(Click on the title to be taken to the review, or reviewer's name for biodata, or simply scroll down the page)

Rules, Patterns and Words  by Dave Willis - Reviewer Tom Maguire

Cultural Intelligence  by Brooks Peterson - Reviewer Terry Goodwin

Parents First by Gerry Burnett and Kay Jarvis - Reviewer Mark Edwards

The Person-centred Approach to Therapeutic Change by Michael McMillan - Reviewer Rosie Harrison

Ethically Challenged Professions - edited by Yvonne Bates and Richard House - Reviewer Elizabeth Winder

Counselling Children, Adolescents and Families by John Sharry - Reviewer Michael Mallows

Therapy Culture by Frank Furedi  - Reviewer Joe Sinclair

All There Is by Tony Parsons - Reviewer Stephen Bray


Rules, Patterns and Words, Grammar and Lexis in English Language Teaching,  by Dave Willis.  Cambridge University Press  December 2003, 237 pages.  ISBN 0 521 53619 7.  Paperback  14.95 

The title of this book may be rather off-putting for some. Until I read the first chapter, available on Internet, I had expected a rather dry, analytical grammar book. Chapter one, however sets a different scene. Willis focuses his grammar on the learner, not the formulae, recognising at the outset the gap between what is taught and what is learnt.  The consequent emphasis on the learning process underlines his holistic rather than analytic approach to grammar. The author acknowledges, for example, that learning is unruly, something practising teachers know and many will be delighted to see incorporated into a grammar study.  The books insistence that grammar is not a stand-alone reference but is a tool for communicating meaning once again gives a welcome humanistic sense to the study.  

Willis builds his grammar around clear assumptions. His five stage model of language development - improvisation, recognition, system building exploration and consolidation -  is applied in each section and has detailed explanations as to how it will work with that particular part of language.  However, the model itself may be incomplete because the author overlooks one critical phase: the influence of first language in the second language learning process. On the other hand, the application of his model of learning priorities the basic message, then communication to others, then self-presentation (including accuracy) lends a dynamic approach to the grammatical explanations making them less abstract, more digestible. Some smaller assumptions, though, are open to criticism: Willis changes a written passage to show that the passive voice is more reader-friendly than the active voice. Many editors would disagree with this, preferring to couch written communication in the active rather than the passive. I think many teachers would follow suit. I should also have liked to see the verbs of the senses figuring more prominently in the lexical items for consolidation, since they are basic to descriptive self-expression. Finally, the level of consolidation aimed at in the book will not come in the classroom for many learners but only with a visit to an English-speaking country. How many classroom learners, for example use the level of English required to use constructions such as, Hardly/seldom had I .?

This is a book which has been crafted carefully, that is, with a care for readers and their learners. Willis is just as reader-centred as he asks teachers to be learner-centred. All the data given is well supported by figures, summaries, cross references and regular recycling, this latter a process he highly recommends in teaching language.  Some of his imaginary examples of teacher-pupil dialogue, though, may be rather optimistic even at intermediate level. However Willis practises what he preaches in his book thus communicating his message twice over, as well as gaining our respect. 

The chapter on spoken language is rich in perspectives as to the difference between oral and written production. It is particularly engaging because of the leeway it offers to the speaker who is liberated from the tight, rule-bound perception associated with written composition. Descriptions and supporting examples of untidiness, vagueness, repetition, interactivity and ellipsis, all typical of conversation, will help teachers to turn speaking practice into a more spontaneous and enjoyable activity.  

One can only agree that Willis has gone a long way to achieving his goal of giving teachers the tools to awaken curiosity and self-reliance in their learners.

 Tom Maguire


Cultural Intelligence  by Brooks Peterson.   Published by Intercultural Press,  2004,   P/B: 229 pages.         ISBN 1-931930-00-7.     Price:  12.99.

I was delighted to be asked to review this book and even more delighted when, upon reading it, I discovered that (as I had anticipated) much of its contents resonated with my own experiences of expatriate life in Thailand (and business trips made to other parts of the world).

Had this commonsense approach to understanding the culture of others (i.e. cultivating cultural intelligence) been available to me before my first experiences in south-east Asia, I might have been able to avoid a series of embarrassing events.  I still recall one of them - shamefacedly, even 30 years on.  On a familiarisation visit to Bangkok, prior to being posted there, I had been invited out by the Company's local agent "in order to get to know each other".  We met in a bar in Pat Pong (a sleazy tourist area) on a Sunday morning and he then took me to a massage parlour in which he had a financial interest.  This was at mid-day, before they had officially opened for business.  We proceeded to an office where we were given drinks and a variety of canaps.  A succession of young ladies passed through the office, presumably on their way to their changing room, and each greeted my colleague with a hug and/or a kiss on the cheek.  I found it quite exciting!

One week later I met with the Company's Malaysian agent in the Port Klang yacht club. He was in the bar, surrounded by cronies, and greeted me effusively.  "I understand" he said "that you were  entertained by [the Thai agent] in Bangkok last week."  "Yes," I confirmed.  "Did he take you to the Darling Massage Parlour?"  "Yes," I admitted.  "Did you have a sandwich?" one of his chums interjected.  "No," I replied, "just some small pieces of toast with prawns and things on them."

And I couldn't understand the mirth that exploded.  Brooks Peterson could have told me.  His book would have warned me never to take questions at face value.  How was I to know that a "sandwich" in that context meant a massage by two masseuses simultaneously?

Cultural Intelligence is a very easy book to read and the way it is laid out, with copious cartoons, sidebars, diagrams, tables and charts, ensures that the reader is absorbing information effortlessly and continuously.  I often see the word  "accessible" used by publishers, presumably to describe this experience.  Well, Brooks Peterson has raised accessibility to new heights for me.

So what is cultural intelligence?  Early in the book Peterson provides a simple formula: Knowledge about Cultures (facts and cultural traits) - plus - Awareness (of yourself and others) - plus - Specific Skills (behaviours) - equals - Cultural Intelligence.  This is a learning process very much like crossing a stream: each new skill learned is a stepping stone from which to build further skills, leading to increased awareness.

At this point the author temporarily deserts cultural intelligence for a detailed chapter on Culture itself and then, having established what Culture is, another chapter on how an understanding of Culture and different cultures may be used to enhance working lives.  When we learn to acknowledge, for example, the cultural variations that exist between three nations that apparently speak the same language (Britain, the USA, and Canada) we will appreciate the more readily how easily failure to communicate exists between people who do not share a common language.  One of Peterson's sidebars points out  that "Even if everyone at the table speaks English, cultural differences can create powerful barriers to understanding".   [And not merely, I would suggest, when it comes to ordering a sandwich at lunchtime in Thailand!] 

In subsequent chapters the author deals in depth with the definition and application of cultural intelligence, the understanding and development of cultural style, plus the ability to use that style appropriately honed to the cultural values of other cultures. Peterson explains why cultural intelligence is important and describes how cultural styles may be plotted.  A final chapter offers suggestions for increasing the readers own cultural intelligence.

In a fascinating appendix, Peterson - who is the founder of Across Cultures Inc - summarises the Peterson Cultural Style Indicator which is an online tool available via his company's website that "offers you a research-validated, accurate measurement of your own culture-based values and attitudes."

If you are involved in any sort of interaction with people from other cultures, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  It should become your Bible and be required reading for expatriate businessmen and overseas travellers.  In fact it can be equally useful to businessmen in their home environment who have to deal with other cultures.

My abiding sense, having finished reading Cultural Intelligence, was one of regret.  What a pity it was not available when I was starting my cross-cultural experiences, instead of ten years after my retirement.  Of course, even at this late stage, there may be opportunities for me to put some of the author's suggestions into practice.

But no longer, I fear, to the extent of enjoying a sandwich.

Terry Goodwin


Parents First  by Gerry Burnett and Kay Jarvis.   Crown House Publishing Ltd.   P/B  130 pages 9.99 

This is a timely publication in that schools are beginning to take on board some of the recent findings from brain research which confirms what many educators have known all along that the how of learning is far more important than the what. As the title suggests, it is targeted at parents and is basically a well-informed and entertainingly presented introduction to accelerated learning and its related fields. 

