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BC521 Problems and Procedures: Research Strtegies

Research strategies for finding resources on the secular psychotherapeutic as well as the scriptural approach to a problem.

Counseling Issues Research

TMU Powell Library Catalog

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Counseling Issues Search Strategies

A majority of the topics from the List of Possible Counseling Issues can be easily researched by simply searching them as Subjects in the Powell Library Catalog (above or from the Library Web site). Use the metadata code "su:" to limit the search to just the Subject field.  Like this:


>su:stress psychology

This will retrieve numerous resources related to the topic.  So much so, that it will be more effective to focus the results using the Search Tools to the left of the results list.  Consider limiting by FormatYear, Language and/or Topic  See Figures 1 & 2 below. 

More than likely, it will also be necessary to further focus the search by using alternative qualifying terminology.  A simple method for identifying additional or alternative terminology on a topic is to use the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)LCSH is an extremely valuable tool that will assist you in identifying highly beneficial search terms (He who has ears to hear, let him hear!). See the box Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) to the right for a more detailed explanation.

Once you've retrieved your results list, you'll want to be an even more effective researcher by "Using Sources to Find More Sources".  That is, by examining the record's Description you can identify additional terminology, especially Subjects, that can be used to further your research.  See Figures 3 & 4 below.

There are some topics that are not so simple and even using LCSH won't help.  I've taken the liberty of figuring out what search query works best for these.  You will find these EXCEPTIONS below.

NOTE 1:  For more details on how to use the Library Catalog as well as information of how to Use Sources to Find More Sources see Be an EER .

Secular View

To find resources discussing how secular psychotherapy would approach a specific issue, simply search the issue in the Powell Library Discovery catalog either as a Keyword or as a Subject.   Like this:

>autism [Keyword is the default search so, although it can be, it is not necessary to use the metadata field code kw:]


>"demon possession" [Use quotation marks to indicate a phrase]

Biblical/Christian View

Adding the terms "christianity" or a truncatd form of biblical, i.e. "bibl*" to any topic will retrieve records with a Christian or Biblical view of that topic.  Like this:

>su:perfectionism christianity

>su:suicide bibl*

  • The asterisk (*) is a truncation (to cut off) command used in the Discovery catalog to force the search engine to look for the root word and every variation thereafter.

Case Studies

‚ÄčTo find case studies on any topic, add these keywords and phrases to your search query using the Boolean AND operator:

  • case
  • "case study"
  • "case reports"
  • "case description"
  • method*
    • The asterisk (*) is a truncation (to cut off) command used in the Discovery catalog to force the search engine to look for the root word and every variation thereafter.
    • Retrieves method, methods, methodology, methodologies.
    • All scientific research articles have a "Methods" section.  Therefore,  using some form of the keyword "method" will help in finding scientific studies on a topic.

Like this:

>su:irritable bowel syndrome AND kw:method*

>su:alternative medicine AND kw:"case reports"; or su:alternative medicine AND kw=case reports


Several of the topics on the list of Counseling Issues are colloquial terms not LC Subject Headings or even professional jargon.  So searching for them as a subject or in LCSH won't help.  They are these:  "bizarre behavior", dominant husbands; feeling oriented people.

Therefore, search the Powell Library Catalog for these issues as Keywords. When the results list is retrieved, select the title of a suitably relevant record, then select Description, then scroll down to the Subjects: and then select those that best fit the topic. See Figures 3 & 4 below.

More Exceptions:  

For "Beginning a Counseling Ministry in a Local Church" search <counseling ministry church>

For "Giving and Receiving Criticism" use <su:criticism personal>

For "The Fool in Proverbs" use <su:proverbs commentaries> and <su:proverbs criticism> See also "Find Commentaries" in the Biblical Studies Resources research guide for more details on how to find commentaries.

For "Lack of Assurance of Salvation" use <su:theology AND (assurance OR perseverance)> alternatively <su:assurance OR perseverance AND theology> Both the "AND" and the "OR" must be capitalized so the search engine recognizes these as Boolean commands; not as keywords.  The parentheses commands the search engine to perform the OR operation first otherwise the search engine resolves the equation from left to right.

For "Overworking oneself" decide first, which fits best: physical labor or mental labor. For the former, search "workaholism" in LCSH.  For the later, search "overwork" in LCSH to find appropriate terminology. 

For "TV and Effects" search <television effects>

For "Unsubmissive Wives" use <su:submissiveness biblical teaching> and <su:wives religious life>

For "Women's Role in Counseling with the Church" use <su:peer counseling in the church AND women>; <su:women in church work>; <su:role women church


Figure 1 Use Search Tools to Limit or Refocus the results. 

Figure 2


Figure 3

Figure 4.  Use Sources to Find More Sources:  Subject Headings, Contents, Series 



Last updated January, 2020.

Finding Articles

To find articles related to a specific counseling issue search the Powell Library Discovery Catalog and search these Periodical indexes directly: ATLAReligion (ATLA), Christian Periodical Index (CPI), ProQuest Religion (PQR)

  • For secular articles relating to counseling or psychological issues, it's best to use the library Discovery Catalog. 
  • For a religious view of psychological or counseling issues, it's best to search ATLA, CPI and PQR directly. See below for instructions.

When searching the Discovery Catalog:

Search your topic along with the term "counseling" as keywords.  Don't search your terms as Subjects (su:) as many catalog records do not associate subject headings with articles.

When you get your results list, select "Peer reviewed" from the Content Type limiting option on the left.  

Alternatively, select "Articles" from the Format options. 

Search ATLA, CPI and PQR:

First, go to "Find Databases".  There are three ways to get to "Find Databases"  See instructions below.

Second, select the link to the needed database (See access option a. b. c. below).  

When off campus, you will be prompted for your Master's username/password.  This is the same one you use to access Canvas & Self Service.

Three ways to get to "Find Databases"

  1. Select "Find Databases" on the Library Web site  

  2. From the results page after a search, select "Resources" then "Find Databases" (top left)  

  3. Select "Advanced Search" on the Powell Library Web site, then select "Library Links" and then "Find Databases" (top right) 

Three ways to find the link in A-Z Databases:

a.  Select the appropriate letter, i.e. "C" for Christian Periodical Index" in the Alpha list

b.  Type the name of the database in the Search for Databases box (top right), 

c. Use the "All Subjects" drop down menu to select the appropriate field, i.e. Biblical Counseling.  

Last updated April 2022.

Related Biblical Counseling Research Guides