Book Review: Listening, Learning, Caring and Counselling

The essential manual for psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors and other healthcare professionals on caring for their clients.

Dr Cate Howell is an Adelaide-based GP and therapist, researcher, lecturer and author with over 30 years of training and experience in heath. She holds a Bachelor in Applied Science (Occupational Therapy), a Bachelor of Medicine, a Bachelor of Surgery, a Masters in Health Services Management and a Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine). She also has a Diploma in Clinical Hypnosis and has trained in couple therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy and interpersonal therapy.

Listening, Learning, Caring and Counselling (LLCC) does not include fundamental counselling skills and assumes a basic level of skills around engaging, exploring and questioning. The three parts of the book cover:

1. The foundations of the LLCC approach
2. Application to common life issues and problem areas
3. Further LLCC key foundations.

The LLCC approach involves utilising a range of therapies and philosophies to assist the whole person to manage their concerns and bring about meaningful change. The inclusion of so many therapeutic models initially seems counterintuitive as many of them have quite different philosophies. Experienced counsellors usually work with one or two or maybe three of these modalities.

However the structure of the book is such that after providing basic explanations of each modality the author then shows how the various modalities can be integrated and applied in practise under topics such as improving sleep; managing stress and anxiety; depression; anger; guilt and shame; navigating change; loss and grief; trauma; relationship issues and building self-belief.

The LLCC approach is a patient-centred approach incorporating aspects of the following therapies:

  • solution-focused therapy
  • cognitive behaviour therapy
  • mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
  • acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
  • interpersonal therapy
  • narrative therapy
  • hypnotherapy
  • expressive therapies
  • positive therapy
  • bibliotherapy and e-mental health.

The philosophy behind using a variety of approaches is that some clients find a particular approach helpful but donot relate to another.

Therefore different therapeutic modalities are available to address different aspects of the individual.

The chapters on managing life issues and problem areas include background information, LLCC management and then an explanation of how to use different therapies. This section of the book includes case studies, tips and detailed examples and exercises.

Each chapter concludes with a list of resources including books, websites and phone apps.

The third part of the book covers the important topics of crisis intervention and particularly suicide and also self-care for the counsellor.

Finally the appendix is a rich resource of assessment tools, management plans and recording tools and maps. The book concludes with extensive endnotes and a comprehensive index.

The layout of the book adds to its value. The use of headings, highlighted boxes, tables and diagrams make it pleasing to read and easy to digest either in small quantities or for sustained reading.

At the centre of any caring role is listening attentively to the concerns, stories and needs of others. Therefore this book is relevant to a very broad audience and particularly to healthcare providers.

It is however best suited to those already practising counselling.

This book is a very useful reference for anyone in a caring profession and particularly experienced counsellors. It is not intended to be a primer for those who are new to counselling but rather explains how to integrate a range of modalities into practice. LLCC includes a rich and detailed range of resources for common presentations in those seeking counselling. AMA Victoria members can order this book online from Exisle Publishing and a discount of 10% is available by entering the coupon code LLCC at the checkout.

Kay Dunkley
Coordinator of Doctor Wellbeing

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I look forward to talking with you about mental health and wellbeing education, coaching, speaking or writing.


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