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We can help you with: Anger management counselling – Couples therapy – Lifestyle coaching – Confidence and self esteem – Stress management counselling – Life goals and managing habits and behaviours – Attachment style – Emotional control (depression and anxiety)


A1, Jim and Nata counselling homepage
Dr Jim Byrne and Renata Taylor-Byrne

Counselling is essentially about talking through your problems; exploring the practicalities, the possibilities, the interpretations and the scope for change: “At the heart of any form of counselling is making a space to talk it through.  This phrase is offered as a kind of touchstone … and operates as a reminder of what the role of counselling actually is in relation to the troubles that people experience…”

Quotation from: John McLeod, 2007, Counselling Skill, page 3. (86).


Updated: 21st October 2018

Telephone counselling client
We are available by telephone, email, and face-to-face in Hebden Bridge. (And Jim is available via Skype).

Hello and welcome to our website.  We are Jim Byrne and Renata Taylor-Byrne, and we help individuals and couples with their problems of everyday living in a difficult and challenging world. We have received lots of unsolicited testimonials to thank us for our help in the past.

We operate a post-CBT system of counselling, coaching and psychotherapy, which utilises both the right and left sides of the brain.  And we teach our clients to manage their whole body-brain-mind functioning, instead of assuming they are ‘floating heads’.

Our approach uses both emotive (or feeling) approaches, and cognitive (or thinking) approaches, and hence is called Emotive-Cognitive therapy.

Then, because it takes into account the state of the client’s physical existence – in terms of diet, exercise, sleep, etcetera –  it is also further called Emotive-Cognitive Embodied therapy.

And because we focus a lot of attention on the client’s story, script or narrative – or how they talk about their problems – we have called it Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT).

Narrative counsellors see their counselling clients as living within stories; or swimming in a sea of stories: “From a social constructionist perspective, narrative (counselling) represents an essential bridge between individual experience and the cultural system.  We are born into a world of stories that have existed since long before we are born, and will continue long after we die.  We construct a personal identity by aligning ourselves with some of those stories, by ‘dwelling within’ them”.

John McLeod, An Introduction to Counselling.  2003.  Page 234. (60)


Happiness and self confidenceAs an introduction to what we do, we will now present some information from a chapter of our book on Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT).

Counselling you for a better future!

We hope you find this helpful as an insight into what we might be able to do for you; and how we might go about doing it:


Extract from Chapter 6: Counselling individuals using the E-CENT approach

6.1: Quick introduction

There is no standard or invariable structure that can be applied to all E-CENT counselling and therapy sessions.  There are several core models that we use to guide our counselling process – and they will be reviewed below – but they tend to occur in various, unpredictable patterns, depending upon the client’s narrative, and various automatic counsellor-judgements.

There are at least twenty standard principles that guide the thinking of the therapist, but not all of these are activated by any particular client, or client-problem: (See Chapter 3).  And the E-CENT counsellor is, in any case, guided from non-conscious levels of mind, rather than consciously working out how to respond.  So how can I quickly give you an overview of a ‘fairly typical’ individual E-CENT counselling session, as a map of the territory to be explored?


Our main focus is Your Agenda!  What do you want to achieve?  What do you need to say; to know; to change? What is worrying you? Or angering you?  Or frustrating you?  We want to help you to change your life for the better!

Our counselling/coaching approach to your body-mind

To repeat, we are Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling, and Renata Taylor-Byrne, Lifestyle Coach.  You can see our specialist services pages here:


*CLICK* FOR: Dr Jim’s Counselling and Psychotherapy Division.***




*CLICK* FOR: Renata’s Lifestyle Coaching Division.***



Here is my ‘quick tutorial’ on how to apply E-CENT counselling in practice, drawn from my impressions of thousands of counselling sessions.  If I have to try to summarise ‘the process’, here is my best approximation to what the counsellor is trying to do:

  1. Build a relationship with the client, while trying to find out what they want and Blossom and growneed.
  2. Get an outline of the client’s story – the ‘confession stage’ (in the Jungian tradition) – about the client’s presenting problem.
  3. Help them to explore their story, and to refine it, so it becomes more accurate – more complete; or more digested; more known. For example, help them to check if their story has been subjected to any deletions, distortions or over-generalizations. Help them to explore their story of origins and their story of relationships (to begin with).
  4. Help them to see that their stories (including their emotions about events) could be edited (‘re-framed’)[1] so that they are less disturbing, less painful, and more tolerable than they originally seemed[2].
  5. Teach the client that the quality of the story that they live inside of is strongly and unavoidably affected by their diet[3], physical exercise regime[4], relaxation and sleep processes, relationship support (adequate or inadequate), physical and socioeconomic environment, and social connections (good and/or bad)[5], etc.; as well as their inner-dialogue (or self-talk; mainly at non-conscious levels of mind).
  6. Teach the client:

(a) To dedicate themselves to reality at all cost![6] (Even though it is hard for a human to know what is ‘real’, because we automatically interpret every event/object on the basis of our prior, cumulative, interpretive, cultural experience.)

(b) To accept the things they cannot change, and only try to change the things they can. (Even though it is actually very difficult to find out what might be controllable!)

(c) To live a moral life (on the basis that “You cannot live The Good Life unless you are willing to live A Good [Moral] Life!”).  This involves growing their Good Wolf side (or virtuous side), and shrinking (starving) their Bad Wolf side (or the vicious, evil side of their character). (See Appendix H of Holistic Counselling in Practice, by Dr Jim Byrne).

(d) To keep their expectations in line with reality. (Even though it is difficult to identify what is actually ‘real’!)

(e) To understand their emotions, and also how to manage them.  (See Chapter 5, …, on human emotion).

(f) To grow their Adult ego state, and to shrink the inappropriate elements of their Controlling Parent, Critical Parent, and Adapted/Rebellious Child ego states[7].

(g) To restrain their tendencies towards passivity or aggression, and to mainly try to engage in assertive communication with others.

(h) To love some significant individuals in their lives; and to offer love to one of those significant individuals, as a way to get love.

(i) To take responsibility for their life.  Nobody is coming on a white charger (or in shining armour) to rescue them.  If it’s to be, it’s up to them!

(j) To commit themselves to personal and professional development; and, if they are up for it, some form of spiritual development or community service.


jimnata-counselling-coachingIf you want your mind to be happy and healthy, then you have to work at keeping your body fit and well – (in addition to managing your thoughts and feelings).

If you want your body to be fit and well, then you need to manage your mind – (as well as your diet and physical exercise).

If you want your body-mind to function well in the world – to be fit and well and happy and effective and well-connected in happy relationships – then you need to know that your guts (intestines) are the Achilles Heel of the whole system.  What you eat and drink, and how well you digest it, makes a huge difference to both your physical and mental well-being.

Buddha2So, if you are struggling with any aspect of your body-mind-environment-wholeness, then come and see us and we will use our best coaching/ counselling ‘detective skills’ to help you to identify the key contributors to your current state, and the essential priorities for self-healing and personal growth.

And if there are any habits you need to change, we can show you how to do that.

Dr Jim Byrne and Renata Taylor-Byrne

01422 843 629

Or email us: Jim Byrne


Renata Taylor-Byrne


May 2018


Books on counselling2You could also take a look at two of our recent books, which help with lifestyle factors that reduce and increase health and happiness:

How to Control Your Anger, Anxiety and Depression, Using nutrition and physical activity.***

Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person: Or how to integrate nutritional insights, exercise and sleep coaching into talk therapy.***

6.2: Validity of our models and processes

The ABYyyyC modelMost of the models and processes which went into forming the theoretical foundations of E-CENT counselling come from one or more of the ten systems of therapy which were evaluated by Smith and Glass (1977), and found to be not only effective, but fairly equally effective![8] So I do not feel any need to waste resources funding a Randomized Control Trial to ‘prove’ the efficacy of E-CENT.  (West and Byrne, 2009[9]).

The main types of therapy validated by Smith and Glass (1977, 1982)[10], and also by later studies[11], and used in E-CENT counselling, are: Transactional analysis; Rational emotive therapy; Psychodynamic approaches; Gestalt therapy; Client-centred; and Systematic desensitization.