As such, it is likely to be of interest to parents who are open-minded about how children learn, and are willing to explore their own attitudes to learning. The authors rightly acknowledge the importance of the emotions in learning and chapter one is all about developing confidence and self-esteem. OK, those words have become so over-used in schools that they have almost lost their meaning, but that says more about the process of education than it does about what those words represent. There are lots of useful, easy to implement practical suggestions that can be introduced in a casual, informal and dare I use the word? fun way; for example, by asking the child in what ways Spain is like Greece, and then extending the activity by asking for connections between things that appear initially to have nothing in common. 

Much of the material will be familiar to old lags like me (I used to use the nine dots problem in maths teaching in the early eighties), the reason being that this isnt really new, its just about teaching children to think. There is a chapter devoted to developing thinking skills, using lateral thinking type puzzles which really do appeal to the vast majority of children. There are games that can be played in the car on long journeys, like we used to do long ago before they started selling cars with TV screens built into the backs of the front seats. It is a real strength of the book that the activities are not only good for developing thinking and self awareness, but I would imagine could be extremely helpful in developing family bonding. 

The section on memory again includes lots of practical and entertaining ways of improving memory skills, using mnemonics and visual, auditory and kinaesthetic associations. 

Forward thinking schools will, I hope, buy lots of copies of this book and sell them on to parents. I would suggest to the publishers that this would be the most effective means of getting it to parents; an evening for parents about Learning to Learn with copies of this book for sale would certainly have been pencilled into my autumn term diary if I was still a head teacher. The rub lies in how well up the local school is on all this; if they arent then they should be asked why not. 

Mark Edwards


The Person-centred Approach to Therapeutic Change by Michael McMillan.  Published by Sage. February 2004.   ISBN 0-7619-4869-4; 104 pages.  P/B 15.99

What do Goethe, Shakespeare, Plato and countless other pundits have in common? In one way or another they have all expressed the idea "to thine own self be true" and this notion of knowing who you are and living in harmony with your own values is fundamental to the beliefs espoused  by Michael McMillan. 

What makes a person?

McMillan takes us through Carl Rogers' original humanistic theories starting with what it means to be a person and introducing us to the concept that we each have the intrinsic ability to know what we value and that we strive to be the best "us" we can be. McMillan outlines how this fundamental ability gets distorted as we seek love and approval from significant others in our lives.

Broadly speaking this is the theme of the chapters on what it is to be a person (ch1), how we evaluate our experiences in relation to our self-concept (ch3) and the recognition that we are multi faceted beings (ch4). McMillan presents the theories clearly for those who are coming to them for the first time and updates them with the latest thinking. This notion of how we see ourselves is revisited in the final chapter and we are introduced to concepts of 'multiple configurations of self' and even "a dynamic portfolio of self concepts" (p76) and we are assured by McMillan that none of these interpretations of how we arrive at our notion of self is incompatible with Rogers' original work.

Perhaps the most important theme for all readers is the emphasis on the receipt of unconditional acceptance for the full development of the self-actualising person - and the recognition that this ingredient is lacking in most lives. Interestingly the giving of unconditional acceptance is only addressed within the context of the client therapist relationship. 

Fulfilment is a journey - not a destination

McMillan presents Rogers' belief - that to live is to change - as a radical idea for therapists and explores the view that there is no fixed point in the future when we will have arrived at "better" or "fixed". From this standpoint to be truly ourselves is to be able to respond with openness and a willingness to reassess who we are - in essence our lives are a perpetual work in progress.

Supporting this view of a journey is a roadmap of the "self actualisation continuum", misleading called the process of change, which sets out seven stages of behaviour from rigidity at one end to flexibility at the other. Within this continuum people at stage 3 are sufficiently flexible to consider that they need help from a therapist - which leaves unexplained how people at stages 1 and 2 ever move forward but does support the frequently heard statement that you have to be ready for change.

