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The Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskReview - The Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with Disk
by Gary Schultheis, Bill O'Hanlon and Stephanie O'Hanlon
John Wiley & Sons, 1999
Review by Kelly Lemmon-Kishi
May 19th 1999 (Volume 3, Issue 20)

The verdict: Useful but …

If you are a computer-owning clinician well versed in brief therapy who wants to immediately expand your repertoire of homework exercises for couples and families, then this might be a useful addition to your (software) library.

This new volume in Practice Planners series edited by Arthur Jongsma will not teach you about brief therapy - read one of Bill O Hanlon's other books instead. The title is a bit misleading - especially the word "planner". While this book provides many ideas for homework assignments, it will not help with "planning" them, just producing them. The book consists 59 homework exercises and 11 brochures - ready to photocopy AND on an easy to use disk (sorry Mac lovers - readable only by IBM PC compatibles using Windows 95 or later). In addition to a plethora of communication assignments and "do something different and see what happens" directives, there are also values clarification tasks, and neat exercises specifically for a variety of common problems including clutter, in-laws, lateness (step-) parenting conflicts, sexual boredom, divergent social or vacation plans etc.

Each exercise has a one page overview for therapists with the goals, types of client problems it is most suitable for, and suggestions for processing the assignment. The exercises themselves consist of an introductory paragraph or two to provide motivation (and often a bit of humor), directives and/or directions, and space to record the results. The language is clear and simple. Exercises vary from 1 to 5 pages. The exercises themselves are … nice. Most are variations on what I have read elsewhere in brief therapy texts. Many are variations on each other. Few will be particularly new or inspiring to clinicians familiar with brief therapy, but almost all are well written and useful.

The brochures are a good way to jump start your handouts collection. In addition to 6 varieties of "improve your relationship" brochures, topics include "Getting Over an Affair", "Dealing with a Partner or Spouse with a Chemical Abuse Problem", "Preventing or Dealing with Violence in a Relationship", "Solving Sexual Problems", and "Dealing with the Death of a Child". Each is 2 to 3 pages long.

The best part of this set is the disk attached to the back cover. If you haven't already created files full of homework exercises, this will provide you with an ample supply. Clinicians will probably want to edit and personalize the exercises, but with the disk, you can do it in a snap. Sorry Mac lovers, the disk only works on IBM PC or compatible computers using Windows 95 or later. Your word processing program must be able to read Microsoft Word for Windows 7.0 or TXT files. However be warned that the Word files I played with were based on tables, not regular text. Editing them is not hard but could have been made a lot easier with a different format.
 

Kelly Lemmon-Kishi MSW CTS is an American social worker who has spent most of the last decade studying Asia and living in Osaka, Japan. As a therapist she works with individuals, couples, and families from many countries of many variations. Since 1995 she has also specialized in disaster response and trauma counseling (remember that quake in Kobe?) You can check out her web page at http://www.resolutions.org.


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