Invitation to ARNA Counseling and Counseling Psychology Professionals who might be  interested in writing a chapter for a book, tentatively entitled, Confronting structural and cultural violence: Counseling professionals’ testimonios of positive peace work

Hello! We are seeking to identify counseling and counseling psychology professionals that are interested in writing a chapter for a book we are co-editing tentatively entitled, Confronting structural and cultural violence: Counseling professionals’ testimonios of positive peace work. This book will be part of Professor Dan Christie’s pioneering book series on Peace Psychology published by Springer. Professor Christie is a luminary peace psychologist, and he has been the editor for 38 books that have appeared in this Peace series.

Many professionals in counseling and counseling psychology are engaging in positive peace work, or activities that prevent and/or address cultural and/or structural forms of violence, without using the labels of peace work and violence mitigation. These professionals may work with individuals, groups, organizations, and communities but also seek to address social injustices that adversely impact human well-being. We hope to illustrate, through the contributor’s testimonios, that this type of positive peace work is also a professional pathway for counseling and counseling psychology professionals and students worldwide.

Currently, there is no book that documents the journeys that counseling professionals have pursued to promote and achieve positive peace. We believe a book that features personal and professional peace work testimonios will contribute unique and meaningful content to the transdisciplinary field of peace and conflict studies and counseling literature, and it will inspire and motivate others in the counseling profession and students in our training programs to engage in similar endeavors.

Each contributor to this book will be expected to write a 10–15-page testimonio chapter that highlights their experiences and/or journey conducting positive peace work designed to prevent and/or address cultural and structural forms of violence. If you are saying to yourself right now, “but wait, I don’t do peace work…”, we invite you to please read on and consider our reframe of positive peace work in our field.

Here are a few things we are thinking about that can help frame the book project, support you, and assist you in deciding about contributing to this book.

There will be three main sections of the book.

Section I (to be written by the Co-Editors)

Section I will define and introduce positive peace work and provide a history and context for positive peace work in the fields of counseling and counseling psychology. We also will discuss how essential values, principles, and practices from decolonial, liberation, and multicultural and transnational feminist psychology frameworks, and the field of transformative justice can offer foundational elements of positive peace and effective engagement.

Emphasis on positive peace – What is positive peace?

Martin Luther King, Jr described positive peace in a sermon to the congregation of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama (1956), “I had a long talk the other day with a man about this bus situation. He discussed the peace being destroyed in the community, the destroying of good race relations. I agree that it is more tension now. But peace is not merely to absence of this tension, but the presence of justice. And even if we didn’t have this tension, we still wouldn’t have positive peace.” Johan Galtung (1969; 1990), the primary founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies, argued that positive peace involves addressing structural (e.g., violence perpetrated by systems and structures) and cultural (i.e., violence caused by cultural norms) violence which then leads to sustained peace. More recently, Arun Gandhi (2010) added that positive peace also includes attending to the more insidious “passive violence” that “is the fuel that feeds the fire of physical violence” (p. xviii); peace education in this area can lead to the creation of positive peace.

Counseling professionals have a crucial role to play in fostering positive peace and social justice. By using testimonios, the invited co-contributors to this book will extend the earlier work of individuals in the counseling profession by offering the field some potential pathways for engaging in peace work that focuses on positive peace, social justice, and structural, cultural, and systemic change. Positive peace work is consistent with the evolution of counseling and counseling psychology—social justice is the fifth force in our field, emphasizing the responsibility of counselors and counseling psychologists to engage in changing the unjust systems that create discord and suffering as a way of alleviating mental health issues (Ratts & Pedersen, 2014). Hence, positive peace involves a recognition of the role of systems of oppression and injustice as forms of violence that need to be addressed in effective peace work (Galtung, 1996).

Section I will conclude with a chapter that discusses the testimonio as a first-person narrative connected to explorations of power, privilege, and oppression and a tool of empowerment and agency for people who hold diverse social locations in relation to power and liberation. An overview of the purpose of testimonios follows.

Emphasis on testimonio format – What are testimonios?

Testimonios are “a verbal journey of a witness who speaks to reveal the racial, classed, gendered, and nativist injustices they have suffered as a means of healing, empowerment, and advocacy for a more human present and future” (Perez Huber, 2009, p. 644).

