Counseling

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 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 applicant:

  • length of time and capacity in which you have known the applicant
  • focus of the applicant’s studies in the graduate program
  • 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
  • response of the applicant to supervision and in regard to countertransference and boundaries
  • 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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