• The Dynamics of Power in Counselling and Psychotherapy (2nd Edition)

The Dynamics of Power in Counselling and Psychotherapy (2nd Edition)

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ISBN 978 1 910919 18 7
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This hard-hitting, impeccably referenced book draws on academic theories and analyses of power and the author's personal experience both as client and practitioner to critique power within the psychotherapeutic relationship and within the organisations where therapy takes place. Accessible, political and severely critical of her own profession, Proctor provides an essential reminder to student, practitioner and researcher of the imperative to remain always mindful of the values and ethics of justice and responsibility.

In this revised second edition, Gillian Proctor extends her discussion to the more recent challenges presented by the IAPT programme.

Why does power in counselling matter?

Isn't therapy always dangerous and abusive?

What is power? Structural theories

How does power work? Post-structural theories

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: the obscuring of power in the name of science

Person-Centred Therapy: equality in the therapy relationship?

The Psychodynamic Approach: isn't the power all in the transference?

Conclusions: so what can we do about power?

‘Proctor dares to take us into an honest, challenging and critically important debate around power and responsibility, helping us to think clearly about these aspects in our work, while equally pushing us to reflect on difficult areas, both as individual therapists and for the institution of therapy itself.’ Dr Andrew Reeves, University of Chester

I can't praise this book highly enough. What struck me early in reading it is Proctor's deeply empathic position and her quiet yet incisive passion to right wrongs in our trade (or profession, if you prefer). To me, this addressing of injustice is embedded in the skeleton of the book rather than in polemics. She gets to the heart of what she is saying and writes with a consistent and skilful implicit awareness of the client that I have rarely come across in counselling or psychotherapy tomes. And this is a tome, in the best sense of the word—despite its deceptively slimmish size. But nowhere does it become dry, dull, and overtechnical; on the contrary, it kept me on my toes with its tight, incisive argument. This is an eminently readable book. It is organised into bite‐sized sections, with summaries at the end of each chapter.
Some chapters are more academic than others, as Proctor points out, but she endeavours to make her analysis accessible to as many readers as possible. It is a book of incredible breadth, bringing together the work of therapists and thinkers from Rogers, Hobbes, and Machiavelli to Foucault, Ferenczi, Masson, and Bion, to name but a few, with considerable depth of analysis. I hope this book is required reading for trainees on counselling and psychotherapy training courses across the UK; the summary of themes in the conclusion would provide excellent essay/discussion material. Emma Palmer - Psychotherapy and Politics International Journal 2018

– Reviews for the first edition of The Dynamics of Power in Counselling and Psychotherapy

This very timely book examines in a scholarly way the concept of power in therapy. The style and structure of the book do show its origins in PhD research by the author, but it is nonetheless easily accessible. It is a useful rejoinder to those who, in their naïvety claim that the therapeutic relationship is one of equality in which power does not exist, and as a useful reminder to those who acknowledge its presence yet need to be constantly ensuring that power in the therapist and in the therapeutic relationship does not become abusive. … I enjoyed reading this book and being challenged by it and I recommend it to experienced practitioners as a reminder, and to new therapists and trainees as an essential aid, to developing ethical practice. Roger Casemore, HCPJ, October 2002

When we enter into therapy we give enormous power to the therapist because we want to see that person as someone who can take our pain away. Such power can be abused. Gillian Proctor's timely, thoughtful book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what goes on in that most dangerous of arenas, therapy. Dorothy Rowe

Gillian Proctor's book makes a significant contribution in bringing to the fore issues of power that have been grossly neglected in psychotherapy up to now. David Smail

Gillian Proctor has given us a penetrating analysis of the meanings of power and its role in therapy that should become required reading for therapists and a major source book on power in relationships for social scientists. Barbara Temaner Brodley

Gillian Proctor

Dr. Gillian Proctor is an independent Clinical psychologist and person-centred psychotherapist, offering individual therapy and supervision. She is a lecturer in counselling at the University of Leeds and a research supervisor.  She has a particular interest in ethics, politics and power and the importance for counselling from the insights of sociology and philosophy to broaden and deepen our understandings of relationships and ethics. 

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Gillian Proctor