The basic theories and techniques of counseling psychology



Reference Letter

Purpose: You will demonstrate an understanding of the basic theories and techniques of

counseling psychology, identify the characteristics of an effective helper, and discuss ethical

attitudes and codes relevant to psychology.

Guidelines: Fast-forward ten years. You have just graduated with a doctorate from a counseling

psychology program. You are applying for a position with a foundation-supported community

health center.

Rather than asking you to submit multiple reference letters, the health center wants you to have

one instructor from your graduate program write a comprehensive letter describing all aspects of

your educational journey, your effectiveness as a counselor, and your ability to act ethically in a

A variety of circumstances.

You approach your training director, Dr. Smith, and ask for a letter to be submitted with your

application packet. Dr. Smith agrees to your request, and so you give Dr. Smith the instruction

sheet below. For this project, you must take on the role of Dr. Smith and write an effective,

professional letter (including appropriate salutation and closing) that will convince the

community health center to hire you. The letter must cover all areas requested by the foundation

and emphasize your mastery of the counseling psychology discipline.

Here is the instruction sheet:

To the person providing this reference,

Many of the references we receive extol the virtues of the applicant and predict future success.

We want to determine that the applicant has a good understanding of the counseling psychology

profession and all that entails. Please comment on the items listed below as they apply to the


  •  length of time and capacity in which you have known the applicant
  •  the focus of the applicant's studies in the graduate program
  •  the theoretical approach that the applicant most frequently uses and how he or she came to

identify that approach as the best fit for the applicant

  •  therapeutic techniques that the applicant has used successfully with a variety of patients

in practicum settings

  •  the response of the applicant to supervision and in regard to countertransference and


  •  an ethical dilemma that the applicant has faced and how it was addressed
  •  strengths of the applicant that will be useful in preventing "burnout"

Thank you for your time and for the information you are providing, which will help us to

evaluate this applicant.

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