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Mander, G. (1985). Personal Responsibility Counselling and Therapy: An Integrative Approach by Richard Nelson-Jones Published by Harper and Row, London 1984; 214 pp; £6.95 paperback.. Brit. J. Psychother., 2(2):154-155.

(1985). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 2(2):154-155

Personal Responsibility Counselling and Therapy: An Integrative Approach by Richard Nelson-Jones Published by Harper and Row, London 1984; 214 pp; £6.95 paperback.

Review by:
Gertrud Mander, Ph.D.

This book starts from a concept, personal responsibility, which the author, a Stanford-trained Counselling Psychologist recently emigrated to Australia, considers a first principle and defines as ‘the process of making the choices that maximise an individual's happiness and fulfilment’. ‘Focussing on personal responsibility,’ he writes, ‘is almost like focussing on one's nose.’ He makes a qualification, however, and insists that his ‘integrative approach’ which intends to bridge the gap between the humanist and the behaviourist approach, between the counsellors who believe in persons, self-awareness and meaning, and those who focus on actions, skills, and learning theories, is only tailored to ‘ordinary people, not to the moderately to severely disturbed populations’. Focussing on the noses of the latter will thus require other methods which are not mentioned. Nor is the reader told how to tell ‘ordinary people’ from the others.

If I sound critical, this is because the author's commonsense psychologist manner and the prescriptive-didactic tone of the book exude an easy optimism, which the counsellor whose work is more concerned with the excluded categories of the client populations cannot share. There are, to be fair, some fundamental areas of overlap, where Nelson-Jones' eclectic approach agrees with the psychodynamic and analytical approach which is deliberately excluded from the pool of ideas he draws on. He stresses empathic listening, for instance, puts an emphasis on meaning, on experiencing feelings, and dismantling self-protective thinking habits.

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