Living Well and Dying Well: tales of counselling older people
Older people rarely feature in counselling literature, and the very old barely at all. Helen Kewell seeks to address this often overlooked topic with a vibrant collection of resonant case studies describing her encounters with some of the old and very old clients with whom she has worked as a counsellor. Woven into these accounts are her personal reflections on how working with these clients has changed her and contributed to her own growth as a counsellor and as a human being. She also describes the theoretical and philosophical works that have influenced her practice – looking to humanistic, existentialist and person-centred approaches to guide her in this largely uncharted territory.
Among the people described in this book, we meet Maggie, for whom death is very close and whose day-to-day experiencing is insular, private and diminished to one room and a few hours of wakefulness. We meet Kate, for whom reawakened feelings from long ago and the challenge to strongly held beliefs prove too much to face. We meet Bobby, who valiantly engages in reassessing and reconstructing his life narrative and through this finds some release, and Susan, who finds herself facing life transitions much earlier than expected and learns to transcend her circumstances and find a new way of living. And last, we meet Tom who, despite the loss of all he holds dear, manages also to transcend his circumstances and face death on his own terms.
Helen’s aim in this book is to use story-telling about real people living real lives to inspire others to consider this work as possible, necessary and meaningful.
Foreword by Emmy van Deurzen
1. How to say goodbye – Maggie
2. Rewriting narratives – Bobby
3. Keeping up appearances – Joan
4. Her indoors – Kate
5. The dolls’ house – Alice
6. So long and thanks for the fish – Cliff
7. Finding Frankl – Susan
8. Waiting for the Southsea bus – Tom
Mick Cooper, Professor of Counselling Psychology, University of Roehampton
Felicity Chapman, clinical social worker and author of Counselling and Psychotherapy with Older People in Care: a support guide
‘This a timely and important book that takes a fresh approach to a relatively neglected area of counselling and psychotherapy. Writing in the first person, Helen Kewell provides us with a personal and moving account of work with a number of clients facing the challenges of later life. The title refers to ‘Tales of Counselling with Older People’. However, this book is far from anecdotal. The encounters with clients provide the basis for moving inductively to theory and principles, informed by a strong underpinning literature. While the tone is warm and engaging, there is nothing anodyne here. We are challenged to reflect on the social construction of ageing and how the assumptions that can follow from this impinge upon our practice.’
Dr David Bott, Principal Lecturer in Psychotherapy, University of Brighton
Anne Wyatt-Brown, Emeritus Professor in Linguistics, University of Florida, and former co-editor of the Journal of Aging, Humanities and the Arts