Dec 22, 2022 | Book Reviews
edited by Derrick A. Paladino, Laura M. Gonzalez, and Joshua C. Watson
College students today face unique complexity in their world, distinct from the experience of any prior generation—such is the premise of College Counseling and Student Development: Theory, Practice, and Campus Collaboration as it undertakes both to resource and orient today’s college professionals. The text leverages the collective expertise of a diverse group of authors to supply a range and depth of information pertinent to the topic.
Several core chapters set the tone by describing the three waves of student development theory. The contributors provide relevant research and critique, helping developing professionals to consider the multiple possible frameworks from which to conceptualize students. The book appears well-suited to an audience of student counselors who can relate its material to personal experience and their observations of peers’ learning processes in the class environment. The text offers a holistic presentation of college counseling—development of the field, theory, neurobiology, ethics, key diagnostic presentations, and treatment models—reinforcing master’s-level readers’ learning from other courses.
College Counseling and Student Development also ushers developing professionals into the myriad expressions of the college counselor role. Chapters detail university to community college distinctions for each topic; track variance in triage and referral procedures; and spotlight a range of campus initiatives, such as suicide prevention outreach and other population-specific needs. Frequent case examples and application questions enable readers to visualize the differentiation of potential professional roles, for instance, academic advisor vs. career counselor. However, the text also engages the audience of administrators of college counseling centers (CCCs) through targeted resources for effective design of center structure and an organized approach to topics such as crisis policy.
As part of the book’s conceptualization of students, it briefly references a family systems view. A few chapters identify families as key contextual influences on students during their transition into college and young adulthood and consider possible engagement of the parental relationship within student affairs. Even so, the majority of the work frames students individualistically rather than systemically through the highlighted theories and models of treatment. This approach may overlook fully engaging readers of the family systems viewpoint.
However, College Counseling and Student Development appears comprehensive in its content as a whole. A strength of the text across topic areas is its diversity-focused lens, such as examining the distinct experiences of multiheritage students on campus. Similarly, in their presentation of research, the authors prioritize a social justice perspective. They acknowledge areas of possible bias within historic theories, describing how current models seek to supply the gap, including theories specific to college women’s development as learners.
The editors help readers navigate the extensive information innate to the topic through the text’s visual organization, multi-chapter student case studies, and explicit chapter goals. Early chapters on interlocking departments, roles, and resources within the college system establish clear definitions for various terms, though readers may still occasionally find themselves needing to refer back to these initial descriptions for clarity. Although the text format presents as lacking pictures, other than occasional charts, chapters engage readers through self-reflection exercises, transforming a rote perusal of the book into one that integrates reader experience.
College Counseling and Student Development lends itself well to an initial reading, and then as ongoing reference material for new professionals who may review theory frameworks and treatment models as they engage in the hands-on application of their work. The wealth of practical resources includes templates for development of outreach programs, such as student education on eating disorders, hotline numbers for mental health crisis support, and links to articles and webinars for further professional development. Additionally, the book shares free as well as membership-based resources for a variety of CCC demographics and administrative team needs—from behavioral intervention team training and risk evaluation tools to mental health assessments and models of treatment.
The details the authors provide develop readers’ appreciation for the unique niche of, and resources available to, CCCs. This information may encourage professionals to consider what off-campus, outpatient centers can glean from the advances in this micro-community model. Moreover, the text invites counselors on and off campus to conceptualize the students sitting across from them within the college microcosm, considering their challenges, resources, and cultural experiences, distinct from the average community member.
The book underscores the increasing complexity and frequency of mental health issues for the college population. It subsequently challenges the disparity of priority for college counseling in mental health education programs, which lack adequate orientation of counselors for service to this population. The book’s perspective sets a precedent for counselors, administrators, and educators alike to evaluate their respective roles in responding to this discrepancy. As a whole, College Counseling and Student Development: Theory, Practice, and Campus Collaboration represents a comprehensive text, rich with information and resources, orienting and beckoning developing counselors and administrators to the college counseling milieu.
