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on 12 August 2013
The format of the book - a series of comics about couple therapy - is very refreshing and captivating. It pulls the reader right into the counseling room and provides a lively insight into both the clients and the counselors perspective and their respective challenges. It creates empathy for all parties without being judgmental over any of their stories.
This book might be of special interest to counselors at an early stage of their career in that it addresses therapy issues in a very sensitive and human way by openly discussing fears of taking wrong decisions. The authors clearly demonstrates that therapy is not an exact sciences and that there always are a number of possible approaches to a given situation.
The author's comments below the conversations as well as the reflections at the end of each story help the reader understand the counselor's train of thoughts and her counselling strategy. Even though the book contains fairly little text, a large amount of learning can be drawn from this reflective story telling format - especially as the three stories cover very divers issues of couple therapy and point out different techniques and approaches to dealing with those issues. Thereby, the authors creates a number of links to different theoretical approaches such as transactional analysis and system therapy - and demonstrates how counseling may creatively combine a number of tools and perspectives from different theoretical approaches.
The book also provides helpful advice to potentially any couple whether in short- or long-term relationships and can initiate helpful reflections.
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on 12 September 2013
This book is ideal for those who are starting off on the path towards being a counsellor, or for those experienced counsellors who have previously worked only with indivduals and would like a taster of what working with couples can be like.

The joy of this book it that it is extremely simple to read. You can read it in under a couple of hours - though I read one story at a time and reflected on it. It's the first cartoon-strip counselling book that I have read and so I found it highly original.

The three case studies are all rather different although each of them does revolve around people not taking responsibilty for their life or relationships. As a practsing counsellor, there were quite a few ideas in there which were new to me - such as getting one partner in a relationship to plait the other's hair (as it had deep bonding associations for one of them); using figures to represent adult, parent and child states; starting a difficult session by asking "who wants to be here today?"; being catious about how much information each partenr needs to know about the others affair (as too much can actually be damaging). Barbara also shows us how she would deal with a celebrity trying to muscle in on their family's therapy.

After each section there is also a dialogue where Barbara and Rudi Dallos (a Professor of Psycholgy) look at and discuss the dynamics of each story. I found those sections as useful as the stories themselves.

Recommended.
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on 23 July 2013
This new book from Barbara Bloomfield, with delightfully humane graphics from Chris Radley, makes an invigorating read as it traces the lives of three fictional couples through times of relationship crises.

The format and style of the book make it an enjoyable and intelligent read, providing (in my view) a three dimensional take on counselling. Whatever audience you belong to, public, trainee counsellor, counsellor or supervisor, there are invaluable insights, tools and tips to encourage and delight the reader.

The book provides the public with an insight into the work of Relate counselling, from the importance of providing an emotionally safe space to unpacking all kinds of fears, anxieties and emotional dynamics common to human relationships.

For the trainee counsellor, there are excellent teachings from Bloomfield both in the way she creates spaces and uses a number of specific counselling techniques to facilitate the unfolding of how couples in therapy may come to understand the particular dynamics of their relationship.

The section on supervision between Barbara and Rudi Dallos is excellent providing the reader with an insight of how seriously counsellors engage in supervision for their own learning which primarily impacts on and benefits the couples they counsel.

Easy to read, and lightheartedly dealing with very real and complex relationship issues, this book has been written by a highly skilled author. Go buy!
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on 20 July 2013
A fantastic insight into the counselling world. The illustrations make it easy any enjoyable; combined with refreshing discussions and text.
Perfect for anyone who is considering going to counselling or starting a career in counselling.
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on 2 August 2013
I think there will be many more graphic novels like this one in the future because they give the reader both the interactions in the room and, simultaneously, the reflections of the counsellor. The author brings us 3 fictionalised cases and in doing so, she de-mystifies the counselling process for her readers - who may also be potential clients considering a visit.

