Counselling in the Workplace

Counselling in the Workplace

Counselling in the Workplace

Counselling in the Workplace


The strength of Adrian Coles' book is its basis in his extensive knowledge of workplace counselling in Britain and his wide knowledge and relationships with those who work in the area. What is magical about his book is his use of examples. Throughout, real life examples of workplace counselling, dilemmas, organisational and many other issues, help to illuminate concepts and bring theory down to earth.
Michael Carroll, chartered counselling psychologist and Visiting Industrial Professor, University of Bristol.

This book is a thorough exploration of the people and practices involved in the provision of counselling in the workplace. It addresses questions such as:

• Why do employees need to be counselled in the workplace?

• Why is counselling in this context so different from counselling in other environments?

• Why are some workplace counsellors hard to manage?

Counselling in organisations is complicated because of the many different and conflicting interests of individuals involved in an organisation. A workplace counsellor needs to be aware of the many roles within an organisation and how those roles are perceived by different members of the organisation. Moreover, workplace counsellors need to know how to provide effective help for employees, and in particular, why this may need to be measured and evaluated by organisations.

Written predominantly from a psychodynamic perspective, the book looks at the complex conscious and unconscious roles that counsellors adopt in organisations and explores different approaches to providing counselling at work. The multitude of conflicting boundary issues present in workplace counselling are thoroughly explored - in particular, the differences between being a counsellor in a workplace and a counsellor in private practice.

Counselling in the Workplace also offers a unique management training programme for counsellor-managers and non-counselling managers. The book is essential reading for counsellors, human resource managers, workplace supervisors, trade union officials and all those involved in decision-making with regard to employee counselling.


Work dominates our lives, particularly in Britain where it appears we work the longest hours of all. Freud indeed summed up the aim of adult life as 'to love and to work', although he paid far less attention to work than he did to love. And this has been generally true of the development of psychotherapy and counselling – it has concentrated on relationships, largely those of the family and the home, and has by and large ignored the dynamics of work and work relationships, which form a major part of most people's daily lives. People probably spend more time relating to colleagues than they do to their partners and children and, if we take away the sleeping hours, they probably spend as much time at work as they do in their homes. Intimate relationships are often formed through people meeting at work, and the absence of work with redundancy or retirement has a major impact on psychological health.

There have been some exceptions to this lack of interest in work, mainly from the organizational perspective, where such studies as those conducted by the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations have informed those in management positions of some of the dynamics of the workplace. But, as with the development of psychotherapy itself, the benefits of the psychological study of the workplace initially were only available to the privileged and the few.

As Adrian Coles shows, some of the privileged did care about their workforce, pioneering health and social welfare in their factories, with a concern that came we may suspect as much from charitable conviction as from the desire to keep production going. Whether that is the same today, with the increase in employee assistance programmes (EAPs), we cannot tell, although we suspect that the way they are sold is as much on the basis of keeping staff productive at . . .

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