McMillan suggests that change 'just happens' and it relies on the client's ability to fully experience events and feelings in an environment of unconditional acceptance. Samples of sessions where Rogers facilitated change with clients are interesting but do not offer any clue as to what initially triggered the thought processes that lead to the client's perceptual changes. For those amongst us who like a bit of structure McMillan does offer Gendlin's process of Focusing to facilitate change but at the same time notes that Rogers relied totally on the client to identify and then resolve issues for change. The implication seems to be that all that the therapist really needs is to trust the client which is reinforced in the final chapters where Macmillan leads us through the debate on the role of the therapist and the conditions that need to be present for change to occur. 

Is this book for you?

McMillan's book is part of a larger series on therapeutic change so you won't find McMillan making comparisons with other therapeutic styles or incorporating other psychological developmental theories. McMillan stays on subject and writes in plain and accessible language and the man clearly knows what he is talking about.

This is not a "how to" book with a list of easy steps and easy answers. If you are looking for examples of how to run person centred sessions or for inspiration on how to create the right therapist client environment this is not the book for you.

On the other hand if you are interested in the humanistic tradition and want to know more about Carl Rogers' theories and how they stand the test of time 50 years on - then this is the book for you. The modern authors quoted add value to a simple yet complex theory.

While it might not be a page-turner it is an excellent and thought provoking read.

 Rosie Harrison


Ethically Challenged Professions - Enabling Innovation and Diversity in Psychotherapy and Counselling.  Edited by Yvonne Bates and Richard House.    ISBN 1 898059 61 6    PCCS Books , 2003.  Paperback  price: 17

 The expectation that the UK government will insist on the registration of counsellors and psychotherapists has caused both a rush to become accredited members of professional associations and a raging debate about professionalisation in these occupations. Meanwhile detailed proposals and a timetable for legislation are still some years away.

Yvonne Bates and Richard House have collated contributions from several authors, some reproduced or adapted from published papers and book chapters, some appearing for the first time in this collection. Individual contributions gain impact from other papers on similar themes with which they are grouped into sections.  The thirty authors, some internationally known, include academics, researchers, practitioners, and clients. The editors have cast their net wide - one of the joys of this book. 

Client opinions about therapy are sometimes dismissed, on the grounds that clients lack theoretical knowledge, or are too close to the therapeutic process to be objective. Their inclusion here in itself highlights a division in professional attitude to clients; in a therapeutic relationship, where should professional boundaries be? It has been argued that the 'distance model' of therapy, with rigidification of boundaries between therapist and client, can result in more rather than less abuse of power within the therapeutic relationship, and a tendency to undermine the therapy.  Also subject to question is the appropriate metaphor for a therapeutic relationship. Research supervisor/research student is a model which recognises the therapy client as someone who knows most about their project, and has ultimate responsibility for it, in contrast to a doctor/patient, priest/penitent, or trainer/trainee model. 

The book is in two parts. Part 1, Challenging the Ethics of Professionalised Therapy, examines assumptions underlying some aspects of accepted ethics in counselling and psychotherapy, then examines the assumption that registration and increased professionalisation will raise standards and protect clients. Some writers provide an insight into the effects of therapist registration  in the United States. Part 2, Enabling Innovation and Diversity, explores possible methods of therapy regulation and accreditation without stifling innovation, flexibility, spontaneity and the possibility in therapy of a transformative encounter with another human being.

This book is a must-read for counsellors and therapists, and also provides considerable food for thought for a wider range of readers. For example, in describing how professional codes can focus workers on conformity rather than underlying principles and discourage the formation of autonomous professional judgement, one writer draws on professional codes used in nursing, occupational therapy, and social work. Many of the arguments have relevance for other professionals who work within a helping relationship, such as teachers, and for workers in people-focussed occupations where defining national standards and professionalisation are current issues, such as advocacy. Many Nurturing Potential readers would enjoy this book.

