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Book Reviews   |    
The Oxford Handbook of the Psychology of Working

edited by David L. Blustein; Oxford, United Kingdom, Oxford University Press, 2013, 346 pages

Reviewed by Katherine J. Edwards, M.Ed.
Psychiatric Services 2014; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.650803
View Author and Article Information

Ms. Edwards is a consultant for the Center of Health Policy and Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Shrewsbury, and is a disability consultant for the Beacon Mutual Insurance Company, Warwick, Rhode Island.

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In this rapidly changing economy and world of work, the publication of The Oxford Handbook of the Psychology of Working is particularly well timed. Edited by David L. Blustein, professor in the Department of Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College and an eminent thought leader in career exploration, development, and education and the centrality of work, this book is a scholarly collection of contributions from the academic, clinical, and consulting sectors.

The 332-page text consists of 18 chapters, divided into five parts: Theoretical Foundations, The Context of Working, Organizational Implications, Counseling and Psychotherapy, and Community-Based Interventions and Public Policy.

Although each chapter is in itself worthy of analysis and discussion, the gestalt of this book is the recognition of the tremendous social and economic changes in our society and the world in the past decades, the effect on the world of work, and the development of a new theoretical framework for the psychology of working.

The Oxford Handbook of the Psychology of Working should find its place as a comprehensive, modern text for graduate- and postgraduate-level students in psychology, psychiatry, social work, rehabilitation counseling, and guidance counseling. Each discipline will find certain chapters particularly helpful in practice. As a vocational counselor and workers’ compensation case manager, this reviewer was particularly interested in chapters “Work and Disability,” by Ellen Fabian; “Counseling Clients With Work-Based Challenges,” by Sherri L. Turner, Julia L. Conkel Ziebell, and Robin A. Alcala Saner; and “Training and Employment Services for Adult Workers,” by Cindy L. Juntunen and Tamba-Kuii M. Bailey. Each chapter provides a comprehensive examination of the primary topic, as well as a concluding summary, which raise provocative questions for further thought and discussion.

Other thematic areas include a study of disenfranchised or challenged populations. Chapters are dedicated to the context of working in relation to race, gender, sexual orientation, aging, poverty, and disability. These may be of particular interest to social workers, vocational/career counselors, or any clinician working with these groups.

“Critical Psychology, Well-Being, and Work,” a chapter contributed by Isaac Prilleltensky and Graham B. Stead, provides a fascinating critical discourse on the shortcomings of past psychological and societal constructs in relation to the formation of new principles to advance well-being of individuals and communities and psychological principles and practice.

Academic theorists, educators, and clinicians will undoubtedly identify many chapters that will illuminate current philosophy and practice and encourage new thinking and understanding of work within the context of the world we are living in.

The reviewer reports no competing interests.

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