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Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy

Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy

Second Edition
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October 2017 | 248 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

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agerly awaited by many counsellors and psychotherapists, this new edition includes an updated preface, new content on recent research and new developments and debates around relational depth, and new case studies.


This groundbreaking text goes to the very heart of the therapeutic meeting between therapist and client. Focusing on the concept of 'relational depth', the authors describe a form of encounter in which therapist and client experience profound feelings of contact and engagement with each other, and in which the client has an opportunity to explore whatever is experienced as most fundamental to her or his existence. The book has helped thousands of trainees and practitioners understand how to facilitate a relationally-deep encounter, identify the personal ‘blocks’ that may be encountered along the way, and consider new therapeutic concepts – such as 'holistic listening' – that help them to meet their clients at this level.


This classic text remains a source of fresh thinking and stimulating ideas about the therapeutic encounter which is relevant to trainees and practitioners of all orientations.

Chapter 1 - Foundations for a relational therapy
Chapter 2 - Psychological distress: a relational understanding
Chapter 3 - Relational depth in therapy: what it is and why it may help
Chapter 4 - A continuing relationship at depth: 'reaching the parts...'
Chapter 5 - Working with Dominic: a 'partial' drunk
Chapter 6 - Earning the right to work with Rick: a traumatised client
Chapter 7 - Facilitating a meeting at relational depth
Chapter 8 - The therapist's developmental agenda
Chapter 9 - Towards a revolution

Only occasionally do books change the very way we think about practice and introduce concepts that have the power to redefine some of our work, the first edition of Working at Relational Depth did just that, and this second edition takes us several steps further. Entirely updated, refreshed and contemporary in its approach this is, once again, a tour de force in the literature; a further critical development in our understanding of the relationship in counselling and psychotherapy.

Dr Andrew Reeves
Senior Lecturer; Senior BACP Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist; Chair of BACP

Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy 2nd Edition, co-authored by Mick Cooper and Dave Mearns, is a wonderful book which should be on every counsellor’s and counsellor training course’s reading list.

Moira Bishop
Amersham & Wycombe College

This book reminds us that therapy is both an art and a science. The struggle to find words to describe moments of deep healing between two people is balanced by an absorbing look at the neuroscience, developmental psychology and evidence that underpin relational depth. This is both poetry and prose which speak across the different modalities to all therapists who care about their clients.

Fiona Ballantine Dykes, Intergrative Therapist and Head of Professional Standards BACP

The illustrative examples, client accounts and research meshed together into an enjoyable, informative and thought provoking read. It enabled me to realize that, fundamentally, working at relational depth means two human-beings allowing themselves to be seen exactly as they are. Human. With flaws and fears and needs and desires.

Heather Rimmer
Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies

This is such a good book: warm, engaging, interesting, personal and professional. I will certainly be recommending to my students that they read it and wallow in its wonderful contents.

Ms Sally Riggall
School of Health & Social Care, Lincoln University
August 31, 2017

An excellent book on relational psychotherapy practice, of great value for students of all therapeutic modalities, where the therapeutic relationship is the ultimate integrative variable

Dr Aisling McMahon
School of Nursing & Human Sciences , Dublin City University (DCU)
August 30, 2017

One of the things I find appealing about this text is how the authors manage to make something that is, in practice, so complex and nuanced, so understandable and accessible, Mearns and Cooper... a winning combination.

Dr Russell Delderfield
Academic Skills Advice, Bradford University
August 30, 2017

Dave Mearns

Dave Mearns is formerly Director of the Counselling Unit and Professor of Counselling at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Dave is author or co-author of four other counselling books published by SAGE: Person-Centred Counselling in Action, Second Edition, Experiences of Counselling in Action, Person-Centred Counselling Training and Person-Centred Therapy Today: New Frontiers in Theory and Practice.   More About Author

Mick Cooper

Mick Cooper is Professor of Counselling Psychology at the University of Roehampton, where he is Director of the Centre for Research in Social and Psychological Transformation (CREST). Mick is a chartered psychologist, a UKCP registered psychotherapist, and a Fellow of the BACP. Mick is author and editor of a range of texts on person-centred, existential and relational approaches to therapy; including Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy (2005, SAGE, with Dave Mearns), Pluralistic Counselling and Psychotherapy (2011, SAGE, with John McLeod) and Existential Therapies (2nd edn, 2017, SAGE). Mick has led a series of... More About Author