Counselling for the whole body-brain-mind

Updated on 20th April 2020

Holistic Counselling in Practice:

An introduction to the theory and practice of Emotive-Cognitive Embodied-Narrative Therapy

whole cover holistic couns reissued

Preface to the Updated Edition (2019)

This book was originally published in 2016, in a format which proved to be too costly, mostly because it was extensively illustrated in full colour.

It has since been officially replaced by two other books:

Taylor-Byrne, R.E. and Byrne, J.W. (2017) How to control your anger, anxiety and depression, using nutrition and physical activity. Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT Publications.


Byrne, J.W. (2018) Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching of the Whole Person: Or how to integrate nutritional insights, physical exercise and sleep coaching into talk therapy. Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT Publications.

However, we have found that some researchers want to read the original 2016 book, because:

  1. It has historic relevance; and:
  2. It still contains some elements that did not get reproduced in the two books (mentioned above), which replaced it.

front cover holistic couns reissuedSo we have removed all the colour, and many of the unnecessary illustrations, in order to bring the cost down for those individuals who still want to buy this book.

However, buyer be warned:  If you have already read either of the two books listed above, you will find only minor elements of novelty in this reissued copy of the 2016 book.

Perhaps the best way for you to decide whether or not this book is right for you is to read the Foreword, the Contents Pages, and the Index, below.

We believe this book could still be the best introduction to Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT), for counsellors and students.


Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

15th January 2019


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In these pages you will find a detailed introduction to the theory and practice of one of the most recent, and most comprehensive, forms of holistic counselling and psychotherapy. This new system (for helping people to optimize their positive experiences of life, and to process their negative experiences), necessarily deals with emotions, thinking, stories and narratives, plus bodily states; and thus is called Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT).

This book has been designed to be helpful for three audiences:

front cover holistic couns reissued(1) Counsellors, psychotherapists, coaches, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, educators and others;

(2) Students of counselling, psychotherapy, psychology, psychiatry, social work and related disciplines; and:

(3) Self-help and personal development enthusiasts.

The content of this book has been a long time incubating, at the very least since 2001 when I first tried to defend the ABC model of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) by relating it to the three core components of Freud’s model of the mind (or psyche): (1) the Id (or It [or baby-at-birth]); the Ego (or sense of self, or personality); and the Superego (or ‘internalized other’, including social and moral rules). The more I tried to defend REBT, the more its core models fell apart in my hands!

At the same time, I was studying thirteen different systems of counselling and therapy, from Freud and Jung, via Rogers and Perls, and the behaviourists, to the cognitivists and existentialists.

Later, I considered Plato’s model of the mind, alongside the Buddhist and Stoic philosophies of mind.

Into this mix, at some point, Attachment theory arrived, and that helped to make more sense of the emerging model of mind: (Gerhardt, 2010).  Attachment theory, and Object relations theory – (Gomez, 1997) – eventually formed the core of my model of the mother-baby dyad, and the way in which the mind of the baby was born out of the interpenetration (or overlapping interactions) of the physical baby and the cultural mother.

front cover holistic couns reissuedAnd this gave rise to a greater awareness of the individual counselling client as a ‘social individual’, who is ‘wired up’ (neurologically) by social stories to be a creature of habit, living out of historic scripts; and viewing the world through non-conscious frames which dictate how things ‘show up’ in their automatic (cumulative-interpretive) apprehension of the external world.

As these developments were reaching fruition, I also discovered the insights of interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB – Siegel 2015) and Affect Regulation Theory (Hill, 2015).


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But even beyond those developments, I also became increasingly aware that, because we are body-minds, our experience of sleep, diet, exercise, alcohol, water consumption, and socio-economic circumstances – (in addition to current and historic relationships) – have as much to do with our emotional disturbances (very often) as do our psychological habits of mind.

And in Appendix E, Renata Taylor-Byrne presents compelling evidence, from reliable sources, that dietary changes and physical exercise can produce dramatic reductions in levels of anger, anxiety and depression; anti-depressants are not nearly as effective as has been claimed (and that physical exercise alone is as effective at curing depression as are antidepressant drugs); that drug companies hide negative trial results; that the real pills often fail to outperform placebo (sugar) pills; that the real pills are often totally ineffective; that they seem to be addictive, and difficult to get off in some cases; and they have serious side effects (in some cases involving suicidal ideation). And in addition, we agree with those theorists who have argued that physical exercise is at least as effective as anti-depressants; and also that some forms of dietary change can and do reduce and/or eliminate depression, and also reduce anxiety and anger. (See Appendices E and F, below).

