Monthly Archives: March 2013

Confronting autism and bullying with a clarinet

Heather Rudow March 18, 2013


Barry and Mano playing the clarinet.

As a resident in counseling, Grace Kolman knew many of the steps to take when her daughter Emmanuela — Mano for short — was diagnosed with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 2011. But she never anticipated incorporating her husband’s passion for music into a treatment plan that has resulted in a dramatic improvement not only in Mano’s emotional symptoms but also her overall mindset.

The Kolmans — Grace is a counselor at Specialized Youth Services of Virginia and a Ph.D. candidate in counseling and supervision at James Madison University, where she is also a substance abuse specialist, while husband Barry is a professor of music at Washington and Lee University —started getting treatment for Mano as soon as she was diagnosed with ASD at 11-years-old.

But the treatment wasn’t successful right off the bat.

“Before we knew it, she was seeing a neurologist … who thought she had a problem in her cerebellum,” recalls Kolman, a member of the American Counseling Association. “She also [started taking] medication for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, but it did not help at that time.”

On top of everything else, Mano was being bullied at school and was feeling a sense of loneliness as a result.

But Barry’s passion for music and Mano’s opportunity to play in the school band would soon lead to a positive and unexpected outcome.

Barry, who is also the music director for the Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra, plays the clarinet, and Mano decided she wanted to learn to play the instrument for school.

“[Mano] has a close bond with her dad,” Grace Kolman says. “And now that she is in middle school, music has come up as a way to make her feel better about herself because she can be part of the school band.”

As Barry spent nearly four months teaching Mano how to play the clarinet, Grace decided to investigate how the learning process was affecting Mano’s emotions and behavior.

During that time, all three kept journals about the experience. Most of Mano’s entries were drawings, but she would also come to Grace and talk about how she was feeling.

“She expressed lots of frustrations about finding it very difficult [to learn to play the clarinet],” Grace says, “but never used the words ‘give up.’”

As a result of her clarinet lessons, Mano has become much more confident and is better equipped to ward off any bullying she may face, according to Grace.

“Before, she would look down at herself, even with all the encouragement we offered her,” Grace says. “She needed to do something to prove to herself that she was capable, not just a child with a label. She is more aware of who she is now. She feels proud of herself, and most important, the fact that she is engaged in an activity that is so specialized makes her feel special and gives her strength to look at the bullies at her school as kids who need more help than she does. She will come back home crying sometimes because some kids will move out of the table in the cafeteria when she sits to have her lunch, but then she will remind herself that she plays in the band and she is part of a team.”

Grace expected Mano, now in sixth grade at Shelburne Middle School in Staunton, Va., to learn to regulate her emotions and reduce her angry outbursts at home as a result of learning how to play the clarinet. And, indeed, that happened.

“What I did not expect to benefit from music was her socialization skills,” Grace says, “and the self-esteem that she developed during this process. It was definitely a plus.”

The experience taught Grace firsthand the therapeutic powers of music and the ability it has to bring children together.

“After her first weeks at school [playing in the band], Mano came home with a large smile on her face saying, ‘I’ve got an ‘A’ in band! Mom and Dad, are you proud of me?’” Grace remembers. “This brought tears to my eyes because I am always proud of Mano. Her path is challenging, but she will be successful in the end. Now she is in the school choir even though she has speech problems. But she tries so hard that I am sure she will be one of the best performers at school. Music making helps Mano to find meaning in her life, something that wasn’t there before. Mano would call herself stupid, ugly or weird. I have not heard that since the clarinet lessons and band experience.”

Grace has also noticed positive neurological improvements in her daughter.

“Recent studies suggest that music and language are processed in the same area of the brain,” Grace notes. “Mano has some deficits in her verbal communication skills, and since she started the clarinet lessons, I’ve noticed a substantial improvement in her speech, socialization and confidence in her ability to succeed in a very unique task.”