The main exceptions to this rule – that E-CENT has been constructed from validated systems of counselling and therapy (validated by the Common Factors School of research – Smith and Glass [1980]; Wampold and Messer [2001]; and others) – include the use of:

  1. Elements of Attachment theory (which is perhaps the most researched and validated approach to developmental psychology in use today). See Wallin (2007); and Bowlby (1988)[12].
  2. Aspects of the most popular approaches to Moral philosophy (including The Golden Rule; Rule utilitarianism; Duty ethics; and Virtue ethics.)[13]
  3. Moderate aspects of Buddhist philosophy, including elements of the Zen perspective on language; and some of the insights of the Dhammapada.[14] Plus moderate aspects of Stoic philosophy[15].
  4. The Narrative approach to counselling and therapy, which has become increasingly popular, mainly as a result of the work of White and Epston; and Kenneth Gergen; plus Theodore Sarbin[16]


“A feeble body weakens the mind”. Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

And we can either see you in Hebden Bridge, or work with you over the telephone system (and one of us [Jim] also uses Skype).


E-CENT Counselling focuses on the whole person – body-brain-mind-environment.  We care about your diet, exercise program, relaxation, life balance, and various other factors.  For example, we do not overlook your philosophy of life: “Anybody can read philosophy uncritically, and believe what they read.  But we must develop the ability to critically evaluate what we read.  For example, when Epictetus writes (in the Enchiridion) that people are not upset by their experiences of life, but rather by their evaluations of those experiences, it is important to know the contrary view from Epicurus, which teaches us that ‘the cry of the flesh’ to be free from hunger, cold and thirst, is far louder than our weak, little mental evaluations of hunger, cold and thirst!”

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling, Creator of Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT) – October 2016


“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his or her patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the causes and prevention of disease”.Thomas Edison.


6.3: Imaginary ‘typical’ session structure

Counselling-session8Most systems of counselling and therapy have a characteristic ‘session structure’ to which trainee counsellors are expected to conform, and this seems to carry on into full professional practice for many systems (including Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy)[17]. The publishing industry has tended to accentuate this requirement: that a system of therapy must have a beginning, a middle and an end phase, which are distinct and clearly specifiable, with common tasks for each phase. (See in particular the Sage Publications’ ‘Counselling in Action’ series).

However, as stated above, E-CENT counselling does not have a predetermined or predictable session structure. On the other hand, it may be necessary to imagine a ‘typical’ (though not invariable) structure, in order to teach some of the standard models and processes that we commonly use.

For example, in this chapter, it might help to explore the models and processes of E-CENT counselling by using the standard Jungian therapy session structure.  The Jungian approach has the following four stages: (1) Confession; (2) Elucidation; (3) Education; and (4) Transformation.

If we are to use this approach, then we must begin with the confession stage:


Lifestyle Coaching and Counselling Services


Homepage-quoteIf you are in need of a helpful and caring counsellor, then you have come to the right place.

A good counsellor means: Somebody who has resolved their own emotional, behavioural and relationship problems from the early years of their lives; and who has also been trained to help you to do the same for yourself.

Thus we are able to help you to change and grow; to think and feel more self-helpfully.

A good counsellor knows how to analyse your problems into meaningful stories, and to suggest strategies for rewriting your story so that it has a more positive future outcome.

We can help you with problems of anger, rage, anxiety, panic, stress and strain; sadness, grief and depression; relationship problems, at home and at work; self-confidence, self-esteem and self-assertion; plus childhood trauma and attachment issues.

We have dozens and dozens of testimonials from satisfied customers from the past.  For example:

♣ “Dear Jim, We are very pleased with the result we got from the couples therapy sessions we had with you.  Our problems are now largely resolved, and we are enjoying our relationship”.

O.A., Bradford, West Yorkshire. (Three sessions of couples therapy; combined with four sessions of individual therapy for one member of this couple).


We are holistic counsellors, so we relate to you as a socialized body-mind-environment whole.  We do not think of you as a ‘floating head’.  So we can advise you on how to optimise your body-mind functioning for physical and emotional well-being.

All systems of counselling and psychotherapy are broadly equivalent in terms of the results produced for and with the clients:  “If anything can be said of psychotherapy (and counselling), it is maturing.  The days when models and theories arrived and were pursued with all the alacrity (or brisk and cheerful readiness) that only the latest designer drugs could excite on the streets are over. New therapeutic approaches are still emerging, but the fire for the novel, different, and exotic therapies has for the most part been extinguished”.  In that spirit, we do not claim that E-CENT counselling is the only, the best or the sexiest therapy available.  We simply say that it is our best attempt at combining all those elements that we have found to be helpful and effective over the years.

Hubble, Duncan, Miller and Wampold (2011) Introduction, The Heart and Soul of Change: Delivering what works in therapy.  Second edition. Page 24. (141)


Here is a little video clip on the benefits of our system of counselling, coaching and psychotherapy:










We can see you in Hebden Bridge, or we can talk over the telephone.

Blue-logo7Sometimes one or two counselling sessions is enough to help an individual to get back on their own self-directed track. (But it is common for complex problems to take very much longer than that!)

And if you find it hard to relate to the idea of coming for coaching, counsellor or therapy; then you could come and see us for a tutorial – an educational/learning experience to do with your problems of daily living.







“Thank you, Renata, for all the help you have given me in learning to think and feel in ways that were alien to me before I consulted you. I have been on a long journey from suffering to joy!”

P.J.M.  Sheffield, UK (Several consultations for a range of stuck issues, over a period of years).


We look forward to helping you!
natajim-coaching-counselling2For more information, about each of us, and how we could help you, please click one of the following links:

Dr Jim’s Counselling and Psychotherapy Division



Renata’s Coaching and Counselling Division

Or phone us today on: 01422 843 629


Or email us: Jim Byrne


Renata Taylor-Byrne


Or leave a comment here:













6.3(a): Confession

Secure attachmentThe main model that I want to emphasize in the ‘confession’ stage is our own version of the Rapport > Contract > Focus > Process model, as shown in figure 6.1.

By using the concept of ‘confession’ we evoke memories of the Catholic confession box.  However, it is important to note that E-CENT has a secular approach to spirituality; and a link to Buddhism and Stoicism, rather than any brand of Christianity.

Confessions we do hear, but we do not begin our counselling and therapy work by asking the client to confess, or even to open up.  We actually begin with a very gentle process, based on our Rapport> Contract> Focus> Process (RCFP) model.

This model determines and structures how we meet and greet our clients, and how we work slowly towards a therapy focus; and thereafter we (spontaneously, intuitively) select additional models to guide the processing (P) of the client’s communications.

The RCFP model is structured as follows:

R = Rapport.  Build rapport[18] (or attentive attunement) with the client as a basis for a strong therapeutic alliance. (This is increasingly seen as our role of providing a ‘secure base’, as defined in Attachment theory. [See Wallin, 2007, and Bowlby, 1988]). It also includes the core conditions of genuineness, empathy and non-possessive love (agape)/caring[19]).

C = Contract.  Find out what the client wants to work on, as a contractual undertaking. But bear in mind that this might be the first of more than one ‘presenting problem’, before the client feels secure enough to reveal the ‘real’ problem. (Sometimes this does seem as if the client has decided to ‘confess’, or ‘own up’ – or to arrive at some new stage of conscious awareness of some previously hidden aspect of their problem).

F = Focus.  Focus in on an area of work that will assist in the pursuit of the client’s goals, as implied by the contract (C).

P = Process.  Process the client’s communications and concerns about this ‘area of work’ through one (at a time) of the various models available; some of which are discussed below.

There are many forms of counselling, coaching and psychotherapy: including self-help approaches

Of course, we do not mean to imply that you have to see us face to face for counselling.  In fact:

(a) You could consult one of us over the telephone or email; or you could consult Jim via Skype.  See our page on telephone and email counselling.***

(b) You could consult a coach, counsellor or psychotherapist closer to your home.

(c) Or you could learn how to solve your own problem – using a self-help approach – by studying a suitable book on the problem with which you are grappling.

