While I know reading books is not every-one’s cup of tea, I do get asked fairly frequently if I can recommend a book about counselling or about relationships. So now and again on this blog I’ve decided to review a book which you might find helpful.
I feel I need to say that I don’t have any affiliate links to Amazon or any other book store, these are merely books that I have enjoyed, that other’s have told me were helpful and that you might enjoy and find helpful too.
I thought I’d start with one of my favourites; one that I often recommend at my practice. It’s an introduction to counselling and really useful if you are starting to see a counsellor or therapist who uses a Transactional Analysis (TA) approach, or if you simply want an entertaining non “psycho-babble” book to explain some basic ideas about TA. I find it helpful for couples as it often enhances the work we do together.
The book is:-
Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure.
~ Robert De-Board.
Toad, the famous character in Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, is in a very depressed state. He hasn’t really recovered from the court case, he isn’t sleeping well, he can’t face cleaning, and his self-care has got so bad he hasn’t changed his clothes for a while!
Ratty, Mole and Badger, are becoming concerned about his appearance and worried that “he might do something silly”.
They decide something must be done and after perhaps unhelpfully telling him to “pull himself together” they finally come up with a sensible suggestion! “Now look here Toad, this can go on no longer”, said Badger sternly. “There is only one thing left. You must have Counselling!”
Not having access to the internet they look at the newspaper adverts, and send toad off to see the local riverbank TA counsellor Mr Heron.
The following chapters focus on toads counselling sessions with Heron.
During the first sessions Toad keeps dissolving into fits of tears and gets through copious amounts of tissues, but he also starts to understand the importance of emotional literacy. Guided by Heron he meets and explores his different ego states, including his Rebellious Child, learns about transference and recognises how his past has made him into who he is today (someone who has repressed painful feelings and created highly dramatic ways of avoiding dealing with them which has eventually led to jail).
As his counselling sessions progress he starts to understand that he is responsible for his own thinking, feelings and his own destiny. Counselling is not something that is done “to him” or “for him”. Toad becomes committed to change as he realises the possibilities.
We also learn a little about the other characters and how their different ways of communicating can impact on others. There is a particular emphasis on his relationship with Badger, and through the counselling sessions Toad is able to recognise the different ego-states at play and why he and Badger always seem to rub each other up the wrong way. Toad is empowered by his knowledge and learns new ways of “transacting” with his friends, in a much more healthy way.
Although some change was necessary for Toad so that he was able to deal with his here and now life in a far less destructive way, he doesn’t lose his essential Toad-ness. I love the song he sings at the end of his counselling sessions:
“The world has held great heroes,
As history books have showed,
But never a name to go down in fame,
Compared to that of Toad.”
He laughed with delight when he had sung this. “Well”, he said, “it’s only a bit of fun. And actually, it’s not a bad poem”. And so he decided to sing the remaining verses. Only this time, because there was no-one around, he sang them at the top of his voice, only finishing as he cycled up the drive of Toad Hall breathless and happy.