An Introduction to Counselling

An Introduction to Counselling

An Introduction to Counselling

An Introduction to Counselling

Excerpt

Counselling is an activity that is at the same time simple yet also vastly complicated. What can be simpler than talking to a concerned and interested listener about your problems? But it is what is involved in the telling and listening, knowing and being known, reflecting and acting, that can be so complex. In counselling, people talk about anything and everything. The relationship between the counsellor and the person seeking counsel is simultaneously taking place at a physical, bodily level, and through language, and in the thoughts, feelings and memories of each participant. This is what makes it so complicated, and this is what makes counselling a big topic. Counselling is an interdisciplinary activity, which contains different traditions and schools of thought, and spreads itself across the discourses of theory, research and practice. Counselling has generated a rich and fascinating literature, and a range of powerful theories and research studies. I believe that it is vital for counsellors to be able to find their way around this literature, to tap into all these different knowledges.

Reading a book like this is somewhat similar to looking through a window into a room. In the room there are people doing something, but their world is always on the other side of the glass. Counselling is a practical activity, and can only be grasped through the experience of doing it, as client and counsellor. Real knowledge about counselling can never be gained through reading a book. It requires immersion in an oral tradition, physically being there and doing it and – crucially – feeling what is happening, rather than merely looking at words on a page.

Any author knows that what he or she writes does not come freshly minted from their own personal and private thoughts about things, but is in fact an assemblage of words and ideas borrowed from other people. I have been fortunate to be in a position to learn from many people. Among those I would particularly like to thank are a number of generous friends and colleagues who have helped me in many ways: Lynne Angus, Joe Armstrong, Sophia Balamoutsou, Mike Beaney, Tim Bond, Sue Cowan, Robert Elliott, Kim Etherington, Stephen Goss . . .

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