An understanding of the background of any topic is essential. What is the history; what are the theories; what are the key concepts? What has been your experience already? Look up the topic on Wikipedia - many of their entries are very good overviews, cite academic sources, and are updated often. Best of all, they're free for everyone with web access. However, watch out for biased viewpoints, incomplete or incorrect material. Find corroborating material in other reference sources. Enter terms like “counseling AND (handbook OR encyclopedia)” in our Search to find them. Note that in most cases it is not appropriate to cite background sources in papers or research.