Effective Brief Counseling Strategies

By Minke, Kathleen | National Association of School Psychologists. Communique, September 2008 | Go to article overview

Effective Brief Counseling Strategies


Minke, Kathleen, National Association of School Psychologists. Communique


Effective Brief Counseling Strategies BRIEF INTERVENTIONS FOR SCHOOL PROBLEMS: Outcome-Informed Strategies (2nd Edition) By J. J. Murphy & B. L. Duncan Guilford Press, 2007

REVIEWED BY KATHLEEN MINKE

This book provides an excellent, practical introduction to using brief counseling in schools. Unlike many brief therapy books, the authors do not present a series of steps to use when conducting a brief intervention session. Instead, they outline several interrelated approaches that they call recruiting the heroic client, solution building, and prob- lem busting. This presenta- tion has the advantage of more accurately reflecting how these approaches actual- ly play out in sessions. Real sessions typically do not follow a prescribed sequence but rather flow between highlighting client strengths, finding and utilizing "exceptions" to the problem (times or places when the problem is "less bad"), and interrupting unproductive problem- solving patterns.

One of the strengths of this volume is the realistic case studies that illustrate the counseling process. The case of "Kenny" in the first chapter is one that all school psychologists will recognize: a young boy from a chaotic, abusive background who, not surprisingly, is failing in school. Many of us would listen to Kenny's story and share his feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, given the overwhelming problems he faces. However, this book offers another choice. By listening for strengths and unrecognized successes, and helping Kenny access these more fully, the practitioner finds "the heroic client" within the story of despair and assists Kenny in becoming more successful. I use this book in one of my graduate classes and students find the many sample dialogues extremely helpful.

This book also makes a new and important contribution to practice through its recognition of the challenges of using evidence-based practices in schools. The authors suggest that we may want to think instead about "practicebased evidence," that is, collecting and monitoring data that are directly relevant to a particular client's concerns and using this information to track change. To assist in this process, two measures are introduced. The measures each have four items and allow continuous progress monitoring in each session. They take only a few minutes to administer, score, and interpret collaboratively with the client. Three versions of each measure are provided that account for children's developmental levels. Details about the measures, including reliability and validity data, are available at www. …

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