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The Presenting Past: The Core of Psychodynamic Counselling and Therapy
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2012
Michael Jacobs' best known and loved book - The Presenting Past - has been essential reading for student counsellors and psychotherapists for nearly three decades. It would be hard to imagine any improvement on this key work, succinct and wise as always since its introduction to the counselling world - literally the world, for he has been read by countless thousands globally - yet improvement there certainly is. This fourth edition has a new three-part structure which actually makes for easier reading, smoothly flowing on from beginning to end. I liked the highlighted case studies and discursive style, informative, accessible yet unequivocal in its authority throughout.

In an inspired reworking of the original version, the text now offers as an integral part of a chapter some core material which had previously been included only in appendix form. Now, we have clearly laid out descriptions, for example, of the difficulties therapists face in issues associated with trust and attachment. Without having to turn to the appendix at the end of the book, we follow in Chapter Two an outline of the development of a protective false self in the early years; then on eventually to the multiple problems of old age. Jacobs offers helpful insight to the practitioner in understanding the subtle but powerful dynamics at play within the therapeutic alliance. Not all trainees (or, indeed, qualified therapists) realise the importance of recognising these dynamics, and the writer helps his reader identify hidden ploys, unconscious manoeuvres, transference and counter-transference, much of which might otherwise be lost to the professional and therefore a serious loss to the client.

What is so enjoyable about Michael Jacobs' writing is his seemingly effortless and elegant delivery, offered with a humility which unfailingly fronts work of giant substance. The Presenting Past, as it takes the stage once again, should continue to enthrall a new generation of students and practicing therapists.

Rosie March-Smith (UKCP) is author of Relationship Therapy - A Therapist's Tale and of Counselling Skills for Complementary Therapists (Open University Press).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 January 2014
I found this quite a stretching read - not just because it was January and sometimes a lght novel makes the winter seem more palatable, but because it's so packed with theories and stories, case studies which are well organised, crucial themes for psychotherapists. I can see it would be a helpful text to return to and remind students - and that's probably why it's in its 4th edition. It gives a helpful overview of major theories and thought leaders - Winnicott in particular. I'm not sure trainee counsellors would necessarily have that same need and pretty sure that few coaches would; but I intend to give it to my niece who is currently studying to be a counsellor and see what she makes of it. I think trainee therapists would find it really useful.
Kate Pinder, Supervisor and coach
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on 20 November 2013
This 4th edition of The Presenting Past is a welcome revision of a key psychodynamic text. Jacobs provides an overview of the developmental principles underlying psychodynamic counselling and masterfully links psychoanalytic theory with clinical practice. Whilst some of the text is familiar, material presented in the appendix in earlier editions is now re-ordered and brought into the main text to very good purpose.
Jacobs outlines how difficulties associated with each of the developmental themes of trust and attachment; authority and autonomy; and cooperation and competitiveness, may present in the consulting room and be experienced by the therapist in the therapeutic relationship. Jacobs offers helpful guidance regarding the therapeutic aims with reference to each of the themes.
Throughout, Jacobs is at pains to point out the relevance of the past and how it affects the dynamics of the therapy and the client-therapist relationship. Jacobs makes extensive reference to Freud and Erikson's developmental models as well as the theories of Winnicott, Klein and other Object Relations theorists. Psychodynamic concepts are explained clearly and succinctly, with theory rendered comprehensible without over-simplification.
Jacobs describes himself as first and foremost a practitioner and this is evidenced by his judicious use of case material by which he brings theory to life. The connection between theory and practice is made clear and readily accessible. Jacobs demonstrates theory assimilated into thinking and practice.
This eminently readable text is recommended reading for students of psychodynamic counselling providing understanding of key ideas and concepts of the psychodynamic approach. Whilst this book is an essential read for trainees it also provides useful thinking for the experienced therapist and supervisor. The text serves as continuing professional development, affording opportunities to think about clients and the clients of supervisees. The text is fully updated with new references.

Gail King is the author of Counselling Skills for Teachers and a former University Lecturer.
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on 21 July 2013
Michael writes in a style that is easy to get drawn into and understand. This book got me to think again about our development from child to adult, in particular the growth of the child's world and separation of self. Very thought provoking.
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on 5 March 2014
Very useful and essential reading for my course and qualification with the Birmingham Open University whilst for my online course
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on 13 March 2013
i would recommend it to any counselling students. it also helps to learn and understand about attachment issues. good read
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on 2 February 2015
A great source of information. A must for essay writing.
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on 7 July 2015
Excellent reading! Taking it away to beach for month.
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on 17 October 2014
yes, this is a must have psychodynamic textbook
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on 17 November 2014
Very quick and fantastic books thank you
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