(d) Or you could learn how to use ‘writing therapy’ to resolve your problem, by reading one of the books in our Narrative Therapy Series.  For example:





Writing Theapy book cover~~~

Or you could work through our workbook, How to Write a New Life for Yourself.***


Text resumes: (This RCFP model was inspired by a similar model developed by Dr Ed Jacobs, in his system of Impact Therapy)[20].

Some of the unsolicited client testimonials, which I often receive, testify to the importance of our emphasis on building rapport.  Here are two recent examples (in which the clients’ identities and locations have been concealed):

♣ “Hello Jim, I am so grateful to you for all the skilful help you’ve given me over the two years that I’ve been seeing you.  You have given me a new kind of life; new ways of relating; and an improved view of myself as a person in the world. Thank you so much.”

P.A.G., Crag Vale, Calderdale. (20+ sessions of face to face counselling for a range of attachment, relationship and self-esteem issues).


♣ “Dear Jim, I want to express my gratitude for the help you gave me over the past few weeks.  I was in a bad way, lost, and not understood elsewhere – but you understood me, believed in me, and helped me to work out a better understanding of my condition.  You were right to focus on my diet and lack of physical fitness, rather than the psychiatric emphasis on my ‘brain chemicals’!  I am now back on my feet, and back in my university studying.  (In fact, I did a resit exam last week, and got a ‘grade A’ pass.)  Thank you for your excellent diagnostic and humanitarian skills.”

H.H.G., Bradford. (Six sessions of face to face counselling for unusual physical sensations and panic about personal identity difficulties).


Counselling-div-quoteQuestioning strategies: From the beginning of the counsellor’s relationship with each client, and especially as rapport is achieved, there is a need for effective, systematic questioning.  Effective, systematic questioning has a number of features:

In the opening encounters with a new client, I normally offer an invitation to speak, rather than a tightly focused question.  I am trying to establish a relationship, tentatively, carefully. I want to hear the client’s story, in their own words, and in their usual way of conversing.

I then explain that I want to arrive at a contract which will involve me in working on the client’s key issues.  Of course, I also know that they may begin with a ‘presenting problem’ which is not their main concern.  I may have to wait some time before they feel safe enough to present the real issue.


In E-CENT counselling, we teach our clients that we are always projecting the past into the present.  Our minds are wired up in the past.  We are creatures of habit.  We try to repeat our old habits in new contexts.  And we classify everything, including other people, on the basis of people we have known in the past.  “(W)e tend to feel more favourably towards strangers who resemble loved parents or siblings.  We expect strangers who remind us of past figures to react to us in the same way as our relatives once did, and these expectations in turn feed back into how we feel.  For example, if a person resembles our brother or sister, beside whom we always felt inadequate, being in this person’s company may make us feel that way.  We project our sibling’s traits on to the newcomer, then reinvent ourselves as inadequate by comparison.  Most dramatic of all, we are liable to manipulate people to behave in ways that actually resemble the originals – so powerful is our need to reconstruct the past in the present”.

Dr Oliver James (2002) They F*** You Up: How to survive family life.  London: Bloomsbury. Pages 82-83. (142)



Or you could become your own counsellor in smaller steps, by studying the basic theory of how to do your own writing therapy:

Daily journal writing can raise your personal awareness in a “nearly magical way”, as well as reducing the hectic pace of life and making it “more balanced and manageable”.

Writing Theapy book coverIn my book on expressive writing, I have included more than twenty exercises for dealing with a broad range of problems and goals.  The first two deal with daily planning and reflection.  The third deals with a start of the day system of ‘stream of consciousness’ writing.

I began using a daily journal somewhere in the mid-1990’s, and I’ve found it to be a wonderful help in digesting my day-to-day stresses and frustrations; generating solutions to my practical and emotional problems; and coming up with creative ideas for blogs, article, books, and business innovations.

For more, please click this link: https://abc-counselling.org/how-to-write-a-new-life-for-yourself/


For more, please go to Narrative therapy and the writing solution…***


The Lifestyle Counselling BookOr, you might want to take a look at our main book on E-CENT counselling, which is titled: Lifestyle Counselling for the Whole Person: Or how to integrate nutritional insights, exercise, and sleep coaching into talk therapy.***


In the confession stage, we are still mainly dealing with the client’s presenting problem, which may not go deep enough in terms of understanding what is really causing the client’s main difficulties in life.

When thwarted goals seems to be a significant part of the problem, I might use the WDEP model. From Dr William Glasser’s ‘Reality therapy’, this model asks:

W = What do you Want?

D = What are you Doing to get what you want?

E = How well is this going (the Evaluation stage)?  And:

P = Let’s re-Plan, or produce an explicit Plan linked to what you Want.

Out of this questioning process normally come some fragments of story, which may or may not fit well together, and with which we work to make sense of the client’s overall life narrative.

If there is a tension between what the client wants and what they are doing, we are immediately into the elucidation stage; helping the client to change either what they want, or what they are doing, so they both line up.

Our approach to counselling

Blue-logo7The system of counselling, coaching and psychotherapy that we practice is a holistic integration of various pre-existing systems, including cognitive, emotive, behavioural, and narrative approaches. We have both been trained in REBT/CBT, and in a range of other models (including Transactional Analysis, Gestalt therapy, Behaviour therapy, and  many more). And we also teach the importance of effective management of your diet, physical exercise, relaxation/meditation, your relationships, at home and at work, your stress levels, and other holistic strategies.


Counsellors need to re-parent their clients who have attachment problems.  A ‘good enough’ mother is an essential basis for a happy and successful life:  “From the earliest days (of life) there is a reciprocal communication between mother and baby.  The infant communicates by means of positive cues such as cooing, smiling, and quiescence, and by negative ones such as crying, motor uneasiness, apathy, and refusal.  The mother’s skill lies in her ways of responding to these cues, interpreting them correctly as messages of discomfort, satisfaction, hunger, or pain.  She communicates to the infant by auditory, visual and tactile means and there is good evidence that subtle variations in qualities of voice, in ways of handling and of looking, are of great importance in setting the conditions for tranquil behaviour in the growing infant.  In this early conversation the child learns basic trust and hope, the sense that his mother is reliably there and will be consistently responsive to his needs…”  If such a ‘good enough’ mother is not available in infancy, there will most likely be some opportunities later to make up this deficit; but its lack will cause problems for the individual who does not have this kind of ‘secure base’.

Robert F. Hobson, Forms of Feeling: The heart of psychotherapy, Page 213. (143)


[1] Online description…


We look forward to helping you!

natajim-coaching-counsellingFor more information, about each of us, and how we could help you, please click one of the following links:


Dr Jim’s Counselling and Psychotherapy Division



Renata’s Coaching and Counselling Division


Or phone us today on: 01422 843 629

Or email us: Jim Byrne


Renata Taylor-Byrne


Or leave a comment here, on this page:













If there is no tension between what the client wants and what they are doing, I often switch to the Egan Model

The Egan model: This is a more detailed exploration of the client’s goals and resources for making progress. In its simplest form it includes asking the client the following three questions:

  1. Where are you now (in your inner and outer life)? Or what is the problem with which you are stuck?
  2. Where are you trying to get to? Or what would need to change for the problem to be resolved?
  3. What (new or revised) action could you take to get from 1 to 2? Or how could you begin to build a bridge towards your goal?

This process often gives us a ‘focus area’ to begin to work upon.


Please take a look at our recent paperback book on How to Write a New Life for Yourself.***

I have used writing therapy for years; to manage my stress and time; to manage my relationships at home and at work; to resolve my emotional and practical problems; to improve my creativity; and just simply to chew through my daily experiences to make sense of them, and to file them away in a manner which would stop them building up into mental logjams.  (Of course I have also used meditation, diet and exercise, adequate sleep, calm relationships, and so on!)

For more, please click this link: https://abc-counselling.org/how-to-write-a-new-life-for-yourself/


During the confession stage, some clients have admitted to serious wrong-doing, such as being unfaithful to their partner, or stealing family assets.  At this point I switch from confession to education, and begin to teach the importance of pursuing a virtuous life, and avoiding vice, because of the inevitable outcome of ‘bad karma’[21]. We tend to reap what we sow, and we cannot have a happy life if we live in an unprincipled manner.  (Of course, I also teach the importance of morality for the sake of being a moral agent – a good person; which is a social requirement).  And I teach that immorality also tends to undermine our sense of self-esteem.

