Vance Peavey

SocioDynamic Counselling: A Practical Approach to Meaning Making

This new manuscript, completed by Dr. Peavy prior to his death, is now available by clicking on this link: The Taos Institute.

Please look for further announcements on this website concerning the availability of the book, and on the Canadian Career Development Foundation website.

In addition to the main body of the text by Dr. Peavy, there is an Introduction by Dr. Marie Hoskins and Biographical Reflections by Denise Larsen.

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Introduction by Dr. Marie Hoskins

SocioDynamic Counselling: A Practical Approach to Meaning Making

-- excerpt. Who should read this book?

Although Vance has written this book for counsellors, it is important to note that he has adopted a broad definition of what constitutes counselling, making his work applicable to a variety of practitioners who attend to those experiencing life difficulties. Professionals such as nurses, clinical and counselling psychologists, child and youth care practitioners, social workers, and mediators all could use the ideas about relationship that Vance so clearly articulates.

The notion of conceptual mapping that he describes in detail in this book, for example, could easily be adapted to workplace conflicts so that employees could understand better the life-space of their co-workers. Such deepened understandings could foster the negotiation of new, more harmonious relationships once the whole person, not just the workplace behaviours, is known.

Although this kind of strategy requires a high level of trust, the possibilities for modified conceptual mapping activities between persons could be adapted to different contexts. Similarly, in health care settings, nurse practitioners could use conceptual life-space mapping to understand the patient's meaning of an illness within the overall context of his or her life.

What Vance emphasizes is that when principles of compassion, cultural attunement, respect, authenticity and disciplined mindfulness are incorporated into one's own counselling practice, whether when working one-to-one, in groups, or in community development, it is possible to create one's own activities for those people with whom one works. Vance always avoided using rigid counselling techniques and methods in his own practice and cautioned others to avoid contrived and inauthentic ways of relating. Beyond anything else, he believed that counselling activities must have integrity. Both counsellor and client need to agree that what is being proposed makes sense and is a useful thing to do in light of the issue at hand.

Vance strongly believed that the most precious gift a person can give, whether in a counselling relationship or everyday life, is the gift of presence. Such a gift can only be provided by showing a human face to another, not a remote, professional mask. Professionals, Vance believed, should never alienate themselves from the people they hope to serve. Deep and profound connections occur when people are willing to be known with all their vulnerabilities, fears, and concerns, as well as their hopes and dreams.

Vance's intention for this book is to speak openly and honestly to practitioners who engage in this difficult but rewarding work with others.


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Dr. Norman Amundson, University of British Columbia:

"Vance Peavy's untimely death in 2002 adds special meaning to the publication of the current book. In this last manuscript Vance describes the basic tenets of what he has called "SocioDynamic" counselling. This book includes both the underlying philosophy and the practical methods that serve to define his counselling approach. He starts by stating that this is not a book about other books, the objective is to clearly outline the approach without over using references." The complete Review is available in .PDF format and requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Please Click Here to view it.

Dr. Ishu Ishiyama, Canada:

"Vance Peavy is the most respected and influential scholar and counselor educator who has made a profound impact on the philosophy and practice of helping professionals, especially among Canadian, Aboriginal, and Scandinavian counselors. His SocioDyanmic Counselling model helps counsellors to break out of mono-cultural encapsulation in thinking and practice toward multicultural constructivist engagement in a culturally respectful and meaning-focussed process of interaction."

Anders Loven, Sweden:

"Vance Peavy had a great significance for career counsellors in Northern Europe. I think his concern for people and his ability to combine good theory and good practice was one of the key elements for his success in our countries. He was a true counsellor and teacher."

Timo Spangar, Finland:

"Vance Peavy's life-time work in counselling is characterized by wholeness of which he was a prime example himself. Vance's ideas constitute a deep integration of philosophical and theoretical thinking with the most innovative practical tools fit for everyday counselling practices. Rooted solidly in the best cultural traditions of humankind Sociodynamic approach provides us with genuinely human encounters with our clients. The present book will create a lasting milestone in the development of career counselling as well as the other fields of counselling."

Helle D. Sørensen, Denmark:

"Vance Peavy's influence on Danish counselling has been immense and has left its mark. There is an incredible resonance in Danish pedagogy and counselling for his sociodynamic-constructivist theories and methods. Peavy referred to himself as a "seed planter" where others continued the nurturing. His work has left many seeds and plants that we will do our best to nurture and develop for the benefit of counselling."

Greg Neimeyer, USA:

"By re-visioning the landscape of human interaction, Peavy breaks the bonds of classical distinctions between thought, feelings and behavior. In its place emerges the image of a deeply human, vibrant and agenic person who is supported, rather than imprisoned, by the surrounding interpersonal, social and cultural contexts. Peavy moves aside mechanism, powers passed cognitivism, and gains momentum from his decidedly postmodern turn. His finish positions him favorably among today's leaders who are dedicated to understanding the promise and possibilities, as well as the limits and liabilities, associated with human change."

A collection of publications:

"Vance has a number of publications in academic and professional journals, including the one published posthumously in the Canadian Journal of Counselling just recently (the one I co-edited with Marla Arvay). The project I initiated last year in consultation with Judith is intended to produce a compilation of such journal articles, and make multiple copies of this compilation for private use. I am hoping to complete this project by the end of 2003 or early in 2004, assuming I will be able to find most of his publications from the early days in his academic career."

--- Ishu Ishiyama


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Willow: A Tribute to Dr. R. Vance Peavy

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An excellent biographical article, authored by Denise Larsen, appeared in the Newsletter of the Canadian Counselling Association in October of 2002. We have obtained the permission of the CCA to include the article on this website. This document is in .PDF format and requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Please Click Here to view it.

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