The basics of communication, Martin Taylor

Communicating Caring: A guide for health workers and caregivers
Richard Bolstad with Margot Hamblett, Te Hata Ohlson, and Jan Hardie,
Longman Paul, $32.95

In this book, Richard Bolstad provides a thorough introduction to the basics of communication, caring for others and for oneself. While the orientation is primarily towards the needs of students and those learning about the helping role, Bolstad makes it clear that these are also skills helpful to people in their daily lives.

It is heartening to see a commitment to bicultural issues being acknowledged. Readers are challenged to be aware of how their perceptions and patterns of communication are shaped by their own cultural beliefs and values.

Bolstad presents the material in an accessible style with personalised anecdotes to illustrate the points he is making. The reader is constantly encouraged to work back from the book and to reflect upon his/ her own situation and experiences. Frequent use of headings, sub headings, and graphic devices, while helpful in setting out ideas, tends to disrupt the otherwise smooth writing style.

An extensive range of exercises for groups and individuals is woven into the fabric of the book, providing useful source material for teachers. Within a learning environment, a group leader would be expected to assist in establishing safety limits and ground rules for participants in such exercises. It is of concern that the authors have not more explicitly addressed these issues of personal safety. Another significant oversight is the lack of reference to the role of supervision in providing counsellors with an opportunity to monitor both their work and their own processes.

Despite these concerns, Communicating Caring provides a refreshing, thorough and useful introduction to the field that will be well received by students, teachers and practitioners alike.


Martin Taylor is a senior counsellor at Victoria University of Wellington.



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