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Maximizing Effectiveness in Dynamic Psychotherapy Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy101 Healing StoriesA Clinician's Guide to Legal Issues in PsychotherapyA Map of the MindA Primer for Beginning PsychotherapyACT With LoveActive Treatment of DepressionAffect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of SelfAlready FreeBad TherapyBecoming an Effective PsychotherapistBefore ForgivingBeing a Brain-Wise TherapistBetrayed as BoysBeyond Evidence-Based PsychotherapyBeyond MadnessBeyond PostmodernismBinge No MoreBiofeedback for the BrainBipolar DisorderBody PsychotherapyBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBrain Change TherapyBrain Science and Psychological DisordersBrain-Based Therapy with AdultsBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBrief Adolescent Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Child Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Therapy Homework PlannerBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCase Studies in DepressionCaught in the NetChild and 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Therapies for Children and AdolescentsHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHeinz KohutHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHigh RiskHistory of PsychotherapyHow Clients Make Therapy WorkHow People ChangeHow Psychotherapists DevelopHow to Fail As a TherapistHow to Go to TherapyHypnosis for Inner Conflict ResolutionHypnosis for Smoking CessationI Never Promised You a Rose GardenIf Only I Had KnownIn Others' EyesIn SessionIn Therapy We TrustIn Treatment: Season 1Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and PsychotherapyInside the SessionInside TherapyIs Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Issues in Philosophical CounselingIt's Not as Bad as It SeemsItís Your HourLearning from Our MistakesLearning Supportive PsychotherapyLetters to a Young TherapistLife CoachingLogotherapy and Existential AnalysisLove's ExecutionerMadness and DemocracyMaking the Big LeapMan's Search for MeaningMetaphoria: Metaphor and Guided Metaphor for Psychotherapy and HealingMind GamesMindfulness and AcceptanceMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for DepressionMindworks: An Introduction to NLPMockingbird YearsMoments of EngagementMomma and the Meaning of LifeMotivational Interviewing: Preparing People For ChangeMulticulturalism and the Therapeutic ProcessMultifamily Groups in the Treatment of Severe Psychiatric DisordersNarrative PracticeOn the CouchOne Nation Under TherapyOur Inner WorldOur Last Great IllusionOutsider ArtOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsOverexposedPathways to SpiritualityPersonality and PsychotherapyPhilosophical CounselingPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPhilosophical Issues in Counseling and PsychotherapyPhilosophical PracticePhilosophy and PsychotherapyPhilosophy for Counselling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy PracticePhilosophy's Role in Counseling and PsychotherapyPillar of SaltPlan BPlato, Not Prozac!Polarities of ExperiencesPower GamesPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPsychologists Defying the CrowdPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychosis in the FamilyPsychotherapyPsychotherapyPsychotherapy and ConfidentialityPsychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy for Personality DisordersPsychotherapy Is Worth ItPsychotherapy Isn't What You ThinkPsychotherapy with Adolescent Girls and Young WomenPsychotherapy with Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy without the SelfPsychotherapy, American Culture, and Social PolicyRapid Cognitive TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRationality and the Pursuit of HappinessRebuilding Shattered LivesReclaiming Our ChildrenRecovery OptionsRelationalityRent Two Films and Let's Talk in the MorningSaving the Modern SoulScience and Pseudoscience in Clinical PsychologySecond-order Change in PsychotherapySelf-Compassion in PsychotherapySelf-Determination Theory in the ClinicSelf-Disclosure in Psychotherapy 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Second EditionWhen the Body SpeaksWhispers from the EastWise TherapyWittgenstein and PsychotherapyWorking MindsWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaWriting About PatientsYoga Skills for Therapists:Yoga Therapy
This is an easy to read book written in ordinary English. While
it contains references to research in clinical psychology and
several graphs, the authors have been careful to speak in a conversational
tone which prevents the book from becoming just another dry academic
The book is meant to be used as a guide by psychotherapists and
counselors in learning how to carry out a new sort of practice.