Furthermore, also I teach the Golden Rule[22], and often recommend reading of the Dhammapada (which outlines basic Buddhist teachings)[23].


Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person: Or how to integrate nutritional insights, exercise and sleep coaching into talk therapy.  By Dr Jim Byrne

Dr Jim Byrne spent six years (from 2001 to 2007) exploring the possibility of reformulating Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT): to remove some fundamental weaknesses, and to ground it in psychological science, and in moderate Stoic and Buddhist philosophy.  Out of this work came the Complex ABC model of Reformed REBT.  But the ABC model (of REBT) continued to be a problem, because it asserts that only the client’s beliefs (or B’s) play a significant role in human disturbance; or they play the determining role.  But Dr Byrne knew that diet, exercise, relationships (in the past and the present), plus socioeconomic circumstances and other, external, environmental stressors, play a major role in determining the emotional state of socialized-individuals.

See this book: (REBT) Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes.***



drjim-counsellor1Therefore, he spent a further nine years (2007 to 2016) developing a new system, called Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT)*** – which has at its core a new, updated, Holistic SOR (Stimulus-Organism-Response) Model – which can accommodate all of the multitude of factors which affect human emotional and behavioural functioning.  In the process, he also developed the Six Windows Model*** (for re-framing difficult circumstances and problems) – and adapted a whole range of new and borrowed models, into a unique system of holistic counselling, coaching and psychotherapy.

Now you can learn this whole system from Dr Byrne’s latest book: Holistic Counselling in Practice: An introduction to Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy***.


Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person:

Or how to integrate nutritional insights, physical exercise and sleep coaching into talk therapy

By Dr Jim Byrne with Renata Taylor-Byrne (Copyright © Jim Byrne, 2018).


Draft-cover-3This book describes a holistic counselling and coaching system which integrates diet, exercise, self-talk, relaxation, sleep, meditation, childhood trauma, current relationships, socio-economic stressors, and much more besides, to create the most holistic system in existence.

However, what we are promoting is the idea that anybody, from any school of counselling, could select those aspects that make sense to them, on a personal priority basis; and this book can help them to integrate those self-chosen elements into their own system of talk therapy.

This book is proving to be extremely popular with counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists, on LinkedIn and Facebook.  It is selling very well.

Feedback from LinkedIn, on 22nd May 2018: “Got the book: loving it so far!” J. Blair Cano, PsyD, MSCP

…For more on this book, please go to Counselling the Whole Person.***


Text resumes:

6.3(b): Elucidation

There are a number of models that I use for the purpose of elucidating the client’s concerns, dilemmas, goals, etc.  Chief among them is our own holistic version of the Stimulus> Organism> Response (or Holistic-SOR) model.

The original SOR model of neo-Behaviourism was dumped by Dr Albert Ellis, the creator of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), and replaced by the simple ABC model, in which the client is always and only upset because of their ‘irrational beliefs’.  (And Freud’s ‘ABCs’ were no better, in that he implied that when something happens [let’s call it an ‘A’, or activating event], the client responds with their own phantasy [let’s call it a ‘B’, or belief], which upsets them [at point C – consequence]: though Freud did not use that ‘ABC’ lettering system)

Aaron Tim Beck (despite being a medical doctor, and theoretically aware of the importance of the human body) also adopted this simple ABC model. (Beck 1976).

So one of the main contributions of E-CENT counselling has been ‘adding back the body’ to the client; and accepting that the client’s body-mind-environment-whole is implicated in all of their emotional and behavioural states.

In the process we developed a more holistic version of the Stimulus>Organism>Response model. (See Figure 6.4 below)



In the simple, classic SOR model, an incoming stimulus (S) (which is a sensed experience) impacts upon the nervous system of the organism (O) (or person, in our case), causing a reactive response (R) to be outputted (or generated), to cope with the stimulus/ experience.

Our model began like this simple, classic model, but then we asked ourselves what factors are most likely to affect the capacity for a human organism to be able to handle difficult incoming stimuli, or activating events.  We came up with an extensive list, which includes:

Diet (meaning balanced, healthy, or otherwise).

Exercise (meaning regular physical exercise designed to reduce stress, versus a sedentary lifestyle)[24]

Self-talk, scripts, frames and schemas (Including conscious and/or non-conscious stories and narratives/ thinking-feeling states/ self-signalling/ attitudinizing / framing, etc.  Plus other culturally shaped beliefs and attitudes, expectations, prophesies, etc.  Plus non-narrativized experiences stored in the form of schemas and frames, etc.)

Relaxation (or release from muscle tension and anxiety, versus tension and anxiety)

Family history (including attachment styles [secure or insecure] and childhood trauma)

Emotional needs (including deficits and/or satisfactions)

Character and temperament (as in Myers-Briggs or Keirsey-Bates)[25]

Environmental stressors (including home environment, work situation, economic circumstances, and so on).

Sleep patterns; and the balance between work, rest and play.


By keeping our focus on the fact that the client is a complex, socialized body-mind; steeped in storied-experiences (plus non-storied experiences) of concrete experiences in a concrete world; and living in a complex relationship to an external social environment – which is often hostile and unsupportive, resulting in stress-induced over-arousal of the entire body-mind – we never fall into the trap of foolishly asking the client: “What do you think you are telling yourself in order to cause your own problem?” 

And we do not foolishly tell the client that the thoughts which (in reality) follow on from their emotional experiences are causing those emotional experiences!


We focus on the client’s story and the client’s physical existence, both with roughly equal, but variable, emphasis.  Sometimes the story needs most attention, and sometimes the state of the body-mind, in terms of diet, exercise, etc. is more important.

Traditional medical doctors were guilty of separating the body from the mind, and trying to treat the body as a ‘faulty machine’ – which was in line with Newtonian mechanics of the nineteenth century, which lasted well into the twentieth century and beyond.

Sigmund Freud, as a trained neurologist and MD, came out of that tradition and began the process of moving towards some kind of appreciation of the mind.

However, many generations of counsellors and psychotherapists have gone too far in this direction, and forgot all about the body.  Some modern medical doctors are beginning to realize their original error.

Here’s how Dr Ron Anderson, Chairman of the Board of the Texas Department of Health, describes his aim for all the doctors he influences:

“I try to have people understand wholeness if I can, because if you don’t understand the mind/body connection, you start off on the wrong premise.  You also have to understand the person within their family and community because this is where people live”.[26] 


Dr Jim’s Counselling Division

About Dr Jim Byrne – Doctor of Counselling



In that time I have helped more than 850 individuals (many of them in couple counselling) to overcome a range of problems, from anger, anxiety and depression, via poor self-confidence and stress and strain, to insecure attachment style and couple conflict.

Here’s a little video clip that explains some of the benefits of consulting me about your problems of daily living:









I have received dozens and dozens of unsolicited testimonials from satisfied clients.

♣ “Thanks for all your help Jim – I found our sessions really insightful – and they’ve really helped me understand my passive behaviour, and how to become more self-assured in situations of work conflict. So far I’ve read the depression leaflet every day – I absolutely intend to continue every day for several months.  My depression has lifted and I feel great.”

T.L., Todmorden, Lancs.  (Three sessions of counselling for depression about work related stress).


For more, go to Dr Jim’s Counselling division…***


Figure 6.4 below shows how we present the holistic SOR model for our clients.

As indicated in Figure 6.4, E-CENT theory takes a holistic view of the client as a social-body-mind, with a habit-based character and temperament, living in a particular social and physical environment, with stressors and supports.

The client has a personal history which is unique to them; plus some social shaping that extends to their family, and some to their community; some to their nation/race/gender, etc.

This illustration should be read as follows: Column 1 – ‘S’ = (or equals) A stimulus, which, when experienced by an O = Organism (in our case a human), may activate or interact with any of the factors listed in column 2; and this will produce an R = Response, as shown in column 3.

