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Applied Helping Skills

Applied Helping Skills
Transforming Lives

Second Edition

June 2016 | 488 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
With its practical, experiential approach, the Second Edition of Applied Helping Skills: Transforming Lives covers the basic skills and core interventions needed to begin seeing clients. By approaching therapy as an art rather than from a prescriptive diagnostic position, this text encourages readers to look at every situation differently and draw from their embedded knowledge to best serve the individuals in their care. Authors Leah Brew and Jeffrey A. Kottler weave humor and passion into their engaging prose, effectively conveying their excitement and satisfaction for doing helping work.
Part I: Foundations for Skills
Chapter 1: The Process Revealed
Reading Minds and Other Superpowers

My Psychic Powers

Secrets Revealed

How Therapists Enhance Their Powers

Power and Influence

You Gotta Be Desperate

It’s All About Leverage

Amateurs Versus Professionals

A Few Missing Ingredients

The Perfect Counseling Student

Chapter 2: Clients in Need: Individual, Social, and Cultural Factors
Cultural Context of the Client Experience

Cultural Skills and Competencies

Become Familiar With Cultural Differences

Assess Stage of Cultural Identity

Overview of a Client Concern

Ethical Considerations in the Practice of Helping Skills

How to be a Good Client

Decisions, Decisions

Chapter 3: Models of Helping
Theories and Their Offspring

An Integrated Model

Part II: Skills to Use With Individuals
Chapter 4: Skills for Builiding Collaborative Relationships
Your Best Relationships

Uses of the Therapeutic Relationship

About Empathy

Relationship Skills

Chapter 5: Skills of Assessment and Diagnosis
The Mental Status Exam

The Basics of Conducting an Intake Interview

Structured Intake Interviews

Special Considerations in Assessing Addiction

Special Considerations in Assessing Physical or Sexual Abuse

Special Considerations for High Suicide Risk

Special Considerations for Crisis Situations

Objective and Subjective Sources of Information

Models of Diagnosis

Remembering What You See and Hear

Making Things Fit Your Style

Chapter 6: Exploration Skills
An Overview of the Exploration Stage

Structuring the Conversations

Opening With a Story

Asking Questions

Reflecting Skills

Putting Reflecting Skills Together

Exploring the Past

Summarizing Themes

Chapter 7: Promoting Understanding and Insight
The Uses of Insight

The Limits of Insight

Selected Skills for Promoting Understanding

What Happens Next?

Chapter 8: Facilitating Action
Transition From Insight to Action

Dealing With Resistance

The Miracle Question

Setting Goals

Generating Alternatives

Reinforcing Behavior

Relaxation Training

Using Rehearsal and Imagery

Using Role-Playing

Using the Empty Chair

Using the Transference

Chapter 9: Maintaining Progress and Evaluating Results
Some Assessment Challenges

Skills of Evaluating Outcomes and Measuring Results: The Client’s Efforts

Skills of Evaluating Outcomes and Measuring Results: The Therapist’s Efforts

Ending Therapy Effectively

Part III: Skills to Use With Multiple Clients
Chapter 10: Skills for Family Therapy and Other Roles for Therapists
A Different Way of Looking at Things

Structuring a Family Interview

Couples Counseling

Specialized Skills for Working With Children

The Roles You Take as a Therapist

Chapter 11: Group Leadership Skills
Group Stage Development

Group Dynamics

Group Leadership Approaches

Unique Ethical Challenges

Chapter 12: Where to Go Next
What If I Don’t Know What to Do?

What If My Supervisor Finds Out How Little I Know?

What If I Hurt Someone?

What If I Don’t Have What It Takes?

Some Advice About Where to Go Next



Student Study Site

The open-access Student Study Site includes the following:

  • Common Errors for Beginning Counselors worksheet is a quick and easy resource for students to use throughout training.

  • Types of Responses lists the strengths and limitations of each type of therapist response, especially when overused.  

  • Types of Therapist Responses Defined is a list students will use to tally response types for video session assignments.

  • Basic Reflecting Skills Paper Rubric for student paper assignments.

  • Video Sessions Rubric for student video assignments.

  • Chapter Summaries to reinforce the most important material

  • “Check What You Learned” short answer and essay questions focus on key terms and concepts outlined in the chapters.

  • Video clips and accompanying questions demonstrate core concepts in the text and help students visualize essential counselor skills. Accompanying video questions help students reflect and assess the counseling situation presented in each clip.

Instructor Teaching Site

Instructor Resources:

  • A Course Philosophy description authored Leah Brew and Jeffrey Kottler outlines major objectives and course structure as well as recommended assignments for a beginner’s course in basic counseling skills.
  • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides offer you complete flexibility in easily creating a multimedia presentation for your course. Highlight essential content and features.
  • Final Exam containing essay questions and client/counselor vignettes effectively assess students’ understanding of course objectives.
  • “Check What You Learned” Answer Key to the short answer and essay questions that accompany each chapter and test key terms and concepts.
  •  Video Question Answer Key to questions that appear before and after each online counseling video
  • Sample course syllabi for semester and term courses provide suggested models for use when creating the syllabi for your courses.


Applied Helping Skills: Transforming Lives, Second Edition discusses profound principles of helping in a simple conversational manner.”

Monte Gray
Bronx Community College

“This is a great text, as it provides an accessible approach to the essentials of applied helping skills and demystifies the helping profession.”

Theresa Benson
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

“The simplicity in the delivery of this text book is a key component is helping students at undergraduate and graduate learn the key principles involved in helping people to transform their lives. This textbook offers the student an insight into developing excellent skills in becoming therapists.”

Marian Connell
The Academy of Creative Psychological Therapy, Ireland

Leah M. Brew

Leah Brew is Chair and Professor in the Department of Counseling at California State University, Fullerton. She teaches, presents and publishes in the areas of basic counseling skills and multiculturalism. Specifically, she has several publications and projects that have been centered on working with multiracial couples, families, and individuals. She collaborated on a project to establish Competencies for Counseling Multiracial Populations, which was endorsed by the American Counseling Association. She has a small private practice where she specializes in working with diverse clients who struggle with depression and anxiety and are... More About Author

Jeffrey A. Kottler

Jeffrey A. Kottler is one of the most prolific authors in the fields of counseling, psychotherapy, and education, having written more than 90 books about a wide range of subjects. He has authored a dozen texts for counselors and therapists that are used in universities around the world and a dozen books each for practicing therapists and educators. Some of his most highly regarded works include Creative Breakthroughs in Therapy, The Mummy at the Dining Room Table: Eminent Therapists Reveal Their Most Unusual Cases and What They Teach Us About Human Behavior, Bad Therapy, The Client Who Changed Me, Divine... More About Author

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