Paladino, D. A., Gonzalez, L. M., & Watson, J. C. (2020). College counseling and student development: Theory, practice, and campus collaboration. American Counseling Association.
Reviewed by: Ellie S. Karle, NCC
Sep 21, 2022 | Book Reviews
by Julius A. Austin and Jude T. Austin II
This is the book I wish I had when I started graduate school.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The authors of this book present the material in an authentic voice that makes the reader feel accepted and understood at whatever stage of the process they are at in the counseling program. The authors readily present their own fears and expectations when they began graduate school. They are humble and honest about things they wish they had done differently, and they embody a calm and considerate approach with a welcome addition of humor.
The authors begin with an informative section that touches on all the normal concerns and fears you may have as a student just starting a counseling program, and the book progresses through every stage of a counseling program from your first year all the way through graduation and your first job. The authors touch on core concepts in each section, common fears, and resources for success. They even provide perspective on pursuing a doctoral degree and skills for choosing where you would like to start your first job after graduation.
The book’s structure makes it flow easily from chapter to chapter, giving light to the gradual progression of course work and your own personal development and self-care. In each chapter, the authors blend in voices and stories from people currently in the profession. Sharing examples, struggles, development, and successes helps to give credibility to the process and normalize expectations and concerns.
The authors also provide a section on emotional maturity in the book. I found this section to be a welcome addition in that it defines several examples of emotional immaturity and characteristics of emotionally mature students. This section provided insight into emotional stability, emotional intelligence, and the self-awareness that is beneficial to success in a counseling program.
In addition to this, the authors also provide a section on dealing with setbacks and managing conflicts. Both sections contain valuable information to consider, and I don’t believe these topics are discussed frequently enough without judgement in other texts. Setbacks and conflicts are bound to happen in any setting. Normalizing this and looking at skills and reflections to approach these conflicts are a welcome addition to strengthening the effectiveness of this text.
Overall, I think this book is valuable, and students should consider reading this book in full when considering entering into a counseling program. This book would have also been beneficial as an assigned text during my first semester of graduate school. It is an easy and informative read that does an excellent job of reflecting on all those questions that either I was too scared to ask, only asked in my small group of equally confused classmates after class, or quite honestly, didn’t even have enough information to know I needed to ask.
This book gives amazing insight into not just the information about a counseling program, but also manages to grasp how it changes you as a person and how it changes your perspectives, your family dynamics, and your own value system. It normalizes the stress of a graduate program but also highlights the journey and the beauty of those outcomes.
Austin, J. A., & Austin, J. T., II (2020). Surviving and thriving in your counseling program. American Counseling Association.
Reviewed by: Megan Ries, NCC
Sep 19, 2022 | Book Reviews
by Samuel T. Gladding
Dr. Samuel T. Gladding’s third edition of Becoming a Counselor: The Light, the Bright, and the Serious offers a genuine and insightful reflection of his experiences both as an individual and as a counselor.
In Becoming a Counselor, Dr. Gladding (PhD, NCC, CCMHC, LPC) describes his experiences in counseling through a series of vignettes. These brief but comprehensive stories are cohesively told through his personal lens as a counseling professional. These vignettes range from Dr. Gladding’s impressions from his experiences growing up in Decatur, Georgia, to teaching within a counseling program, to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The book is divided into 17 sections, which contain a series of vignettes and stories pertaining to the section’s specific theme of counseling and Dr. Gladding’s experiences. Each section begins with a poem, composed by Dr. Gladding, which gives a brief glimpse into what the following section will entail. The third edition expands on previous editions to include an additional 35 vignettes, as well as an introduction that explains Dr. Gladding’s personal worldview. In this introduction, Dr. Gladding specifically acknowledges his own biases and experiences that shaped him as a counselor, providing crucial self-disclosure prior to delving into his personal experiences.
