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Michael Bettinger has written a
book that he hopes will inform lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT)
people about psychotherapy. In many
respects, Bettingerhimself a psychotherapist for 30 yearshas succeeded. Its Your Hour is written for the
neophyte client or would-be client in psychotherapy. Therein lie its greatest strengths and a few weaknesses as
Bettingers book is divided into
four parts: the first introduces psychotherapy as a tool and describes the
unique aspects of the intersection between psychotherapy and the experiences of
LGBT people. The second section of the book
delves into models of mental health and different approaches to psychological
treatment. In the third part of his
book, Bettinger discusses differences among clinicians and treatment settings,
as well as financial aspects of psychotherapy.
The final section goes into the nuts and bolts of psychotherapy,
covering initial contacts with a therapist, distinguishing dimensions of
therapy (e.g., short- versus long-term therapy and feelings for the therapist),
drug therapies, boundaries in therapy, and alternatives to psychotherapy. Bettinger includes appendices reflecting a
variety of topic areas, covering such issues as questions to ask the therapist
and sample letters from psychotherapists in support of sexual reassignment
surgery. The book ends with several
lists of resources, from a bibliography of readings to hotline information to
contacts for professional mental health organizations.
In many ways, the author does a
better job of addressing the topic of psychotherapy than he does of presenting
the unique needs of queer clients. He
is at his best when discussing the nitty gritty of client-therapist
interactions, with particularly strong sections on how to look for and
interview a therapist, what happens in the first session, and the complexities
underlying accidental meetings between therapists and their clients outside of
sessions. Bettinger makes a consistent
effort at being inclusive of all members of queer communities, with the
exception of not addressing the particular needs of queer youth. While he offers case examples representing a
broad slice of the queer community, some of his general background assumptions
are notably imbedded in the authors personal background and professional
practice in a large city. There is a
lack of texture, for example, in his discussion of the manifestations of
homophobia and heterosexism; this discussion fails to acknowledge important
differences in how these dynamics are manifested in varying places where queer
Bettinger speaks respectfully of
mental health consumers and practitioners, and he also adds appropriate
cautions about the potential for encountering practitioners who are unethical
or incompetent. The authors discussion
of different treatment approaches sometimes suffers from the hazards of writing
about any complex matter for a general audience; his efforts to write
accessibly occasionally slide into an overly simplistic exposition and
generalizations that are far too broad.
Despite these shortcomings, the book offers a wealth of information to
LGBT people who are considering psychotherapy.
A healthy consumer emphasis exists throughout the book but is especially
prominentand usefulin the section dealing with insurance payments and managed
It is perhaps an occupational
hazard for those of us who practice psychotherapy that we focus on peoples
troubles. That focus is definitely
found in Its Your Hour. While I
acknowledge the necessity for dealing with troubles in a book about
psychotherapy, I found myself wishing for an occasional nod to the expansive
and creative potentials associated both with psychotherapy and with being
2002 Glenda M. Russell
Glenda M. Russell, Ph.D. is a
psychologist and activist and a member of the core faculty in clinical
psychology at Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, New Hampshire. She is the author of Voted
Out: The Psychological Consequences of Anti-Gay Politics and co-author
About Psychology and Sexual Orientation.
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