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Counselling for Toads is the story of Toad (of Toad Hall) who has fallen into depression and the journey he goes on when he undertakes counselling. I tend to like this kind of book, those that help you or teach you something but by using the hook of a fairy story or using well loved characters to make some of the concepts easier to digest and this does the same thing.
I wasn’t sure to start with whether I would like this book as the initial set up didn’t flow too well for me however once we got into Toads actual counselling sessions the book then became a real page turner. Among the usual passages of how Toad could be helped were various concepts of the psychological state and ways of being that I had not come across before.
First we have the three states of Life; Child Ego State, the Parent Ego state and finally the Adult state (of being) all of which are explained in clear concise terms. If anything is discussed that may appear complicated we have Toad asking the questions that a non psychologist may ask. These were fascinating and I personally learnt a lot.
There are 2 parts to the Child state; the natural child which are behaviours learned in childhood such as anger, sadness and fear (and fun lets not be too negative) and then we have the Adapted Child state. For anyone that didn’t have a perfect childhood the child learns to adapt to the moods of their parents whether that is how to deal with mum having a bad hair day to how to avoid an abusive parent. The Parent Ego is where we have learnt the behaviors of our parents and then mimic them as we are older. I found this to be the most interesting of the three. It’s easy to understand an abused child becoming an abuser but what about those that do not become the same as their parents? In many cases if that child grows up to suffer depression or anxiety they have still grown up to be the abuser; just that the person they are abusing is themselves. If you’re parents put you down, the adult then finds themselves being overly harsh on themselves and so on.
Finally the adult state is the purest of them all where we are rational and can deal with the realities of the here and now. The book also claims this is the only state in which we can learn. This is my first foray into the concept of States and so I am not sure if these are accepted theories but for me I think I’d like to learn more.
A couple of other things the book mentions: it discusses the various ways we express anger from full on rebelling to withdrawing from the world. And finally the Life Positions. This is the different relationships we have with people. It’s a complicated one to try and explain so seeing as I am recommending this book, you should read it and see for yourself but whether you are ok and the other person isn’t, whether you are both OK and so on but also how to spot these personality types.
The story ends with Toad developing as a person (animal?) and re-establishing good relations with his friends and even getting a job. For anyone who wishes to learn more about their own behaviours or with a desire to learn more about psychology and the workings of the brain this is a must read book. I would highly recommend it,