To be more precise: The holistic SOR model states that a client (a person) responds at point ‘R’, to a (negative or positive) stimulus at point ‘S’, on the basis of the current state of their social-body-mind.

How well rested are they? How high or low is their blood-sugar level (which is related to diet)?

How well connected are they to significant others (which is a measure of social support)?

How much conflict do they have at home or at work?  What other pressures are bearing down upon them (e.g. from their socio-economic circumstances; physical health; home/ housing; work/ income; security/ insecurity; etc.)

And how emotionally intelligent are they? (Emotional intelligence is, of course, learned, and can be re-learned!)figure 6.1XX

Figure 6.4: The E-CENT holistic SOR model

Within the Holistic-SOR model (in Figure 6.4 above), in the middle column, what we are aiming to do is to construct a balance sheet (in our heads) of the pressures bearing down on the client (person), and the coping resources that they have for dealing with those pressures.


So this is a historical-social-stress model. It is not a purely ‘cognitive distortion’ model; nor a purely ‘biological/ sexual urges’ model; nor a purely ‘prizing and listening’ model.


Lifestyle Coaching and Counselling in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire


Some lifestyles bring happiness, and some bring pain.  Some lifestyles cause health problems, while others promote vibrant health.  What do you want?  To be happy and healthy, or ‘under the weather’.

In E-CENT coaching and counselling, we ask our clients: Why would you take potentially dangerous, addictive, pharmaceutical drugs for depression when physical exercise can cure you?  “… (A) study was carried out on patients diagnosed with a major depressive disorder.  The first group was given medication alone, the second (group was given) exercise alone and the third (group was given) medication and exercise together.  The results showed that exercise is as helpful as medication in combating depression, as all three groups showed statistically significant and identical improvement in standard measurements of depression”.

Philippa Perry, How to Stay Sane. (2012). (44)


Life can be very tough, and people can really benefit from developing a wiser approach to life.  Marketeers spend a lot of time, creative energy and money misleading you, and causing you to chase health-reducing goals; and happiness diminishing lifestyles.

That’s where I come in. I currently provide help to individuals who may be struggling with any one of a whole range of personal and/or professional problems. I have spent a lifetime learning what works and what does not, in terms of personal decisions, values, goals and lifestyle options.

Seeing people achieve their goals, to be happy and healthy, and in secure relationships, is greatly rewarding for me, and I am always researching and experimenting with how you can achieve your goals and overcome your problems and difficulties more efficiently; and how the barriers to your optimum health and happiness can be removed.

Unsolicited Client Testimonial

“Dear Renata, Thank you for the help you gave me during my recent upset.  You provided great hope and encouragement.  I particularly liked the exercise on what I can and cannot control.  That really brought me out of my depressed state.  I also felt that you could feel my pain!  Thank you.”

L.B., Taunton, Devon.  (Four sessions of telephone counselling for grief and depression and relationship problems).


For more, please go to Renata’s Coaching Division.***


Once we have established rapport, and worked on a contract and a specific focus, we move on to the detailed work of processing the client’s communications about their concerns.

Process = The process of E-CENT counselling can have formal and informal aspects; including: discussion and questions; or the use of questionnaires to explore possibilities.  And/or the use of a range of models and techniques and strategies, as described and explored throughout this chapter.

And the process tends to vary considerably from one client to another, as each client is unique.  Although there is no one right way to begin, one fairly typical or common approach could be to:

  1. Explain the H-S-O-R model, and then:
  2. Explore the details of the client’s Diet, Exercise, Sleep patterns, Self-talk, Relaxation/Meditation (as first priorities) – if appropriate.
  3. Then, explore the client’s relationships (current and historic), as the next priority – if appropriate.

This elucidation sometimes involves the use of explicit questionnaires, but more commonly we stick to informal questioning about: Diet and vitamin supplementation; Exercise routine and frequency; Sleep quality and duration; and Relaxation and/or meditation practice.  Also: What’s going on at home, and/or in work?  What has changed recently?

And so on.


Other instruments

The emotional needs assessment questionnaire (adapted from the Human Givens approach): This allows the client to identify any unmet needs which may be affecting their equilibrium, and thus causing emotional disturbance. (See Appendix B, at the back of this book).

A brief Depression inventory (from Dr David Burns handbook[27]): This is sometimes used to check the intensity of a client’s depression; and sometimes to check on progress over time.

A brief Anxiety inventory (from Dr David Burns handbook): Like the depression inventory, this is sometimes used to check the intensity of a client’s anxiety; and sometimes to check on progress in reducing anxiety over time.

Other models: We also use some other models, to help the client to understand their marriage, or to help them to understand stress, or the handling of panic, etc. For examples, we teach eighteen principles of happy relationships – some of which come from Professor John Gottman’s books[28]

We teach twenty-one principles of stress management, from a broad range of sources[29].

And we use our own desensitization process to help clients to reduce their traumatic stress and panic symptoms. (See Appendix C).


What is Transactional Analysis, and how is it used in E-CENT counselling?

Four models from Transactional Analysis (TA) counselling, as used in Classic TA and in E-CENT counselling: (1) The ego-state theory and model; (2) Script theory; (3) The Drama Triangle; and (4) the OK Corral.  Quotes and video footage from Dr Eric Berne.

Image-3-Intro-TA.JPGResource 3 – How to understand and apply Transactional Analysis (TA) in your life

by Dr Jim Byrne

12th September 2015 Updated 13th July 2016

Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2009-2015


Sigmund Freud created the insight that the human individual has three main components to their personality or being.  These are: (1) the part that was born (the body-mind, or the ‘it’); (2) The internalised others (mainly mother and father, etc; which he called the over-I); and (3) The socialised personality (which he called the I: which Anglicised psychoanalysis called ‘the ego’).

Freud’s system of psychoanalysis was slow and difficult, and involved trying to externalize the contents of the non-conscious part of the mind of the patient/client.

Eric Berne was an American medical doctor and trained psychiatrist, who, at the end of the Second World War, was interested in finding ways of making psychoanalysis more accessible to ordinary people, in a way that was quicker and more efficient than Freud’s approach.

For more, please go to What is Transactional Analysis (TA)? page.***


Questioning strategies

Various questioning strategies have been adopted, adapted or evolved within E-CENT; and these are particularly important at the elucidation stage:

As we move into the Focus stage (of the RCFP model), we begin to ask a range of open and closed questions; and as we enter the Process stage, we begin using funnelling questions – going deeper and deeper into the client’s problem.

If we get stuck, and no longer understand the shape of the client’s presenting issue, we may have to use one of the following questioning techniques:

(a) The 5W’s & 1H model: In this approach, the counsellor asks: Who…? What…? When…? Where…? Why…? And, finally, How…?  (Or some relevant sub-set of those questions, in whatever order makes most sense).

(But be careful.  Questions can trigger anxiety in the client!)

(b) The Five Why’s model: This model is a form of drilling down into the problem: Why did it happen?  Why did you respond the way you did?  Why did you not try X instead?  Why…? (And I will explain later how we modify these questions to substitute ‘For what reason…?’) – instead of the word ‘Why?’

(c) Other approaches: Of course, the WDEP model (which we explored above) is also primarily a questioning model.  And we also use the simple Egan Model of the Skilled Helper:

  1. Where are you now?
  2. Where are you trying to get to?
  3. How could you build a bridge from 1 to 2?
  4. Reflection and insight: (The counsellors watches out for blindspots and unutilized resources or sources of strength, and discusses them with the client).


The best kept secret of counselling and therapy

Blog Post No.146

10th  July 2016

Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog:

The best kept secret of counselling and therapy: The role of the client…

Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling


One of the best kept secrets of counselling and psychotherapy is this: The qualities of the client are at least as important as the qualities of the counsellor, in terms of determining the outcome (positive or negative).

But how can we refine this insight, this secret, so that it becomes clearer and more helpful or useful?

Defining client qualities

  1. If the client knows they have a problem that they cannot resolve for themselves; and theyrealize that they are committed to resolving it nevertheless; and they twig that somebody else might have some kind of expert knowledge which could help them to solve their problem; and they realize that a counsellor or therapist could be just such a person: then they have a fighting chance of being able to access counselling, and to make good use of a counselling relationship and related processes.
  2. If this person then becomes a willing counselling client, and they have had the kind of experiences of being parented – when they were a child – which allows them to ask for help, and to take advice and guidance – then they have a good chance of being able to find out what their counsellor has in their toolbox which they could use to resolve their own most important problem(s).

