Becoming an Agent

Patterns and Dynamics for Shaping Your Life

By Larry Cochran & Joan Laub

Subjects: Educational Psychology
Paperback : 9780791417201, 186 pages, November 1993
Hardcover : 9780791417195, 186 pages, December 1993

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Table of contents


1. Personal Agency

2. Enhancing Agency

3. Phases of Transformation

4. Themes of Passage

5. Scenes of Destruction

6. A Narrative of Agency




This book is about individuals who have made dramatic changes in their lives. In the beginning, these people were living as patients or victims of circumstance. In the end, they were living as agents, free to shape the courses of their lives, to choose, set goals, plan—to make things happen, rather than to experience life as events happening to them.

The authors describe what is involved in such remarkable transformations. They identify a common structure of transformation involving four distinguishable phases. They also clarify a progressive dialectic between living the plot of a patient and living the plot of an agent, and show how an old plot is destroyed or deconstructed and a new plot is constructed.

Larry Cochran is Professor in the Department of Counselling Psychology at the University of British Columbia. Joan Laub is a Psychotherapist in private practice at Trauma Treatment Services, Englewood, Colorado.


"The topic may be the central issue in personality and counseling today. The perspective, namely the narrative paradigm, is emerging as the vantage point drawing the most discourse in the social sciences as we head for the turn of the century.

"Cochran is the leading voice in the move of career psychology to reform itself into an interpretive discipline. His accumulated achievements in applying the narrative paradigm to career development and counseling represent the most innovative and important contribution of a single scholar to contemporary career theory. " — Mark L. Savickas, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine