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Posted: September 6th, 2023

Reference Letter Assignment

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. (Please reference the rubric accompanying this assignment for scoring details.)

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.

[Dr. Smith’s Letterhead]


To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing this letter to provide a comprehensive review of [Your Name]’s educational journey and effectiveness as a counselor, as requested for the position with the foundation-supported community health center. I have known [Your Name] for [length of time] and during this period, [he/she/they] has demonstrated exceptional knowledge, skills, and ethical attitudes relevant to the counseling psychology discipline.

As a graduate student, [Your Name] showed a particular interest in [focus of studies]. Through [his/her/their] coursework and practicum experiences, [he/she/they] developed a solid theoretical foundation in various counseling approaches. Among these, [he/she/they] most frequently uses the [theoretical approach], which [he/she/they] identified as the best fit for [his/her/their] personality and counseling style.

[Your Name] has also demonstrated proficiency in using various therapeutic techniques, such as [list techniques], in a variety of practicum settings. [He/She/They] has been successful in helping clients overcome a range of mental health issues and has received positive feedback from both clients and supervisors.

In terms of supervision, [Your Name] has shown a positive response to feedback and has a keen awareness of countertransference and boundary issues. [He/She/They] is always willing to reflect on [his/her/their] counseling skills and implement suggestions to improve [his/her/their] work.

One ethical dilemma that [Your Name] faced during [his/her/their] practicum involved [briefly describe dilemma]. [He/She/They] handled the situation professionally by [briefly describe how it was addressed]. This experience showed [his/her/their] ability to think critically and apply ethical principles in a challenging situation.

In terms of strengths, [Your Name] is empathetic, compassionate, and has excellent communication skills. [He/She/They] is able to establish rapport with clients easily and create a safe and supportive therapeutic environment. These qualities will be useful in preventing burnout and maintaining [his/her/their] effectiveness as a counselor.

In conclusion, based on my experience with [Your Name], I have no hesitation in recommending [him/her/them] for the position with the foundation-supported community health center. [He/She/They] has demonstrated mastery of the counseling psychology discipline and possesses the necessary knowledge, skills, and ethical attitudes to be an effective counselor. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require further information.


[Dr. Smith’s Signature]

[Dr. Smith’s Name]

[Dr. Smith’s Title]

[Dr. Smith’s Contact Information]

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