HohenshilThis is the first in a series of articles in which Counseling Today interviews editors and authors of newly published or soon-to-be published books from the American Counseling Association.

First up is Thomas H. Hohenshil, professor emeritus of counselor education at Virginia Tech, associate editor of the Journal of Counseling & Development and member of the American Counseling Association and the Virginia Counselors Association.

Hohenshil, along with Norman E. Amundson and Spencer G. Niles, edited Counseling Around the World, which was published in October. He spoke with Counseling Today about the experience.


How did you first get involved with this subject?

I have been interested in international affairs since attending graduate school. Several years later, I had the opportunity to take a sabbatical from Virginia Tech and taught with the Boston University overseas program for a year in Germany and England. This provided the opportunity for extensive travel in Europe and interaction with people from a variety of countries and cultures. Later on, this interest was translated into a special section on international/global counseling for the Journal of Counseling & Development (JCD) and finally [in] serving as co-associate editor of the international section of JCD with [fellow editor] Norman Amundson.

What inspired you to edit Counseling Around the World?

Counselors from dozens of countries expressed interest in writing articles for the international section of JCD. However, due to space limitations, it was not possible to publish many of them. As Norman Amundson, Spencer Niles and I talked about this, we decided there was more than enough interest and need to develop a book on the general topic of global/international counseling. Since [ACA] had not previously published a book on this topic, Carolyn Baker, director of publications, was approached with the idea. She suggested we develop a proposal and submit it to ACA, which we did and it was approved. 

What surprised you as you were editing Counseling Around the World?

To generate the main content for the book, a method was developed to systematically study the counseling profession from a global perspective by having experts from 40 countries write chapters describing the status of counseling using a standard reporting format. One of the most surprising things to me was that virtually all of the invited chapter authors enthusiastically agreed to participate and that we met all of the submission timelines, which is quite unusual with this type of book. Being able to use of the Internet to facilitate the editing and communication process with authors from the 40 different countries significantly reduced the amount of time required to complete the book.

What are some main issues or topics in the counseling profession that relate to this book?

There are dozens of counseling related topics [that] are covered in this book. However, due to limited space, six of the major ones will be briefly described here:

1. One of the first themes we noticed was that how counseling develops in a country depends on how it began. For some, the initial focus was on education, and in those countries, school counseling took the lead. In other countries, industrial development was an initial focus, and in those, vocational counseling played a primary role. In others, counseling was first developed with the assistance of organized religion. In those countries, churches took a leading role in developing community counseling centers and church-affiliated counseling services.

2. The topic of diversity is a major theme threaded throughout the book. We found that how counselors deal with different types of diversity is often significantly different from country to country.

3. What counseling theories and techniques work best in a particular culture is a third major topic. For example, collectivist-oriented cultures tend to use different counseling theories and techniques than individually oriented cultural settings.

4.Credentialing is a fourth major issue. How counselors are approved for practice differs widely from country to country and involves everything from licensure for private practice by governmental agencies to certification programs by professional associations to no credentialing at all. Quality-control issues are especially important in countries in the process of developing counselor credentialing. Governmental agencies and the public are concerned about how counseling quality is assessed.

5. Counselor education varies significantly from country to country. Some follow CACREP-type standards, while others have their counselors trained in other countries or are in the initial stages of developing their own counselor education programs. The differences are sometimes dramatic.

6. It is important and difficult to establish a separate identity for professional counseling in all countries. It is clear that basic counseling functions are practiced in every culture in the world, sometimes by professional counselors, sometimes by others. The identity problem is complicated by the fact that even with trained mental health professionals, counseling services may be provided by psychologists, social workers, art therapists, music therapists, play therapists and various [other] medical personnel, in addition to professional counselors.

What do you hope counselors take away from the book?

I hope readers will take away an increased sense of global literacy. Although it is important for all counselors to deal with issues of diversity, there is a new goal evolving [that] also calls for us to be globally literate. Global literacy is the basic information needed to maneuver through life in the highly interconnected and complex world of the 21st century. Due to today’s sophisticated technology, the world is fast becoming a place in which people from diverse cultural backgrounds are interacting in ways that would have been unimaginable even a few decades ago. Although dealing with diversity is important for all helping professionals, acquiring global literacy must become a new goal for counselors who wish to practice in a culturally competent manner in the future.

Who do you feel is the best audience for the book?

Counseling Around the World is a good text for courses dealing with international/global counseling. It would also be a valuable text for use with courses focusing on multicultural counseling/diversity issues. In addition, it could also be used as part of introductory courses to show beginning students how counseling is practiced in other countries and the fact that there are developing job possibilities in different regions of the world. The book can also be a valuable reference tool for practicing counselors who may be working with clients from other countries. Finally, as has been indicated by a number of professional leaders, all counselors must become globally literate in the future if they are to provide effective services for their clients.

Click here to order Counseling Around the World.

 Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at hrudow@counseling.org.