Where Angels Fear to Tread highlights some of the ethical and emotional challenges which arise for counsellors when their clients’ thoughts and behaviours become suicidal. It gives insight into how people can, and do, use suicide as a way of coping with overwhelming emotional pain, and the tension this creates in the balance between the ethical guidelines the counselling profession has adopted to protect clients against malpractice (and protect counsellors against litigation) and the needs and viewpoint of the client.
The book also shows a dynamic narrative research methodology in action. There has been a deliberate move away from the traditional “expert” and “subject” positions predominating research, and priority given to the telling of previously marginalised stories in ways that are evocative, congruent with the therapeutic endeavour. The research process is shown as a social construction of lived experience that navigates the borders between narrative research and narrative therapy conveying a distinctive perspective on both the subject matter and the dynamics of both therapeutic and research relationships.
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“This is an exemplar of practitioner-research in which Susan Dale engages the reader’s intellect, emotions, and curiosity—even whilst addressing the potentially distressing topic of suicide. This is a rare combination.Susan and her client co-construct an honest in-depth narrative that shows how counselling was experienced by both the client and counsellor, and how such work can be researched to meet academic standards.The book succeeds in introducing new ways of thinking and working, and I would highly recommend it to people working with suicidal clients and social scientists who want to research their practice in ways that capture the richness of experience.”—Kim Etherington, PhD, Professor of Narrative and Life Story Research, University of Bristol, UK“This is a brave, engaging and honest account of the journey of both a client and a counsellor working with, and through, a desire to die. Using narrative inquiry research methodology, this work challenges the reader to examine the traditional, sometimes rigidly upheld, ethics and thinking about suicide and our approach to working with this issue. The client’s experience illuminates the functionality of suicidal thinking from his perspective—an aspect often neglected in other literature and professional resources. I highly recommend this book to professionals in the therapeutic and medical fields whose work involves responding to and supporting those living with suicidal thoughts and intentions.”—Dr. Samantha Chromy, Chartered Counselling Psychologist“This book has many layers: a researcher’s story, a counsellor’s story, a story of supervision, but essentially a story of love in a therapeutic setting. Sue describes the healing power embedded in the relationship with Alex, which is powerful and inspiring. It is valuable for counsellors, researchers and anyone recognising the human struggle contained within.”—Lorraine Price, MA, UKCP Registered Integrative Psychotherapist, Supervisor and Trainer; Programme Leader of Masters Programme in Integrative Psychotherapy,Sherwood Psychotherapy Training Institute, Nottingham
Susan Dale completed a Doctorate in Education in 2009 at Bristol University. She is an independent counsellor, supervisor, trainer, and researcher who has published in leading national and international academic journals on counselling, narrative practices, and sight loss. She is the author of Different Horizons: Counselling People who are Blind or Partially Sighted published in 2008 by RNIB publications.