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Couch Fiction: A Graphic Tale of Psychotherapy [Paperback]

Philippa Perry , Junko Graat
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
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Book Description

29 April 2010 0230252036 978-0230252035 First Edition
Ever wanted an insight into counselling? Or wished you could be a 'fly-on-the-wall' in a psychotherapy session? Couch Fiction allows you to peep through the key-hole of the therapy room door and, more than that, read the minds of the protagonists...

Based on a case study of Pat (our sandal-wearing, cat-loving psychotherapist) and her new client, James (an ambitious barrister with a potentially harmful habit he can't stop), this graphic novel follows the anxieties, frustrations, mind-wanderings and break-throughs of each, through a year of therapy sessions together. Beautifully illustrated and accompanied by succinct and illuminating footnotes, this book offers a witty and thought-provoking exploration of the therapeutic journey, considering a range of skills, insights and techniques along the way.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 156 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; First Edition edition (29 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230252036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230252035
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 19.3 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'Philippa Perry's cute and clever graphic novel aims to be both an entertaining work of fiction and an introduction to psychotherapy...Perry's form suits her mission, Junko Graat's cheerful black and white sketches rendering the dreams, thoughts and alter egos that circulate around Pat's sofa...It's an appealing accessible read - perfect for a waiting room.' - The Guardian

'If you've got even a passing interest in psychotherapy you'll want to read this graphic novel three times, at least.' - Time Out

'I loved it. I smiled and laughed. And nodded. One to read for sure.' - Susie Orbach, author and columnist

'...set to capture the attention of the capital's culture vultures.' - Evening Standard

'Funtastic: How therapy works with all the fun of a cartoon.' - Oliver James is a clinical psychologist, author and broadcaster

'Perry delivers that rarity: an edifying page-turner.' - The Scotsman

'Philippa Perry has succeeded brilliantly in demystifying the complexities of the psychotherapeutic encounter by demonstrating not only something about the private conversations which transpire in the consulting room, but also by revealing the hidden thought processes in the mind of both the client and the psychotherapist. Her beautifully illustrated book "Couch Fiction: A Graphic Tale of Psychotherapy" will be essential reading for anybody contemplating therapy, and would make an ideal gift for friends and colleagues.' - Professor Brett Kahr, Senior Clinical Research Fellow in Psychotherapy and Mental Health at the Centre for Child Mental Health, London, and Honorary Visiting Professor at Roehampton University.

'The charming pictures show psychotherapy working; the witty and brilliant notes explain how and why.'
- Dr Stella Tillyard, author of Aristocrats

'It is a rare thing to find such an informative and accessible book. Recommended as a good way to get a picture of what happens in psychotherapy.'
- Diana Shmukler, Visiting Professor of Psychotherapy, Middlesex University, and formerly Associate Professor of Applied Psychology, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa

'...this funny and enjoyable book will become required reading for psychotherapy students and would benefit anyone with even a casual interest in psychotherapy. Those who are thinking of consulting a therapist might 'dip their toe in' here, as might any lover of graphic fiction who relishes evesdropping on the lives of others...' - Paul Gravett, Graphic Medicine

'I've read hundreds of books about therapy and this is among the best…it has a wicked sense of humour and a great sense of style. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever considered therapy but been afraid to ask, for therapists who want to remind themselves why their profession matters and to anyone tempted to say that therapy is nonsense…' Alain de Botton, The Times

'Couch Fiction is one of the most unusual graphic novels that I had read recently and it is also one of the best.' - Bookgeeks.co.uk

'...funny and irreverent, but it also answers many of the questions people have about what therapy is, and how it works...' - The Observer

'In a departure from the graphic novel format, Perry adds a technical analysis of the thoughts and actions of her characters underneath the panels. This analysis adds a layer not usually present in a graphic novel, giving a more in depth understanding of the psychiatric issues discussed.' - The Guardian Science Blog

'...extols the virtues of psychoanalysis with warmth and gentle humour...' - Deborah Orr, The Guardian

'Couch Fiction has a mischievous humour that means it would make a great stocking filler for a therapist friend this Christmas. However, this graphic novella can also be recommended for its genuine educational value, which would make it a good text for any introductorycounselling course.' - Therapy Today

'This tale of psychotherapy in graphic novel form is nicely done. The footnotes explaining technical terms and ideas comment not only on why Patricia does what she does, but also what mistakes she makes. It is an instructive guide to modern psychotherapy that will appeal not only to those who know nothing about it but also those who have been in therapy already. The book is a quick and enjoyable read, and the graphic form provides an emphasis on the two different perspectives of therapist and client that would be hard to achieve with prose alone. It's a nice depiction of ordinary parts of therapy that often go unmentioned.' - Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College,USA,Metapsychology Online Reviews

Book Description

A visually compelling and thought-provoking case-study, captivatingly told with witty detailing. Once picked up, this graphic novel is exceedingly difficult to put down.....

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful. 13 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A really interesting experience for anyone interested in either giving or receiving therapy. I'm training as a counsellor and found it to be a really useful read - the drawings are also great at showing what could be going on in someone's mind throughout the therapy process.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommend this book 15 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you are interested in the machinations of therapy, this is a great read from an honest psychotherapist. I like the concept that the story has been visualised as a graphic novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful 5 Mar 2014
Working in a related field, I was intrigued to read this book and definitely found it useful. It's a unusual format but one that works very well for the subject matter. It is both humorous, informative and educational, recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couch Fiction 15 Oct 2013
Written by Philippa Perry and illustrated by Junko Graat, Couch Fiction is an innovative new graphic novel that aims to give readers an insight into psychotherapy by offering both the therapist's and the client's prospective of the therapy process. Although none of the characters in Couch Fiction actually exist, in a note to the reader at the beginning of the book Philippa Perry comments that she has taken content from real people's actual dreams for use in the story and that the relationship between the therapist and the client is typical of psychotherapy case studies. Effectively, Perry guarantees that although Couch Fiction is indeed a work of fiction, it is also an accurate and informative illustration of the psychotherapy process. In order to fulfil such promises, Perry departs from the traditional approach to graphic novels with Couch Fiction in that she includes under the illustrated panels fairly detailed notes that discuss the ramifications of, and motivations behind, psychotherapy.