For more, please go to Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog…***


Dangers of questioning! 

This is a good point to mention our reservation about excessive questioning, or the intensive use of questioning, especially when the client is particularly stressed.  The main problem here is that the client may become anxious and even feel that they are being ‘interrogated’ or ‘treated as the villain of the piece’.

If the client has an avoidant attachment style, they are highly likely to become stressed if questioned about their feelings: (Hill, 2015, pages 208-209).

So, in practice, we do not use the Five Why’s, as such, but rather the gentler, ‘For what reason?’ times 5.  “For what reason did you go there?”  “For what reason did you respond the way you did”?  Etc.  In the ‘bad old days’, when children were asked ‘Why?’ at home or in school, this was often a signal that they were ‘in trouble’ and that they should ‘button their lip’ to avoid being punished.  When we ask: “For what reason…?” we are clearly focusing on causality (or causation) and/or motivation, and not blame!  (“I would be interested to know the reason that… [you did X]”, is an even better formulation.)

However, overall, in E-CENT counselling, we try to stick to the five functions of questioning that are outlined in G.I. Nierenberg’s (1987)[30] book on negotiation skills.

Those five functions of questions, are as follows:

  1. To cause the client to focus upon a particular point (event, or object);
  2. To cause their thinking to start up;
  3. To ask them for some information;
  4. To pass some information to them (rhetorically); and:
  5. To cause their thinking to come to a conclusion.

Nierenberg also argues that you can arrange those five questions in a grid, like this:


Figure 6.5: Gerard Nierenberg’s question grid

Using this grid, you can see that a question can be in two parts. For example: Q1 + Q3 – (1) To cause the clients attention to focus on a specific event/experience, and (2) to ask them for some information about that event/experience. 


How can having a coach help anyone?

Blog Post No. 37

20th July 2016

Copyright © Renata Taylor-Byrne 2016

Renata’s Coaching & Counselling blog: How can having a coach help anyone?


          “If I am through learning, I am through”. John Wooden

It’s not dead obvious how a coach can help you, and many people think that coaches are only for footballers, rugby players, tennis players and other sports-people, business people – but not for ordinary people.

But why not?

Ordinary people face massive challenges which are just as crucial, if not more so, than the challenges faced by people who are preparing for the Olympics!

Ordinary people (and extraordinary non-athletes!) face great challenges as they work to provide for themselves and their loved ones

Here are some of the massive challenges people face in ordinary life, as they try to create a decent life for themselves and their families:

…For more, please go to Renata’s coaching and counselling blogs.***


Here is an illustrative example:

“(1) With regard to (event X), (2) for what reason did you experience it as (an insult, [for example])?”

The great beauty of this system is that it gets rid of the “Socratic smart-arse” aspect of questioning the client, which is prevalent in rational therapy (REBT).

The problems with classic Socratic Questioning (as used in REBT/CBT) include:

  1. That the client may interpret the therapist as ‘picking a fight’ with them; making them wrong; or putting them down;
  2. That the client may become anxious when asked particular kinds of right/ wrong questions (perhaps because of re-stimulation of one or more of the many humiliating experiences of being a child in classrooms in school and being subjected to interrogations, the aim of which was to find a reason to punish the client when they were a child).
  3. That the client may – (as suggested by the research studies of Asch, Milgram and Zimbardo)[31] – simply go along with the therapist’s inferences, as a form of obedience or conformity to authority.
  4. That the therapist never gets to know the client, because s/he (the therapist) is always tilting at the windmills of ‘innate irrational beliefs’ – or ‘negative automatic thoughts’ – and not paying attention to the actual story the client is telling them.

And on and on.

The point is not to avoid questions completely (as some Rogerian, person centred counsellors do), but to use questions skilfully, sparingly, and appropriately.

Couples Therapy and Marriage Guidance in Hebden Bridge

By Dr Jim Byrne – Doctor of Counselling

October 2017



I have now been in private practice as a coach/ counsellor/ psychotherapist for more than seventeen years, in Hebden Bridge, near Halifax, West Yorkshire; and all over the world via the telephone and internet systems.

During that time, I’ve been pleased to help dozens and dozens of couples with all kinds of marriage, relationship and communication problems. Here’s a little video introduction to the kinds of ideas that I teach to my clients in couple’s therapy:

Here are just three of the testimonials I’ve received from some of those couples:

♣ Email feedback: “Dear Jim, … PS: We consulted you by telephone a few years ago, for relationship conflict, involving a very serious rift … And we are now happily married with a nine month old child.  Your help was fantastic, and we still use the phrases and descriptions you used then.  In fact, we have a list of insights on a laminated poster on our living room wall, to keep us on the straight and narrow! We will always be grateful for those insights.”  S.W. (and P.W), Sheffield. (Six sessions of telephone counselling [using speaker phone] for couple conflict and relationship advice).


For more, please go to Couples Therapy with Dr Jim Byrne in Hebden Bridge.***


6.3(c): Education

Education of the client is a key aspect of our work. We teach the client that they are socialized-body-minds, interacting with social and physical environments, and not just ‘floating heads’.  That everything they put into their body – and some of the things they fail to put into their body – will have some (positive and/or negative) effect on their mind.  And everything they do with their mind – like thinking, feeling, ruminating, worrying, planning dire outcomes, etc. – will have some effect on their body – which will in turn rebound on their mind.  So it is most sensible to think of taking care of their body-mind as a holistic activity.  And also to manage their relationship to their social and physical environment.

End of extract.  To see the whole book’s content, please go to Holistic Counselling in Practice.***


[1] See Chapter 3 – ‘Shaping our narratives’ – in Wilson, T.D. (2011) Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change. London: Allen Lane/Penguin.

[2] See Appendix G.

[3] See this blog post: Your Emotions Are What You Eat: How Your Diet Can Reduce Anxiety, by Matthew C. Nisbet, Available here: http://bigthink.com/age-of-engagement/your-emotions-are-what-you-eat-how-your-diet-can-reduce-anxiety

[4] See Appendix F.

[5] Siegel, D.J. (2015) The Developing Mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are.  London: The Guilford Press.

[6] Peck, M.S. (1998) The Road Less Travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth.  New York: Touchstone.

[7] See our web page – ‘What is Transactional Analysis (TA)?’ – here: https://abc-counselling.org/transactional-analysis/

[8] See my page on ‘REBT and Research’, Available here: web.archive.org/web/*/http://abc-counselling.com/id113.html

[9] West, W., and Byrne, J., (2009) ‘Some ethical concerns about counselling research’: Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 22(3) 309-318.

[10] Smith, M.L. and Glass, G.V. (1977) Meta-analysis of psychotherapy outcomes studies.  American Psychologists, 32, 752-760.

Smith, M., Glass, G. and Miller, T. (1980) The Benefits of Psychotherapy. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

[11] Wampold, B.E. (2001) The Great Psychotherapy Debate: Model, methods, and findings. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Wampold, B.E., Ahn, H., and Coleman, H.K.L. (2001) Medical model as metaphor: Old habits die hard.  Journal of Counselling Psychology, 48, 268-273.

[12] Bowlby, J. (1988/2005) A Secure Base. London: Routledge Classics.

[13] Beauchamp, T.L. and Childress, J.F. (1994) Principles of Biomedical Ethics.  Fourth edition.  New York.  Oxford University Press.  And:

Bond, T. (2000) Standards and Ethics for Counselling in Action. Second edition. London: Sage.

[14] Watts, A. (1962/1990) The Way of Zen. London: Arkana/Penguin. And:

The Dhammapada (1973/2015) Taken from Juan Mascaró’s translation and edition, first published in 1973. London: Penguin Books (Little Black Classics No.80)

[15] Epictetus (1991) The Enchiridion. New York: Prometheus Books. And:

Aurelius, M. (1946/1992) Meditations. Trans. A.S.L. Farquharson.  London: Everyman’s Library.


