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Journal of Mental Health Counseling
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Volume 36, Number 1, January 2014


1. STRENGTH: A System of Integration of Solution-Oriented and Strength-Based Principles (Pages 1-17)

Tim Davidson

The STRENGTH acronym denotes a systematic approach to the integration of solution-oriented and strength-based counseling principles and provides a mnemonic for mental health counselors, counselor educators, and students. Foundational ideas from leading theorists and practitioners in various strength- and solution-oriented therapies are organized under representative letters of the acronym. Checklists to assess the focus of counseling sessions are part of the model. The acronym is a practice tool to guide the counselor in promoting positive, collaborative change strategies that emphasize client strengths rather than clinical pathology. Full Article


2. Conducting Child Custody Evaluations: Best Practices for Mental Health Counselors who Are Court-Appointed as Child Custody Evaluators (Pages 18-30)

Samir H. Patel and Laura Hensley Choate

As the number of high-conflict separation cases continues to rise, mental health counselors are increasingly called upon to assist courts with child custody evaluations. Counselors can provide family courts with invaluable services either as treating or as forensic experts. Because each of these roles is unique, however, it is imperative that counselors who provide services to family courts understand the differences. Ethical, legal, and malpractice risks also increase considerably for counselors who provide courts with expert testimony. The purpose of this paper is to (a) discuss the central differences between the roles of counselor and of child custody evaluator, and (b) describe best practices for conducting child custody evaluations. Full Article


3. Interactive Journaling as a Clinical Tool (Pages 31-42)

William R. Miller

Spoken language is the primary medium of counseling and psychotherapy. The therapeutic value of written language has also been studied extensively, both to provide self-help information and to elicit personal reflection. Interactive journaling (IJ) is a guided writing process that combines both of these functions. It has differed from usual therapeutic writing in two ways: (a) by integrating the presentation of treatment-relevant information in graphic-enhanced text to engage the reader, and (b) by offering frequent structured opportunities for the client to respond to and integrate material being presented. This article provides a description and the first review of research on IJ as a clinical tool. Experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations support a link between IJ and behavior change. Research on motivational interviewing offers evidence-based guidelines for structuring IJ materials to elicit language favoring change, as well as testable hypotheses linking writing processes with outcomes. Implications for counseling practice and research are considered. Full Article


4. Monitoring Alliance and Outcome with Client Feedback Measures (Pages 43-57)

Sidney L. Shaw and Kirsten W. Murray

The therapeutic alliance is foundational to counseling practice and has amassed strong empirical support as being essential for successful counseling. Counselors generally rely on their own perspective when assessing the quality of the alliance, though the client’s perspective has been found to be a better predictor of outcome. Formal methods for eliciting client feedback about the alliance and counseling outcomes have been strongly supported in the literature, yet such limitations as time constraints hinder counselor efforts to gather formal client feedback. Two ultra-brief measures of alliance and outcome, the Session Rating Scale and the Outcome Rating Scale, are feasible methods for counselors to secure client feedback. This article reviews the two measures and makes a case for using empirical means to understand adult clients’ views of the therapeutic alliance. Full Article


5. Personal and Contextual Predictors of Mental Health Counselors' Compassion Fatigue and Burnout (Pages 58-77)

Isabel A. Thompson, Ellen S. Amatea and Eric S. Thompson

This study applied transactional stress and coping theory to explore the contributions of counselor gender, years of experience, perceived working conditions, personal resources of mindfulness, use of coping strategy, and compassion satisfaction to predict compassion fatigue and burnout in a national sample of 213 mental health counselors. Multiple regression analyses revealed that in this sample while perceived working conditions, mindfulness, use of coping strategy, and compassion satisfaction accounted for only 31.1% of the variance in compassion fatigue, these factors explained 66.9% of the variance in burnout. Counselors who reported less maladaptive coping, higher mindfulness attitudes and compassion satisfaction, and more positive perceptions of their work environment reported less burnout. The utility of these findings in understanding the development of counselor burnout and compassion fatigue are discussed, as are directions for future research. Full Article


6. Master Counselors as Teachers: Clinical Practices of Counselor Educators (Pages 78-94)

Dee C. Ray, Kimberly M. Jayne and Raissa M. Miller

Using a mixed methods design, we surveyed 117 counselor educators to explore their clinical
practices and their perceptions of the impact of clinical practice on teaching, supervision,
research, and service. The results indicate that clinical practice had the greatest influence on
their supervision and teaching. A negative relationship between years served as a counselor educator and hours engaged in counseling was found. Through qualitative analysis, we identified several themes related to counselor educators’ decisions to engage in clinical practice, among them staying relevant, enhancing teaching and supervision, and staying current in the field. Implications for counselors and counselor educators are discussed. Full Article

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