Limitations for Becoming a Counselor include the highly personal nature of the majority of these vignettes. Although the themes established within this volume assist with generalizing this knowledge outside of Dr. Gladding’s experiences, this book tends to take an autobiographical tone, rather than an educational one.
Nonetheless, fellow mental health professionals can use this book as a useful tool to guide their own journey through professional development and leadership. Dr. Gladding’s conversational tone guides the reader toward a deeper understanding of seemingly superficial events.
The primary strength of this book is within the universality of its themes. Through interweaving brief stories about his experiences, Dr. Gladding shares both ordeals and successes in vignettes that can easily be incorporated into a class lecture. Practicum or internship courses would doubtlessly find short stories detailing Dr. Gladding’s experiences as useful material to discuss within the classroom. Another strength of this book includes its organization of seemingly enormous and intimidating topics, such as finding success in academia, and then taking the teeth from these topics by including fun, good-humored titles for the individual vignettes. Although many books are professional in nature, it is rare to find one that also carries a sense of humor. However, Dr. Gladding does not shy away from the more serious topics of counseling.
If you read this book, you will undoubtedly find it difficult to put it down. This book reads more as a story than a text at times, which will more than likely lead to you finishing it by the end of the day.
Although not entirely educational in nature, Becoming a Counselor carries lessons from an autobiographical standpoint that many counselors can value. This edition was one of Dr. Gladding’s final works prior to his passing in December 2021. Within the latest edition of his book, Dr. Gladding encourages the reader to carry a level of levity, insight, and seriousness as both a counselor and an individual through their own experiences.
Gladding, S. T. (2021). Becoming a counselor: The light, the bright, and the serious (3rd ed.). American Counseling Association Foundation.
Reviewed by: Katie Michaels, MA, NCC, ALC
Jun 27, 2022 | Book Reviews
by Beatriz Sheldon and Albert Sheldon
Beatriz Sheldon, MEd, and her partner, Albert Sheldon, MD, describe their novel therapeutic approach, Complex Integration of Multiple Brain Systems (CIMBS), in this new publication. Throughout the book, references are made to the Sheldons’s 20 years of working together, 15 years of clinical experience, and 10 years of training other practitioners in CIMBS therapy. The authors emphasize that they “are practical, empirical therapists” (p. xvii). The book is seeded with references to scientists who inspire the duo, especially Daniel J. Siegel, Joseph LeDoux, Antonio Domasio, and the late Jaak Panksepp. It must be noted that CIMBS therapy as laid out in this text contains no peer-reviewed qualitative or quantitative studies; instead, the authors utilize vignettes to discuss their methods.
The brain systems referred to in CIMBS are organized into sections much like those of the triune brain model, with an additional peripheral system in the heart, lungs, and intestines. What the triune brain model labels the lizard brain relates to the primary level, the mammal brain is the secondary level, and the human brain is the tertiary level. The Sheldons assign awareness, attention, authority, autonomy, and agency (the “A Team”) to the conscious tertiary level. The secondary level holds nonconscious, inhibitory systems of fear, grief, shame, and guilt. The primary level, also nonconscious, contains the systems of safe, care, connection, sensory, assertive, play, and seeking.
The patient accesses the hidden strengths of the nonconscious mind via the CIMBS therapist’s use of techniques like Transpiring Present Moment, Go the Other Way, and Initial Directed Activation. Transpiring Present Moment is reminiscent of Fritz Perls’s emphasis on the “here-and-now.” Go the Other Way asks the patient to avoid getting bogged down in traumatic memories and instead reach for personal strengths. The CIMBS therapist cultivates the therapeutic alliance using the Therapeutic Attachment Relationship, which includes physical postures that suggest safety, reminding us of Egan’s SOLER stance taught in many counseling programs. This intervention also recommends intense focus on the patient’s micro-expressions as a guide to their conscious and nonconscious processes. Ultimately, the patient will integrate all 20 brain systems effectively and reach Fail-Safe Complex Network, a new, durable neural structure generating improved mental health.
