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Psychology in the Real World: Community- based groupwork

Psychology in the Real  World: Community- based groupwork

Guy Holmes

ISBN 978 1 906254 13 1 (2010)

Cover Price £24.00

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Psychology in the Real World describes groups, courses and projects that psychologist Guy Holmes has been involved in over the past decade, many of which have been recognised nationally for their innovation and their importance as new ways to provide psychological services, to reduce and combat stigma, to help people understand and to some extent escape toxic mental environments and to bring about service user involvement that provides real benefits to people in terms of the learning of new skills.

Guy's work has been described at many national conferences and the book is a response to repeated requests to help set up similar projects across the UK. The book bridges the gap that often exists between community psychology, group theories and practice. It also operates as a 'how to' book, giving practical suggestions and guidance on how to set up and facilitate groups in community settings; groups that do not need people to be diagnosed and referred but are open to all and are usually co-facilitated by people with a  history of psychiatric service involvement. Written in everyday language the book is accessible to anyone working in the helping professions, voluntary sector or mental health users who have an interest in community projects and going beyond the realms of one-to-one therapy.


1. Introduction: Community-based groupwork and psychology in the real world

Section 1. Some philosophies and principles underlying 'Psychology in the Real World'

Section 2. Beginning

Section 3. Understanding ourselves and others

Section 4. Is this community psychology?

Section 5. 'The Black Dog': Understanding depression

Section 6. On groupwork II: Middles

Section 7. Toxic mental environments

Section 8. Thinking about medication

Section 9. On groupwork III: Facilitation

Section 10. 'Walk and Talk'

Section 11. Countering the impacts of stigma and working with diverse groups

Section 12. 'The Writing Group'

Section 13. On groupwork IV: Endings

Section 14. Final thoughts

This is a welcome book indeed. It is very easy to read and I can see it sitting well in community teams (hopefully well thumbed). It's very accessible and provides many useful tips, without in anyway sounding like you are being told what to do … This book offers 'another way' of looking at groupwork and community working … The implicit message is to try things and go beyond the constraints of evidence based strategies … To be with people where they live; in their real worlds. I would recommend this book; you won't regret it! Dr Nigel P Short, therapist, educator, former mental health nurse, 2011.

I really enjoyed this book and like the concept of ‘psychology in the real world’. The projects described in the book reveal how people can develop and recover through sharing an interest and developing knowledge or a skill rather than through abstract internal self-examination. To me this is their great strength and the book reveals how community-based groupwork can better equip people for life than conventional therapies. Joanna Moncrieff, consultant psychiatrist and senior lecturer at University College London

So much more than just another groupwork 'cookbook', this volume will be invaluable to mental health service users, health and social care professionals and local people who are interested in putting community psychology ideas into practice, and to anyone who has ever asked themselves about the causes of unhappiness in our society. Paul Moloney, Counselling Psychologist, The Psychologist, February 2011.

Without being unrealistic about the benefits, Holmes points to the invaluable potential that groups have in helping people appreciate their own unique qualities and their shared humanity… The book is a collection of course contents, flyers, testimonies and discussions put together as a detailed and varied resource. This comes interspersed with chapters about groups processes and theories, all in an unaffected and accessible style … This embodies a way of thinking and relating that challenges dominant ideas of mental health and that looks squarely at issues of power and difference … challenges the contemporary fixation upon short-term individual ‘interventions’, the medicalisation of distress and the diminishment of the NHS into a business venture. Chris Rose, Group Psychotherapist, Therapy Today, June 2010

What Guy writes is very carefully thought through, is backed by extensive clinical experience, and has an honesty and integrity … What strikes me above all is that the book is intensely and profoundly personal, by this I don’t mean that it is unduly individualistic or self-indulgent … what comes across above all is your tolerance of and respect for a whole range of approaches in clinical psychology. In other hands, this could appear to be ‘spongily’ eclectic, but in fact it speaks to a readiness to listen to others and extract from their work what seems valuable and knit it intelligently into your own approach. … People will be encouraged to try things, and to step beyond the constraints of so-called ‘evidence-based practice’. Maybe they will be encouraged to be themselves, which would be a very positive outcome! David Smail, Clinical Pyschologist

I found it very moving and thought provoking. I really liked the descriptions of what the groups were like and the ‘What is the point of being alive?’ chapter made me cry. … In your account of the terrible Black Dog session I felt I was ‘there’ and that things had not been tidied up to make them more effective or cleaner than they were. It was a relief to read something so honest … I think the book is terrific, clear and brave. Penny Woolcock, film director

Guy Holmes

Guy Holmes

Guy Holmes worked in the NHS as a clinical psychologist in Shropshire. He published over 50 academic articles in areas as diverse as: the medicalisation of distress, psychiatric medication, patients' councils, service users' experiences of and views on mental health services, sexual abuse of males, community psychology, and various aspects of groupwork. His community-based groupwork was profiled on Radio 4’s All in the Mind — see www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00sv5bk. You can visit the Psychology in the Real World website at www.psychologyintherealworld.co.uk

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