” and work, an “activity that produces something of value for one’s self or others,” are learned by students enrolled in many graduate counseling training programs (Reardon et al., 2019, p. 6). The text My Life with a Theory: John L. Holland’s Autobiography and Theory of Careers, edited by Jack Rayman and Gary Gottfredson, engagingly describes one person’s career whose work undeniably produced considerable value for the profession of counseling. Although the editors note that the target audience for this book is counselor educators and their graduate students who are studying Holland’s theory, readers from other disciplines such as history and philosophy of science, gender studies, higher education, and psychometrics will find value in its contents.

The 366-page book is well organized into seven sections primarily composed of previously published writings authored by John Holland and other leading scholars presenting Holland’s theory of personalities and work environments. Ample exhibits, drawn from Holland’s archive of correspondence and summarizations of past notes, papers, and presentations, provide additional context for his work as a researcher and detail about the development of his theory. These artifacts and anecdotes engaged this reviewer on a personal level with Holland’s life and work, something unexpected from a text focused on the development of theory.

The heart of the text is its second section, which contains Holland’s heretofore unpublished autobiography, which he drafted primarily in the decade prior to his death in 2008. Holland’s writing in this section is engaging and peppered with humorous anecdotes that make for an enjoyable reading experience about how he grew as a man in parallel with his eponymous theory. His life story provides an exemplar of career in how he navigated the complexities of personal and business relationships while developing and disseminating a theory that would form the basis of career assessments and interventions for millions of counseling clients around the globe.

A focus of Holland’s autobiography is his journey to becoming a researcher and publisher. Though he cautions the reader that his experiences were unique, Holland organized his autobiography in a way that will prompt nascent investigators to reflect on themselves and the challenges that a career in research will provide. Example topics addressed include identifying a research problem, finding a niche in which to work, collaborating with editors and publishers, and coping with critical feedback and research failures.

Known for his keen analytical mind, a somewhat rebellious nature, and a degree of directness that would get him into trouble with employers, journal editors, and critics, Holland does not hesitate to hold himself to account for his own foibles as a spouse, colleague, and theoretician. One of the many strengths of this book is Holland’s honest reflection on how criticism of his work, especially around issues of gender equity and measurement, motivated him to reexamine and improve his theory and related assessment instruments.

The book is well indexed and includes a glossary defining terms used in Holland’s theory, an annotated roster of key people who influenced Holland’s life and work, and an appendix of abbreviations frequently used in vocational assessment. One shortcoming of the PDF e-book received for review is that this excellent reference information is not hyperlinked to related concepts in the preceding writings and exhibits it supports. The inclusion of such links in future versions of the text could enhance the book’s utility for readers, especially those learning about Holland and his theory for the first time.

Rayman and Gottfredson have compiled a rich source of information that provides a technically complete description of one of counseling’s most influential and well-known theories. Concurrently, this text tells a fascinating story of personal growth and resilience in the face of changing cultural and economic norms during the second half of the 20th century. It embodies a theme that ran throughout Holland’s life and that this reviewer emphasizes when working with clients and teaching counseling for career concerns to graduate students—an integrated balance of aspirational and rationale approaches to developing one’s career yields the most fulfilling and productive life. This book is a thorough and authoritative source that should be read by practicing professionals and students enrolled in counselor education graduate programs for years to come.



Reardon, R. C., Lenz, J. G., Sampson, J. P., Jr., & Peterson, G. W. (2019). Career development and planning: A comprehensive approach (6th ed.). Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.


Rayman, J., & Gottfredson, G. (Eds.). (2020). My Life with a Theory: John L. Holland’s Autobiography and Theory of Careers. National Career Development Association.

Reviewed by: Darrin Carr, PhD, HSPP

The Professional Counselor


Book Review—A Therapist’s Guide to Treating Eating Disorders in a Social Media Age

by Shauna Frisbie


Working with the adolescent population can be difficult. These are the years when people develop their sense of self and identity, and with the world at their fingertips through social media, that sense of self can be skewed. Today’s young individuals are bombarded by images that are not realistic and many times see themselves as flawed in comparison. This is when an eating disorder can develop. A Therapist’s Guide to Treating Eating Disorders in a Social Media Age presents an innovative therapeutic approach to eating disorders that highlights the influence of social media.

The author, Dr. Shauna Frisbie, has spent over 25 years treating clients with eating disorders. This experience has given her a firsthand understanding of how social media has changed the playing field when treating adolescents. She begins the book by describing eating disorders and how they can be affected by social media as well as the world we live in. She discusses the COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine-related effects that have led to higher use of social media. As this pandemic continues, adolescents are becoming more and more secluded and reliant on social media for their social interactions. Screen time has replaced social gatherings and activities with others as they navigate this new existence.

