Mr Toad has always been a cheerful and well-dressed man, but some things seemed to have changed recently. He hides in his own shelter and lost all interest in the things he was once passionate about. Everything in front of him has turned grey. He is depressed.
Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure is an interesting and delightful book. The author sets the scene with Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. The characters in our story are the famous animal friends – Mr Toad, Rat, Mole and Badger. It’s not a children’s book, but a good introductory psychology book for everyone.
The author, Robert de Board, has years of expertise in the counselling domain. He presented to the readers the whole process of counselling through dialogue format between Mr Toad and Heron (the counsellor).
Through the 10 counselling sessions with Heron, we see the process of Mr Toad’s recovery and regaining his confidence and hope in life.
At the same time, as readers, we understand ourselves better along the way. The whole book is easy to follow and you will definitely learn more about yourself from this book.
Table of Contents
Why you should read it?
1. Everyone will see themselves in Toad in some ways
It’s not just a psychological adventure for the Mr Toad, it’s for all of us.
As I was reading each dialogue between Toad and Heron, it reminds me of my childhood and my own behaviour in some way.
It’s a great book for us to understand ourselves better. If you are troubled by certain events in your childhood, or you are like me, who constantly questions myself on why am I behaving in a certain way. I believe you will also find your answer in the book.
2. Understand our behaviours
The book has explained psychological theories in simple illustrations. In order to understand ourselves, we need to first understand our childhood. The author introduced that people’s various behaviours are out of the three ego states:
- Parent ego state
- Child ego state
- Adult ego state
The Child ego state is built from our childhood experiences and memories. It consists of all the emotions we experienced when we were little. How our parents interact with us is crucially important to which ego state we land in as children.
There are 2 types of child ego states:
- Natural Child
- Adapted Child
Children under the ‘Natural Child’ state are the ones who will display all the basic emotions, including fun and affection, anger, sadness, and fear.
On the flipped side of the coin, there is the Adapted Child. The children who do not display basic emotions. For instance, Instead of releasing their anger, they might adapt their behaviour by suppressing it to cope with their critical parents. Typical behaviour of the Adapted Child state includes sulking.
Sulking is the best illustration of using time to reduce the force of anger. It is usually a child’s response to authority when they can’t get their own way. (When I read this part in the book, it was an Aha-moment for me, that completely explains my behaviour when I was a kid!)
The strongest emotions we felt when we were children could possibly be some of the strongest emotions we feel as adults.
Being in the Parent ego state would mean that we are behaving like our parents. This includes the sets of values and behaviours we observed and learnt from them.
Lastly, being in the Adult ego state would mean we are using rational means and not emotions to deal with things. We are responsible for our behaviours and do not blame others. We choose what we feel and how we deal with situations, and we are the ones that are accountable for our actions.
By understanding the three ego states, we can be mindful and understand our own behaviours better.
3. A complete depiction of the counselling process
It’s a great book for anyone who is interested in counselling and the counselling process. One thing I was deeply impressed with was the way Heron conducted the counselling session.
Heron uses the language and the ideas of transactional analysis as his counselling method. There were no absolute statements or his subjective views, but only empathetic listening and guidance.
He leads Toad on the self-discovery journey, from being in the child state to being an adult. Toad learns not to shift the blame to others, but accountable for his own growth and changes.
If we want to understand the present, we need to understand our past. The process of self-discovery is powerful and inspiring.
Through Mr Toad’s story, we can feel that even though the process of self-discovery can be painful at times, the adventure itself will provide you with a much more fulfilling and enriching existence in life.
If you would like to receive a Weekly Calm Reminder from me, do subscribe to the Newsletter! I’ll come by your inbox every Tuesday with a little boost for you to move through the week with calm and energy
Check out more recommended reads here.