Reflecting on Therapy

Author(s) : Michael Jacobs

Reflecting on Therapy

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : May 2024
  • Pages : 206
  • Category :
    Individual Psychotherapy
  • Catalogue No : 97756
  • ISBN 13 : 9781800132719
  • ISBN 10 : 1800132719

Also by Michael Jacobs

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Michael Jacobs is the author of key texts, such as Psychodynamic Counselling in Action and The Presenting Past. Looking back over fifty years’ experience as a therapist and reflecting on some forty years as a supervisor and teacher, he invites you to join him and reflect upon issues uncovered in the therapy room.

Therapists are encouraged to engage in reflective practice, thinking through what they are saying and doing, together with presenting their work in supervision in order to engage in fine-tuning their insight and skills. However, it is hard to find the time with so many demands pressing in. Michael presents various situations, phrases and practices which may evade reflection since they are so common in the consulting room, or which may challenge assumptions that easily become habitual in a therapist’s practice. He unpacks apparent conventional phrases, such as ‘How are you?’, ‘Did you see …?’, ‘And …’. He says the unsayable, looks at the place of CPD, questions ‘expertise’, the impact of failure, Freud’s cigars, expectations on the therapist, being a therapist, the value of apologies, letting be, niggles, the vicissitudes of memory, the pointlessness of questions, what therapists miss, hopes, goals, taboos, finishing therapy, money, notes … and many, many more significant possibilities that arise in the course of a week’s regular sessions.

This beautiful little book contains space within for your own notes, thoughts, and reflections after each reflection from Michael. This gives you the opportunity to ponder, to savour, to develop or disagree on the ideas you encounter. Take your time, slow down, and allow your thoughts to grow.

Table of Contents


1. There’s no hurry—how you might use these reflections
2. ‘How are you?’
3. Being outrageous
4. Saying ‘No’
5. Developing practice
6. Emptying and opening
7. What is expertise?
8. Balancing the ship
9. And …?
10. More than a parrot
11. Quick to judge
12. A flexible core
13. My friend failure
14. Outbursts and inbursts
15. Did you see… ?
16. As if …
17. Taking the flak
18. A sprinkling of CPD
19. The way
20. A cigar is a cigar is a cigar
21. Great expectations
22. What do you do?
23. Fears and wishes
24. Apologies
25. The ambivalence of the therapist
26. The ambivalence of the therapist—further thoughts
27. Let be
28. Silence
29. Outcomes and goals
30. The response
31. Niggles
32. There’s always a flip side
33. Enriching practice
34. I don’t like …
35. Pressure
36. Questions
37. Difference
38. Remembering
39. What did you miss out?
40. His (or her or their) therapist’s voice
41. Hope
42. Gifts
43. Leaving therapy
44. Alone or lonely?
45. Taboo
46. Money
47. Does one size really fit all?
48. Notes
49. Co-creation
50. The mysterium

About the Author(s)

Michael Jacobs was born in 1941. He was educated at Dulwich College and Exeter College Oxford; and then attended Chichester Theological College before being ordained in 1965. Having served in a parish in Walthamstow, he was interdenominational chaplain at the University of Sussex from 1968–1972, during which time he started practising as a therapist with support from the Student Health Service, then headed by Anthony Ryle. In 1972 he was appointed psychotherapist and counsellor at the University of Leicester Student Health Service, and trained on the clinical psychology psychotherapy course at the Tavistock Clinic in London. After twelve years in the Student Health Service, he moved to the Department of Adult Education, where he was developing a counselling training, which went on to include a psychotherapy training. Alongside this he played a significant role in the development of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association. He is a fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, a Fellow of the National Society for Counselling and Psychotherapy and an honorary fellow of the Bath Centre for Psychotherapy and Counselling. He had his first book published in 1982 and has since written or edited over sixty books for a number of publishers. Following a stroke in 1999 he retired from the University of Leicester, and moved to Swanage where for a number of years he was Visiting Professor at Bournemouth University. Apart from his writing and teaching he conducted a small practice of therapy and supervision. He continued also to lead workshops largely devoted to his interest in the development of thinking and belief, and psychoanalysis and film. Studying for another degree he was awarded first class honours by the Open University, and went on to complete a PhD comparing psychoanalytic and literary criticism of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Michael has been married three times, separating from his first wife Valerie in 1989, and marrying Moira Walker. They worked together on various series and teaching at Leicester and Bournemouth Universities. Following her early death in 2013, Michael married Pamela Howdle-Smith, with whom he now enjoys a more complete retirement, in which they appreciate music, literature, fine food, and reflecting on their earlier busy lives in teaching and therapy. He has two daughters by his first marriage, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

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