Counselling and Psychotherapy with Older People in Care (2018) by Felicity Chapman. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ISBN: 978 1 78592 396 8. $47.03 (Amazon), $33.29 (Kindle)

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Reviewed by:
Di Stow PhD


Felicity Chapman’s book, Counselling and Psychotherapy with Older People in Care, is an excellent resource, a great contribution to the field and a helpful professional support guide for counsellors and psychotherapists and carers.

It is especially timely, with the global population ageing rapidly, for skilled professionals to support the wellbeing of older people in care. Older people can be more vulnerable to mental health issues such as loneliness, anxiety, grief, loss, and cognitive changes, and they need therapeutic support that addresses their specific needs and conditions.

Felicity describes evidence-based practice and specific interventions to address the growing rate of mental health issues in older adults in care. She explains how to approach and work with this specific demographic with the help of integrated case studies that appear throughout the book. These are inspired, and an excellent way to show theory and practice. One that stood out for me highlights a wonderful personal story of the lived experience of Harold and the way a therapist could work with his story.

The book covers a range of issues that concern older adults in care: residential living, the referral process, assessment and engagement, and attitudes towards ageing. It also looks at the broader social and political frameworks for older adults in care.

Felicity covers Narrative Therapy, Reminiscence Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The personal reflection questions at the end of each chapter offer an opportunity to think and, indeed, to reflect and summarise, to take stock. This book would be a worthy companion for a set of supervision sessions, individual or group.

Felicity’s book is refreshing, a bright spark, as there are very few books available addressing the needs and concerns of older people, and she writes with rigour, elegance and humour. It is also full of good ideas, strategies, tips and techniques, tools for working with older people – and not just older people in care. For example, Chapter 5, Invitations for Engagement, resonated with me because it beautifully describes relational, person-centred, ways of interacting with others. Reading that Chapter reminded me of what I already know and do — practice wisdom — and gave me some new content for open-ended questions. You’ll find this too, and not just in Chapter 5.

I admire this book as a joyful and hopeful contribution to the field. Felicity looks at all aspects of the person, as well as five forms of ageism. Her approach is deeply respectful, collaborative and empowering, resulting in a book that is insightful and thought provoking as well as easy to read.

Talking and working therapeutically with older people in care is so rewarding and challenging, so interesting yet tricky. Felicity’s excellent book provides a road map for this exquisite work, the journey through another chapter in older people’s lives, and it seamlessly and lovingly describes the possibilities for creating magic for older people in care.

Counsellors and psychotherapists and carers will find this book invaluable. I highly recommend Felicity Chapman’s Counselling and Psychotherapy with Older People in Care to all therapists, beginners and experienced alike.

— Di Stow, PhD.

Di Stow works in private practice as a registered counsellor in Hobart, Tasmania. She particularly works with clients presenting with grief and loss, anxiety, and depression, as well as a range of other concerns. She is a trauma-informed practitioner, and also has the great pleasure and privilege to work with older people in care.



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