Kottler, Jeffrey, A., and Shepard, David, S. (2015). Introduction to Counseling: Voices from the Field. (8th ed). Stamford, USA: Cengage Learning.

Introduction to Counseling — Voices from the field (8th edition) by Jeffrey Kottler and David Shepard is an introductory textbook for students beginning the journey to becoming a professional counsellor. Now in its eight edition, it is evident that this text has cemented its place in the realms of counsellor training programs.

The content is presented in an easy to follow format with a strong emphasis on personalising the learning experience. The authors highlight that the book was born out of an apparent lack of “personalibility” in academic textbooks. There was (and still is) a definite need to educate beginning counsellors in the relevant theories but also present them with insight into the personal experience of the profession. By allowing students a preview of the realities of counselling practice, the goal is to demystify the process and assist students in developing their own theoretical orientation and personal practice framework. Again the authors highlight the need to provide some understanding of what it actually means to be a counsellor — the day-to-day elements of counselling practice — rather than just an academic understanding.

The text addresses a number of key areas important to understanding the aim and process of counselling. In Part 1 — The professional counsellor — students explore what counselling is, how it differs from other typical mental health professions and the importance of the therapeutic relationship. The second part examines various counselling approaches including integrating theories and the use of assessments. In Part 3, specific areas of counselling application are considered. Finally, Part 4 covers aspects of professional practice with particular attention paid to ethics and self-care.

With this latest edition, consideration has been placed on new developments within the counselling field. There appears to be greater emphasis on psychological theories and concepts with an overview of neuroscience at the start of the addictions and pharmacology chapters, and the inclusion of attachment theory in the insight-orientated chapter. Perhaps this is more an indication of the narrowing gap between the professions. A notable update involves the coverage of the DSM-V and the role of the Internet and e-therapy has also been revised and expanded.

Each chapter is set out in a simple to follow manner. Key concepts are highlighted along with a brief application or anecdote to supplement the theory. It is the anecdotal additions that really set this text apart from other introductory counselling texts. Each brief insight allows the novice to taste what it is like to be a practicing professional counsellor.

As with many textbooks, Introduction to Counseling — Voices from the field comes with a swag of supplements that both students and instructor can access online. The material supports and expands on the textbook. Whilst no text can encompass everything that counselling is, this book does offer a solid overview of the main elements.

Review by Anda Davies

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