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Helping Relationships With Older Adults

Helping Relationships With Older Adults
From Theory to Practice

July 2016 | 408 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
“A definite read for students in counseling programs for improving the lives of older adults!”

–Amy Gray-Graves, Webster University

Helping Relationships with Older Adults: From Theory to Practice examines the fundamental theoretical perspectives of the aging process with an emphasis on the healthy aspects of aging. Taking a comprehensive approach, the text addresses various therapeutic methods as it highlights the strengths and resiliency of the older population. Exercises and case studies demonstrate key concepts and promote skill development by allowing students to experience the various challenges in the lives of older clients. 

Helping Relationships with Older Adults: From Theory to Practice is part of the Counseling and Professional Identity Series. To learn more about each text in the Series, please visit

Section I. Overview of the Aging Process, Aging Theories, Positive Aging, and the Helping Process
Chapter 1: Introduction

Biological Theories Associated With Aging

Physical Changes That Accompany Aging

Cognitive Changes That Accompany Aging

Chapter 2: Historical Perspectives and Changing Attitudes Toward Older Adults
Perceptions of Growing Older and Societal Influences

Historical Aspects of Aging

Aging of the Baby Boomer Generation

Aging and Mental Health

Rethinking the Value of Aging

Chapter 3: Characteristics of Positive Older Adults and the Helping Process
Successful Aging and Mental Wellness

Positive Aging Characteristics

Counseling Older Adults

Attributes of Successful Practitioners

Part II. Common Issues and Problematic Behaviors Experienced by Older Adults
Chapter 4: Health Challenges That Impact the Well-Being of Older Adults
Impact of Age-Related Diseases on Activities of Daily Living

Cardiovascular Diseases






Vision Disorders

Cerebrovascular Disease


Chapter 5: Challenging Conditions Experienced by Older Adults
Alzheimer’s Disease



Substance Abuse

Elder Abuse

Chapter 6: Family Issues and Support Systems


Support Systems

Chapter 7: Loss and Its Effect on Older Adults



Dying and Death

Chapter 8: Opportunities in Later Life
Psychosocial Theories Related to Engagement





Part III: Professional Practice in Working With Older Clients
Chapter 9: Skills, Attitudes, and Knowledge of Effective Practitioners
Counselor Preparation and Development

Strategies to Use in Counseling Older Adults

Chapter 10: Professional Practice With Goals for Older Adults
Psychosocial Interventions

Stages of the Helping Relationship

Issues Brought to the Helping Relationship

Dealing With Uncertainty

Terminal Illness

Death and Dying

Chapter 11: Therapeutic Approaches and Appropriateness for Older Clients
Problem Solving Therapy

Brief Dynamic Therapy

Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Integrative Approach

Strengths-Based Approach

Reminiscence Therapy and Life Review

Family Systems Approach

Reality Orientation

Chapter 12: Future Trends
Positive Aging

Health Care

Employment and Retirement

Counseling Considerations


“A definite read for students in Counseling programs and improving the lives of older adults!”

Amy Gray-Graves
Webster University

“All textbooks that focus on the older adult population must provide students with a solid background in theory, research, and practice with a focus on the biological, cognitive, and psychosocial aspects of adult development. This textbook goes further with its emphasis on the multiple pathways of development that characterize “successful aging” from a strengths perspective.”

Nancy A. Orel
Bowling Green State University

“This is an exciting perspective on counseling older adults across the wide lifespan that is aging. Considering the range from age 60 to 100 is 40 years it is little wonder that there are so many complex needs in this age range. Williams addresses these issues with clear case studies, and excellent resources that summarize the needs and skills required for working with this wide age range. The text is an excellent foundation text, but could also be used by an advanced professional. The topics of sexuality, spirituality, and physical and emotional challenges are reviewed. Attention to diverse populations within the elder community is also not neglected. The ethnic, socio economic and disability issues related to diversity are addressed. The reader will find a rich compilation of resources that can evoke further discussion, develop necessary skills, and help the student become a skilled counselor with a population desperately in need of skilled workers in this area.”

Polly McMahon
Spokane Falls Community College

“A thoroughly researched and very readable text for teaching and learning the basics for working with the elderly in a variety of contexts.”

Tim Chandler
Hardin-Simmons University

Helping Relationships with Older Adults: From Theory to Practice provides readers with current and up to date information that is necessary to help and support older adults who face the challenges of aging in today’s society.”

Kyle O’Brien
Gateway Community College
Key features


  • Exercises and case examples promote the development of essential skills for working with older adults.
  • Coverage of the natural aging process and the changes that occur prepare helping professionals to work effectively with older clients.
  • Discussion of challenges unique to older adults and how to appropriately address them stimulates critical thinking.
  • The most recent, evidence–based, therapeutic approaches in practice with older adults enhance specialization.  

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

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