Book review for Hugh Crago and Penny Gardner’s ‘A Safe Place for Change: Skills and capacities for counselling and therapy’ with illustrations by Meeray Ghaly

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Elizabeth Day, PhD Australian College of Applied Psychology

My engagement with this text, as with most texts, commenced from the back. I felt reassured to find in the index trusted thinkers such as Foucault and Rorty, and systems for working with the ‘self’ experience such as Buddhism, along with current and classic thinker-practitioners: Alice Miller, Irvin Yalom, Karen Horney, Babette Rothschild; also Ainsworth, Berg, Rogers, Wilber, White.  This, I inferred, was a text that pays its dues. I was mildly disappointed, however, to find no Husserl, Heidegger, or Merleau-Ponty. This omission is not unusual in counselling and therapy texts, though (of which more, later).  I enjoyed the implicit irony in index entries such as ‘complainants, see client’ and ‘there and then, see here and now’.  And the fact that there were many more references in the index to ‘silence’ than to ‘minimal encouragers’ satisfied me that this was not merely a how-to guide, but a text grounded in its disciplinary roots. 

The authors declare this a text intended for first-year counselling and therapy trainees. The title signifies its emphasis (safety) on the training and therapeutic relationship, and the topic sequence takes students through the development of a holding capacity, to exploring (deepening) issues, using techniques (fix v re-parent), challenging the client, coaching, and ending.