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The Handbook of Pluralistic Counselling and Psychotherapy Paperback – 9 Jan 2016
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I can recommend this book for any practitioners seeking a flexible way of integrating different approaches to therapy. I found it a stimulating read which gave me pause to reflect on my own practice. (Andy Wilson)
About the Author
Mick Cooper is Professor of Counselling Psychology at the University of Roehampton, where he is Director of the Centre for Research in Social and Psychological Transformation (CREST). Mick is a chartered psychologist, a UKCP registered psychotherapist, and a Fellow of the BACP. Mick is author and editor of a range of texts on person-centred, existential and relational approaches to therapy; including Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy (2005, SAGE, with Dave Mearns), Pluralistic Counselling and Psychotherapy
(2011, SAGE, with John McLeod) and Existential Therapies (2nd edn, 2017, SAGE). Mick has led a series of research studies exploring the processes and outcomes of humanistic counselling with young people. Mick is the father of four children and lives in Brighton on the south coast of England.
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Title: The Handbook of Pluralistic Counselling and Psychotherapy
Editors: Mick Cooper & Windy Dryden
Publisher: Sage Date: 2016 Price: £26.99 pp.358
This book is divided into four sections: Fundamentals; Therapeutic orientations; Issues and goals; and Professional issues. There are 27 chapters by 31 authors. The idea of pluralism is now well established, and Mick Cooper has been responsible for much of this effort.
When the original book came out in 2011, by Cooper and McLeod, I had a number of criticisms, and of course I looked carefully to see whether these had been addressed in the new book here presented. The first of these is the question of goals.
As I have argued many times elsewhere, there are three great modes of operation in the field of counselling and psychotherapy: the instrumental, the authentic, and the transpersonal. The instrumental approach is basically mechanistic, and operates on a true/false, black/white logic: it is suitable for machines and most animals, but not for human beings. It favours the notion of goals, because this makes therapy measurable by standard forms and questionnaires. Unfortunately this book is strong on goals, and endorses them wholeheartedly. It even endorses the idea of SMART goals ( Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound), an idea taken from coaching. One issue associated with goals, of course, is that there is a clear link with short-term work. There is certainly a place for short-term work in counselling, though I would say less of a place in psychotherapy, but to push this and to say virtually nothing about long-term work - the kind of work which can actually change the person’s character and personality - is quite depressing for some of us. Sometimes the client wants and needs to be held over a longer period, but this book says very little about that.
Another thing I always look for in any attempt to cover the whole field is the transpersonal. If human beings have a spiritual essence and spiritual experiences and spiritual interests, this is important and not to be forgotten or ignored. There is nothing about the transpersonal in this book. This seems to me quite shameful.
An area often neglected is the trauma of birth, and the whole range of pre and perinatal experiences, which may often be deeply traumatic and influence the rest of the person’s life. I can find nothing about any of that in this book, and great names in this field, such as Grof, Lake, Verny, Chamberlain and so forth are not in the index.
In short, all the faults and failings of the previous book are here repeated and indeed enhanced.
What about psychoanalysis? There is a chapter on the psychodynamic approach which is written in quite a cautious way, but there is not much enthusiasm for it, and it does not come back in any of the other chapters, apart from one brief reference.
What about the behavioural approaches, CBT and the rest? Here we get a chapter which gives a pretty full coverage, and a lot of positive appreciation. This is much more positive.
And what about the humanistic approaches? Again we have a chapter on them, mainly focusing on the person-centred approach, but also admitting empty chair and two-chair work. There is also a good chapter on the existential approach. But the stunning work of the major theorist of this area, Alvin Mahrer, is completely ignored.
I am left with a huge sense of an opportunity missed. The whole thing is extremely superficial, and there is very little sense of depth of understanding in any of these contributions.