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Chloe's book recommendations – Part 4

I am excited to highlight some of my favourite books that I use in my work as an LGBTQ counsellor and trainer.

Next up is ...

Rewriting the Rules – An Anti Self-Help Guide to Love, Sex and Relationships

Who wrote it?

Meg-John Barker

Meg-John Barker is the author of a number of popular books on sex, gender, and relationships, including Queer: A Graphic History; Gender: A Graphic Guide; How To Understand Your Gender; Life Isn’t Binary, Enjoy Sex (How, When, and IF You Want To); Rewriting the Rules; The Psychology of Sex; and The Secrets of Enduring Love. They have also written a number of books for scholars and counsellors on these topics, drawing on their own research and therapeutic practice.

What the book is about?

'Rewriting the Rules: An Anti Self-Help Guide to Love, Sex and Relationships is a friendly guide through the complicated – and often contradictory – advice that's given about sex and gender, monogamy and conflict, break-up and commitment.

It asks questions about the rules of love, such as which to choose from all the rules on offer? Do we stick to the old rules we learnt growing up, or do we try something new and risk being out on our own?

And what about the times when the rules we love by seem to make things worse, rather than better?'

Why I find it Helpful?

As an LGBTQ counsellor I found this book to be gold dust. It is VERY inclusive of LGBTQ people as it explores diversity in how people manage difference in finding love, managing relationships (monogamy, conflict, break-ups, commitment) and exploring societal expectations around sex.

Rules are something many people – including myself – have a tendency to latch on to. As humans we search for meaning in life, and rules can help us feel safe, makes sense of what is happening and predict what might happen next. However, as a counsellor I am well aware that saying ‘should’ can be dangerous as there is no right or wrong way to do things.

This book is well written and accessible and really helps me as a counsellor in facilitating conversations with clients to help them question the ‘shoulds’ they have swallowed growing up and think about how they might rewrite the rules for themselves.

Why I think clients will find it helpful?

LGBTQ clients in particular are used to unpacking the societal expectations around love, sex and relationships due to living in such a heteronormative and cisnormative society.

However for many people I have worked with it is common for folks to still hark back to the ‘rules’ and find it difficult to question the societal expectations around what sex looks like, the possibility of opening up a relationship, how it might be to remain single.

I often suggest this book to clients as it can help open up ideas for how they might manage love, sex and relationships differently, without the pressure to follow the cookie cutter fairytale, which doesn’t always end happily ever after.

Why I think counsellors will find it helpful?

When I did my initial counsellor training, I wish this book had been recommended. Of course it hadn’t been written yet, but my wish is that current and future counselling courses can add this to their reading list.

This book will help so many counsellors open up conversations as they explore with clients what they might want from love, sex and relationships.

When I meet counsellors at the online trainings I run to help boost confidence working with LGBTQ clients, I am struck by how many people haven’t had conversations with clients about gender roles in relationships and societal expectations around PIV sex.

By reading this book I hope that counsellors will feel more confident to open up these questions and help clients who might be questioning whether the images they learned as a child about relationships are really what they want.

I also feel that this book will help more counsellors to question their own rules they themselves may be following, and perhaps begin to question in their own personal therapy whether there are any rules they as counsellors might want to rewrite for themselves.

Where can I buy the book?

Buy the book from all good bookshops

If you are a publisher, author or even a reader and have a book you recommend I read and showcase please get in touch on the email above.

This is part of a series of book recommendations. Read more of my book blogs here.

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