front cover holistic couns reissuedCounselling and therapy systems have normally ignored the convincing evidence that exercise and diet can change our emotional states.  For example, in Dryden and Strawbridge’s (2003) book on counselling psychology, there are no references in the index to diet or physical exercise[i].  As in the case of McLeod (2003)[ii], there is a ‘virtual postscript’ (in Chapter 29 [of 32] in Woolfe, Dryden and Strawbridge) on counselling psychology and the body – which is essentially about using bodily experience in counselling and therapy – as in breath work, and body awareness – though the chapter author (Bill Wahl) also includes a consideration of body-work as such.  However, in E-CENT, we consider that touch is too problematical (ethically) to include in our system of counselling.  What we do include, because it is now clearly an essential ingredient of the health and well-being of the whole-client (body-brain-mind), is awareness of the role of diet and exercise in the level of emotional disturbance of the client; and an awareness of the need to teach the client that their diet and exercise practices have a significant impact upon their emotional and behavioural performances in the world.  (See Appendices E and F).


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This then is a story of counselling and therapy revolution: the radical reformulation of most of our major theories of therapy; and their integration into a completely new view of the social individual as a body-brain-mind-environment whole.

Talk therapy has a lot to offer the social individual, but talk therapy alone cannot cure most of the ills of the modern world, which are related to the lifestyle of the client. (Interestingly, lifestyle coaching and lifestyle medicine are beginning to emerge in various quarters, including among some psychiatrists, [who are experimenting with diet – ‘Holistic psychiatry’]; some neurologists [‘Holistic neurology’]; and some medical doctors [‘Integrative medicine’, and ‘Nutritional therapy’]. But none of these approaches is nearly as complete or holistic as E-CENT theory and practice).

front cover holistic couns reissuedThe world of counselling and therapy is being transformed (once again!).  And in this book, in Chapter 3, we have summarized the core insights arising out of those various revolutions which have already occurred, which have relevance for counselling today.  We have also explored the very latest thinking about how to understand and manage human emotions – especially anger, anxiety and depression, in Chapter 5.

Chapter 4 deals with our approach to helping clients to reframe their unavoidable problems – using our Six Windows Model – which draws on the insights of moderate Buddhism and moderate Stoicism.  The theoretical rational for this windows model is explored in Appendix A, on Frame Theory.

Chapter 6 explores some of the most important and helpful models we use in E-CENT, to guide our counselling sessions, and to help the client to perfink (perceive, feel and think) more self-supportingly.


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There are also major appendices on the roles of diet and exercise in the development and reduction of client-problems of anxiety, anger and depression. And there is a substantial chapter (7) on how to use E-CENT theory to promote effective self-management for self-help enthusiasts.

The core beliefs of Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT) are summarized in twenty principles, in Chapter 3.

Finally, there is a good deal of information on emotional needs assessment; desensitization of traumatized clients; and the role of morality in living a good life – (including the importance of refraining from giving counselling clients [and those outside the ‘Chinese walls’ of the counselling room] permission to be bad, amoral, immoral or evil!)

front cover holistic couns reissuedCounselling and therapy have been in a constant state of evolution and revolution since the creation of psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud, in the late nineteenth century. This book represents one of the most recent, and most comprehensive, reformulations.

I hope you enjoy this volume, and that you find some useful theories, techniques and models within: for use in your own life, and/or with the people you aim to help.

Dr Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling, Hebden Bridge

June 2016 (Updated and revised slightly, January 2019)


[i] Woolfe, R., Dryden, W., and Strawbridge, S. (eds) (2003) Handbook of Counselling Psychology. Second Edition. London: Sage Publications.

[ii] McLeod, J. (2003) An Introduction to Counselling. Third Edition.  Buckingham: Open University Press.  Chapter 21 of 21; section 6 of 9 within that final chapter! No references to diet.  This is the totality of his commentary on physical exercise: “The therapeutic value of physical exercise is well established.  But, for the most part, counselling remains centred on talking rather than doing”. (Page 523 of 527!)


This book is available through Amazon outlets around the world, in two formats: Kindle eBook, and Paperback:

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This book is available through Amazon outlets around the world, in two formats: Kindle eBook, and Paperback:

To get your Kindle eBook version, please click the Amazon link that serves your home area:, US+ Amazon UK + Irl Amazon Germany
Amazon Spain Amazon Italy Amazon Netherlands
Amazon Japan Amazon Brazil Amazon Canada
Amazon Mexico Amazon Australia Amazon India

And here are the links to buy your Paperback copy:, US+ Amazon UK + Irl Amazon Germany
Amazon Spain Amazon Italy Amazon France
Amazon Japan Amazon Canada  



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