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A Safe Place for Change, revised 2nd Edition

Since its first publication in 2012, A Safe Place for Change has been adopted by both universities and private colleges as a set or recommended text in programs across Australia and New Zealand. Students have enjoyed its easy-to-read style and its abundant examples of what ‘real counselling’ looks like. While Crago and Gardner emphasise the vital importance of the therapeutic relationship, they refer to a wide range of different models and theories in direct relation to what counsellors actually do—the element that is often lacking in ‘Models of Counselling’ courses.

Now A Safe Place for Change appears in its second edition, from IP. In this revision, the authors have enlarged their coverage of the neurological research that has revolutionised our knowledge of brain functioning and provided hard evidence of how the therapeutic encounter really does change clients. The authors also include a complete new chapter on how psychotherapy unfolds over the long term.

Although Crago and Gardner originally wrote for students, their book has a great deal to offer experienced practitioners. Psychologists and social workers, in particular, may be surprised to discover here key concepts that did not form part of their professional training. Here is the distilled wisdom of two lives spent in doing (and teaching) counselling and therapy.

ISBN 97819215231885 (PB, 212pp);
178mm x 254mm
AUD $45 USD $35 NZD $49 GBP £25 EUR €28
ISBN 97819215231892 (eBook) AUD $22 USD $16 NZD $24 GBP £12 EUR €14


This unique text is a welcome contrast to formulaic texts on counselling and therapy. It enables new counsellors and therapists to deepen their abilities to “be with” clients and develop a range of interventions and skills.
– Professor Ione Lewis in Psychotherapy in Australia

A Safe Place for Change is not obsessed with content and instructions, it is not limited to just one approach, but instead provides a holistic and integrated foundation on which to build further knowledge of both skills and theory. Highly recommended!
– Paul Bogacs, Lecturer and Counselling Strand Convenor, Avondale College of Higher Education

It is such a unique text in the way it clearly explains issues for the beginning therapist, and what this strange beast called “process” looks like.< /br>
– Kim Kownacki, Morling College

Hugh Crago

Hugh Crago holds degrees in English language and literature, social sciences, and counselling psychology from universities in Australia, England and the USA. He is the author or co-author of eight books and some 120 articles, and retired as Senior Lecturer in Counselling, Western Sydney University in 2012. He has practised as a counsellor and therapist for nearly forty years, and with his wife Maureen was co-editor of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy from 1997 to 2009. Hugh continues to work as an individual and couple counsellor and group therapist in Blackheath, near Sydney.

Penny Gardner

Penny Gardner has lectured in Counselling and developed and taught in the Master of Psychotherapy and Counselling program at Western Sydney University since 2004. She has a wealth of clinical experience in a range of settings, using the model in this book with all age groups and client presentations.


More info on Hugh Crago

Hugh's publications on Trove

Penny Gardner's page on LinkedIn

from the Preface

Theories and models are referred to all the way through this book, but its subject is the practice of counselling and therapy. When we look closely at practice, and understand fully what it is that counsellors are doing, some of the apparent differences between models and theories fall away. Our aim in this book is to emphasise the common ground that lies beneath most recognised approaches—the things that every counsellor or therapist needs to know (and know experientially, not just cognitively).

In some ways ‘skills’ is not the best word for what this book is about, though it is widely used and we have followed suit here. ‘Skills’ suggests something like driving, or being able to add up a column of figures, or throw a ball powerfully and accurately. Counselling skills are a little bit like these skills, but a whole lot different too. Counselling skills are really relational capacities, broken down into specific ways of talking (or sometimes, not talking) that will foster a strong therapeutic relationship. They cannot be fully expressed in ‘rules’ for how to talk or exactly what to say. Words may be important but words will never be enough without the therapist’s presence, and ‘presence’ is not a skill but a quality possessed by a person, a way of being with someone else.

A Safe Place for Change is firmly based in the understanding that the relationship between clinician and client is the bedrock on which all effective counselling and psychotherapy rests. Without a solid, durable relationship (one that can withstand temporary challenge and rupture), no client, except for the most mature, self-aware and motivated, is likely to achieve more than temporary change—no matter what the theoretical model is employed by the professional.

Our approach in this book is ‘relational’ in the broadest sense. It was Freud and his colleague Breuer who established that clients would ‘open up’ and reveal long-buried traumas if only the therapist let them talk freely, without judging them or being too inquisitive. This clinical discovery has still to be re-learned by many professionals today, because their training emphasises knowledge about theories, models and ‘techniques’ rather than continuous practice in the subtle art of crafting a relationship that clients will perceive as trustworthy—a safe place for change. Many professionals fail to listen to their clients properly, and hasten too rapidly into offering information and strategies for behaviour change—which often address only the surface of the client’s presenting problem. Beginning counsellors are (understandably) attracted to such approaches, because they seem to promise quick changes and offer a gratifyingly prominent role to the counsellor.

But to train students in this way is to mislead them. Patience and empathy are more important attributes for a counsellor or therapist to possess than an array of techniques for ‘managing’ anger, grief, compulsions, or whatever. Clients are more than simply bundles of diagnosable symptoms that can be addressed by one-size-fits-all ‘treatments’, as in the medical model. Clients must be ‘held’ by a person who adjusts sensitively to the clients’ needs, instead of imposing their own needs on the client.