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Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy Paperback – 1 Sep 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd; 1 edition (1 Sept. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761944583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761944584
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


`[A] a bold, heart-felt and daring discourse on the issue of communication in the therapeutic encounter' - Psychology and Psychotherapy

`this is a great, most important and, for the English-language readership, ground-breaking book. The subject of the book is of enormous interest and importance within and beyond the person-centered and experiential orientations in the whole field of psychotherapy and counselling, both in its practice and its theoretical development.

This great book had to be written. It presents an existential, phenomenological, dialogical approach at its best, and highlights the power of encounter relationship. This book does not only portray the state of the art of person-centered and experiential psychotherapies. Since many modalities develop in this direction - it is foundational for the realm of psychotherapy and counselling as such. The book is of enormous international interest; not only the international perspective on literature and development in the field, but also the cross-links of different views contribute to the development of psychotherapy and counselling and will be fruitful for interdisciplinary dialogue.

This book stands as a landmark. It will be very influential to theory and practice. If you don't read it, you will not be able to join in further discussion and theory and practice developments' - Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies

`a bold, heart-felt and daring discourse on the issue of communication in the therapeutic encounter. Somebody needed to write a book such as this. Hopefully it will encourage us to examine more closely, and conduct more research upon, what happens between therapists and their clients' - Psychology and Psychotherapy

`I found this book really refreshing and more relevant to my practice as a counsellor than any other book on the subject which I have ever read. It felt very erudite, honest and "real", truly representative and reflective of what it's like to attempt to work as a person-centred counsellor and also found it stimulating / enlightening. My experience reading it was one of being accompanied and understood as a practitioner, there were a lot of "yes, that's how it is" moments as well as "that's how it should / could be" times too and I also felt both guided and inspired, like receiving good supervision in book form. In addition I found the writing style very accessible, warm and engaging' - Person-Centred Counsellor, Staffordshire University

'The book represents a 'gentle revolution'. The gentleness comes from its lack of stridency and from its inclusiveness, and the radical quality is that person-centred therapy in particular, and all therapeutic work in general, cannot be the same again' - Therapy Today

'Mick Cooper and Dave Mearns have managed to literally write with relational depth. This reader experienced them as human beings from their introductions in the preface. Their authenticity, their transparency and their humility evident from the first few words mirrored the "encounter at relational depth" this book is dedicated to. By the end of chapter 6 the reader can imagine every trainee in the future with a well-worn, coffee and tear-stained copy of this book in their satchel. This is, quite simply, a very good book' - Éisteach

`It does not happen very often that a scientific publication is an exiting read, but in this case that was indeed my experience. It touched me as a reader in its written genuineness, and I appreciate the fact that the views expressed in this book seem to be firmly grounded in scientific research, rather than the research being used as a simple way of demonstration or proving a point. The cooperation between the authors has apparently been so thorough, that throughout the various chapters only small differences in style can be noticed'- Tijdschrift Cliëntgerichte Psychotherapie

`This is a great and very important, ground-breaking book. The subject is of enormous interest and importance in the whole field of psychotherapy and counselling, both in its practice and its theoretical development' - Peter F Schmid, Associate Professor at the University of Graz

'This is one of those rare books which will attract a wide readership because it operates at so many different levels. It is, by turn, scholarly, dramatic, challenging, prophetic, practical, intensely personal and yet with implications which, if taken seriously, could transform the whole field of counselling and psychotherapy. Dave Mearns and Mick Cooper are courageous enough to proclaim boldly that the heart of therapy lies in the real meeting and connection between human beings and then undertake the task of putting into words the nature of encounters which can often feel beyond language. They explore the profound implications of conceptualising human nature as essentially relational and what this means both for the development of the person and for the work of the therapist. They dare to employ such words as intimacy and love and to take us into the moment to moment process of therapeutic relationships which demand every last ounce of a therapist's integrity and commitment. This is a book which has about it an inspirational quality which will leave few readers unmoved. It also raises disturbing questions about many current trends both in society at large and in the profession of counselling and psychotherapy itself. Do not read this book if you want a quiet life and undisturbed sleep' - Brian Thorne, The Norwich Centre for Personal & Professional Development

'This new text by Dave Mearns and Mick Cooper is at once timely, informative, challenging and a delight to read. Much has been written about the therapeutic relationship and its pivotal role in the success of therapeutic enterprise. Yet what it may be about the relationship itself and how the relationship may impact upon both therapist and client remains somewhat vague and obscure. In focusing upon a particular way of relating whose emphasis rests upon the quality and depth of experienced contact and engagement between persons, Mearns and Cooper have provided a valuable template with which to consider and reconsider the dialogical qualities of the therapeutic encounter. The text, which is accessible and engaging throughout, interweaves theory and research evidence with both original qualitative interviews with expert practitioners and two extended transcripts of therapeutic dialogue. Indeed, the structure and scope of the book as a whole serve to express the authors' intent to not only talk about" but to give expression to a particular type of enduring and intimate relationship. Although deeply influenced by person-centred theory, the authors draw their arguments from a wide range of approaches and systems within contemporary psychotherapy. Working at Relational Depth in Counselling & Psychotherapy is a work of both substance and wisdom that well deserves all the praise and attention it will undoubtedly receive' - Professor Ernesto Spinelli, Senior Fellow, School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, Regent's College, London

'The importance of the relationship between the client, and their counsellor or psychotherapist has long been recognised as constituting the cornerstone of effective therapeutic work. However, in recent years there has been a tendency to take the significance of the therapeutic relationship for granted, and to understand the dynamics of this relationship in terms of an alliance between the practitioner and person seeking help, in which each participant negotiates and agrees how best they can work together. In this book, Dave Mearns and Mick Cooper provide a fresh and challenging new perspective on the therapeutic relationship. By using the concept of relational depth, they are able to move beyond a vision of the relationship as merely a backdrop to therapeutic work, and to begin to explore the moments when the possibility of being able to relate more fully to another person can have a life-enhancing impact. Grounded in a person-centred approach to counselling and psychotherapy, the book articulates the meaning of relational depth by drawing on ideas from psychodynamic, post-modern, existential, cognitive, developmental and social psychological theory and research. The authors powerfully combine vivid case material and careful conceptual analysis to examine different aspects of relational depth and to show how it may be facilitated, and weave in a fascinating discussion of the interaction between therapeutic context and the types of relationship that can be created between therapist and client. This is an important book. It integrates concepts and practices from a range of approaches to therapy, and offers a convincing and original perspective that has the potential to inform practice, training and research for many years to come' - John McLeod, Professor of Counselling, Tayside Institute for Health Studies, University of Abertay Dundee

About the Author

Dave Mearns is formerly Director of the Counselling Unit and Professor of Counselling at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Dave is author or co-author of four other counselling books published by SAGE: Person-Centred Counselling in Action, Second Edition, Experiences of Counselling in Action, Person-Centred Counselling Training and Person-Centred Therapy Today: New Frontiers in Theory and Practice.


Mick Cooper is Professor of Counselling Psychology at the University of Roehampton and is a leading international authority in the fields of person-centred, experiential, existential and relational therapies. He is author and co-author of several SAGE books: the bestselling Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy with Dave Mearns (2005), Existential Therapies (2003) and The Plural Self (1998). His new book with SAGE, Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling: Contributions to a Pluralistic Practice, published in 2015 accompanied by a companion website hosting bespoke video tutorials of key therapeutic skills.

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