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The Student Guide to Counselling and Psychotherapy Approaches

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Title: The Student Guide to Counselling and Psychotherapy Approaches  

Author: Adrian Pennington

Publisher: Sage, 2013

Reviewer: Clare Dixon, student nurse (generic), University of York

What was it like?

This is an accessible guide book about the different psychotherapy approaches and how they can be used to counsel patients. It simplifies what could a challenging subject as some of the techniques such as “existential counselling” can be quite hard to explain. Adrian Pennington, a counselling psychologist, takes us through 12 of the most well-known and most used methods and explains exactly what they are and how to use them in practice. I think for a guide it contains just enough detail. If you want to learn more in depth about a particular approach I would suggest you read other books to widen your knowledge, however I felt the example scenarios used for each were comprehensive and gave me a good idea of how I would set about using them. Pennington also goes through the strengths and limitations of each method, which gives you an informed and rounded overview.


What were the highlights? 

I liked that it was written by someone with a lot of experience who is currently involved in counselling and psychotherapy and therefore knowledgeable on the subject. Often practitioners can be biased to one particular approach but this did not come across in this book as Pennington talks us through each of the concepts and finds limitations in all of them as well as strengths. He states that there is no perfect way and this is a good way of looking at psychotherapy as not all patients are the same and it is good to realise this. I liked the examples he uses for each method and also the fact that he gives the student extra reading on each approach so if you are particularly interested in an approach you have recommended texts to explore.

Strengths & weaknesses:

I liked the way the book was set out with a brief history of psychotherapy at the beginning. Each chapter on the concept is set out the same and so the book is easy to navigate. As I mentioned before, this is not an in-depth guide and this should not be the only reading you do about approaches before using them in practice. 

Who should read it?

I think it would be useful not only to mental health nurses but to all nurses as many patients will be in need of counselling at some point in their lives and it is good to be aware of all the approaches. The nurse may not necessarily be the one doing the counselling but it is good to have an awareness of what the counselling entails for a patient in your care who is undergoing counselling. Student nurses will also find this an interesting read as I did. I have come across patients in practice before who have had counselling and this guide has helped me understand more what they were going through.


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