My new book on counselling practice

Writing and editing books is so time-consuming!

My new book on counselling theory and practice is almost ready!

Dr Jim's photoA blog post by Dr Jim Byrne, 22nd June 2016

Many years ago, I read a book on project management, in which the prime principle was said to be this: Estimate each task required to complete the project, and then double it!

In planning the writing and editing of my new book – titled, Holistic Counselling in Practice – I forgot to double my time estimates.  And so the book’s arrival has taken much longer than I had expected.

I am now close to the end of the endless processes of writing, illustrating, editing, and proof-reading.

Some delays occurred because: I decided to write a Foreword; Renata’s appendix – on Diet, Nutrition and the Body-Brain-Mind – took much longer than expected; and I decided that the book must have an index.

Anyway, here is an extract from the Foreword, for those of you who are getting impatient for an insight into the final shape of the book:


Book-cover-frontIn these pages you will find a detailed introduction to the theory and practice of one of the most recent, and most comprehensive forms of holistic counselling and psychotherapy. This new system (for helping people to optimize their positive experiences of life, and to process their negative experiences), necessarily deals with emotions, thinking, stories and narratives, plus bodily states; and thus is called Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT).

This book has been designed to be helpful for three audiences:

(1) Counsellors, psychotherapists, coaches, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, educators and other;

(2) Students of counselling, psychotherapy, psychology, psychiatry, social work and related disciplines;

(3) Self-help and personal development enthusiasts.

Complex-ABC-model-2003The content of this book has been a long time incubating, at the very least since 2001 when I first tried to defend the ABC model of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)/ Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) by relating it to the three core components of Freud’s model of the mind (or psyche): (1) the Id (or It [or baby-at-birth]); the Ego (or sense of self, or personality); and the Superego (or internalized other, including social and moral rules). The more I tried to defend REBT, the more its core models fell apart in my hands!

At the same time, I was studying thirteen different systems of counselling and therapy, from Freud and Jung, via Rogers and Perls, and the behaviourists, to the cognitivists and existentialists.

Later, I considered Plato’s model of the mind, alongside the Buddhist and Stoic philosophies of mind.

Attachment_urgeInto this mix, at some point, Attachment theory arrived, and that helped to make more sense of the mix.  Attachment theory and Object relations theory eventually formed the core of my model of the mother-baby dyad, and the way in which the mind of the baby was born out of the interpenetration (or overlapping interactions) of the physical baby and the cultural mother.

And this gave rise to a greater awareness of the individual counselling client as a ‘social individual’, who is ‘wired up’ (neurologically) by social stories to be a creature of habit, living out of historic scripts; and viewing the world through non-conscious frames which dictate how things ‘show up’ in their automatic (cumulative-interpretive) apprehension of the external world.

As these developments were reaching fruition, I also discovered the insights of interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB – Siegel 2015) and Affect Regulation Theory (Hill, 2015).


Body-mindsBut even beyond those developments, I also became increasingly aware that, because we are body-minds, our experience of sleep, diet, exercise, alcohol, water consumption, and socio-economic circumstances – (in addition to current and historic relationships) – have as much to do with our emotional disturbances (very often) as do our psychological habits of mind.

And in Appendix E, Renata Taylor-Byrne presents compelling evidence, from reliable sources, that anti-depressants are not nearly as effective as has been claimed; that drug companies hide negative trial results; that the real pills often fail to outperform placebo (sugar) pills; that the real pills are often totally ineffective; that they seem to be addictive, and difficult to get off in some cases; and they have serious side effects (in some cases involving suicidal ideation). And in addition, we agree with those theorists who have argued that physical exercise is at least as effective as anti-depressants; and also that some forms of dietary change can and do reduce and/or eliminate depression. (See Appendices E and F, below).

Exercise-body-mindCounselling and therapy systems have normally ignored the convincing evidence that exercise and diet can change our emotional states.  For example, in Woolfe, Dryden and Strawbridge’s (2003) book on counselling psychology, there are no references in the index to diet or physical exercise[1].  As in the case of McLeod (2003)[2], there is a ‘virtual postscript’ (in Chapter 29 [of 32] in Woolfe, Dryden and Strawbridge) on counselling psychology and the body – which is essentially about using bodily experience in counselling and therapy – as in breath work, and body awareness – though the chapter author (Bill Wahl) also includes a consideration of body-work as such.  However, in E-CENT, we consider that touch is too problematical (ethically) to include in our system of counselling.  What we do include, because it is now clearly an essential ingredient of the health and well-being of the whole-client (body-brain-mind), is awareness of the role of diet and exercise in the level of emotional disturbance of the client; and an awareness of the need to teach the client that their diet and exercise practices have a significant impact upon their emotional and behavioural performances in the world.  (See Appendices E and F).


For more, please go here: E-CENT Institute, Book Preview.***

That’s all for today.

Best wishes,


Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services


[1] Woolfe, R., Dryden, W., and Strawbridge, S. (eds) (2003) Handbook of Counselling Psychology. Second Edition. London: Sage Publications.

[2] McLeod, J. (2003) An Introduction to Counselling. Third Edition.  Buckingham: Open University Press.  Chapter 21 of 21; section 6 of 9 within that final chapter! No references to diet.  This is the totality of his commentary on physical exercise: “The therapeutic value of physical exercise is well established.  But, for the most part, counselling remains centred on talking rather than doing”. (Page 523 of 527!)


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