Elizabeth Winder


Counselling Children, Adolescents and Families by John Sharry.  Sage Publications 2004.   ISBN 0-7619-4951-8.  P/B  183 pages.  Price: 16.99 

According to the preface by Scott D. Miller: A recent study found a three-fold increase in the use of psychotropic drugs in children between 1997 and the present. In fact, seven out of ten drugs given to children have never been tested and proven safe or effective for use by them. 

Counselling Children, Adolescents and Families is a strengths-based approach dedicated to the families who keep hope alive written by a social worker and psychotherapist at the Department of Child and Family Psychiatry, at the Mater Hospital, Dublin.  

The author makes the point that we are faced with a frightening number of psychiatric disorders that were either rare or non-existent a few decades back, including: attention-deficit disorder, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and learning problems. He wonders (dont we all?) what is happening to our kids? Has the world grown so toxic? Is modern life merely too complex?  

The twelve chapters, some co-authored, are spread over three main parts: Basic Principles of the Approach.  Specific Solutions and Applications.  Some Challenging Contexts  

Sharry offers techniques and principles for engaging and motivating children and families, with a particular focus on establishing a collaborative partnership. He also emphasises making therapeutic work more child and adolescent centred by incorporating creative activities into the process.  

I can vouch for the efficacy of this approach, not least because my work with the Multi-cultural Child and Family Team at the Post-Adoption Centre has introduced me to the benefits and possibilities of puppets, sand trays, mapping a life story with drawing and painting not my usual methods.  

The philosophical underpinning of this excellent book is social constructivism, which posits that people construct rather than uncover their psychological and social realities. Rather than knowledge and meaning being absolute or universal, they evolve within specific contexts and communities.  

This has far-reaching implications for what happens during, say, a therapeutic session or a community.  

Strengths-based thinking requires that we become detectives of strengths and solutions rather than detectives of pathology and problems, which is excellent advice!  

Problem/ pathology  focused

Solution focused

Focuses on understanding fixed problem patterns in clients lives

Focuses on understanding how change occurs in clients lives and what positive possibilities are open to them

Person is categorised by the problems and diagnoses they have

Person is seen as more than the problems, with unique talents and strengths and a person story to be told

Interprets and highlights the times when clients resist or are inconsistent in their responses

Highlights and appreciates any time the client co-operates or goes along with the therapists questions

Centrepiece of therapy is the treatment plan devised by the therapist who is The  Expert

Treatment plan is a collaborative endeavour between therapist and clients, with their respective expertise (client as expert in their own lives, therapist as expert in the therapeutic process)

Chapters are illuminating, illustrated by short (page or half-page) case examples that reinforce key points. The book  brims with tips and techniques collectively offering metaphors, answers and principles that will be of real and practical benefit to anyone who knows that they can always increase their repertoire and expand their horizons.  

Take, for example, Part 111: Some Challenging Contexts. One section, written by John Sharry, Melissa Darmody and Brendan Madden, co-directors of the Brief Therapy Group, discusses working with suicidal adolescents and strengths-based approach to suicide risk.  

It goes on to describe in some detail three strength-based interventions:  (1) Listening for strengths.   (2) Moving from problem to goals.   (3) Using scaling questions  

With the first, we are asked to consider the different impacts of two possible opening questions to a young person and their parents following suicide attempt,  

Therapist to young person:

What made you do what you did? OR-

You must have had a pretty good reason for doing what you did?  

Therapist to parents:

What has been happening in the family just prior to what Tom did? OR-

Im sure you have been coping with quite a lot since what happened with Tom?  

Simple, subtle, elegant and powerful - qualities and attributes that pervade the whole of this book.  

The final chapter, Working with Child Abuse and Neglect, also enables and, assuming the reader is willing to apply the principles, encourages respect for the abusers potential and collaboration with professionals. It has four case examples and refers to The Plumas Project in the US, which developed a solution focused group intervention for clients convicted of violence toward their partners. Rather than confronting the clients about their violent behaviour (which could evoke defensiveness and resistance), they were helped to define in concrete terms a personally meaningful goal that they would commit to working towards as part of the treatment.

The project found that such a goal-focus not only transformed the therapeutic alliance it also led to a reduction in outside violence.  