Dr. Frisbie explores how cultural influences and our human need for social belonging can be skewed by the use of social media. This is very evident in the most recent generations, Gen Z and Millennials. She then takes the reader on a journey into the visual culture that each of us interacts with daily, developing the reader’s understanding of phototherapy techniques and treatment. From this base the reader moves to an understanding of what identity formation is, how it is developed, and how it can be affected by the use of social media. Dr. Frisbie explores family and identity through client narratives of childhood experiences. With the use of case studies throughout the book, the reader is given a look inside the therapy room.

The technique of using images for narrative creation with the client allows the therapist to understand the client’s perspective. By using this technique, the client discovers the underlying messages that are impacting the relationship they have with their bodies. Social media is full of images—good, bad, and ugly. By using images to help the adolescent discover their narrative of self, the therapist can make the client comfortable.

Dr. Frisbie has given the reader a great deal of information that is quite easy to absorb and put into practice. The depth of the information when discussing the science behind our identities and how social media may play a role in that development is enough to give the reader an understanding without the weight of being overwhelmed by it. The reader will walk away with a better grasp on how social media may play a role in their clients’ lives. With this understanding, a therapist can navigate the possible troubled waters of the adolescent client and their body image.


Frisbie, S. (2020). A Therapist’s Guide to Treating Eating Disorders in a Social Media Age. W. W. Norton.

Reviewed by: Amy Perschbacher, MA, NCC, LPC, Ronan Psychological Associates

The Professional Counselor

Book Review—Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Theory and Practice for Treating Disorders of Overcontrol

by Thomas R. Lynch


Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Theory and Practice for Treating Disorders of Overcontrol, written by Thomas R. Lynch, introduces a new treatment that focuses on disorders of emotional overcontrol. The intended audience for the book is clinicians treating disorders such as refractory depression, anorexia nervosa, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. These disorders tend to be more chronic in nature and this book offers clinicians a resource to address these hard-to-treat disorders. Although radically open dialectical behavior therapy (RO DBT) is considered a new treatment, it has over 20 years of research backing the modality, having been based on dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), mindfulness-based therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Gestalt therapy, and motivational interviewing, just to name a few.

Reading this book was a pleasant surprise. The manual is easy to read and the writing style is engaging, which made the content fascinating. Terms are explained beautifully to help a clinician who is new to the approach understand the given information. The book provides valuable new tools to help clinicians deal with disorders that have historically been resistant to traditional CBT and even DBT. One of the most enjoyable chapters of this book was the chapter on maximizing client engagement. In this chapter, the clinician is given transcripts to read through and is also given word-for-word questions to ask the client to improve engagement. This chapter alone makes the book irreplaceable, especially for a new clinician who is trying out this modality for the first time. In addition, the chapter can be modified to fit many other client presentations and not just those of overcontrol.

Dr. Lynch teaches clinicians to encourage self-inquiry for clients rather than focusing solely on changing unpleasant emotions. The tendency for a “quick fix” in therapy is also addressed. The manual breaks down how therapy sessions should flow and offers steps to move the client forward. RO DBT addresses loneliness and alienation, which is not something that I have run across in other treatment modalities—this feature alone is invaluable.

A strength of this book is the plethora of resources that are provided. The book includes an appendix of assessments to help clinicians determine the needs of their clients and decide the correct intervention strategies to use. Not only are there assessments geared toward the client, but there are also assessments for the clinician, to ensure that they are delivering quality services and an adequate delivery of their specific approach. In addition to the assessments, Dr. Lynch offers insight on social signaling and even how to arrange the clinical room.

Overall, this is a very helpful book. It offers hope to a large group of clients who have typically not been able to find treatment that effectively addresses their complex needs. The book is an excellent resource for clinicians treating clients who are slow to warm up to therapy and have trouble with social relationships. This manual is great for those who are wanting to stay abreast of cutting-edge treatment modalities. It is an excellent primer and becomes even more beneficial when used along with the skills training manual, handouts, and worksheets that are available.


Lynch, T. R. (2018). Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Theory and Practice for Treating Disorders of Overcontrol. New Harbinger.

Reviewed by: LaShanna S. Stephens, MS, NCC, CCMHC, LPC, Sound Advice Counseling, LLC

The Professional Counselor

Book Review—Be Still: Spiritual Self-Care for Mental Health Professionals

by LaRonda Starling


Dr. LaRonda Starling’s efforts to remind the reader of the importance of self-care and provide practical guidance to mental health professionals in Be Still: Spiritual Self-Care for Mental Health Professionals provide a great beginning as they relate to self-care, faith practices, and mental health professionals. Starling posits that faith is self-care and uses Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God…,” as the foundation for self-care. Each chapter combines an element of self-care with “being still” in or with God and provides suggestions on how to implement each element into daily life as a helping professional. Starling also uses the opportunity to parallel the self-care work and dilemmas experienced by mental health professionals with those of their clients, which offers an opportunity for greater self-insight as well as greater client insight. She successfully starts a conversation on the importance of incorporating faith-filled beliefs as a primary component of self-care as a Christian mental health professional. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting guidance, insight, and examples of how best to be a practicing Christian mental health professional as it relates to personal self-care. However, I would caution that Starling assumes the reader has a basic body of knowledge concerning Christian scripture.

