Skip to Main Content

RCE 620: Theories and Techniques of Counseling: Abstract

Contact Us


Make an appointment with a Librarian 

Make an appointment with a Tutor 


Follow us on:



What is an abstract?

"Abstracts are concise summaries that help potential readers decide if they will read [a] work. Since [an] abstract will often be [the] readers' first interaction with [the] piece, you must write with them in mind: people will not read what they consider to be irrelevant or uninteresting."

What do you include in an abstract?

An abstract is essentially an "elevator speech" for professional, peer-reviewed journal articles: you only have 30 seconds (or 300 words) to grab the readers' attention and convince them that the article is worth reading. Start by highlighting the main points of the article:

  • The problem and purpose that the authors set out to investigate with their research;
  • The methods that the authors used to approach the topic;
  • The results of the authors' research methods;
  • The conclusions and implications that this research will have on the field of study and any further research on the topic, as well as how those relate to the problem and purpose.

Always keep your intended audience in mind, and remain professional throughout:

  • Give an accurate overview of the article and avoid including information that doesn't appear anywhere in the article; don't disappoint your readers by convincing them to read an article that doesn't live up to the expectations of its abstract;
  • Due to the short nature of the abstract, use concise language and make every word count; don't overuse adjectives, adverbs, or prepositional phrases or otherwise include flowery language that would distract your readers;
  • Everything written in your abstract should be clear; it should be able to stand on its own and not require readers to look up unfamiliar acronyms or jargon that they don't understand;
  • Think about the keywords that people might use when searching for articles on this topic, including the keywords that you were using when you found the article that you're writing an abstract for.

And don't forget to proofread! Errors in punctuation, grammar, and spelling, not to mention informal language that holds a personal bias either for or against the topic at-hand, will turn readers away from the article and not make them want to read it. Remember that you're the one who wrote the article, and you're trying to do everything in your professional power to convince more people to follow your research!


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

University of Maryland Writing Center. (n.d.). Abstracts [PDF file]. Retrieved from

The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (2019). Abstracts. Retrieved July 24, 2019, from

Example 1

Positive psychology has received increasing attention in rehabilitation counseling research and practice. The rehabilitation counseling philosophy shares a similar emphasis of personal assets and strengths, which provides a solid foundation for the integration of positive psychology into the professional practice of rehabilitation counseling. In this article, the guest editors present their rationale for developing this special issue on positive psychology and rehabilitation research. They highlight some of the exciting findings reported in the articles included in this special issue on positive psychology and rehabilitation research. The goal of this special issue is to stimulate thinking and discussion about applying positive psychology theory, research, assessment, and interventions in rehabilitation counseling for promoting overall well-being, quality of life, and happiness for people with chronic illness and disabilities.
Keywords: counseling psychology, counseling techniques, rehabilitation

From: Chou, C.-C., Chan, F., Phillips, B., & Chan, J. Y. C. (2013). Introduction to positive psychology in rehabilitation. Rehabilitation Research, Policy, and Education, 27(3), 126-130.

Example 2

Rehabilitation counselors working in rural settings encounter unique environmental and placement demands that differ from their counterparts employed in urban vocational rehabilitation (VR) settings. Rural areas have fewer employment options, limited public transportation options, lower educational levels, high unemployment rates, and cover large geographical areas. Counselors with a rural caseload often have the same number of clients as their peers in urban settings but fewer supports and resources with which to serve a geographically dispersed clientele. This paper highlights the findings from a phenomenological study regarding contemporary factors influencing rural rehabilitation counselors. The researchers utilized Bronfenbrenner's ecological model to illustrate the complexities endemic in rural rehabilitation. The themes derived from the data are barriers to employment, supports enhancing employment outcomes, and effective strategies in rural rehabilitation. Recommendations specific to the rehabilitation counselor's role in job development, marketing of VR services, and future research are addressed.
Keywords: rural rehabilitation, phenomenology, ecological systems theory

From: Landon, T., Connor, A., McKnight-Lizotte, M., & Peña, J. (2019). Rehabilitation counseling in rural settings: A phenomenological study on barriers and supports. Journal of Rehabilitation, 85(2), 47-57. Retrieved from,shib&db=aqh&AN=137509283&site=eds-live&scope=site

Example 3

Rehabilitation psychology uniquely incorporates a holistic, psychosocial perspective encompassing all aspects of disability, with a particular focus on the connection between disabled people and the social environment. This article introduces a special issue of Rehabilitation Psychology on diversity and social justice in disability research. The 13 articles in this special issue coalesce around the 3 themes of (a) critical disability identity theory, (b) discrimination and prejudice, and (c) health disparities in the context of disability. This article introduces each of these articles and draws upon the work contained in this special issue to highlight important future directions for research on diversity and social justice in disability across the following areas: (a) nondisabled privilege, (b) rehabilitation versus cure versus adjustment, (c) diverse modes of knowing, and (d) a priori diversity and strength-based measures. This special issue helps rehabilitation psychologists consider how they can best fulfill their social justice, human rights, and advocacy missions in order to advance access and inclusion with and for diverse groups of disabled people.
Keywords: diversity, social justice, disability, identity, disparities

From: Perrin, P. B. (2019). Diversity and social justice in disability: The heart and soul of rehabilitation psychology. Rehabilitation Psychology, 64(2), 105-110.