Seven popular counseling theories are presented in this book and integrated into a meta-theory utilizing the common denominator of existentialism. This text is unlike any other textbook of counseling theories. There maybe workbooks that accompany counseling theory texts that attempt to accomplish similar goals, but none that are as comprehensive and theoretically grounded. There has been a long-standing need for a model to assist students of counseling to integrate the basic counseling theories to which they are exposed. This text attacks the problem directly and includes a process that students can follow systematically in arriving at their own counseling model. The author makes the case for a common denominator of existential-humanism underlying the counseling process. He then introduces the students to each of the basic counseling theories in an order that instructs them first in how to build a facilitative base of understanding with the client's phenomenological world and non-judgmental acceptance of the client as a person of worth capable of making responsible choices. This is the first stage of the process and features a person-centered approach.
Once this stage has been mastered, students are introduced to stage two which includes cognitive behavioral theories. The author recommends that at least one of these approaches needs to be mastered. These are action-oriented, which means they are somewhat time-limited and focused on problem-solving through education, but they also continue to operationalize the egalitarian counseling relationship. Stage three concludes the theories to be introduced and mastered in the initial (typically master's degree-level) training of counselors. In this text, only Perl's Gestalt therapy is expected to be learned. Expressive techniques associated with this theory supplement the two previous stage theories by helping clients integrate disparities between what they are saying versus what they are doing. There are two additional stages in the meta-theory model. Stage four includes counseling with groups, such as group and family counseling, and stage five includes analytic models. These two stages are expected to be mastered at the post-master's level of training and are not detailed in this volume.
A second very valuable feature of this text beyond the system for systematically developing one's counseling theory is the illustrative counseling protocol for each theory described along with the author's commentary and analysis. These protocols and analyses illustrate explicitly how the theory is operationalized and are therefore invaluable features of the text. A third major feature of this text is a set of assessment standards for each theoretical model that provides the trainee and instructor with a performance measure at three counseling skill levels: superior, adequate and inadequate. These performance assessment instruments would also be valuable for use in counseling practicums. Two other significant points. I would be remiss if I did not also recognize the effort by the author to include original sources of the counseling theories included as well as the scholarly interpretation and presentations of the theoretical models. The text is also unique in that it includes the basic supplementary material that is frequently the focus of student workbooks that accompany the basic textbook.
For the reasons already cited, this textbook is ideal for use in introductory counseling theories courses. In as much as survey research has demonstrated that most counselors claim to be eclectic even though they arrive at this position without a systematic model to guide them, this text fills a great void that has existed far too long. I view this text as "the first of its kind" and the model that will be imitated by future authors.