The Kolman family’s experience resulted in the paper, “Autism Spectrum: Emotional Regulation Through Clarinet Lessons,” which Grace and Barry presented at the Virginia Counselors Association Annual Convention in Fredericksburg in November. During the presentation, Barry talked about his experience teaching Mano and with journaling; Mano discussed her experience learning to play the clarinet and her journal entries; and Grace discussed the connection between music making and neuroplasticity. At the end of the presentation, Barry and Mano played a duet.

“It was very sweet,” Grace says of the father-daughter performance.

After experiencing the power of music to change the brain, Grace Kolman recommends that counselors who work with clients with ASD and their families invest in music. “Have the patience to understand that the most important [part of] the process is not how perfect they perform but how good they feel about being part of a group or being able to do something so meaningful and different,” Kolman says.

In addition to learning more about music’s impact on the brain, the Kolmans have strengthened their relationship with their daughter in an unexpected way.

“My relationship with Mano has always been wonderful,” Grace says, “but now we are working together to advocate for kids like her.”

Inspired by the experience with their daughter, the Kolmans are in the process of developing a manual about teaching music to children with ASD and other developmental disorders. They are also engaging fellow parents in the discussion about bullying and how to address it in a more positive way.

An important point Grace Kolman wants to make to parents, counselors, school counselors and music teachers is to “not lose track of what these children can do and to avoid focusing on what they cannot. We are trying to open a discussion about diversity in public schools that includes children with disabilities [while encouraging] parents to be advocates for their children.”

Kolman says it is not so important that she is an expert in ASD but rather that she is a “mother who deeply cares and understands what it is to be different. I have been working with children, adolescents and families for almost 20 years now, both in Brazil [where I used to live] and in the United States, and what I’ve noticed is that if you can find a way to see beyond the ‘problem,’ then you are on the right path. Just ask yourself what this kid can do. Think outside the box. Believe!”

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at

Update: Department of Defense clarifies TRICARE rule in Response to ACA Request

March 15, 2013

acaLogo3012The Department of Defense (DoD) has clarified aspects of its interim final rule (IFR) establishing certification criteria for licensed mental health counselors participating in the TRICARE program, in response to a request submitted by ACA. In a letter to ACA Executive Director Richard Yep, Assistant Deputy Director Mary Kaye Justis confirmed that counselors who meet the education, examination and supervision requirements in effect during the transition period – now through Dec. 31, 2014 – will continue to be recognized as independently practicing mental health counselors after the transition period ends. ACA asked DoD to clarify this issue because several members were being told that they would not be recognized after the transition period ended. DoD’s letter expressed appreciation to ACA for bringing this issue to their attention, and stated “We have discussed this issue with the TRICARE Regional Offices to ensure accurate implementation of the IFR by the Managed Care Support Contractors who interface with applicants.”

During the transition period, the IFR allows certification of counselors with a degree from a regionally (but not CACREP) accredited program, completion of 2 years/3,000 hours of post-master’s supervised experience, and passage of the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam (NCMHCE). When the transition period ends, on Jan. 1, 2015, the certification criteria will require that counseling degrees be from CACREP accredited programs.

In its letter, DoD stated that counselors wishing to become certified as mental health counselors within TRICARE under the transition period requirements must complete those requirements before the transition period ends. However, “…while these certification requirements must be completed prior to Jan. 1, 2015, the IFR permits an applicant to become a CMHC [certified mental health counselor] after the transition period if all of the certification requirements were completed before the end of the transition period.” [emphasis in original]

ACA has confirmed with DoD staff that while completing the requirements must happen before January 1, 2015, counselors can become certified after that date. ACA has asked DoD to consider both extending the transition period and to allow counselors to complete the supervision and examination requirements after Jan. 1, 2015, as long as they have met the degree requirement (which does not require CACREP accreditation) during the transition period. The supervision and examination requirements in effect beginning in 2015 are the same as are required of counselors with regionally accredited degrees during the transition period.