Although the authors refer several times to the text’s internal contradictions or incongruence, the writing has the same appeal as the work of the Sheldons’s mentor, Dan Siegel, who wrote the Foreword. The book asks readers to lean on their intuition, often reminding them to “trust the process.” Nicola Swaine has provided line drawings to clarify central concepts, much as Siegel uses a curled fist to describe the triune brain. The authors relate that this text was written expressly to provide an overview of the Sheldons’s 16-part CIMBS training series (recorded and live) for students and trainees, who will find the glossary and bibliography especially useful.
In the Foreword, Siegel refers to the “cross-disciplinary framework known as interpersonal neurobiology . . . [using] universal principles discovered by independent pursuits of knowledge” (p xii). It would be useful to know which principles are considered universal in this book. Psychology sits forever on the fence between hard and soft science; some declarations of fact are based on microscopic studies of physical structures, and some are useful models that are at least partly philosophical. This text contains both. Neurologists have observed neural repairs and rerouting; thus, neuroplasticity is a demonstrable fact. The Sheldons describe 20 brain systems while noting that “one could certainly make the case for more or fewer systems” (p. 26). Clearly the number and definition of these brain systems can be thought of as helpful metaphors, a bit like Marsha Linehan describes a “wise mind” that is not a physical structure existing in the brain.
Professional counselors who like eclectic methods and enjoy pulling inspiration from many sources will appreciate CIMBS and this flagship text. The authors caution practitioners not to use CIMBS for patients who struggle with borderline personality disorder or dissociative, bipolar, or psychotic disorders. Although the Sheldons encourage clinicians to practice with their highest-functioning patients, the wise professional counselor will first disclose methods and procedures to patients.
Sheldon, B., & Sheldon, A. (2021). Complex integration of multiple brain systems in therapy. W. W. Norton.
Reviewed by: Christine Sheppard, MA, LCPC, NCC
The Professional Counselor
Dec 10, 2021 | Book Reviews
by Andrew Christensen, Brian D. Doss, and Neil S. Jacobson
Any counselor working with individual clients should also develop competence for working with couples. Because we have instinctual needs to love and be loved, relationship issues are not foreign to the dialogue counselors have with patients in individual therapy sessions. Even when individual treatment plans do not delineate clear objectives for improving a relationship, counselors often explore solutions for relationship issues with their individual clients. So, why not look for those solutions in the work of three esteemed mental health experts with over 40 years of research and clinical practice in couples therapy?
The book Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy: A Therapist’s Guide to Creating Acceptance and Change by Andrew Christensen, Brian D. Doss, and Neil S. Jacobson, includes a description of theoretical principles of Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy (IBCT) along with differences and similarities to other evidence-based treatments. The authors’ description is supported by evidence of the efficacy of IBCT and the application thereof. IBCT is a contingency-shaped application rather than rule-governed. Christensen, Doss, and Jacobson encourage clinicians to use their best judgment when applying IBCT principles. For clinicians working under any capacity of experience, the IBCT concepts are thoroughly explained for the advanced practitioner and the intern therapist or practicum student.
Introduced in the book are two core concepts that promote acceptance and change: empathic joining and unified detachment. Empathic joining facilitates acceptance by kindling compassion and empathy. This leads to forgiveness and support from both individuals of a couple. This is described strategically through observing couple interacting patterns with intention to shift partners away from dissecting actions of the other and toward looking at their own reactions and feelings. Then, using empathic listening skills, IBCT therapists sensitively summarize “hard” and “hidden” emotions to the couple. With unified detachment, partners reduce negative affect by engaging in discussion in the sessions, and then thereafter, about salient incidents and issues in a nonjudgmental way. This kind of dyadic mindfulness allows for a safe, non-blaming analysis of problematic communication and behavior between a couple. IBCT happens in phases, but the core concepts are drawn upon through the entire course of IBCT therapy.