The first five chapters explain what the authors mean by "mindfulness-based
cognitive therapy," the next eight chapters are step-by-step
instructions for a series of eight group counseling sessions,
and the final two chapters and the epilogue summarize what the
authors have tried to accomplish with this volume. It also contains
work sheets for "patients," information hand-outs, homework
assignment summary pages, and carefully detailed instructions
to counselors and therapists in how to use each of these in their
Unfortunately, this book is what I would consider a "light"
book. By this I mean that the theoretical foundation on which
this new method is based is very insubstantial, there are more
pages than is necessary to say what was said, there are many repetitive
passages, and there is nothing new in the material to stimulate
the reader's thinking or imagination. The so-called new method
the authors are promoting is simply a reworking of what some might
call a New Age type of awareness, very similar to practices within
Taoism, Buddhism, and yoga. The practice of "mindfulness"
seems to be a combination of group meditation, phenomenology,
breathing exercises, and an intentional focus on awareness. The
authors explain that their approach involves a type of meditation
which helps the patient be able to "recognize difficult situations
early and deal with them skillfully" by "replacing the
old mode of fixing and repairing problems with a new mode of allowing
things to just be as they are" (95). The patient learns how
to achieve an "acceptance of what is" (93) and how to
"simply be with difficult and uncomfortable emotions"
(italics in the original) (78). The book is filled with various
attempts to explain the vague "accepting," "allowing"
and "being with," but, of course, the authors never
quite succeed in defining these terms adequately. They ultimately
resort to telling their readers "you've got to try it to
understand what we mean," which puts them in the paradoxical
position of having tried to explain in this book that which they
themselves admit can't be explained.
The authors cite some "scientific" research they have
conducted to substantiate their claim that their method is effective
in helping previously depressed individuals avoid relapsing into
depression, but they leave me unconvinced that this is indeed
something new or more effective than other methods. In fact, the
authors are very careful not to claim too much for their method,
stating that it is not meant to help people overcome severe depression,
that it is not helpful in preventing depression in those who have
only had one or two experiences of depression in the past, and
that it will only help a portion of those individuals who have
experienced multiple depressive episodes in the past to avoid
future recurrences. This leaves them with a very soft claim regarding
the efficacy of their method.
Not only is this a "light weight" book, it also contains
a number of technical problems as well. For example, the authors
show a lack of understanding of the neurological function of anti-depressant
drugs, and they seem to be unaware of the many serious problems
inherent in clinical drug trials involving placebos. They also
reveal an ambiguity in their reasoning concerning what they believe
to be the reasons for, or the causes of, depression, recovery,
and relapse in that they accept environmental influences as the
initial cause of depression, but then ignore this same cause in
their discussion of later relapse into depression. Instead they
claim that relapse depression results from the brain simply getting
stuck in some sort of "downward spiral" of thinking.
These are very surprising weaknesses in a book written by professionals
whose long list of impressive academic and research positions
are cited on the back flap for all to see.
There is no doubt that this so-called mindfulness-based cognitive
group therapy will help some individuals. But the description
of the method devised by these authors will seem very familiar
to anyone with even the slightest interest in group meditational
practices, and hardly warrants heralding the arrival of a "new"
therapy (the sub title of this book is "A New Approach to
Preventing Relapse"). Despite the book's weaknesses, I congratulate
the authors on their honesty in offering their readers an interesting
insight into their own trials and errors in the research they
conducted in the development of their method. If nothing else,
the authors offer their readers a fascinating insight into the
failure of their initial research hypothesis and how they then
reoriented their project so that there would be no interruption
in their research funding.
© 2002 Peter B. Raabe
Peter B. Raabe teaches philosophy and has a private practice in philosophical counseling in North Vancouver, Canada. He is the author of the book Philosophical Counseling: Theory and Practice (Praeger, 2001).
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