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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 PsychotherapistBecoming MyselfBefore 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 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CBTE-TherapyEarly WarningEncountering the Sacred in PsychotherapyEnergy Psychology InteractiveErrant SelvesEssays on Philosophical CounselingEssentials of Wais-III AssessmentEthically Challenged ProfessionsEthics and Values in PsychotherapyEthics in Plain EnglishEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingExercise-Based Interventions for Mental IllnessExistential PsychotherapyExpectationExploring the Self through PhotographyExpressing EmotionFacing Human SufferingFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFamily TherapyFavorite Counseling and Therapy Homework AssignmentsFear of IntimacyFlourishingFolie a DeuxForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFoundations of Ethical Practice, Research, and Teaching in PsychologyFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFrom Morality to Mental HealthFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGod & TherapyHalf Empty, Half FullHandbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for TherapistsHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHandbook of Evidence-Based Therapies for Children and AdolescentsHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHeinz KohutHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHigh RiskHistory of PsychotherapyHow and Why Are Some Therapists Better Than Others?How 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 ACTLearning from Our MistakesLearning Supportive PsychotherapyLetters to a Young TherapistLife CoachingLogotherapy and Existential AnalysisLove's ExecutionerMadness and DemocracyMaking the Big LeapMan's Search for MeaningMaybe You Should Talk to SomeoneMetaphoria: Metaphor and Guided Metaphor for Psychotherapy and HealingMind GamesMindfulnessMindfulness 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 ArtOutsider Art and Art TherapyOvercoming 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 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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 and RecoverySerious ShoppingSex, Therapy, and KidsSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySigns of SafetySoul Murder RevisitedStaring at the SunStraight to JesusStrangers to OurselvesSubjective Experience and the Logic of the OtherTaking America Off DrugsTales of PsychotherapyTales of UnknowingTalk is Not EnoughTalking Cures and Placebo EffectsTelling SecretsThe Behavioral Medicine Treatment PlannerThe Body in PsychotherapyThe Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskThe Case Formulation Approach to Cognitive-Behavior TherapyThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Clinical Child Documentation SourcebookThe Clinical 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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
Tales of Psychotherapy is a charming book. It's a collection of forty writings, some fictional, some not, on psychotherapy. The concept is unusual. Editor Jane Ryan explains that contributors were asked for short stories that were either fictional or true. To be pedantic, a short story is a piece of fiction. An historical account, or analysis of a professional issue, or an autobiographical piece, is non-fiction, hence my preference for the term "writings". But that is pedantic. There are 28 individual contributions in this book, and it's a real collection of allsorts. You never know what you're in for when you move from one chapter to the next. Perhaps that's what it's like being a psychotherapist. You never know what memory, what trauma, what banal rumination you're going to be paid to listen to. Not that anything in this book is banal. Far from it. There's something in every contribution, and to make it better you get to read a short biography of the author.
The book is thematically organized into sections on different aspects of psychotherapy. There is no particular pattern to this; it includes "boundaries" "coincidence", "healing", "the psychotherapy relationship" "childhood" and "love". It's not always clear if these writings are fictional or not. A psychotherapist might say it's about what it means for you. Fair enough. Reading through the book you get a sense of what it is to be a psychotherapist. I don't know if it's accurate or not, but I developed an image of a modestly and sparsely (but tastefully) furnished room, a few paintings, most likely impressionist, a window with a view, and a few personal objects, telltale evidence that the idealized therapist is a Real Person. I was surprised how many psychotherapists practice at home.
The writings range from moving accounts of damaged lives to playful anecdotes about the vicissitudes of therapy. Mustard Therapy is Alexandra Wilson's delightful tongue-in-cheek poke at psychotherapy. It comes as a relief following David Herbert's rather creepy Stones. There are a few stories involving abuse of children and with these the book takes on a somber tone. Barbara Hillman's Jigsaw is a moving recollection of childhood exploitation told in a straightforward and unsentimental way. Jigsaw will make you grateful you're not a psychotherapist, and grateful that other people are.
Ghosting through these writings is the specter of Sigmund Freud. Occasionally he appears on stage. I loved Maggie Murray's The case of Anna F. even if I couldn't decide whether she was right in all her interpretations. The idea of Anna Freud visiting Broadmoor has some appeal. I still don't know what to make of Ella Lindauer's Fragments, but there must be people whose families lived in Vienna at the same time as the Freuds. The first contribution is an interesting, but inconclusive anecdote about how Freud turned down various offers to advise on court trials and films in the United States. Interesting, but I liked Freud more with a bit of artistic license.
This is a book that would appeal to anyone with at least a passing interest in the psychotherapies. I'm sure practitioners could find much to debate about the approaches taken, interpretations made, the meaning of different revelations and emotions. Some of the contributions have genuine literary merit; others are a little labored, but the case studies are especially interesting. Tales of Psychotherapy would make a nice distraction for your daily commute or an enjoyable fireside read. I'd even take it to the beach. If you see it on the coffee table on your next visit to your therapist, pick it up. You might read something you need to talk about.
© 2008 Tony O'Brien
Tony O'Brien, RN, MPhil, Senior Lecturer, Mental Health Nursing, University of Auckland, New Zealand. [email protected]
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