Phases include Evaluation and Assessment—joint session then individual sessions for formulating a DEEP analysis (Differences, Emotional sensitivities, External stressors, and Pattern of communication); Feedback session—conceptualizing problems and description of the intervention; and Intervention sessions. Interventions are both acceptance-focused and change-focused and executed by employing empathic joining and unified detachment, tolerance building, dyadic behavioral activation, and communication and problem-solving training.
Limitations for the IBCT guidebook and the counselor using the principles are that although the knowledge of the theories explained in this work are clearly presented, they still require training, consultation, and supervision to administer. The book includes many case examples of real issues (patient names have been changed to protect identities) presented in real IBCT therapy sessions (some with session videos on the American Psychological Association’s video library website). The case examples cover a rainbow of issues (including clinical consideration for diversity, violence, sexual problems, infidelity, and psychopathology); however, they do not replace the valued learning experience from working with a certified IBCT trainer (which the authors imply). Certified IBCT training involves “extensive observation” of actual sessions. More information is available at https://ibct.psych.ucla.edu/, another online tool that has a chapter devoted to IBCT in brief format using the OurRelationship program—an IBCT website intervention for distressed couples (OurRelationship.com).
Christensen, A., Doss, B. D., & Jacobson, N. S. (2020). Integrative behavioral couple therapy: A therapist’s guide to creating acceptance and change (2nd ed.). W. W. Norton.
Reviewed by: Evan P. Guetz, MA, LPC
The Professional Counselor
Nov 16, 2021 | Book Reviews
by Dr. Julia Bain, LPCC, NCC, CEAP
You Are the Sheriff of Me Town: Where You Have All the Power, by Dr. Julia Bain, is a book that explores the various aspects of our self-dialogue and self-image, especially areas that are sometimes overlooked. The author begins by introducing her metaphor that we are all the sheriffs of “Me Town,” and as a result, we have control over the choices and beliefs that run this town. The book progresses into the different aspects of our lives that we have control over and the ways that taking ownership of these areas can empower us. This involves diving into our beliefs, thoughts, values, and self-image.
A strength of this book is how the author breaks down and organizes the sections. When working with a multi-layered metaphor, readers can become overwhelmed with the different terms and ideas presented. Dr. Bain has sectioned the book in a way that introduces and explains topics while also moving the narrative toward more complex ideas.
Another strength of this book is the underlying philosophy driving its message. We are not static beings, and Dr. Bain reminds the reader that change is both possible and necessary to achieve our goals. In pursuit of these goals, Dr. Bain puts a strong emphasis on checking in with oneself.
I greatly enjoyed the resource section at the end of the book. The author uses a key phrase or idea for each letter of the alphabet and describes these ideas in a paragraph or two. These sections are condensed versions of topics discussed in the book and provide a brief summary of Dr. Bain’s points. I saw these sections as mini pep talks or even prompts for journal entries.
An area of improvement for this book would be a stronger recognition of external factors. Yes, we are in control of the choices we make, but oftentimes those choices are influenced by elements outside our control. Being able to separate the various motivators in our lives, whether internal or external, can be a powerful step toward change.
Fellow professionals may see this book as a good resource for clients who are hoping to improve their levels of self-esteem or confidence. Being able to identify different strengths and characteristics in our lives can be an empowering step toward change and growth.
I frequently utilize imagery and metaphors with my clients; I believe it helps build rapport and can help explain difficult or complex topics. I could see other professionals, myself included, using the idea of being “the sheriff of Me Town” as a way to empower clients to take charge of their lives.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I could see its usefulness in and out of the counseling session. It breaks down aspects of our identify and helps the reader find ways of nurturing these areas. Although a good starting point, I would encourage readers to use this book as a springboard to dive into deeper areas of reflection and study.
Bain, J. (2021). You are the sheriff of Me Town: Where you have all the power. Walton Publishing House.
Reviewed by: Amanda Condic, MA, NCC, LPC
The Professional Counselor