Brief Counselling: A Practical, Integrative Approach

Brief Counselling: A Practical, Integrative Approach

Brief Counselling: A Practical, Integrative Approach

Brief Counselling: A Practical, Integrative Approach


Praise for the previous edition:

an excellent resource for all trainee and beginning counsellors irrespective of theoretical orientation. I regard it as a core text for Professional and Clinical Practice components of counsellor education and training courses.
Ian Horton, formerly Principal Lecturer, University of East London

Praise for the current edition:

"This book is a must. It informs the beginner and experienced counsellor howto undertake brief counselling, step by step, from orienting the client tocounselling, to termination of counselling."
Professor Stephen Palmer, City University, London and Director for the Centre for Stress Management.

Almost two thirds of counsellors and psychotherapists work with clients in up to twenty sessions each: this book reflects that reality and the challenges involved.

The bestselling first edition of this book, by two of the UK's leading counsellor trainers and academics, was praised by trainers and tutors for its accessibility, comprehensiveness and practicality. It was also a leading contribution to the movement towards time-conscious counselling and to an understanding of the therapeutic alliance across time.

The second edition has been thoroughly updated to include significant recent professional developments and new thinking in the counselling field. Additions include more detailed discussion of:

  • Assessment
  • Contracting
  • Very brief counselling
  • Clinical reasoning
  • Clients' modalities
  • Technical repertoire
  • Depression and realism
  • Supervision of brief counselling
In the rapidly maturing profession of counselling, this book's sensitivity to time as a precious resource, clients' perceptions, evidence-based guidelines and integration of some of the best thinking from several counselling models make it an ideal core text for beginners and reflective practitioners. Thoughtful and busy practitioners in primary care, employee counselling, educational, voluntary and private practice settings will find many immediately helpful ideas and examples in this classic text.


The first edition of this book was written just before brief and time-limited counselling started to become the norm in many practice settings in Britain. This edition is written at a time when it is common for counsellors to be working – in primary care, employee and student counselling – to strictly time-limited contracts of around six, eight or ten sessions. Although we would like to congratulate ourselves for being so prescient, a note of caution must also enter in here. Whereas at one time there was little sense of accountability for the efficient use of time and resources, the pendulum may have swung to the other extreme. We are now in the age of evidence-based practice in which much monitoring and research-informed practice characterize counselling and psychotherapy. This is probably a necessary development but it brings the danger of inflexibility. So, in this edition, although we continue to advocate a form or style of counselling that is efficient in the use of time and realistic about the funding implications of any counselling that remains stubbornly resistant to time-consciousness, we emphasize that a proportion of clients will still require longer term counselling or therapy.

In reviewing what we first wrote some 14 years ago, we remain pleased with our concentration on a down to earth, change and goal-oriented form of counselling that is explicit with clients about the process. We believe this approach is as valid today as at the time of the first edition. Many reviewers and readers have agreed with us and have reported finding the book of great practical helpfulness. We also realize that a certain undeniable accent on a learning approach was and is evident here; in other words, we have championed a belief in clients' ability to learn new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. To some extent this betrays Windy's immersion in rational emotive behaviour therapy and cognitive therapy, but it is also in accord with Colin's belief in the relative modesty of what counselling can usually do. In our world, there are many reasons to be discontented and to suffer, and counsellors owe it to their clients to offer realistic, pragmatic, skilful help and not . . .

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