• Counselling and Counselling Psychology: A critical examination

Counselling and Counselling Psychology: A critical examination

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ISBN 978 1 906254 58 2 (2013)
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Any theory is only as strong as its capacity to withstand sustained critical examination.  The practice of critique must, therefore, form the basis of both good academic work and thoughtful clinical practice. This new series of ‘Critical Examinations’  looks at the claims of Psychology and various of its sub-disciplines.

This book by Colin Feltham, one of the field’s most prominent figures and insider critics, examines fairly but radically the claims and practices of counsellors and counselling psychologists using both macro-critical and micro-critical lenses. Beginning with the deep context of human distress, it sets the scene for key areas for critique, including a focus on the most significant originators of the talking therapy models. The central theoretical concepts of the major approaches are examined afresh in some depth. Components of everyday counselling practice are placed under a critical microscope. Research-based claims are exposed to renewed scrutiny and the professional aspirations of counselling and counselling psychology are not spared a similar critical treatment. A review of relevant socio-economic and philosophical critiques with possible responses rounds off this important appraisal of a psychological practice that has become, for good and/or otherwise, an unavoidable feature of our lives.

Of interest to under-graduate psychologists, post-graduate practitioners, academics and policy-makers. Also for anyone with an interest in critiquing the expansion of psychology throughout the media and our daily lives.


Abbreviations and acronyms used in the text

1. Where did it all go wrong? Origins of human suffering, attempted remedies,
     and critiques

2. Key figures in counselling psychology

3. Problems of counselling theory 

4. Problems of counselling practice

5. Problems of counselling research 

6. Problems of counselling psychology as a profession

7. Summarising and answering the critiques


Feltham has produced an ambitious, wide-ranging, thought-provoking, at times bold and frequently contentious work. The author's aim is to cut through the 'rhetorical trance' of received wisdom and 'institutional scripts' … and in so doing he will doubtless have ruffled some feathers …Feltham rightly calls for greater focus on the origins of psychological distress and is not afraid to point the finger at capitalism  …Critical reflections should surely have a place in counselling and one of its tasks should be to assess quite what that place is. This book can certainly assist in that  process. Jeff Harrison, psychotherapist. Reviewed in Therapy Today, October 2013

On a first glance of Colin Feltham's book, ... one may be fooled that this is just another unremarkable book on psychology and psychotherapeutic matters. One could not be farther from the truth. The text as a whole is a veritable 'tour de force' of all that is wrong with psychology, counselling, the devil of psychologism and aspiring professionalism that haunts not just counselling and counselling psychology, but all of the talking' therapies'. Bruce Scott, College of Psychoanalysts - UK and Philadelphia Association, Jedburgh, Scotland. Reviewed in European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling, 2015.

The renowned critic Colin Feltham takes no prisoners in his critical review of the field of counselling and counselling psychology. In his candid and accessible style we are invited to go back to the key elements that underpin counselling and counselling psychology. Feltham raises several questions of the field and current trends such as the expansion of brand name models, the tendency of therapists to describe themselves and 'integrative' and what that actually means and how we operate within the 500 plus brand names theories in this field. The author's arguments are well thought through and backed up with numerous examples....This book was an exciting read, I found myself agreeing, disagreeing and questioning the whole enterprise. For those who welcome the opportunity to take a step back and view the discourses within counselling and counselling psychology - this is a book for you.  Clare Crawford, JCPCP Book Reviews Vol 14.1 March 2014.

Colin Feltham

Colin Feltham is Emeritus Professor of Critical Counselling Studies, Sheffield Hallam University. His publications include Psychotherapy and its Discontents (with Windy Dryden, Open University Press, 1992), Controversies in Psychotherapy and Counselling (Sage, 1999), Critical Thinking in Counselling and Psychotherapy (Sage, 2010), Failure (Acumen, 2012) and The Sage Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 3rd edn. (edited with Ian Horton, Sage, 2012).

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Colin Feltham