According to DoD staff, the agency will issue a final rule on counselor certification, which may include changes to the requirements.  There is no word yet on when the final rule will be released.

In other news, TRICARE will be impacted by the sequestration taking place across most federal programs and agencies.  TRICARE staff and civilian personnel may be furloughed for one day a week, constituting a 20% pay cut.  Contracts, however, should not be affected.  It is unclear at this point if, or how, TRICARE reimbursement rates will be affected by sequestration.

For more information on TRICARE issues, contact Scott Barstow with ACA at


Behind the Book: Eating Disorders and Obesity: A Counselor’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment

Heather Rudow March 11, 2013

78076Laura Choate, associate professor of counselor education at Louisiana State University, is the editor of Eating Disorders and Obesity: A Counselor’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment, a new book published by the American Counseling Association. Choate believes the book is a unique resource for counselors that sheds new light on how to treat and prevent eating and obesity-related disorders.

What inspired you to write Eating Disorders and Obesity: A Counselor’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment?

Rates of body dissatisfaction-disordered eating and problems with body weight and shape are increasing in populations across the life span. For example, young women are particularly at high risk for eating-related concerns such as binge eating, and obesity rates are increasing rapidly in the general population, putting individuals at risk for negative health outcomes. Furthermore, those individuals who experience body dissatisfaction and subthreshold eating disorders are at high risk for the development of potentially life-threatening, full-syndrome eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. The book provides insight into these problems and offers detailed information for the prevention and treatment of these concerns.

How does this book compare with similar books on market?

There is little information available in the field written primarily for a counseling audience. Many of the best-practice treatments are located in manuals that are hard to access. This resource provides essential foundational information for counselors such as sociocultural influences, gender differences, ethical issues, information on current assessment and diagnostic concerns, effective prevention programs for communities and schools, and best-practice treatments for a range of eating-related problems.

The book is distinct from others on the market due to the fact that it is written specifically for counselors. It contains both detailed prevention and treatment guidelines; it has a school and community focus; and it is accessible for practitioners who may not specialize in the area of eating disorders and obesity.

Some special features are as follows:

  • The book contains chapters from authors in the field who are well known among eating disorders professionals but who might not be known to counselors, such as Margo Maine, Linda Smolak, Douglas Bunnell, Diane Wilfley, Marian Tanofsky-Kraff, Eric Stice, Heather Shaw and Niva Piran. The book also contains chapters by authors from Canada and Australia. Counselors will benefit from an interdisciplinary perspective on eating disorders prevention and treatment that is tailored specifically toward their needs
  • The book contains information on sociocultural dynamics, assessment, diagnosis, conceptualization, prevention and treatment. Counselors will have information on a variety of topics located in one resource.
  • The book is written in an accessible format, with chapter highlights, case examples, and recommended online and print resources. Because it is reader friendly, counselors will be able to access and use the information.

How did you choose contributing authors, and how did this enhance the content? 

The idea for the book came from my experience as guest editor for the special section on eating disorders prevention and treatment published in the summer 2012 issue of the Journal of Counseling & Development. Based on the response to that collection of articles, I decided to compile a book on both eating disorders and obesity, and to address the areas of foundation, assessment and practice frameworks, prevention and evidence-based treatments. I invited some of the authors from the special section to contribute chapters based on their fit with one of these four areas, then sought out specific leading experts in the eating disorders/obesity prevention and treatment field to round out each section. The authors are practitioners as well as researchers and come from psychiatry, psychology and counseling disciplines, and all are doing important work in the U.S. as well as in Canada and Australia. I was honored to have a chance to work with each of them.

How did you get involved with subject?

The idea for this edited book originates from a variety of influences. First, my desire to compile this type of book stems from being a mother of elementary-age children who are exposed daily to harmful media images and messages regarding narrow cultural definitions of how they “should” look and act. Because I want my children and all others to be equipped with the skills they need to stay healthy and resilient in the face of cultural pressures around eating, weight and shape, this book is dedicated to assisting counselors and their clients to become empowered to effect positive change in this area within the multiple systems  —family, school, community — in which they are embedded.