[16] Wilson (2011); and:

Sarbin, T. R. (1989). Emotions as narrative emplotments. In M. J. Packer & R. B. Addison (eds.) Entering the circle: Hermeneutic investigations in psychology (pp. 185-201). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.  And:

Sarbin, T. R. (2001). Embodiment and the narrative structure of emotional life. Narrative Inquiry, 11, 217-225.

Gergen, K. (1985) The social constructionist movement in modern psychology.  American Psychologist, 40: 266-275.  And:

Gergen, K. J. (1994). Toward Transformation in Social Knowledge. London: Sage Publications. And:

Gergen, K. (2004) When relationships generate realities: therapeutic communication reconsidered.  Unpublished manuscripts.  Available online: http://www.swarthmore.edu/Soc.Sci/kgergen1/printer-friendly.phtml?id-manu6.  Downloaded: 8th December 2004. And:

Gergen, K.J. and Gergen, M.M. (1986) Narrative form and the construction of psychological science.  In T.R. Sarbin (ed), Narrative Psychology: the storied nature of human conduct.  New York: Praeger.  And:

Chapter 4 – ‘What’s the story’ – in Philippa Perry (2012) How to Stay Sane. London: Macmillan.

[17] In the Master Therapist Series of video tapes produced by the Albert Ellis Institute, each of the ‘master therapists’ used the A-B-C-D-E model as the invariable structure of their sessions.

[18] Definition of rapport = “A close and harmonious relationship, in which the counsellor and client understand each other’s words, attitudes, feelings or ideas, and communicate well with each other”.

[19] Nelson-Jones, R. (2001) Theory and Practice of Counselling and Therapy.  Third edition.  London: Continuum.

[20] Jacobs. E.E. (1993) Impact Therapy. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

[21] We use a secular definition of ‘karma’ as meaning the results of all of our actions in the real world of this (the only) life we have lived so far (or the only life we can know about!) This combines both earned merit/demerit, plus accidents of being in the right or wrong place at a particular point in time. “Your karma is what happens to you.  You don’t have to be very wise about that!” Werner Erhard.

[22] The Golden Rule, which goes back to ancient China, and is preserved in both Catholic dogma and in the thinking of Immanuel Kant, goes like this: Do not do unto others what you would not want them to do to you in similar circumstances.  Or: Treat other people in ways that you would like to be treated.

[23] The Dhammapada (1973/2015) Taken from Juan Mascaró’s translation and edition, first published in 1973. London: Penguin Books (Little Black Classics No.80)

[24] The British National Health Service (NHS) supports the view that exercise is good for mood disorders, like anxiety and depression.  Here’s their comment specifically on depression:

“Exercise for depression

“Being depressed can leave you feeling low in energy, which might put you off being more active.

“Regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression, and it’s especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression.

‘Any type of exercise is useful, as long as it suits you and you do enough of it,’ says Dr Alan Cohen, a GP with a special interest in mental health. ‘Exercise should be something you enjoy; otherwise, it will be hard to find the motivation to do it regularly.’

“How often do you need to exercise?

“To stay healthy, adults should do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week.”  In E-CENT we recommend 30 minutes of brisk walking every day, minimum. Source:  http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/ exercise- for- depression.aspx) Accessed: 23rd February 2016.


[25] Keirsey, D. and Bates, M. (1984) Please Understand Me: Character and temperament types. Fifth edition. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis Book Company.

[26] ‘The healing environment’: An interview with Dr Ron Anderson, in Bill Moyers’ (1995) book: Healing and The Mind.  New York: Doubleday. Page 25.

[27] Burns, D. (1999) The Feeling Good Handbook. London: Plume/Penguin Books.

[28] Gottman, J. (1997). Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: and how you can make yours last. London: Bloomsbury.

[29] Byrne, J. (2012) Chill Out: How to control your stress level and have a happier life.  Hebden Bridge: CreateSpace.

[30] Nierenberg, G.I. (1987) The Complete Negotiator, London, Souvenir Press Ltd.

[31] Asch, S.E. (1956) A minority of one against a unanimous majority.  Psychological Monographs, 70 (416).  And:

Zimbardo, P. G., Banks, W.C., Craig, H. and Jaffe, D. (1973) A Pirandellian prison: The mind is a formidable jailor.  New York Times Magazine, April 8th, 38-60. And:

Milgram, S. (1974) Obedience to Authority.  New York: Harper and Row.


ABC Coaching and Counselling Services, 27 Keighley Road (on Google Maps), Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 8HJ, UK.  Telephone: 01422 843 629 (from inside the UK): and 44 1422 843 629 (from outside the UK).


Dr Jim Byrne




Renata Taylor Byrne


Google maps for this area are inaccurate; so if you want to get directions to 27 Wood End, it’s necessary to search for 27 Keighley Road, HX7 8HJ, Hebden Bridge, instead.  This may also apply to some Satnav systems. (But the actual address is 27 Wood End!)



Anger management counselling, coaching, psychotherapy in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 8HJ

By Dr Jim Byrne

October 2017



Angry-manAnger is one of the main emotions that humans feel in certain kinds of stressful situations.  The other two are anxiety and depression.

Anger is the emotion that corresponds to the ‘fight response’ when an animal or human feels threatened, or (in the case of humans), seriously frustrated by another person, or insulted by somebody, or confronted by the bad behaviour of others.

In civilized societies, anger can be appropriate to the circumstances surrounding the angry individual, or excessive and aggressive.

In order to teach our clients how to manage their anger appropriately, we have evolved a set of principles which can help to summarize coping self-talk, and coping actions.

Here are the first three (of ten such principles):

Innate-angerPrinciple 1
: Anger is natural, normal and innate, or inborn into each of us. So you should not try to get rid of all traces of your anger.

Anger can keep us safe in a dangerous world. But it can also lead us to engage in conflict that is against our best interests.

Anger can help us to know when we are being threatened, exploited or exposed to danger, and help us to fight our way out.  And it is good to learn a system of self-defence which will reduce your aggression, and keep your powder dry until you absolutely have to use it!

It is often the case that what is required is a moderate level of anger, directed in the form of assertive actions or assertive communications.


Here’s a little video clip on anger management:


For more information on anger  management, please to to my Anger Management Counselling – Hebden Bridge – page.***


REBT Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes

The book that reveals the fundamental falsehoods at the heart of REBT/CBT

Cover444At a moment in history when thousands of counsellors and therapists are being coerced and cajoled into using the ‘flavour of the month’ therapy – CBT – in order to keep their jobs and incomes, everything is changed by one action! Dr Jim Byrne has produced a devastating critique of the original form of CBT: known as Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT).

Many of his criticisms of REBT apply equally to all forms of CBT which utilize the ABC model of human disturbance.

Dr Byrne begins by showing that Dr Ellis was wrong to claim that he had evidence that people are upset by their thinking, plus their thinking about their thinking.  In a line by line analysis of the relevant text from Dr Ellis, Dr Byrne destroys the basis of this false claim.

He then explores the value and veracity of some of the core principles of Stoicism , which are built into REBT/CBT, and find that they do not stand up to scrutiny!

There are at least seven key errors in the foundations of REBT, many of which overlap CBT practice.

This madness which denies the impact of the social environment upon the body-brain-mind of the client.  This madness which blames the client for their emotional disturbances.  This madness which copies the delusions of a first century Roman slave, instead of the research evidence of modern social psychology, neuroscience, and interpersonal neurobiology!

…For more on this subject, please go to Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes.***


REBT: The limitations and errors in this system of counselling and psychotherapy

About Albert Ellis and REBT

Reflections upon some features of Ellis and his Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy

By Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

20th July 2016


Ever since the death of Albert Ellis, in July 2007, we have posted some annual, reflective thoughts on his life, around the date of his death.

This year, my main conclusions are these:

Wounded psychotherapist1.Albert Ellis was seriously neglected by his parents – at times virtually abandoned to his fate, as when he spent almost ten months in hospital on his own, at the age of just six years.

2. He seems to have saved himself from the emotional pain of these experiences by engaging in denial of his feelings and needs.

