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Counselling athletes: applying Reversal Theory
  1. J Thatcher

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    J H Kerr. London: Taylor and Francis Group, 2001, £16.99, pp 159, softcover. ISBN 419261206

    I really liked this book. Its clear, readable style, use of quotations, case studies, and interweaving of applied and academic content held my interest throughout. Reversal Theory (RT) is sometimes placed on the fringes of sport psychology, offering little practical application because of its structural phenomenology. Kerr’s book firmly quashes such criticism, illustrating RT’s structural phenomenology as central to its application as an interpretive framework for an eclectic range of consultancy approaches.

    Kerr’s use of quotations and case studies from elite sports participants is the book’s main strength. Using these, he places an RT filter against sporting experience and describes and interprets what occurs. Another of the book’s strengths is its clear, logical progression. This may seem obvious, but I felt that Kerr skilfully led us through increasingly complex RT concepts and applications without recourse to involved academic discussion that would detract from the book’s applied focus.

    The discussion points after each chapter offer opportunities to check one’s understanding and provide excellent stimuli for teaching based discussions. Possible responses would have been useful throughout the book, particularly later on, where issues became increasingly complex. I would also have welcomed greater detail on the consultant’s perspective in chapter 8, such as dealing with one’s metamotivational states and interactions with clients’ metamotivational experiences.

    This book is interesting, engaging, and may inspire practitioners to integrate RT into existing practices. I would certainly purchase this book and recommend it to postgraduate students and trainee consultants in sport psychology, existing practitioners, and some athletes.

    Professional qualifications: BASES Accredited for Scientific Support (Psychology), BPS Chartered Psychologist.

    Target audience of the book: postgraduate students, practitioners, trainee practitioners and maybe some athletes.

    Author details: John Kerr is the world’s leading expert on the application of RT in sport and exercise settings. He has pioneered the investigation and application of this theory in this context and published extensively on the topic. Although clearly at the upper echelons of academe, he still has time to help others in their research and application of RT.

    Presentation18/20
    Comprehensiveness16/20
    Readability20/20
    Relevance20/20
    Evidence basis20/20
    Total94/100

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