HP Ex2 – The counselling revolution: diet and guts

Homepage Extension No.1

The Counselling Revolution

by Jim Byrne and Renata Taylor-Byrne

Copyright (c) 2017, ABC Coaching and Counselling Services, and the Institute for Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT)

According to a recent article on the emerging field of nutritional mental health:

“We live in a transformational moment for understanding the (cause[s]) of mental disorders.  The previous leap in understanding occurred 60 years ago… The current revolution is broader, consisting of the rapidly accumulating knowledge of how inflammation[1], microbiome imbalance (gut disbiosis)[2], oxidative stress[3], and impaired mitochrondial[4] output affect brain function.”[6]

All counsellors need to be aware that, although talk therapy is often a necessary condition for improvement in the lives of their clients, it is also often not sufficient on its own. In addition, counsellors need to be able to manage attachment issues; personality maladaptations; body-brain issues related to diet/ nutrition/gut health, and physical exercise.


The existing approach to counselling

Before we look at the counselling revolution, let us take a look at the existing systems of counselling, coaching and psychotherapy. Here is the introduction to our page titled ‘What is Counselling?’

Counselling is a chance to rethink your feelings, and to re-feel your experiences; and to digest what needs to be digested, and then move on.

Resource Pack R1: What is counselling and how is it done?

by Dr Jim Byrne

3rd October 2014 (Updated 7th January 2017, and 20th March 2017)


Image-1-Whats-counselling.JPGIn simple terms, counselling involves one person (the counsellor) helping another person (the client) to work through some difficult or painful emotional, behavioural or relationship problem or difficulty.  That is the form of individual counselling.

In practice there are probably almost as many definitions and descriptions of the process called ‘counselling’ as there are theorists who have written on this subject.  At one stage, the number of systems of counselling and therapy was said to be more than 400.  So narrowing down our definition to manageable proportions is going to be our major challenge.

Therefore, let us begin in a modest manner, with a new, five-minute video introduction to counselling specially designed for this page, and not available anywhere else:


If you were not able to take notes from the video clip above, then here are the notes I made as a script to record the video.  Of course, I embellished it as I went along, but the core ideas to be presented were these:

  1. To counsel somebody is to help in a way that emphasizes the needs and goals of the person asking for help.
  2. The modern world is full of stresses and strains, and this accounts for the rise, growth and popularity of counselling.
  3. Counselling can be defined in many ways, from one school of thought to another.

(a) In the person centred school of thought, it is about the capacity of the client to change their self-concept, in the context of the three core conditions of genuineness, empathy and non-possessive caring;

(b) In the psychodynamic approach, counselling is about helping the client to understand their own non-conscious urges and habits, including where they come from in their childhood, and helping them to change in the here and now;

(c) In the cognitive-behavioural approach, counselling is about helping the client to identify their negative or unhelpful thoughts and beliefs, and to change them to something more self-helping and self-supporting.

  1. Because counselling has its roots in psychiatry, psychology, philosophy, the arts and religion, it is not surprising that it takes diverse forms.  But those forms also reflect the strength of counselling in being highly adaptable to different cultural and historical contexts.
  2. The common ground between each of the numerous schools of counselling is the focus upon assisting an individual, through a helpful relationship, with their problems of everyday living.  All forms of counselling offer the client an opportunity to be heard and understood by an informed helper, who cares about their goals and their emotional pain.


If you would like to experience the process of counselling with Dr Jim Byrne, then please see his range of services at The ABC Counselling Division.*** 



On the other hand, you could consult Renata Taylor-Byrne, to sample her approach to counselling-coaching, which she calls Lifestyle Coaching.***


On this page, I will present descriptions and video elaborations from the three main schools of thought: the cognitive-behavioural, the psychodynamic and the humanistic.


…For more on the nature of (current approaches to) counselling, then please go to our ‘What is Counselling?’ page.***


Introduction to the counselling revolution:

The quickest and easiest way to introduce you to the holistic counselling revolution, is to present the Foreword of our main book on E-CENT counselling, coaching and psychotherapy approaches:


In 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 others;

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

(3) Self-help and personal development enthusiasts.


The 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) 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.

Into this mix, at some point, Attachment theory arrived, and that helped to make more sense of the emerging model of mind: (Gerhardt, 2010).  Attachment theory, and Object relations theory – (Gomez, 1997) – 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.

Mother-baby-dyadAnd 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).


But 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 dietary changes and physical exercise can produce dramatic reductions in levels of anger, anxiety and depression; anti-depressants are not nearly as effective as has been claimed (and that physical exercise alone is as effective at curing depression as are antidepressant drugs); 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, and also reduce anxiety and anger. (See Appendices E and F, below).

Counselling 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[5].  As in the the case of McLeod (2003)[6], 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).


This then is a story of counselling and therapy revolution: the radical reformulation of most of our major theories of therapy; and their integration into a completely new view of the social individual as a body-brain-mind-environ-ment whole.

Talk therapy has a lot to offer the social individual, but talk therapy alone cannot cure most of the ills of the modern world, which are related to the lifestyle of the client. (Interestingly, lifestyle coaching and lifestyle medicine are beginning to emerge in various quarters, including among some psychiatrists, [who are experimenting with diet – ‘Holistic psychiatry’]; some neurologists [‘Holistic neurology’]; and some medical doctors [‘Integrative medicine’, and ‘Nutritional therapy’]. But none of these approaches is nearly as complete or holistic as E-CENT theory and practice).

The world of counselling and therapy is being transformed (once again!).  And in this book, in Chapter 3, we have summarized the core insights arising out of those various revolutions which have already occurred, which have relevance for counselling today.  We have also explored the very latest thinking about how to understand and manage human emotions – especially anger, anxiety and depression, in Chapter 5.