Starling is an experienced licensed clinical psychologist and professional counselor and also has 15 years of experience within an academic setting, including the position of adjunct professor. She speaks openly about her personal faith relationship with God and her belief that this was a book God wanted her to write. Starling acknowledges the limitations in writing this book as a clinician and that her words, thoughts, and examples do not replace the advice of one’s personal therapist or treatment. While she cites her clinical experience and knowledge, Starling does not share her background as it relates to biblical theology.

Chapter 1 serves as an introduction to the concept of “being still,” possible results of not being still, and difficulties with learning how to be still. Chapter 2, entitled “Be Still and Know,” outlines the journey of learning to be still by and through God. In this chapter, Starling describes the characteristics of God and His importance on the journey to being still as the foundation of self-care. Chapters 3 through 7 take the reader through practical areas for being still: praying, reflecting, studying, saying no, and taking care. The book ends by providing an opportunity for the reader to grow in their relationship with God and to know God better, and by suggesting salvation to the reader as the way to connect with God. Throughout the book, Starling provides questions at the end of each chapter to assist the reader with going deeper in their understanding of God and their need for self-care with God’s assistance. The questions provide a great way for the reader to self-reflect and to systematically rededicate themselves to the importance of spirituality in their life.

Overall, this book seeks to provide a starting point for the mental health professional to use their spiritual faith as the cornerstone to their self-care regimen. Starling generously shares her own Christian beliefs and invites readers to do the same. She boldly presents the subject matter in ways that the Christian counselor or those interested in incorporating faith into their personal self-care routine might find helpful. This book also stands as a resource for mental health professionals with clients that desire to include their spiritual beliefs and practices as a part of their mental health treatment. I recommend this book for clinicians, mental health professionals, and students who are looking for a way to clinically incorporate faith as a part of their self-care.


Starling, L. (2019). Be still: Spiritual self-care for mental health professionals. Grace Psychological Health Services, PLLC.

Reviewed by: Teresa Hills, PsyD

The Professional Counselor


Book Review—Career Development and Planning: A Comprehensive Approach, Sixth Edition

by Robert C. Reardon, Janet G. Lenz, Gary W. Peterson, & James P. Sampson, Jr.

The sixth edition of Career Development and Planning was authored in 2019 by notable career researchers, Drs. Robert Reardon, Janet Lenz, Gary Peterson, and James Sampson. This book describes the processes behind theory-based career decision-making strategies and is written for a college-level audience as a guide for clients and students when formulating and implementing career decisions. In this review, an overview of the content included in the text and a description of the strengths and limitations will be provided for prospective readers to consider.

The text is organized into three sections of five chapters, each section covering a different aspect of career decision-making and planning. The first section describes the components of cognitive information processing (CIP) theory, including metacognitions, decision-making, self-knowledge, and options knowledge. Strategies for addressing each CIP theory component are provided. Some strategies are based within the theory such as the CASVE cycle for decision-making or the exploration of positive and negative self-talk to address meta-cognitions. Other strategies incorporate key tenets from other theories, including Holland’s RIASEC hexagon for self-knowledge clarification. Section two focuses on the sociological aspects of career decision-making, including organizational culture, work and family roles, the implementation of technology, and the different ways in which people conduct their work (e.g., job sharing, flex time, telecommuting). The final section of the text discusses strategies for launching a successful career search campaign, including resumé writing, networking, and salary and benefit negotiation. Tips for a successful college-to-employment transition are also included. Updated online resources for many of the topics covered in the text can be found throughout the chapters. Additionally, activities and worksheets related to the content can be found in the appendices of the text. Instructors can request the Instructor’s Manual as a text companion, but this resource was not available to this reviewer.

The organization of the information is an aspect that improves the reader’s experience. The semi-chronological structure provides an opportunity for readers to return to the text for guidance at any point in their career path. A primary strength of this text can be found in the appendices, which provide activities that enhance the learning experience by presenting an opportunity for personal reflection on text concepts. Additionally, resources are provided for readers who wish to learn more about the more specific topics covered in each chapter. Visual aids are included to assist readers in understanding abstract concepts and illustrate theories that may be otherwise difficult to comprehend.

By providing basic information on CIP theory, readers can reflect on these concepts as more information is presented while moving toward a career path. The detailed discussion of CIP theory included within the first section is unique to this book. Whereas most texts focus on the information provided in the second and third sections of this text, the inclusion of the theory is an effective way to assist students and clients with the basic skills needed for making major decisions.