Testimonio work is based on historical documentation, healing, and encouraging social justice principles to address sociopolitical and sociocultural problems (Cervantes, 2020). Testimonios are grounded in liberation psychology. They are meant to:

Document experiences of individuals and communities that are experiencing oppression;

Challenge oppressive societal conditions;

Be an opportunity for individuals who have experienced oppression and injustice to recenter their experiences, and challenge oppressive systems (e.g., eurocentrism, racism, heterosexism, patriarchy, genderism, ableism, sizeism);

Incorporate cultural, social, historical, and political stories intersecting with an individual’s life experience; and

Critique Western (Global North) forms of knowledge to bring attention to the painful experiences and memories that highlight specific struggles of an individual’s journey.

Empower individuals who write a testimonio.

Section II (written by invited contributors and others)

Section II will include testimonio chapters written by counseling and counseling psychology professionals from around the world. Each chapter will be 10-15 double-spaced pages with references and will feature the contributor’s journey engaging in positive peace work.

The book will feature invited testimonios and other testimonios from people in the counseling and counseling psychology professions worldwide.

The book will include testimonios of counseling and counseling psychology professionals who hold multiple marginalized identities and social locations, and who are (have) navigating social change and peace work that prevents and/or addresses cultural and/or structural forms of violence in global contexts.

Upon request and assuming a chapter draft is submitted substantially prior to the deadline, a masked peer-review will be arranged by the Co-Editors to provide critical feedback about the chapter. If not requested, this would not be part of the formal editorial process.

Section III (written by the Co-Editors and others)

This section will contain concluding chapters focused on directions for the field of counseling and counseling psychology to move forward to promote and maintain positive peace in terms of research, service, practice, training, policy, and legislation.


  • By June 10, email a one-page statement describing your personal and professional history of performing positive peace work to confront cultural and/or structural violence.
  • By June 10, email a CV to the Co-Editors.
  • Interested individuals will be notified by June 20 whether they are invited or not invited to contribute to the book.
  • Individuals invited to contribute to the book will be expected to email by June 20 an abstract (300 words or less) to the Co-Editors summarizing the focus of their testimonio.
  • Individuals invited to contribute to the book will submit to the Co-Editors a full draft of their testimonio chapter by December 1, 2024.

If you are a counseling or counseling psychology professional and you have been engaged in positive peace work to address cultural and/or structural violence, we hope that you will seriously consider contributing a testimonio chapter to this unique book.

Please contact us if you have any questions. Please also share this email with other individuals that might be interested in this opportunity.

Peace, Lawrence Gerstein, Liz Abrams, and Aashna Banerjee

Co-Editors Bios

Lawrence H. Gerstein, Ph.D., (he/his)is a Ball State University George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Divisions of Counseling Psychology, Peace Psychology, and International Psychology), Fulbright Scholar and Specialist, trained mediator, and co-editor of the Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology. He is a co-author of Theories and Applications of Counseling and Psychotherapy: Relevance Across Cultures and Settings, and co-editor of the International Handbook of Cross-Cultural Counseling: Cultural Assumptions and Practices WorldwideEssentials of Cross-Cultural Counseling, and Handbook for Social Justice in Counseling Psychology: Leadership, Vision, and Action. Gerstein has received 2.3+ million dollars in external funding including six U.S. State Department grants and one U.S. Institute of Peace grant to perform peacebuilding and violence prevention work in the United States, India, Jordan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia, Israel, Taiwan, and Myanmar. He has published extensively on cross-cultural psychology, nonviolence, emotion, sports for youth development, and aggressive behavior of youth.

Liz Abrams, Ph.D., (she/they) is an Associate Professor in the Integral Counseling Psychology (ICP) program at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco, CA. Her clinical work, teaching, and scholarship are all grounded in a foundation of relational, feminist, liberation, and peace psychologies, and has specialized training and experience in Buddhist psychology, mindfulness-based approaches, and trauma work. Liz’s identity as a researcher is closely tied to her clinical and teaching work. She was trained as a qualitative methodologist and a participatory action researcher (PAR). Liz sees research as a complement to the everyday work of social justice and grassroots activist communities rather than as an intervention.

Aashna Banerjee, M.A., (she/her) is a doctoral candidate in Counseling Psychology at Ball State University, a Benjamin V. Cohen Peace Fellow, and an Advisory Board Member of the Ball State Center for Peace and Conflict Studies. She is a peace and feminist-liberation psychologist in training who strives to create equitable spaces with her clients, students, and colleagues. Her work focuses on the intersection of counseling psychology, peace psychology, international populations, and experiences of identity-based power, privilege, and oppression.