Chapter 4 deals with our approach to helping clients to reframe their unavoidable problems – using our Six Windows Model – which draws on the insights of moderate Buddhism and moderate Stoicism.  The theoretical rational for this windows model is explored in Appendix A, on Frame Theory.

Chapter 6 explores some of the most important and helpful models we use in E-CENT, to guide our counselling sessions, and to help the client to perfink (perceive, feel and think) more self-supportingly.

There are also major appendices on the roles of diet and exercise in the develop-ment and reduction of client-problems of anxiety, anger and depression. And there is a substantial chapter (7) on how to use E-CENT theory to promote effective self-management for self-help enthusiasts.

The core beliefs of Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT) are summarized in twenty principles, in Chapter 3.

Finally, there is a good deal of information on emotional needs assessment; desensitization of traumatized clients; and the role of morality in living a good life – (including the importance of refraining from giving counselling clients [and those outside the ‘Chinese walls’ of the counselling room] permission to be bad!)

Counselling and therapy have been in a constant state of evolution and revolution since the creation of psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud, in the late nineteenth century. This book represents one of the most recent, and most comprehensive, reformulations.

I hope you enjoy this volume, and that you find some useful theories, techniques and models within: for use in your own life, and/or with the people you aim to help.

Dr Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling

Hebden Bridge

June 2016 (Posted here on 21st March 2017)


This book contains two substantial documents by Renata Taylor-Byrne, one on Diet and Nutrition; and the other on the Role of Exercise in Emotional Well-being.


An introduction to Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT)

Book-cover-frontFor information about the contents of the following book on our system of counselling and psychotherapy, please click the cover image that follows:

For a brief introduction to the content of this book, please take a look here: Holistic Counselling in Practice: An Introduction to Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT).***

And/or, please take a look at the video clip (below) which introduces the content of the book:

Dr Jim Byrne presents an introductory talk on this new book (with Renata Taylor-Byrne) on 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 others;
(2) Students of counselling, psychotherapy, psychology, psychiatry, social work and related disciplines; and:
(3) Self-help and personal development enthusiasts.

For more information, please see our page describing the book’s content: Holistic Counselling in Practice.***



Or go to:



Homepage Extension 1: Background on Jim and Renata;



Homepage Extension 3: Chapters 1-4 of Holistic Counselling book;



Homepage Extension 4: Chapters 5-8 of Holistic Counselling book;



Homepage Extension 5: Appendices A-D of Holistic Counselling book;



Homepage Extension 6: Appendices E-H of Holistic Counselling book.






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-mind – 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



ABC Coaching and Counselling Services, 27 Wood End, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8HJ, UK.

If you want to write to us, then please use our official address above, as used by the Post Office: (27 Wood End, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8HJ, West Yorkshire, UK).

But if searching for us on Google Maps, try 27 Keighley Road.  (Because Google Maps messed up the mapping of this area!)

On the other hand, if you are using a Satnav system, sometimes 27 Wood End will find us, and sometimes 27 Keighley Road.  (Sorry it’s so complicated).

Telephone: 01422 843 629 (UK): 44 1422 843 629 (from outside the UK)

Email: Admin at ABC



*Footnote: There is a problem with Google maps for our area: To search for 27 Wood End, you have to substitute 27 Keighley Road, HX7 8HJ.  (But the accurate address [according to the Post Office] is 27 Wood End).  See the Directions for finding us.***


Counselling and coaching ethics

We operate according to a range of ethical codes – see our respective divisional pages for details.

We provide coaching and counselling services for adults aged 18 years and above.  We do not offer any services to children, nor to anyone below the age of eighteen years.  But we do not publish anything that could be harmful to the interests and needs of children.


End Notes

[1] Ellis, A. (1962) Reason and Emotion in Psychotherapy.  New York: Carol Publishing Group.

[2] Keys, A., Brozek, J., Henshel, A., Mickelson, O., & Taylor, H.L. (1950). The biology of human starvation, (Vols. 1–2). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

[3] Kaplan, B.J., Julia J. Ricklidge, Amy Romijn, and Kevin Flood (2015) The emerging field of nutritional mental health: Inflammation, the microbiome, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial function.  Clinical Psychological Science, Vol.3(6): 964-980.

[4] American Psychological Association: The psychology of hunger. By Dr David Baker and Natacha Keramidas, October 2013, Vol 44, No. 9. Online: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/10/hunger.aspx

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

[6] Kaplan, B.J., Julia J. Ricklidge, Amy Romijn, and Kevin Flood (2015) The emerging field of nutritional mental health: Inflammation, the microbiome, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial function.  Clinical Psychological Science, Vol.3(6): 964-980.


[1] Inflammation is a process by which the body’s white blood cells and substances they produce protect us from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses.

However, in some diseases, like arthritis, the body’s defence system — the immune system — triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign invaders to fight off. In these diseases, called autoimmune diseases, the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. The body responds as if normal tissues are infected or somehow abnormal.

[2] Dysbiosis (also called dysbacteriosis) is a term for a microbial imbalance or maladaptation on or inside the body,[1][2] such as an impaired microbiota. For example, a part of the human microbiota, such as the skin flora, gut flora, or vaginal flora, can become deranged, with normally dominating species underrepresented and normally outcompeted or contained species increasing to fill the void. Dysbiosis is most commonly reported as a condition in the gastrointestinal tract,[2] particularly during small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or small intestinal fungal overgrowth (SIFO)

[3] Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants.

[4] Mitochondrial disease is a group of disorders caused by dysfunctional mitochondria, the organelles that generate energy for the cell. Mitochondria are found in every cell of the human body except red blood cells, and convert the energy of food molecules into the ATP that powers most cell functions.

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

[6] 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!)