Counselling for Toads, by Robert de Board, published by Routledge www.routledgementalhealth.com is a delightful book about Toad of Toad Hall who starts on a journey of therapy for his depression. It’s an imagined sequel to Wind in the Willows and describes, simply and clearly, the process of therapy or counselling used as a method of dealing with psychological distress. An easy, quick read, this book shows in a simplified and imaginative way what happens to a character many of us already know.
Much of the book is a dialogue between Heron (the psychotherapist) and Toad (the client), and a description of Toad’s progress. It shows how Toad learns to analyse his feelings and develop his emotional intelligence.
It describes the process using transactional analysis as it’s medium and so talks of the child state, when we feel our emotions and act out old patterns. It goes on to talk of the parent, either critical or nurturing, when we act unthinkingly through behaviour we’ve learnt from our parents / caregivers. The third stage is the adult where we can act rationally, deal with reality and here we can learn something new about ourselves and we can change. Here is the place of choice, of taking responsibility.
It could be any other ‘school’ of analysis, they all go towards the same purpose, or end.
Starting therapy can be an absorbing and exciting journey of discovery. “Frightening” I can hear mumblings. Frightening is an emotion really close to exciting, perhaps interchangeable. Why disregard self-discovery when talking about discovery? So as well as being supportive and nurturing, we also need courage to move beyond our comfort zone and start the journey. I admire people ready to accept this challenge.