The Journal of Mental Health Counseling Publication Pattern Review: A Meta-Study of Author and Article Characteristics, 1994-2009

Article excerpt

Patterns of articles published in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling (JMHC) from 1994 through 2009 were reviewed. Characteristics of authors (e.g., sex, employment setting, nation of domicile) and articles (e.g., topic, type, design, sample, sample size, participant type, statistical procedures and sophistication) are described and analyzed for trends over time.

**********

The Journal of Mental Health Counseling (JMHC) is the premier journal of the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA). The journal is published quarterly. Each issue provides counseling practitioners and researchers with insightful articles regarding the latest practice, theory, and research in mental health counseling (AMHCA, 2011). The journal was first published in 1979 as the American Mental Health Counselors Association Journal; it was renamed the Journal of Mental Health Counseling in 1987. Throughout its 32-year lifespan, the journal has been edited by eight individuals: Bill Weikel (1979-1981); James D. Wiggins (1982-1984); Linda Seligman (1985-1987); Lawrence Gerstein (1988-1993); Earl Ginter (1993-1996); Kevin R. Kelly (1996-2002); M. Carol Pistole (2002-2005); and James Rogers (July 2005-2011). Under their dedicated leadership, the JMHC has become a widely read source of scholarly information about the practice of mental health counseling.

The past 30 years have ushered in myriad changes to the mental health field, and mental health counseling in general has changed dramatically since the journal's inception. One of the most notable recent changes is the licensing of mental health counselors in all 50 states. The JMHC provided ample information on the licensing movement and, scanning the journal, it is quickly apparent that the editors have covered other major changes in the provision of mental health services throughout the years. Examples are changes related to managed care (e.g., Danzinger & Welfel, 2001; Lawless, Ginter, & Kelly, 1999); the pharmaceutical industry (e.g., Murray, 2009); client diagnosis (e.g., Feisthamel & Schwartz, 2009; Seligman, 1999); and the use of technology in mental health services (e.g., Bradley, Hendricks, Lock, Whiting, & Parr, 2011; Riemer-Reiss, 2000). Because the content of the journal has evolved to reflect significant issues in the profession, it is important to periodically assess such changes to ensure that over time it is adjusting to professional trends in the field, meeting the needs of mental health practitioners and researchers, and addressing societal concerns (Charkow & Juhnke, 2001; Williams & Buboltz, 1999).

Three viable methods have been identified for tracking and analyzing publishing trends in a journal over time (Erford, Miller, Duncan, & Erford, 2010). The first, rather simplistic, method involves compiling and evaluating special issues and sections a journal has published. Special issues, which are selected by journal editors, are used to disseminate information and research pertinent to vital professional and societal issues in a timely manner. Ten special issues or sections appeared in the JMHC between 1994-2009; they are Couple and Family Therapy: Constructivist/Ecosystem View (January 1994); Disasters and Crisis: A Mental Health Counseling Perspective (July 1995); Counseling Racially Diverse Clients (July 2001); Professional Exchange (January 2004); Perspective on Counseling the Bereaved (April 2004); Unique Issues in Counseling the Bereaved (July 2004); Master Therapists (January 2005); Counseling Around the World (April 2005); Counseling Outside of the United States: Looking in and Reacting out (July 2005); and Helping Military Personnel and Recent Veterans Manage Stress Reactions (April 2009).

The second method proposed by Erford et al. (2010) for ascertaining journal publishing trends is a qualitative review. Qualitative reviews are systematic reviews of a journal's published content within a prescribed time by a skilled scholar with expertise in the relevant discipline. …