Book review: The longest journey: finding the true self. Amanda Stuart, 2012

The longest journey: finding the true self

Stuart, Amanda. (2012)


This is not a self-help book in the usual sense. This is a therapy book for lay people who want to understand some

of the 'whys' of life and relationships and then make some substantive changes. It is accessible and friendly. Like

a good therapist, Stuart is warm and approachable in her writing, yet manages to tell aspects of her own story

without using the book to deal with her own 'stuff'!

This book is for the client and it manages that task extremely well. The author has been able to turn very complex

psychological theory into language that the reader will easily read and understand. But most importantly, they

will be able to use it too.

Don't mistake this as 'dumming down'. This work deals with the hard issues that clients – people from everyday

life – will have to face if they are going to make genuine, lasting progress in their lives. Her presentation

seamlessly translates these often tricky ideas into everyday language that the reader will be able to understand

but, importantly, be able to use. This conversion is a great skill and Stuart does it with apparent ease.

Stuart's use of theory, client stories, and her own personal and professional experience make for a compelling yet

considered read that makes the client feel both like she values them and is with them on the journey. She manages

to inspire hope and self-responsibility for the client who may feel alone and hopeless at a point on their life's


The use of case examples helps put the thinking in a different light by providing a real context that anyone could

relate too, even if it hasn't been their own experience. Varying examples like this ensure the book acts like a bank

of developing knowledge, page after page, increasing the layers of understanding for the reader.

Far from diminishing the client or coming across as the 'expert', Stuart reveals what we all know to be true: that

the life we live is ours to do what we want with. In that regard, we are all the same. It requires work, dedication

and courage but the very real difficulties that people face can be dealt with given the right support and

framework. This book does much to provide that.

I think one of the things I like most about this book is Amanda's style. It is refreshingly frank. The book actually

took me by the collar, sat me down and said 'Look here…' This is not fluffy, schmaltzy midday television that

makes matters worse by pursuing a dazzling dream over the rainbow which no one can obtain. It states how real

people's lives are, in such a way that clients will, if nothing else, feel less isolated with their issues. Stuart

manages to be very 'real' from word one right to the end of the book.

This is for people who are serious about facing up to what's what and making changes for the better without the

sugar coating and empty promises. It deals with what is now as well as what's next.

This is a book I would give my clients. I know they would benefit from it and its reading would accelerate their

own therapeutic journey.

- Guy Vicars



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Review by Guy Vicars National President of AARC







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