The origins of this book are also grounded in my professional experience as a licensed professional counselor and counselor educator. I have been involved in the prevention and treatment field in a variety of roles. I have counseled clients, supervised and taught graduate students, published articles regarding body image resilience and eating disorders treatment, and presented at local schools to adolescent girls as well as to professionals at state and national conferences. I have observed that counselors are often unclear as to their role in preventing eating disorders and obesity and in providing early intervention and treatment, and they often lack training in best practices in this field. Therefore, the overarching purpose of this book is to provide a much-needed resource specifically targeted to counselors that provides accessible information practitioners can implement in their daily work with clients across the continuum of care. The book strategically includes chapters that address assessment, prevention and treatment, including information for working with children and adults as well as with clients from diverse cultural groups.

What are the most important take-away messages for the reader?

Readers will have access to current information on assessment, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of eating-related problems, eating disorders and obesity. Each chapter contains information to provide a knowledge base as well as essential resources for further education and training in that particular area of the field. 

Who is the best audience for the book?

This book is intended for all counselors, not just those who specialize in eating disorders and obesity treatment. Therefore, all school counselors, mental health counselors, counselors with interest in health and wellness — specifically eating disorders and obesity — child and adolescent counselors and counselor educators will benefit from this book.

Why is this book important to the counseling profession?

Both practical and comprehensive, this long-needed book provides a clear framework for the assessment, treatment, and prevention of eating disorders and obesity. Focusing on best practices and offering a range of current techniques, experts in the field examine these life-threatening disorders and propose treatment options for diverse clients experiencing problems related to eating, weight and body image.

Parts I and II of the text address risk factors in and sociocultural influences on the development of eating disorders, gender differences, the unique concerns of clients of color, ethical and legal issues, and assessment and diagnosis. Part II explores prevention and early intervention with high-risk groups in school, university and community settings. The final section of the book presents a variety of best-practice treatment interventions, such as cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, dialectical behavior and family-based therapy, which are empirically supported and have been used successfully in a variety of settings.

Click here to purchase a copy of Eating Disorders and Obesity: A Counselor’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at


Counselor-in-training shines light on transition from military to civilian life

Heather Rudow March 8, 2013


(Photo: Flickr/US Army Africa)

Laura Harper has traveled from the front lines of combat to the halls of graduate school, where she is now training for what she hopes will be a career helping her fellow veterans transition into their new lives as civilians.

Harper, a member of the American Counseling Association, is a second-year master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Gannon University in Erie, Pa., who also volunteers at an outreach center for veterans. She understands what these returning service members are going through because she has experienced it herself. And she acknowledges that the journey has not always been easy. 

A call to service

Harper spent four years and nine months in the Air Force, completing deployments to Qatar, Afghanistan and two tours in Iraq.

“My father had been in the Air Force, as had several other members of my family, so joining the military had always been in the back of my mind,” says Harper, who is also a member of the Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling, a division of ACA. “Even though my dad had always said, ‘No daughter of mine will have to join the military,’ he was extremely proud when I did. In 2003, I graduated with a master’s degree in criminology. My goal had been to work in federal law enforcement, but I had difficulty finding a job due to my lack of work experience. I knew that joining the military would be a great way to earn the experience I needed. Also, 9/11 had a huge impact on me. I remember watching those towers fall on the TV during one of my graduate classes and telling my best friend that if this was a foreign attack, I would join the military — and I did.”

Harper chose to become an Arabic linguist because the job required a security clearance and would help her develop the skills necessary for the work she wanted to pursue in the federal government.

