Whurr Publishers Ltd. ISBN 1-870332-82-2. Pbk. No price.
Although it is brief, less than a hundred pages, this latest volume in the series Dryden on Counselling is a welcome and substantial addition to literature on the field. It tackles the issues of training and supervising counsellors with clarity, and without going into vastly detailed criticism of the various different theoretical approaches to psychotherapy. It succeeds in making a convincing case for various kinds of practise in training. At the same time, it is certainly more than a general sum mary of the issues. Dryden makes no secret of his own professional views and their development during the course of his work as a trainer over the last fifteen years, and in fact the last three chapters of the book are openly setting out the method of his own preferred method, Rational-Emotive-Therapy. When I first looked at the book, I rather resented this bias, but on reflection I feel it is quite in keeping with the aims of Dryden’s series, which are roughly those of the British Association for Counselling as he makes clear in the opening chapter. This positive and openly expressed focus actually turns out to be very helpful for the reader. I always felt quite clear about the particular orientation of the recommendations.
Perhaps the most stimulating chapter is number five, “The relevance of research for counsellors”. Dryden offers a real and urgent challenge to his own profession to come up with appropriate forms of research, and he criticises them for their aloof ness from the admittedly flawed research which already exists. Like his great predecessor, Carl Rogers, Dryden is committed to the development of this aspect of psychotherapy and he has plain words to his colleagues who tend to dismiss it:
“…..counsellors devalue counselling research. Thus a survey published in 1978 showed that the membership of the BAC viewed research as a low priority for BAC attention…..”
And at the end of the chapter he comments acutely that:
”……..counsellors do not read research reports without bias. It is probable that their views of what is important in counselling affect their interpretation of research more often than research affects their view of what is important.”
This is a very important issue, suggesting that the processes of self-knowledge which are fostered during training (in the models Dryden discusses) fail to address themselves to this vital aspect of professional practice. I feel that this brief chapter should be required reading for all trainers and supervisors.
Within its well-defined limits this is an extremely useful and lucid handbook on a subject which is all too frequently discussed in woolly and opinionated terms. The bibliographies which follow each chapter are impressive and the whole slim volume gives the impression of being the well-considered result of long and thoughtful ex perience in the field.