I recommend this book to anyone who lives or works with families, children or teenagers.

Michael Mallows


Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age by Frank Furedi  256pp, Routledge, 14.99

I was deeply disturbed by this book.  It seemed to devalue my several decades of dedication to such therapies as co-counselling, transactional analysis, neuro-linguistic programming, attitudinal healing . . . and many others.  I felt offended!

This was, however, only after the first  reading that I cursorily give books for review.  Once I had read it again, in depth, I decided that Furedi[1], far from criticising my personal efforts at self-improvement, self-help, and enhanced self-esteem, was actually endorsing the form they had taken.  He might take exception to this conclusion, or others might on his behalf.  Tant pis!  My interpretation of his theory gave me the validation I needed.  This was well summed up by Furedi's own statement: "In this book we are interested in therapy as a cultural phenomenon rather than as a clinical technique."

And what, precisely, is that "cultural phenomenon"?  It is, quite simply, an obsession with therapy.  It is the redefinition of what in earlier years had been regarded as "normal" experiences - anger, depression, anxiety, isolation, fatigue - into symptoms requiring medical intervention.  It is therapy rampant.  In the book's introduction Furedi offers example to support this theory.  He cites a stress clinic in America established for third grade brownies; he also refers to primary school students in Liverpool being offered aromatherapy, foot and hand massages, and lavender-soaked tissues to reduce stress and aggression.[2] 

Therapy Culture is effectively a survey of the extent to which therapy and counselling have spread into every area of our public and private existence.  This is not in dispute.  Where issue has been taken with Furedi it has been with the extension of his conclusions rather than the conclusions themselves.  In particular, what has raised most ire (and certainly was the issue that caused my own initial and instinctive reaction) is his criticism of the emphasis placed by the "growth industry" of counselling on the notion of "self-esteem".  This is the notion that what you are is what you feel about yourself.  As evidence of its growth, Furedi has provided a statistical chart showing the increase in the use of the expression in British newspapers in the 'eighties and 'nineties of the 20th century.  Starting from zero in 1980, with virtually no mention during the whole of that decade, a search of 300 newspapers found a total of 103 citations in 1990.  This had risen to 600 by 1995 and then the line on the graph becomes almost vertical, peaking at almost 3,500 references to self-esteem in the year 2000. Similar charts show equivalent growth during the 'nineties in media use of the terms trauma, stress, syndrome and counselling.

Furedi appears to deplore the movement towards a therapeutic culture as opposed to the way in which, in earlier years, we would have learned self-reliance, or turned to our parents or friends for help and advice.  Likewise the way we now learn to "deal with anger" rather than "encourage anger".  But I was unable to locate any effort to distinguish constructive from self-destructive anger.

I wish I had the space to go into much more detail about Furedi's controversial yet enthralling theme.  But I hope that I have written enough to encourage you to buy, beg or borrow a copy of Therapy Culture and read it for yourself.

As for my own conversion from dismay to pleasure at my interpretation of Furedi's theory, between my first and second reading of his book, this arose from my recognition that the "therapies" I ultimately valued most highly were those of co-counselling and attitudinal healing. In both cases, practitioners are encouraged to "let it all out" . . . to reveal themselves to their peers, and ultimately to learn self-reliance.  In neither case is it simply a matter of learning therapeutic techniques, but of treating co-practitioners as an extended family.  Effectively, you might say, a return to values, the loss of which  Furedi mourns.

And it is as much a matter of self-respect as it is of self-esteem.

Joe Sinclair

[1] His name curiously is an anagram of I Freud.  Certain unkind critics have suggested that therein lies his "obsession" with therapy as a cultural phenomenon.

[2] Now I know who in Liverpool bought that copy of Peace of Mind is a Piece of Cake!)


All There Is by Tony Parsons. Open Secret Publishing, December 2003. Price 12.00 (Paperback) 241 pp  ISBN 0-9533032-2-5  

The cover of Tony Parsons' latest book blends golden russet tinctures in ways that no photograph can adequately express. And indeed this review will only hint at the implications of the book.  