“For my first tour, I was in Tikrit, Iraq, with a group of Army Rangers. I worked [more than] 15 hours a day, flew in over 100 combat missions, hardly slept, ate crappy food and shared a bathroom with 25-30 men,” Harper says. “It was one of the best experiences of my life. We were a family. We all watched out for each other. You didn’t mind pushing yourself just a little bit harder because you knew that everyone who was with you was doing the same thing. On my second Iraq tour, I had just been promoted to staff sergeant. I had earned quite a reputation during my first tour with this group, so when I returned, I was put in charge of training every airborne linguist sent into the theater who also worked as what the military calls a ‘special operator.’ This was very stressful for me because I was used to just taking orders. Now I had to give orders and manage a large group of people. I had to learn to delegate and keep myself from micromanaging. By the end of my time there, I would say I was much more assertive and more confident in myself as a leader.”

It was during this final tour that Harper’s plans for the future began to shift. She gradually became aware of her skill for lending an ear to fellow soldiers who needed to talk.

“Many people came to me with problems that were outside the scope of the training program [for linguists],” she recalls. “Problems from back home can become magnified during a deployment. Many people were struggling with spousal [and/or] family issues. Others were having a hard time adjusting. Some were suffering from PTSD [posttraumatic stress disorder] and other mental or emotional problems. I liked that people trusted me enough to come to me with these issues, but I didn’t feel like I knew enough to really help them.”

Struggles with civilian life

(Laura Harper)

(Laura Harper)

When Harper discharged from the military, she had several job offers from private companies who wanted to hire her to work for them as a linguist. She also now had contacts at several federal agencies. But reeling from a breakup with her girlfriend of four years and changed by her time in service, Harper hesitated to follow the original path she had charted for herself.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” she says. “The stress of my military job had taken its toll on my health and, obviously, on my relationships. I was more out of shape than I had ever been and had recently had a bit of a health scare. I realized that I had let the job become my life. I loved what I was doing and will forever be proud of what I accomplished, but it wasn’t worth running myself into the ground and never having a family life. Some people can do those types of jobs and still make things work, but I doubted my ability to do so.”

In an effort to clear her head and choose a career path, Harper decided to hike the Appalachian Trail.

“During my five and a half months of hiking, I realized that I had gifts that would benefit me as a counselor,” she says. “Also, with the need being so great for people to work with veterans in the mental health system, I felt I could continue to serve my country but in a capacity that hopefully wouldn’t cause me to have a heart attack before the age of 40.”

Upon enrolling in school, Harper was nervous about her ability to succeed academically, but she soon realized her military experience actually helped her in this regard. The bigger challenge was fitting in with fellow classmates.

“It became increasingly evident that my cultural background caused friction between myself and the other members of my cohort,” Harper says. “I come from a collectivistic society and suffered from the lack of camaraderie I faced. Some students perceived me as receiving special privileges due to my background.”

A positive outlook

Despite these differences, Harper remains optimistic about assimilating into her new life as a graduate counseling student with her cohort.

“I do have a tendency to want to take charge of a situation, and I recognize that,” she says. “In many instances, it helps me, but I have to keep it in check. On one of our first group assignments my first semester of grad school, I found myself assigning other members the tasks and was then completely taken aback when they didn’t complete them on time. ‘Staff Sgt. Harper’ had to learn to take a backseat to the grad student Laura.”

“I [am] about 10 years older than the average graduate student, and I worried that this would cause problems,” she continues. “But we actually have several older students in our program. In the beginning, I saw myself as different from all the other students and tended to focus on those differences. I was the only openly gay student in the program and the only veteran. And there are definitely still times when I feel misunderstood or like an outsider, but I have to continue to push myself to hold on to our commonalities. I think, overall, the other students respect me, and we have found ways to connect with each other.”

Harper also believes strongly that more veterans should be pursuing degrees and careers in counseling. However, she acknowledges, “They need to be in a good place mentally to do so. Not that you have to be perfect by any means, but you can’t help others if you can’t get help for yourself.”

Harper says individuals who previously served in the military would bring a unique perspective to counseling, and she believes this would be a great asset to the profession.

