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"Rapid Cognitive Therapy" is a practical guide for analytically-oriented therapists who want to help clients make the changes they need as quickly as possible; typically in no more than eight sessions. It sticks single-mindedly to its purpose without being lured into unnecessary theoretical discussions, and the result is a straightforwardly presented, clearly written handbook of strong relevance to any therapists who make use of hypnosis and analytical techniques in their work. It is not an introduction to therapy, so a basic training in analysis and hypnosis is required to get the most out of the book.
Analytical therapy often involves the recovery of repressed memories, which is well known to be a controversial issue. Studies have shown that it is quite possible, in an everyday context, to persuade people that something happened to them when in fact, it did not. The client in therapy is in a highly suggestible state, and is very willing to absorb any ideas that the therapist might have, whether the therapist deliberately presents his views to the client or not. It is therefore essential that the therapist refrains from using leading questions or prompts. This is carefully explained and discussed with the help of examples and a case study. The client in the study says, "I'm in the shed playing with Daddy's stick. Daddy likes me playing with his stick." The therapist keeps to neutral questions, not betraying a reaction, even when the client complains that "Daddy gets cross if I don't hold it in a special way," and "it's just too hard." It turns out that, in the vocabulary of a four year old, Daddy's stick is a cricket bat. The importance of not allowing the therapist's prior beliefs to influence the client is also more subtly reinforced throughout the book by the wide variety of repressions released by clients in the case studies - there are only two examples of a repression of sexual abuse.
The book is divided into five parts, including a substantial section on non-analytical therapy. Despite its name, however, the non-analytical section appears to me to be predominantly analytical; that is, the aim is usually to find, in the client's past, the unconscious reason for the client's present day problems. For example, a technique called "A Day in a Life" is used to elucidate the fact that the client thinks his life is lonely and boring. Since the client works alone in a routine job, lives alone, and has no social life or hobbies, this verdict appears to be fair and accurate. The chapter ends, "The client has just told you exactly what he needs to resolve. You could begin now to use free association with the themes of 'a lonely time' or 'a boring time'" (p. 145). While this is a correct approach for an analytical therapist, it would leave a behaviorist shaking his head in disbelief! Similarly, the chapter "Symbolic Removal of Symptoms" is focused on the need to find the cause of the symptoms - it is "best described as the removal of symptoms to make way for the revelation of the cause" (p 159, original italics).
On the other hand, "Table Top Therapy", where the client is invited to experience and understand his internal conflicts by representing them as different people sitting around a table having a heated discussion, is more concerned with the present, and is designed for logical clients who are looking for a way to change undesirable behavior. Interestingly, I thought that the chapter that took the strongest behaviorist approach was "Ancestral Archetypes and Modeling", even though the technique requires the client's mind to go back the furthest in time - to ten thousand years ago. The chapter describes types of tribal behavior and their relevance to survival, and relates them to the resources and characteristics that are present in each of us. The client is encouraged to create a vivid mental image of the ancestral archetype that will help her most, so she can call upon that picture to help her access the resources she needs to cope with the troublesome situation.
I was extremely impressed by the practical structure and style of the book. There is just enough theory for the reader to understand the reasons for using the technique, the situations in which it should or should not be used, and its advantages and drawbacks. The writing is exceptional in its clarity; almost every explanation is accompanied by an example, and most techniques are illustrated by one or two vividly-written case studies. There is not one dull description or dry paragraph in the whole of the book. I found the lack of pretentiousness to be particularly attractive - the material is presented simply and openly without a hint of mysteriousness or a need to impress the reader with the authors' superiority.
However, the clarity of the content of the book is oddly in conflict with the title, which I felt could have been better chosen. For most people in the UK, cognitive therapy means cognitive behavior therapy, a form of therapy which concentrates on the client's conscious thoughts, not his unconscious mind, and which is focused in the present rather than in the client's past. Obtaining relief from symptoms and developing coping strategies for day-to-day problems are much higher priorities than understanding causes or gaining insight. There is a form of cognitive therapy - cognitive analytical therapy - which is allied to psychoanalysis, but it is much less prominent and well-known. The blurb on the cover does nothing to clarify this potential misunderstanding. I am left with the strange impression that the publishers want to hide the fact that they have produced a book on analytical hypnotherapy. Since I am personally concerned with the issue of informed consent of clients of analytical therapy, I found this more than a little disconcerting!
The ambiguity in the title is a pity, because analytical therapists and hypnotherapists who would find the book useful might assume from its title that it would not be relevant to them, while cognitive behavioral therapists might pick it up and be disappointed to find that it contained very little material that they could use. However, therapists who use hypnosis and analytical methods and who are not put off by the title will find it a valuable and helpful reference manual as well as an enjoyable and stimulating book.
This book is published in Britain. You can buy it through Alphabetstreet.com.
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This book can be ordered from Terence Watts' site
Guest Column by Terence Watts on Bryan Knight's Hypnosis Headquarters
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Natalie Simpson is a mathematics graduate of Oxford University, England, and holds a diploma in hypnotherapy. She developed an interest in psychology, psychotherapy and hypnosis after experiencing abuse as a hypnotherapy client. Her specific concerns include the assessment of the effectiveness and risks of psychotherapy, and the difficulties of obtaining informed consent of clients.