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Moments of EngagementReview - Moments of Engagement
Intimate Psychotherapy in a Technological Age
by Peter D. Kramer
Penguin USA, 1989
Review by Margo McPhillips
Apr 21st 2000 (Volume 4, Issue 16)

This book, written by the author of Listening to Prozac, is just the sort of psychology book I enjoy reading. Each chapter is a set piece about "moments of engagement" in therapy; what the author learned and received from practicing therapy in a particular way, as well as what he imagines happened with his or a supervisee's patient/client and why a therapeutic intervention did or did not work. It's a very intimate book, giving an intimate look at a therapist's thinking and feelings about practicing his brand of therapy.

I have not read Listening to Prozac but I am curious to do so, having read this book. Because of the author's personal stories and style in Moments of Engagement, I wonder how a book about a drug, a topic I would consider impersonal, could be written by the same author and what it could offer.

This book deals in a small, personal way with the problems therapist have dealing with insurance companies, lawyers and the press. As he puts it, "We are here no longer talking about onlookers but multiple roles for the doctor in the room with the patient. Already I anticipate being father, insurance company proxy, community stalwart, legal opponent, and small businessman." I enjoyed Kramer's efforts to humanize therapists and show how they are influenced by day-to-day living just as everyone else is, such as in his willingness to discuss that his marriage is a factor in what kind of patient he accepts.

The only thing I found disappointing about this book was that any hint of thread running through all the chapters to hold them together was very faint. Each chapter almost stands alone as an essay but then there's no explicit point, one needs remember what was learned from reading previous chapters. It is more the author's warmth and writing style that pulls one forward rather than the text itself.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a pleasant and interesting read about therapists and therapy.


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