Elizabeth Sach M.Ed, Reg MBACP, MBPsS Relationship Counselling in Harpenden (AL5)

Articles and Book Reviews

These books and articles may be helpful in supporting your journey through the process of relationship and general counselling.

'Daring Greatly' (2013), Brenee Brown. London: Penguin.
In this book Brenee Brown puts forward the view that vulnerability is a strength rather than a weakness. It is based on her research across home, work, family and relationships. Her findings are that when we shut ourselves off from revealing our true selves we grow distanced and disconnected. Striving for perfection, rather than accepting our own vulnerabilities, can lead to the sacrifice of relationships and opportunities which could otherwise be embraced and celebrated. 'Daring greatly' is taking the risk to 'show up and let ourselves be seen'. Brenee Brown sets out to explore our fears of vulnerability, investigate the price we pay for disengaging and consider how we might transform these negative approaches into a more positive approach to life.

'Hold Me Tight' (2008), Dr. Sue Johnson. London: Piatkus.
Sue Johnson sets out to provide a guide to building loving relationships arising from her own experience of relationship counselling. Her theory of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is based on the idea that romantic love is based on emotional attachment and bonding between partners. It sets out to strengthen this bond by focusing on being open, attuned and responsive to each other. In Part 1 she investigates some of the recent research into intimate relationships. Part 2 aims to show some of the defining moments of the EFT approach as illustrated by case studies. In Part 3 she investigates the healing power of love and how it can enhance our sense of connection to the wider world. In this way she hopes to help couples nurture and enhance their relationships.

'Emotional Intelligence' (1996), Daniel Goleman. London: Bloomsbury.
In this book Goleman sets out to redefine intelligence. Moving away from a narrow interpretation based on intellect alone, he argues that our emotions have an important part to play in how we think, make decisions, form and sustain relationships. According to Goleman, emotional intelligence is made up of qualities such as self-awareness, persistence, motivation and empathy. These are not merely the result of genetic inheritance but are malleable, offering the opportunity for positive change. He sets out to show how emotional intelligence can be strengthened in all of us.

'An Asperger Marriage'(2002), Gisela & Christopher Slater-Walker. London: Kingsley.
This book examines a successful marriage where one of the partners has a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome (AS). It considers some of the issues and difficulties encountered from both perspectives. The authors demonstrate how the gradual emergence of mutual understanding and respect has strengthened their relationship. They acknowledge that learning to live with AS is a long and still unfinished process of learning.

'The Other Half of Asperger Syndrome' (2001), Maxine C. Aston. London: The National Autistic Society'.
This book sets out to provide a guide to living in an intimate relationship with a partner who has Asperger's Syndrome (AS). It is based on the author's research, together with her experience as a couples counsellor and her personal experience of being in an intimate relationship with a man with AS. Part 1 of the book provides some basic facts about AS. It also offers some insight into what brings couples together in the first place. Part 2 considers some of the difficulties that can be experienced when living with someone who has AS, together with various strategies and suggested ways of coping. Examples and quotations derived from the author's practice are used throughout, making the text both immediate and real.

'The Parenting Plan', CAFCASS.
These materials are produced by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). However, you do not have to be involved in court proceedings to make use of the Parenting Plan, which aims to help separating parents put the needs of their children first. It is a written plan which covers practical issues such as communication, living arrangements, education, health and money. You can order a free copy online at: https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/grown-ups/parenting-plan.aspx

'Mating in Captivity', (2007) Esther Perel. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
This book sets out to look at the sexual relationship between committed modern couples. Arising from her own counselling experience, Perel identifies a dwindling of desire in some long term partnerships and considers how to reconcile sexuality and domesticity. She acknowledges that there is 'no one way and no right way' to do this. Instead she invites the reader to question and challenge themselves in order to nurture and sustain eroticism in their relationships.

'Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world', (2011) Williams, M & Penman, D. London: Piatkus.
Mindfulness is explained here as a practice, a 'way of being' originally derived from Buddhist meditation. Based on mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), it is depicted as a process which sets out to cultivate personal attention and awareness over time. It claims the potential to exert a positive influence on health, wellbeing and happiness. Supported through text and an attached CD, the authors guide the reader through a structured 8 week programme aimed at reducing stress and helping to break cycles of anxiety which may be experienced in our modern and 'frantic' world.

'Violent No More: Helping Men End Domestic Abuse' (2000) Paymar, M. Alameda CA: Hunter House.
This book defines domestic abuse as 'the use of physical violence in an intimate relationship. The term also includes emotional, psychological and sexual abuse, as well as any other behavior one person in a relationship uses to control the other'. Although men are not the sole perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) this book is based on the author's work with abusive men on a group intervention programme in the USA. It focuses on challenging the attitudes and beliefs of men who abuse as a prerequisite to changing their behaviour. Victim safety is paramount and the author stresses that in a DV situation couple counselling may be unsafe. In the UK there are several agencies which can offer alternatives. These include RESPECT (for perpetrators) as well as the Domestic Violence Abuse Line. Contact details for these and other agencies are available online.

'Why We Sleep' (2018), Walker, M. UK: Penguin.
Having trouble sleeping? This well researched book explains why we sleep and the health benefits of having enough sleep each night. The author considers the function of dreams and the purpose they serve in sustaining our psychological well-being. Finally he looks at sleep disorders and what might be preventing you from sleeping. Some strategies to support healthy sleep are promoted as an alternative to sleeping pills.

'Love, Sex & Long-Term Relationships: What People with Asperger Syndrome Really Really Want' (2008), Hendrickx, S. London: Kingsley.
Many people on the autistic spectrum have limited knowledge of how to establish or conduct sexual relationships. This book sets out to explore the experiences of adults with Asperger Syndrome (AS) within the realms of sex, gender and relationships. Although more is now known about relationships involving one or both partners with AS, little has been written about the thoughts and feelings of those with the condition. Drawing on extensive research, Hendrickx sets out to provide information, understanding and support for couples where one or both partners have AS.


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