Competent Bibliotherapy: preparing counselors to use literature with culturally diverse clients

D. Pehrsson, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
P. S. McMillen, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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A mutual interest in helping graduate counseling students to effectively use books as an adjunct in therapy initiated a collaboration between the co-authors that began in 1999 and has since expanded in focus. Bibliotherapy, facilitating personal development or problem resolution through books, is utilized in many helping professions; however, we found little in the literature regarding the preparation of emerging counselors for theoretically grounded, ethical use of this approach. Based on our own areas of expertise and an extensive literature review, we identified the essential criteria articulated by practitioners for evaluating materials to be used in counseling settings. Subsequently, we developed a tool that systematically walks the practitioner through the process for evaluating literature for potential use with a client. The evaluation tool became the core of the Bibliotherapy Education Project, which now includes a teaching module, a gateway to print and electronic resources on Bibliotherapy, and sponsorship of student research projects. In addition, the book evaluations, completed using our tool, are now available in a searchable database on our website.