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Toronto, Guidance Centre, Faculty of Education, University of Toronto, c1984.
73pp, paper, $6.00.
ISBN 0-7713-0133-2.

Reviewed by Glenn DiPasquale.

Volume 12 Number 3
1984 May

This book is a short, polished "how-to" manual for running what the authors call Communication Labs or "C-Labs." The C-Lab is a two day group experience designed to make people feel better about themselves and to teach them to communicate more effectively with others. The authors, all school guidance counsellors, state that C-Labs can be run with groups of adults or with children as young as nine, but the main focus seems to be on adolescents.

Step by step, the authors describe a series of activities to be run either with the entire group (the community), or in small groups. These activities are clearly and concisely described under the headings: "Purpose," "Procedure," "Processing" (i.e., discussing feelings and impressions after completing the activity), and "Our Experience." Organization and clarity are definite strengths of the book. Another strength is the nature of the activities themselves. Some are new, and many are of the tried-and-true variety, but all appear to be useful and well thought out. Some even sound like fun.

The only criticism I have of this book is that it makes me nervous. Its tone seems to encourage anyone, experienced or not, to launch into a C-Lab with a mixed group of "normal," withdrawn, and disruptive youngsters. At times, there appears to be a naive lack of awareness of the dangers inherent in these activities, which are, after all, declawed, sanitized descendants of the volatile encounter groups of the nineteen-sixties. The authors state that they have conducted C-Labs "throughout the years" without any serious incidents. And in the second-last chapter, three pages long, they advise the reader "What to Do If ". . . someone cries, someone shows hostility, etc. Nonetheless, I would like to see more caution advised for the sake of that one in a hundred youngster who might actually be harmed by such an intense, though seemingly positive, social experience. It has happened before, and I just do not feel confident that the average school guidance counsellor has the training to see it coming or to cope with it on the spur of the moment. For this reason, I am reluctant to recommend the book for any but the most experienced counsellors who have access to more qualified professionals who can help them screen prospective participants.

Glenn DiPasquale, York Region Board of Education, Newmarket, ON.
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