It gives me great pleasure to write this forward to Dr. Sandra Collins’s excellent open source e-guide for teachers and learners. This guide fills a void in the field of counselling education by providing culturally responsive and socially just experiential learning activities. The book is rooted in Dr. Collins’s expertise in the field of culturally responsive and socially just counselling and presented from the perspective of a life-long learner. This perspective is important, because it allows Dr. Collins to focus on learning and the learner, thus making her expertise immediately accessible and helpful to the student of counselling. At the same time, her expertise and passionate interest in the field are evident throughout and will captivate counsellor educators and experienced counsellors alike. In my opinion, the decision to write from the perspective of the learner, one who does not comprehend all of the relevant, basic assumptions of the field, is central to the success of this guide; it speaks exactly to that type of user who will most benefit from this wonderful resource.
All aspects of the guide are strong, but several aspects deserve particular notice. First, the guide grows out of and is organized around Dr. Collins’s own culturally responsive and socially just (CRSJ) counselling model, which was the result of thematic analysis of over 20 case studies. The chapters in the guide are broken down according to the CRSJ model, which comprises six domains and 18 core competencies, which are further broken down into corresponding key concepts and learning outcomes. The CRSJ model provides a coherent structure for introducing and describing the topic of culturally responsive and socially just counselling and for organizing the supporting learning activities in the guide. Dr. Collins clearly articulates how to use the CRSJ model and its associated domains and competencies. The theoretical importance of the model to counselling practice is clear to the user, as are the practical applications to counselling practice.
A second noteworthy feature of the guide is that it is intended to be a collaborative open source project under continuous development. By inviting others to submit suggestions for learning activities, Dr. Collins ensures that the guide is always a work in progress, growing and improving as colleagues participate and share. Furthermore, fostering a participatory community of counsellors committed to culturally responsive and socially just counselling will increase the visibility of this field and create an impetus for new knowledge. And, of course, the open source platform means that Dr. Collins will be able to rapidly include additional activities, which means that they can be dispersed more quickly, without the usual delays caused by the requirements of traditional publishing.
The experienced educator will appreciate that the guide includes a variety of activities that address a diversity of learning styles. The comprehensive mix of learning activities include: self-study activities, partner activities, large group activities, and class discussion activities. Each of the learning activities is intentional, meaningful, and useful. Active engagement with the material in the guide means that learners are more likely to achieve the intended outcomes of participating in the learning activities. It is well-known that individuals learn more when they actively participate in the process of learning, and active participation by learners is essential to the design of this guide.
Finally, everyone who, like me, is devoted to challenging our linguistic inheritance, will welcome Dr. Collins’s intentional use of gender-inclusive language. This is not only timely, as it fits with the current movement to reduce bias in our use of language, but it is also important to the field of counselling, where a goal of teaching future counsellors is to emphasize how language plays a crucial role in molding behaviour, cognitions, and perceptions.
In sum, this is a terrific new e-book that should be essential reading for anyone—whether counselling teacher or learner—who wishes to learn and apply the competencies that form the CRSJ model. The counselling field owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. Collins for this significant contribution to teaching and learning about culturally responsive and socially just counselling. I encourage counsellor educators—from traditional, online, and hybrid programs—to incorporate the learning activities in this guide into their curriculum and transform their courses into exciting, dynamic learning environments where counsellor trainees are encouraged to think about solving problems in real life counselling contexts and learning competencies relevant to the field.
As a practicing mental health clinician and dean of a faculty that houses an online counsellor training program, I cannot wait to use this e-book in the courses I have developed and teach and to encourage colleagues to use this invaluable teaching and learning resource. While the guide will have particular relevance to online programs, where an ongoing challenge continues to be the integration of interactive and multimedia resources, it will also be useful in traditionally delivered programs. The purpose of Dr. Collins’s guide is to educate, teach, and train counselling teachers and learners alike, and she has succeeded admirably in achieving her objective.
Peter Hall, Ph.D. R.P.
Dean, Faculty of Behavioural Sciences