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Doing Supportive Psychotherapy

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Doing Supportive Psychotherapy

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The author of Doing Supportive Psychotherapy set out to address a paradox: although conducting psychotherapy is one of the most intimate and exciting things a mental health professional can do, many textbooks on the subject are dull, with formal, stilted dialogue between patient and therapist which prompts the question, “Does anyone really talk like that?” This text was designed to be different. In a dynamic, informal style, the book draws the reader in, providing the essential building blocks that are both applicable to any mental health discipline and compatible with any type of psychotherapy. The dozens of case examples presented were taken from actual cases and illustrate a full range of interactions from the excellent to the seemingly ineffective: all have instructional value. Likewise, the dialogue between therapist and patient is conversational in a realistic way, sometimes eloquent, sometimes not. This approach gives the reader a true sense of the scope of the therapeutic interaction. In addition, the underlying structure of the book is logical and easy to grasp, beginning with the evolution of supportive psychotherapy and ending with a chapter on termination. The principles of learning to do a psychodynamic formulation are outlined in a step-by-step fashion, making it easy to learn, progress, and practice. The concepts and techniques explored throughout the book are grounded in the psychotherapy literature, and evidence-based research is cited where relevant. The book emphasizes that psychotherapy is an inexact science, therapists are human, and the process of therapy is a journey that is constantly changing rather than static. This approach reassures the reader, who feels supported in a “holding environment” while learning psychotherapy. The text is short and sweet, designed to teach essentials and include “just enough” to get clinicians started in supportive psychotherapy. Although the text is targeted at readers on the path toward becoming psychotherapists (social workers, family counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists), those who don’t conduct psychotherapy will find it an essential tool for learning how to understand patients as well as for learning strategies and techniques for keeping a good therapeutic alliance (which inevitably translates into good medication compliance). Doing Supportive Psychotherapy is a brief, spirited book, which functions as both instructional text and paean to psychotherapy. In vigorous, personal prose, the author leaves readers with the message that they are not alone as they venture into the overwhelmingly complex, perplexing, and yet totally wonderful endeavor of the “talking cure”.

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