It may be presumptuous to declare a book a standard work in its field shortly after its publication. However, there can be little doubt of this dictionary's value. Its more than 1,200 articles, written by both scholars and practitioners, give in sight into current trends in counseling and pastoral care.
Two facts impressed me. The first is the wide spectrum of contributors; they range from Clinebell to Collins and include some drawn from outside the boundaries of Protestantism and the United States. This gives the volume the needed balance in a field dealing with varied human needs.
The second impressive fact is that this dictionary discusses a wide range of topics without becoming superficial or stating the obvious. I found a solid coverage of psychology and social sciences, theology, and practical issues. Articles range in length from short explanations of terms to several columns of in-depth discussion. A considerable number of articles deal with historical issues and personalities, putting current developments in perspective.
The Adventist reader will be delighted to find an article on Ellen White written objectively rather than pejoratively. However, under "Seventh-day Adventist" one finds only a cross-reference to "Sectarian Pastoral Care." That section does not mention Adventists. I did not find this flattering, considering that the dictionary contains a thorough three-column article on Mormon pastoral care. Rather than a flaw in this otherwise out standing work, I would see this void as calling attention to a legitimate concern regarding the state of Adventist pastoral care and counseling.
Written with fairness and balance, seriousness and depth, this massive volume is still easy to read and handle. Designed as a standard work, Abingdon Press offers it at a reasonable price.