For Parsons is an enigma, seemingly as down-to-earth as any shrewd wheeler-dealer, he asserts that he is not a person at all!  

But it's not that he's from Mars and we are from Earth.  Parsons proposes that he, you, and I are all characters in a hypnotic dream and the dreamer is no one and nothing.  

This message is effectively, if repetitiously, conveyed in the transcripts of ten meetings with readers of his earlier books. The meetings were held in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brecon U.K., Encinitas U.S., London and Totnes U.K.. Tony Parsons answered questions on such topics as 'Awakening' and 'Enlightenment'.  

They need not have bothered for as the author says on page one of this book: "I'm not an enlightened person and . . . there is no such thing as an enlightened person."  

Indeed he goes on to state in various ways that the search for enlightenment, or awakening, is futile as are such disciplines as meditation, attempting to still the mind, get past the ego . . . the list goes on.  

There is nothing that anyone of us needs to be or do, he says, since there is nobody here.  

"There appears to be evolution. It's to convince you that things are going somewhere . . . The world's evolution is a wonderful play to convince us that there is a journey. There isn't. It's a play, it's a film, a film called 'The World'. The film looks as though it's going somewhere.. . . And if you see it all from another point of view, you begin to open up to the possibility of dropping the idea of a journey towards somewhere that you'll never get to. You'll never get there ~ you already are there. When there is simply presence, all meaning ends. Meaning is always attached to a story ~ 'We are going somewhere'."  

From a conventional point of view one has to admire Tony Parsons cheek. He offers you 'nothing' and charges for the book, or the seminar. Selling bottled water by designer label is nothing compared to this!  

In what Parsons refers to as the film called 'Our World' many of the characters might consider his ideas as insane, or even dangerous, but some are spiritually addicted, and these characters seem willing to pay royally to obtain release from their habits.  

He has a point. We humans are no more than concepts conditioned by others via our language, culture and experience. People have told us who and what we are, and rarely do we question these attributes. But supposing we have been misinformed? Suppose the entire Western civilization is deceived? Then assuredly we need someone like Tony Parsons to awaken us to other possibilities?  

You may not agree that you are just a character in a film or a dream that is going nowhere, but this book will certainly provoke you to examine what you think that you are.  

It is the longest Zen riddle in history!                   

 Stephen Bray



Reviewers' Biodata

Tom Maguire has a BA (English), M-s-Lettres (French) and Philology degree (Spain). He has 27 years experience in TEFL in France and Spain. At present he teaches EFL in a Spanish State high school near Barcelona.

Terry Goodwin was a senior marketing executive at Finexport Ltd in London and Bangkok until his retirement in 1992, since when he has been in private practice as a marketing consultant.

Mark Edwards was a head teacher, who still teaches part-time but combines this with writing articles, educational consultancy and entertaining people who like to hear badly performed rock, pop and music hall classics.

Rosie Harrison is an ex Systems Analyst, Strategic Risk Manager and trainer, and corporate business manager.   Currently she is working as a life coach, mentor and professional kinesiologist. She is also in training as a Tai Chi teacher.  Her website will be found at

Elizabeth WinderWhile training as an integrative psychotherapist, Elizabeth helped to set up a user-led mental health day service and provided counselling within prison as a Probation Service volunteer.  She now runs an independent  service providing advocacy to psychiatric in-patients.   Email:

Michael Mallows is a management consultant, therapist (specialising in adoption), an author, a healer and a workshop facilitator.  He is a consulting editor of Nurturing Potential. is a management consultant, therapist (specialising in adoption), an author, a healer and a workshop facilitator.  He is a consulting editor of Nurturing Potential.

Joe Sinclair is a writer, editor, publisher, and non-executive director of a shipping line - amongst other activities - one of which is the publishing of Nurturing Potential. His several websites may be accessed via

Stephen Bray's career spans thirty years, beginning in social work and encompassing Adult Education, Business Consulting, Counselling, Journalism, Photography and Psychotherapy.  He is a consultant editor for Nurturing Potential.