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The Life of Things

What would psychology look like if we took the planet seriously? Ecopsychologists are, on the whole, more interested in our relations with the earth than our relations with each other. They find little inspiration in conventional psychology, and generally have little to say about individual counselling and psychotherapy, finding it at best irrelevant and at worst a wasteful indulgence in a situation which demands a focus on stopping the damage we are doing to the earth. Meanwhile, counsellors continue to work as though counselling is essentially an exercise carried out in private between two individuals, irrespective of our place in the wider ecosystem. These two points of view rarely meet in discussions of the human predicament, but they are brought together lucidly and coherently in The Life of Things. Bernie Neville takes both personal counselling and the planet seriously. He gets his inspiration from philosophers and psychologists who have puzzled over our relationship to the planet and each other. Arne Naess, Alfred North Whitehead, Jean Gebser, Carl Rogers and Carl Jung have had a significant influence on his thinking.These five thinkers all have enthusiastic followers, but rarely do they talk to each other. The Life of Things may be unique in fitting all five between the same covers. It is unique also in its achievement of dealing with these rich, diverse and complex ideas with eloquence and clarity.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Foreword by Goff Barrett-Lennard Introduction 1. Imagining Therapy 2. Healing the planet 3. The person-centered ecopsychologist 4. Rogers, Whitehead and an evolving universe 5. Counselling the five-minded animal 6. Self-realization and the ecological self 7. Entwined and entangled Afterword

About the Author

Bernie Neville was introduced to counselling as an untrained school counsellor in the 1960s. He soon discovered Carl Rogers and the person-centered approach and this has framed his approach to both education and counselling ever since. As a university teacher in both of these fields he has had a keen interest in applying Rogerian and Jungian thought to the practicalities of teaching and counselling. His previous books include Educating Psyche: emotion, imagination and the unconscious in learning and Olympus Inc.: intervening for cultural change in organizations. He is currently Director of Higher Degree Programs at the Phoenix Institute of Australia.


A vital antidote to the oversimplifications of many current approaches to counselling and psychotherapy. Bernie Neville rescues the great Carl Rogers from the clutches of psycho-technologists (on the one hand) and eco-romantics (on the other), and redirects us to the necessary complexities and ambiguities of the counsellor's roles. Bernie Neville is that rare sage: one who can write clearly about subtle things without doing damage to the subtlety. This book is a joy to read - and a provocation to think more deeply. Guy Claxton, Author of The Wayward Mind: An Intimate History of the Unconscious This is a stunningly original book that makes bold and imaginative connections among seminal thinkers born millennia apart. Neville expands the boundaries of person-centered discourse to include new intellectual company ... Rogers' transformative vision of human consciousness as a manifestation of an evolutionary trajectory and of person-centered encounter as site of cosmic alchemy is lovingly and fiercely reanimated here. Maureen O'Hara Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, National University, La Jolla, CA.

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