Setting out to provide readers with an accurate insight into counselling is an audacious undertaking which could be tricky to achieve. With Couch Fiction Perry gives a fly-on-the-wall perspective of therapy sessions so that readers can "peep through the key-hole of the therapy room door and, more than that, read the minds of the protagonists." The case study that Perry presents is that of Pat, a sandal-wearing, cat-loving psychotherapist, and her new client James, a kleptomaniac barrister. James's compulsion to steal could well cost him his career if it is discovered and so he has come to Pat in the hopes of a cure for his behaviour. At the beginning of his sessions with Pat, James's behaviour puzzles even himself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent intro to and explanation of therapy 22 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this book highly enjoyable! It is a clear and fun explanation of what goes on in therapy, on both sides.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Psychotherapy puppets 5 July 2010
By Sam Quixote TOP 50 REVIEWER
The book is a graphic depiction of a psychotherapy case of a man "James" who is a successful barrister who begins to steal for no reason. His kleptomania is explored by his therapist "Pat". Revelations occur and James is cured.

I read this thinking it would be an interesting comic and, as a comics fan of both popular and indie varieties, gave this a try. Unfortunately it's not very interesting or well drawn.

First off, the "characters" never seem real but just cyphers for the author to put into situations that can put forward psychotherapy instruction. James: "I am beginning to resonate with the idea that an unacknowledged feeling can rule me, whereas I can have more control over the ones I know about." (p.96). Sort of hypothetical scenarios for demonstrative purposes with mannequins.

Furthermore, these scenarios feature footnotes that explain what's going on in the cartoon section, sort of a running commentary throughout. Because of this the comic never takes off as a story and heightens the sense that it is an introductory-type pamphlet on psychotherapy to those interested in it.

The book is basically if Freud's "Dora" was illustrated this would be it, drawn by a less talented Posy Simmonds or Gabrielle Bell. Possibly good to those with a passing interest in psychotherapy, but not a great comic and not a great read.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a great advert for psychotherapists. 18 Jan 2011
I don't want to be completely negative about this book so I will start with aspects of it which were actually pretty good. I mainly liked the visual elements of this product. It's graphic form (even though I didnt particuarly like the drawing style)quite magically made the information contained within the book very easy to comprehend. The book its self is a rather unusual size, pleasant to look at and to hold.

So what didn't I like? Well, although this books is supposed to be aimed at prospective clients, as well as therapists & students, I'd say it would be largely unhelpful & perhaps even harmful for someone who is actually looking into getting therapy to read it. I say this in the main because it goes into great detail about the thoughts going on inside Patricia, the rather chilly therapists head during the featured therapy sessions- thoughts which include finding the client sexually attractive & later on as we find out, visa versa. Shockingly, as I guess author contrived) these thoughts are even later illustrated by a drawing of the client & therapist having imagined sex. Personally, I am no prude & as most people do, I know that sexual attraction is a common concern within the caring profession, but, I really don't think that a prospective client would benefit in any way by having this potential issue highlighted so vividly. After reading this book, particuarly on this matter but also on other musings of 'Patricia', I think it could definitely prove to be a case of 'don't think of the elephant' to the new client...who is obviously already overburdened.

My main other criticism concerns the choice of client. The very weatlthy kleptomaniac character used I'd imagine very few could relate to.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I really enjoyed this.

The graphic novel format and accompanying brief notes give an immediacy that make it easy to follow. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Peter King
5.0 out of 5 stars I shouldn't really review this...
...because I wrote it. It's not conventional. It took me five years to persuade a publisher to take it on because it is neither a straightforward comic book, nor a psychotherapy... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Philippa Perry
5.0 out of 5 stars The only one of it's kind
Being referred for psychotherapy following illness I wondered what I was letting my self in for. Looking around this is the only book I cold find that explains what it is and how... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Ant
4.0 out of 5 stars This book worked surprisingly well
Having been in therapy on and off for twenty odd years, I was very interested to see what Philippa Perry made of the therapeutic relationship between psychotherapist and counsellor... Read more
Published on 20 July 2012 by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley
5.0 out of 5 stars Instructive and fun
I absolutely love this book and read it in one go when I first received it. Will be reading it again from time to time. The story and the pictures work perfectly together.
Published on 17 July 2012 by RC75
5.0 out of 5 stars A must buy
I will be recommending Couch Fiction to colleagues and clients. A touch of genius, the format allows the reader to grasp the multilayered and multidimensional makeup of what goes... Read more
Published on 11 Jun 2012 by Beryl Jakobson
3.0 out of 5 stars Interestesting and unusual. But not for people who don't know anything...
This book was an interesting insight into some psychotheraputic pratice, and suprisingly humorous. I liked that it was presented as an annotated graphic novel; it made it very easy... Read more
Published on 10 Jun 2012 by Dormouse
5.0 out of 5 stars A psychotherapeutic page-turner
I bought this book for my young adult children to read, because I thought it might be interesting to them, not specifically because of career choices, but because I thought it... Read more
Published on 28 Feb 2012 by Alba
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