“Many of us have been exposed to things that most people our age have not,” Harper says, “and I don’t just mean combat. Many of us have lived in other countries and have worked with people from all over the world. Many of us have been trained to be leaders and on how to work with a team, which is invaluable in the counseling setting.”

During her personal journey from military service member to counselor-in-training, Harper has also discovered aspects of the counseling profession that she didn’t anticipate, including its focus on social justice.

“The first thing that surprised me was how important the role of advocacy is in the mental health world,” she says. “When I originally thought of myself as a future counselor, I had a very one-dimensional view of being a counselor: sitting in an office listening to people. I didn’t know about all the other roles of a counselor. Throughout my adult life, I have seen myself as an advocate in many areas. In grad school [when she was pursuing her master’s in criminology], I worked for the rights of prisoners and attended protests against the death penalty. In the military, I helped fight for gay rights, and I continue this fight today. As a civilian, I volunteer my time to help vets in a variety of ways. I already saw myself as a crusader for social justice in my private life. When I realized that, as a counselor, this aspect of my private life could be a great asset in my professional career, I was stunned. My excitement over my new career grew exponentially after that.”

As someone who has experienced the rigors of military life, Harper offers advice to counselors who may not be particularly familiar with this segment of the population.

“Just like when dealing with people from other cultures, don’t assume too much about us as individuals,” she says. “Also, there are a lot of differences between veterans of various generations. World War II veterans, Vietnam veterans and 9/11 veterans have very different backgrounds. Not only are we generationally different, but each group had different experiences within the military structure and in returning home after war.”

Harper has also noticed a general perception of veterans that she would like to see changed.

“Because I was in Iraq, [some people think] I must have PTSD or some other mental health issue,” Harper says. “Yes, there are many returning veterans who are struggling with these issues, but not every one. The media perpetuates this view of all veterans as ‘broken’ somehow, but people rarely get to see the success stories that happen every day. Many are high-functioning, successful individuals who are contributing to society in a variety of ways. On the one hand, I appreciate the attention that the issue of PTSD is getting because it allows more veterans to receive the help they need. But on the other hand, the constant visibility of PTSD causes a bit of a backlash. At my part-time job, I had people worrying that I was going to ‘lose it’ one day because they knew I had been deployed, even though I gave no evidence that this would happen. People at church, upon finding out about my tours, might ask, ‘And, are you … OK?’ I appreciate the concern, but it does start to weigh on you.”

Harper is looking forward to the future, when she can put into action what she has learned both in school and on the battlefield to help her fellow veterans.

“My goal is to work for the VA [Department of Veterans Affairs] after graduation, either at a hospital or an outreach clinic,” she says. “When I first encountered the VA system after discharging from active duty, I found it comforting to come into contact with others who had ‘been where I had been.’ I’m much more trusting of civilians now, but when I first returned from overseas, I found it hard to connect with people who had never served in uniform. Although I am very much enjoying gaining exposure to the nontraditional therapy models that are utilized at our veterans outreach center, I look forward to working with veterans in counseling groups and in a more clinical setting during my internship this fall.”

Harper was recently awarded a scholarship from the NBCC Foundation.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at

Behind the Book: Assessment in Counseling

Heather Rudow March 7, 2013


Danica G. Hays, an associate professor of counseling and department chair at Old Dominion University, is the editor of the fifth edition of Assessment in Counseling, published by the American Counseling Association in November. Hays, a member of ACA, the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling, the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, and the National Career Development Association, has fostered an interest in this topic — and in earlier editions of the book — for many years, dating back to her time in grad school.

What inspired you to edit Assessment in Counseling?

I learned about assessment in graduate school from the second edition of the text, and as a counselor educator I taught assessment using the third and fourth editions. I was privileged to supplement the valuable content of previous editions with activities and content I have found useful both as a student and counselor educator. As a counselor working in a variety of settings, I found myself going back to this text for foundational material about assessment as well as titles of and information about specific tools to be used with clients dealing with mental health issues, career concerns, substance abuse, and so on.