For trainee counsellors too, this book is a guide to best practice. Each story ends with a supervision discussion session between Barbara and Rudi Dallos her supervisor (whose name will be well known as co-author of Dallos & Driver's Relate text book, `Family Therapy'). At the back of the book, an added booklist of further reading is a useful addition, although I think a glossary of terms would also have been helpful to include.
In these 3 stories, all 3 couples are stuck:
* The first, pregnant, expecting a baby within the first month of meeting each other, are really not ready for this next, demanding life stage. Barbara's urgent task is to man up the boy who is about to become a father.
* The second couple are at Relate for family therapy. They have brought their son (`The Burdened Boy' of the title) who is acting out tensions his parents themselves cannot voice. Once this problem has been revealed the family can move on to flourish once more.
* In the third story, an enmeshed mother and daughter prevent a marriage from taking place. The groom's attention-getting device is to be discovered in flagrante in an internet sex chat room. Relate is called! It is not until the couple are shown in sessions (p144) as the hand puppets of this powerful, controlling maternal figure, that they can break away from her influence and become independent - able to own their anger, sexuality and adulthood, as well as pay for their own sessions.
Ideas in this book that were new to me as a counsellor include:

* Asking a couple to do a genogram for their homework
* A task of giving each other `ten touches a day'
* Bringing the voice of a dead family member into the room (eg. `What would your grandmother be saying if she were here now?'). Or (p45) `Sometimes after a bereavement we don't know how to give the dead person a role in our family'
- this sentence gave me much thought.
* The way Barbara neatly sidesteps arguments when they start, in order not to `get bogged down in feelings'
* `Enactment' - (Jorge Colapinto 1981) p30 - the couple brush each other's hair in the counselling room. I might try that one soon!
* Using toy figures to represent as in Transactional Analysis, the child, adult and parent aspects of each figure, rather than writing these words on a flipchart.
This book is both an instruction manual for trainees and a glimpse into the counselling process. Interventions made by the therapist are backed up with text beneath the drawings to explain the theory that informs her. The stories are all hopeful and the endings happy, although this view of the benefits of counselling is not rose-tinted. In each case, although the presenting problem is clearly a crisis, going for counselling is shown to be a positive step.
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on 24 August 2013
Barbara Bloomfield and Chris Radley have presented a book that is truly accessible, by combining narrative, dialogue and illustrations. All areas of counselling could learn from this style of presentation. Having read many such books in my career, I found myself far more engaged , and the whole process of learning seemed more effective, with related ideas and thoughts easier to re-call at a later date. Chris Radley's illustrations were both supportive and sympathetic to the subject matter. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone involved in this area of counselling. It would support training, but would also be an interesting resource for experienced practitioners as well .
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on 22 July 2013
Barbara Bloomfield and Chris Radley take us on a journey into the 'couple counselling' world. For me the beauty of this book among other things is in allowing me to get a glimpse into how Barbara works. As a therapist I work differently to Barbara. The book is clearly not pretending to expect all practitioners to work in the same way with couples. Rather, it is about one woman who courageously allows us to see her at work, risking so much in the hope that we can learn something, not only from her skill, but also from her vulnerability, transparency and honesty. Chris Radley successfully brings the unfolding life dramas to life in the counselling room, making the book a joy to read!
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on 26 August 2013
All the information you could want without being heavy. The comments are to the point and the illustrations lively and helpful. The stories are realistic and draw you in, and some of the counselling is innovative. An original approach and excellently executed.
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on 8 August 2013
This is an engaging and stimulating publication, combining narrative text that provides background to the unfolding stories brought to life by Chris Radley's "comic strip" illustrations. This treatment in no way trivialises the issues, rather it draws the reader easily into the usually closed environment of the counselling room and quickly helps them become involved in the lives of the "subjects". Like the tools used by the counsellor to reach her clients, the format of this book will, I think, help to provide insight and understanding to those either already involved in counselling others, or to those who might be interested in following this path.
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on 8 August 2013
This delightful book gives an easily readable insight into the counselling world. The appealing contemporary style of the excellent illustrations moves the interesting subject matter along at a fast pace, and the clever format of the book allows the discussion sections to be very understandable.
The enticing book title and illustration set the mood for the content. A good introduction for people who are having couple problems, considering counseling, or thinking of a career in counseling.
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