1) Know your audience. Always keep in mind that you are writing directly to and for your colleagues in the counseling profession, not consumers or a general audience.
2) Establish your credentials. Build trust with readers by briefly explaining why you are knowledgeable about the topic covered in your article. What practical experience do you bring to the table? What personal stories can you share? What lessons have you learned?
3) Don’t write a term paper/literature review. We place high value on practitioners, graduate students and counselor educators writing from their own personal/professional perspectives and experiences rather than relying solely on what other experts have said. That’s not to suggest that authors should steer clear of mentioning others’ research and ideas. Rather, these references should complement and support the narrative of the author’s own work and expertise rather than making up the bulk of the article.
4) Ask yourself some important questions. Before you dive headfirst into writing, engage in a little self-reflection to help you focus your article and organize the content. Why are you writing this article? (More important, why should your counseling colleagues bother to read it? In what ways is it going to help them?) What action do you want readers to take as a result of reading your article? What practical tips, techniques, insights or lessons learned are you going to provide to readers to help them accomplish that action? Once you’re clear on those answers, begin writing. And when you’re done writing, make sure those answers would be equally clear to your readers.
5) Tell readers something they don’t already know. Don’t just skim the surface of the topic you’re writing about. Strive for as much depth, detail and context as you can. Ask yourself what beginning counselors might not know about this topic. Then ask yourself what even seasoned counselors might not know — or might need to be reminded of — concerning this topic.
6) Position yourself as a “how-to” expert. Our readers have told us they are especially excited by the prospect of articles that provide them with hands-on strategies, techniques and approaches that they can use with clients. Where possible, consider providing step-by-step guidance for using these innovations. Readers particularly appreciate the inclusion of case studies or client vignettes.
7) Demonstrate that you’re familiar with Counseling Today’s article style. Counseling Today is a magazine, not a journal (for example, note that we don’t include academic citations, footnotes and reference lists in the magazine). If you’re familiar with writing only in an academic style, spend some time reading CT’s “Member Insights” and “Knowledge Share” articles before submitting your own work to the magazine.
8) Double-check the simple stuff. Make sure that all references to people’s names, organization names, book titles and other resources are 100 percent accurate within your article. If readers (and editors) can’t trust you to get these basic details correct (especially when they are so easy to double-check), then it casts doubt on the credibility of the rest of your article.
9) Summarize your work. Provide a two- to three-sentence summary describing the main purpose of your article when you submit it for review.
Ready to get started? See our writing guidelines here.