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Reviewed by:
  • Talking with College Students About Alcohol: Motivational Strategies for Reducing Abuse
  • Brian Bourke
Talking with College Students About Alcohol: Motivational Strategies for Reducing Abuse Scott T. Walters and John S. Baer New York: Guilford, 2006, 212 pages, $28.00 (softcover)

Talking with College Students about Alcohol offers student affairs practitioners real world strategies and approaches for facilitating conversations about drinking behaviors with college students. The authors approach the subject both as clinicians and researchers, providing a user-friendly guide that is grounded in literature from several areas, including college student development and counseling. Despite the professional and scholarly expertise offered by the authors, the text is easily understood by anyone working with college students. The tools and resources provided can be applied at all levels of student affairs, from graduate students and entry level professionals to senior student affairs officers.

The book is divided into three general sections, beginning with reasons for college students' drinking and common drinking behaviors. Walters and Baer provide a wealth of expertise and evidence from scholarly research about the nature of drinking among college students. Included in these initial chapters, the authors approach the subject on a global scale of higher education, as drinking and its associated consequences are not unique to one type of institution or demographic of student (Bladt, 2002).

The second grouping of chapters focuses on assessment of drinking behaviors and counseling methods. These chapters provide the reader with an overview of how to conduct assessments of drinking behaviors with students in a variety of both formal and informal settings. The authors suggest that following an initial assessment, the staff member has an opportunity to engage the student in what they call Motivational Interviewing. In their explanation of these methods, Walters and Baer provide a brief yet useful how-to in basic counseling skills, particularly active listening.

The third section of chapters offers suggestions for types of interactions with students, based on the amount of time available. These chapters offer many more details about assessment and intervention techniques and methods. Intervention methods are loosely categorized by the amount of time available with a student, the setting (formal or informal), and whether in one-on-one interactions or group settings. The descriptions are also accompanied by recommendations of when to best employ the techniques of each of the varied approaches. Included in this group of chapters are expanded explanations of motivational interviewing.

Walters and Baer offer a wealth of resources that readers can draw upon when utilizing the book's strategies for talking with students about alcohol usage. Each chapter is laid out with easy to follow steps for each type of interaction. Additionally, the authors provide several appendices to aid in facilitation. Readers can draw directly from these appendices in an interaction with a student or group of students.

This is a timely book, as alcohol use among students continues to be a problem on college campuses. Current research suggests that negative drinking behaviors continue to remain steady on college campuses (Bladt, 2002; Chiauzzi, Green, Lord, Thum, & Goldstein, [End Page 231] 2005; Mitchell, Toomey, & Erickson, 2005). While some prevention efforts have not proven effective over time, Chiauzzi, et al. (2005) suggest that "brief intervention programs that provide students with individualized normative feedback regarding their alcohol consumption patterns and perceptions of drinking" (p. 263) are effective in reducing the negative consequences of alcohol use over time. Unlike other texts that address issues of drinking among college students, such as Dying to Drink (Wechsler & Wuetrich, 2002), Talking with College Students about Alcohol provides approaches and interventions that can be used with individuals and in small group settings, rather than suggestions for institution-wide policies, programs, and initiatives.

The authors' approach to this text provides readers with information about the problem of drinking among college students beyond lists of statistics. The resourcefulness of the authors can be seen in the provision of strategies that student affairs practitioners can use in a variety of settings with students. This resource-rich text offers strategies for talking with college students about alcohol that can be utilized by a breadth of college student personnel, from those with daily contact with students to those whose contact is much...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-3382
Print ISSN
0897-5264
Pages
pp. 231-232
Launched on MUSE
2007-03-15
Open Access
No
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