Despite providing crucial information regarding career concerns, clients and students may find the text dense and difficult to navigate on their own. Because of this, career course instructors, counselors, and career professionals may find it beneficial to guide clients and students through the content and assist with connecting the information provided to personal experiences and goals. As previously discussed, the text provides activities that personalize these concepts; however, because these activities are located in the appendices, clients may have difficulty connecting the appropriate appendix item to the relevant topic. Future editions of this book may benefit from including more activities and making more obvious connections between topics and appropriate activities in relevant chapters.

Overall, Career Development and Planning is a worthy edition to any career course or career practitioner’s professional toolbelt, specifically for the resources, activities, and worksheets provided throughout the text. Additionally, the inclusion of CIP theory as the framework for the additional information provided sets this text apart from other career course texts and enables readers to use this framework while thinking through not only current career decisions, but other major decisions made throughout the life span. However, this book is meant to be a guide rather than a self-help solution to all career concerns. Career professionals will find this text to be a useful resource for clients and students with concerns ranging from deciding on the right career trajectory to preparing for their first job.


Reardon, R. C., Lenz, J. G., Peterson, G. W., & Sampson, J. P. (2019). Career development and planning: A comprehensive approach (6th ed.). Kendall Hunt Publishing.

Reviewed by: Jessica N. Schultz, University of Southern Mississippi

The Professional Counselor


Book Review—A Strengths-Based Approach to Career Development Using Appreciative Inquiry, Second Edition

by Donald A. Schutt, Jr.


In A Strengths-Based Approach to Career Development Using Appreciative Inquiry, Donald Schutt presents a comprehensive overview of how career development professionals can adapt an organizational appreciative inquiry process in their work with clients. Schutt makes an argument for the point that every individual possesses fundamental strengths that can serve as a launch pad for creating positive change in one’s career journey. Schutt begins the text by sharing details on career development and the appreciative inquiry model separately. He then moves on to explain the connections between career development and appreciative inquiry, explaining the strengths-based approach to career development and comparing appreciative inquiry with other strengths-based approaches. Schutt provides a thorough explanation of appreciative inquiry and outlines the process of comparing the career development process with the appreciative cycle. He provides a detailed guide that presents the overlap between both models and provides an example that presents the strengths-based approach to career development in practice.

The most obvious strength of this book is its focus on approaching clients from a place of abundance and not deficit. Inherent in this appreciative inquiry approach is the idea that all clients have innate strengths that can be leveraged in their career journey. It is the job of the career development professional to guide the client in discovering what Schutt refers to as their “positive core strengths” and then discovering career choices that align with those strengths and creating an action plan for achieving career goals.

In addition, Schutt provides a detailed workshop example complete with presentation slides that a career development professional could modify and implement as a workshop. The presentation example provides a potential agenda; a breakdown of the workshop and each slide has comments that could be used with clients. With this example, Schutt makes it easy for a career development professional to either replicate a version of this workshop with a group of clients or even modify the contents for the presentation to work with clients in a one-on-one setting.

Furthermore, Schutt provides scripts, activity guides, and the “Appreciative Inquiry Interview” guide in the appendices. These resources make it easy to visualize Schutt’s concepts to gain a deeper understanding of the process while reading the book. Additionally, the resources create a ready-to-implement intervention that career development professionals can use without too much extra research outside of the book.

A limitation of this text is not in the content, but rather in the layout. Schutt spends the first chapter of the book providing a brief overview of appreciative inquiry—the shift from organizational appreciative inquiry to working with clients, the connections between career development and appreciative inquiry, and so on. However, for the reader who is unfamiliar with appreciative inquiry, they still are left asking the question “What is appreciative inquiry?” for most of the first chapter. It is not until Chapter 2 that Schutt answers that question by presenting a detailed definition of appreciative inquiry and its principles, and then the concepts from Chapter 1 begin to make sense for the reader.

There is an interview component to this approach that involves partners pairing with each other to reflect and deliver feedback. This component is what makes Schutt’s appreciative inquiry process ideal for career development professionals who are interested in working with groups or delivering workshops. That being said, the appreciative inquiry process as presented by Schutt can be modified for working with individuals in a one-on-one setting. The resources provided are easily modified and the concepts are easily adapted. The process seems to be most ideal for adult clients who are willing to engage in self-reflection to uncover their strengths and develop action plans for turning their strengths into goals and, in turn, reality.


Schutt, D. A., Jr. (2018). A strengths-based approach to career development using appreciative inquiry (2nd ed.). Broken Arrow, OK: National Career Development Association.

Reviewed by: Mary O. Edwin, NCC, University of Missouri–St. Louis

The Professional Counselor