So, when I was approached to author the fifth edition, it was an easy yes: I already knew how valuable the information was for me in academia and the clinical world, and I had ideas to expand information to hopefully engage others in the assessment process.

The new revision was needed to update students and practitioners on recent changes in specific assessments and diagnostic procedures (e.g., GRE, WAIS, DSM-5), expand on topics such as the history of assessment, test access issues, high stakes testing, cultural bias in assessment, qualitative assessment and specialty areas of assessment and related standards and assessment of violence such as intimate partner violence and child abuse.

What do you hope counselors take away from the book?

I think for many students and counselors who hear the word “assessment,” they think of images of standardized tests and become quickly disinterested, or think they counsel clients, not conduct assessments. I want to dismantle these stereotypes. My hope is that students and practitioners will take away from this book that counseling is assessment. Assessment is more than administering, scoring and interpreting tests; it is a process that counselors use to evaluate client or student issues and readiness for change, gather and integrate session information for treatment planning or decision-making, measure counseling outcomes, and advocate for individuals and their communities to foster psychosocial, physical, academic and occupational well-being. Thus, counselors can rely upon various qualitative or quantitative tools to work with individuals at every stage of counseling.

I have included several pedagogical strategies such as self-development activities, tip sheets, testimonials from counselors and students, case examples, sample reports, chapter pre-tests, review questions and chapter summaries.

Who do feel is the best audience for the book?

The primary audience for this text is professional counselors in agencies and private practice, school counselors, college counselors, counselor educators and other instructors of assessment courses in counseling and education. Other appropriate groups include psychology instructors, social work instructors, marriage and family therapy instructors, psychologists, social workers, and marriage and family therapists.

What are some main issues or topics in the counseling profession that relate to this book?

This text is most appropriate as a graduate-level text, and students gain knowledge about the following in the text:

  • Foundational information about assessment in counseling, including the history, purpose and use of assessment; phases of the assessment process; and ethical, legal and cultural considerations in every phase of the assessment process.
  • Key statistical and measurement concepts to ensure a basic understanding of psychometric properties, scale development, raw score conversion and culturally-sensitive assessment.
  • Common assessment practices typically occurring in the initial phases of counseling, including intake interviews, mental status examinations, screening of psychological symptoms, suicide risk assessment and clinical diagnosis.
  • Specialized evaluation of mental health concerns including substance abuse, depression, anxiety, anger, self-injury, eating disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  • Information about types of assessment, including assessment of intelligence, ability, career development, personality, and interpersonal relationships.
  • Detailed information about reporting assessment data in cases presentations and reports.

How did you first get involved with the subject?

I have been involved for over 10 years with the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling, so I have grown to really appreciate assessment and effective counselor training in assessment procedures. I also witnessed some really bad ways to assess that led to misdiagnosis and poor treatment options— I know advocacy was important because real people are affected by assessment. I hope this book is just one step toward that.

What surprised you as you were editing Assessment in Counseling?

I was surprised to see how little we know empirically about what assessments counselors use, how they see different components of what they do as assessment procedures, how they use assessments, how inaccessible assessment information is to individuals and what issues aren’t prominently addressed in assessment texts, such as interpersonal violence and other forms of trauma, concrete examples of diversity considerations and crisis assessment.

Why should counselors feel compelled to read this book?

As I mentioned, counselors and counselor trainees tend to be “turned off” by assessment, as they think assessment is only about testing, and that they don’t plan on doing testing. It is my hope that the revised content will illustrate how assessment practices expand beyond quantitative, standardized assessment and are infused in our daily professional lives. Thus, counselors need to be aware of the value of assessment in our profession, as well as the continual pressing issues that threaten culturally-responsive assessment and diagnostic practices.

Click here to order Assessment in Counseling.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at