3. When he became a teenager, and discovered Stoic philosophy, he latched on to extreme Stoical denial of the impact of the environment on human beings – especially in his adoption, and promotion, of the statement from Epictetus to the effect that “people are not affected (emotionally) by what happens to them!”


Here’s a brief video introduction to this book on Albert Ellis’s childhood and the impact upon the development of REBT:


4. I found Ellis’s (extreme Stoical) philosophy of life appealing in 1992, when I was going through a major career crisis. I was slipping into anxiety and depression, and his philosophy reminded me to “be strong”! That seemed to me to be a good thing, for a good number of years.  And I could not at that time see any downside to his philosophy.

(a) From him, I learned to accept myself as being OK, even though my career and income were falling apart. (It would be a few years before I realized that his promotion of ‘unconditional self- and other-acceptance’ was a form of dangerous amoralism).

(b) From him, I learned to refrain from describing my dire circumstances as ‘awful’, ‘terrible’, or ‘horrible’ – even though they were actually, in terms of the strict dictionary definitions, awful, terrible and horrible! However, my circumstances were not 100% bad; and I learned that from Dr Tom Miller, an acolyte of Dr Ellis.  (In effect, Ellis [through his writings and audio program {Albert Ellis, Live at the Learning Annex}] taught me to be indifferent to my needs and my feelings of suffering.)

…For more, please go to Albert Ellis and REBT.***


Benefits of E-CENT Counselling & Coaching

The benefits and outcomes of E-CENT coaching, counselling and therapy[1]

By Jim Byrne and Renata Taylor-Byrne

Posted on 5th June 2016 (Previously posted on 30th November 2015)


Counselling-session7.jpgWhat follows is a brief list of some of the main benefits you could gain by consulting us for help with your on-going problems of daily living.  Perhaps you are feeling angry, anxious or depressed; or involved in couple conflict; or struggling with your career or your family relationships. Whatever your problems, we can help you to clarify them; and to develop stronger muscles for dealing with them.

E-CENT counsellors explore the narratives of their clients, with a view to helping them to manage their feeling-stories better: “Creating a consistent self-narrative (or personal story) that feels true to ourselves is a challenge at any stage in life.  Our stories give shape to our (unformed, fragmented), fleeting impressions of everyday life.  They bring together the past and the future into the present to provide us with structures for working towards our goals. They give us a sense of identity and, most importantly, serve to integrate the feelings of our right brain with the language of our left”.

Philippa Perry, How to Stay Sane (2012). Page 74. (-2)

Our comments: But we must never lose sight of the fact that the maintenance of those stories depends upon the state of our physical well-being – our body-minds – through diet, exercise, sleep, relaxation, relationship support and environmental stressors, and so on. It is not about free-standing stories in a ‘floating head’.

Jim Byrne and Renata Taylor-Byrne, November 2015


Jim-Renata-Counsellors.jpgList of benefits

The main benefits that clients gain from our coaching, counselling and psychotherapy services include the following:

1A listening ear.  We all know that a problem shared is a problem halved.  And being listened to by a professional coach, counsellor, psychotherapist can halve your level of distress, and help you to clarify for yourself exactly what is bothering you, and what your goals are in relation to that clarified problem.  This helps to be clear about the solutions that are available to you, and the actions you need to take to move forwards.

2A teaching /learning experience. When clients come to see us, they often think they know precisely what their problem is, but fail to recognize that they are looking at their life from a limited frame of reference.  We can often teach our clients new ways of looking at their strengths and weaknesses; their blind spots; their potential for change; and we also teach them many new ways of thinking and feeling about their problems.


…For more, please go to Benefits of E-CENT Counselling.***


Writing Therapy Guidelines – Becoming your own counsellor!

Guidelines for Writing Therapy

by Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling,

Writing Therapy Applied to Stress

which manifests as anger, anxiety or depression, or dysfunctional behaviour 

Copyright (c) Jim Byrne (2004-2011) – Updated in 2012, and in May 2013 and August 2016


drjim-counsellor1Whether you are struggling with problems of anger, anxiety or depression, you could benefit from writing out your difficulties, so you can see them on paper.  Think on paper, as advised by Brian Tracy.  Write about two or three pages each day, as recommended by Julia Cameron[1].

At the very least, try to write for fifteen to twenty minutes each day, for three or four consecutive days, as recommended by Dr James Pennebaker.

Try to make sense of your problems: look for cause and effect; pros and cons; options and possibilities; try to identify possibilities for change or improvement.  Try to produce “an empowering narrative” rather than a “de-powering story”.

Writing-therapy3Develop your awareness: If you are ever going to manage your stress level, then you have to become aware of the external sources of your stress, and your contribution to it.  One of the best ways to develop your awareness of the sources of stress in your life is to keep a stress diary.  The purpose of the stress diary is to track down the specific stress problem(s) you are confronting.

Get a large notebook to use as your stress diary.  Set some quiet time aside, just for you to work on your stress diary. (Since this activity will inevitably improve your productivity, it is legitimate to take this time out of your working day!)  Try to identify your problems in this order:

…For more, please go to Guidelines for Writing Therapy.***


Counselling supervision

Dr Jim Byrne provides supervision and peer support services for counsellors and psychotherapists


I have been in supervision myself for more than seventeen years – (which is the British system: lifelong supervision regardless of status or competence level, or years of experience) – normally spending three years with each supervisor before moving on.  If you want to know what I learned from those years of being supervised, I cannot do better than to quote James Rye, from the BACP journal, Therapy Today, in which he describes his least favourite and most favourite supervisor:  For more, please go to my Counselling Supervision page.***

My approach to counselling supervision is emotive cognitive; strongly influenced and shaped by modern attachment theory, and Allan Schore’s affect regulation theory:


For more, please go to my Counselling Supervision page.***


Counselling, psychotherapy and human emotions

The E-CENT counselling and psychotherapy approach to understanding and managing human emotion

by Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling, August 2016

This is how it begins:

5.1: Introduction

Because counsellors and psychotherapists deal with their clients’ emotions – (as well as their behaviours, goals, relationships; plus their environmental stressors, and so on) – every system of counselling and therapy has to have a theory of emotion.

This, however, is a significant problem, for three reasons:

  1. Firstly: Human emotion is hugely complex. For example, Stephen Pinker, in his book on how the mind works, draws attention to a quotation from G.K. Chesterton about the unutterable complexity of human emotional tones and moods and shades, which begins like this: “Man knows that there are in the soul tints more bewildering, more numberless, and more nameless than the colours of an autumn forest”. (Page 367)[i]. Therefore, at the very least, we should show some humility in developing our systemic models of such complexity.
  2. Secondly: As one psychotherapist has pointed out: “The terms ‘feeling’ and ‘emotion’, and ‘affect’ are used in many different senses in psychology. A review of more than twenty theories of emotion reveals a plethora of widely diverging technical definitions. These vary with the technique of investigation, the general theoretical framework, and the value-judgements of the psychologist.  Often, they are so diverse as to defy comparison let alone synthesis”.[ii]  So we are not going to arrive at a universal definition of emotion in this book; though we have to come to some working hypotheses, in the form of practical conclusions, which allow us to understand and help our clients.
  3. Third: There is a good deal of confusion regarding whether emotions are innate, or socially imposed; and whether they exist ‘inside the client’ or ‘outside’ in social relationships.

With regard to point 3, which is the most fundamental question we face, we should resolve that issue up front:

For more, please go to the Counselling, psychotherapy and human emotions page.***

And here’s a link to a little video clip – by Dr Daniel Siegel, author of The Developing Brain – on the process of naming an emotion in order to tame it:

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services, 27 Keighley Road (on Google Maps), Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 8HJ, UK.  Telephone: 01422 843 629 (from inside the UK): and 44 1422 843 629 (from outside the UK).


Dr Jim Byrne




Renata Taylor Byrne


Google maps for this area are inaccurate; so if you want to get directions to 27 Wood End, it’s necessary to search for 27 Keighley Road, HX7 8HJ, Hebden Bridge, instead.  This may also apply to some Satnav systems. (But the actual address is 27 Wood End!)


# ABC Bookstore Online: Self-help books to heal your life and grow your mind.***



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