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Book Review: Counselling Older People with Alcohol Problems
By Mike Fox and Lesley Wilson Jessica Kingsley Publishers, £19.99
Widely regarded as a ‘hidden issue’ this book is a welcome addition to the scant literature on counselling older people with alcohol problems. Written by two practitioners, Counselling Older People with Alcohol Problems offers a largely person-centred and practical approach to counselling with older people.

The book covers many expected issues such as patterns of drinking that can constitute ‘problem drinking’, underlying reasons for drinking, assessment, detoxification, relapse issues and therapeutic approaches to helping older people with alcohol problems to achieve change with their problematic drinking. In addition, lesser discussed topics such as working with older people with dementia, depression and bi-polar disorder who also have alcohol problems (dual diagnosis) are also covered.

The book is certainly aimed more at a practitioner rather than an academic readership, and the authors have written a practical book that is likely to be very helpful to counsellors and other practitioners who are new to the topic of alcohol and older people. Some of the most interesting aspects of the book are its use of real case stories to illustrate the rich life histories that older alcohol using clients bring with them to counselling, and in addition the devotion of several chapters to dual diagnosis issues, which can often be a feature with (older) alcohol using clients, is helpful. In the main, the practical ‘tips’ of how to assist older people towards moderating and or abstaining from alcohol in order to resolve such problems are one of the main successes of this book.

My only slight issue with the book is its surprising lack of references to many seminal theorists and theories that one might expect when reading about alcohol problems, relapse and behaviour change. However, this is certainly not enough to detract from a very readable and practical guide to helping older people to change their drinking behaviour later in life.

Star rating 4/5

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