Becoming a Therapist: What Do I Say, and Why? / Edition 1

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This book provides students and novice clinicians with nuts-and-bolts advice about the process of doing therapy, starting with the first contact with a new patient. Suzanne Bender, a junior clinician, and Edward Messner, a seasoned practitioner and supervisor, provide a unique, combined perspective on how therapy is conducted, what works and what doesn't work in treatment, and how to take care of oneself as a clinician. Organized around the treatment of one fictitious patient, with other case examples brought in as needed, the book speaks directly to the questions, concerns, and insecurities that beginning therapists typically face. Written with candor and empathy, it offers authoritative guidance for understanding and resolving common clinical dilemmas.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Becoming a Therapist is an exciting new text that has quickly made its way into the psychotherapy teaching curriculum for residents. The book provides practical advice and clinical case examples illustrating the evaluation of a patient, the first few sessions, managing common dilemmas in therapy, and so on. What makes this book unique is its combination of clear writing, the presentation of recognizable and concise case material, and commentary that further elaborates the concepts. Drs. Bender and Messner emphasize the strategies therapists use to make decisions and handle dilemmas, thus providing residents with both a thinking process and practical tools to help them negotiate the beginning practice of psychotherapy."--Everett Siegel, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

"As a practitioner and teacher of practice for a quarter-century, it is easy to forget the initial terror of beginning as a trainee. This thoughtful and thoroughly engrossing book helps novice psychotherapists understand not only what to say, but also the theoretical concepts that undergird the words. The authors comprehensively cover assessment; the beginning, middle, and end phases of therapy; and how to establish a therapeutic alliance, maintain a frame, and use transference and countertransference. All of these concepts are discussed in an experience-near voice that conveys empathy and respect for clients. The authors skillfully integrate such treatment techniques as exploration, confrontation, and interpretation. They also provide artful coverage of legal, medical, psychopharmacological, and substance abuse issues. This generous work interweaves the contributions of a beginning therapist with the wisdom of a very experienced one. Beginning practitioners and teachers of practice will find it an excellent text."--Joan Berzoff, MSW, EdD, Smith College School for Social Work

"This book is a breakthrough, a true gem. A wise, kind and pragmatic master teacher and his gifted student have collaborated to distill the fundamental lessons along the path in the education of a psychotherapist. Many years in the making, the book makes complex concepts feel alive, personal, and elegantly simple. It is a new and valuable tool not only for mental health clinicians, but for any caregiver (or patient!) who hopes to learn better how to listen, and hear."--John B. Herman, MD, Director of Clinical Services, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital

"This book is the result of a unique and creative collaboration between a young and insightful therapist who has been struggling with the complexity of psychotherapy, and a seasoned, well-reputed clinician who once served as her supervisor. Provided is a richly illustrated set of guidelines for better understanding and dealing with common dilemmas in therapy. For therapists in training, the book offers helpful strategies (and warns against less effective interventions) for handling nearly every kind of issue that arises between the first contact and termination. More experienced therapists will also benefit from the authors' clinical competence and wisdom, especially with regard to patients that are rarely mentioned in textbooks but who frequently show up at our office--those who, for example, arrive late to sessions, fail to pay their bills, or do not respond immediately to interventions. This noteworthy contribution will be of great interest to a wide range of clinicians."--Louis Castonguay, PhD, Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University

Journal of Psychiatric Practice

"....this book is a must-read for every novice psychotherapist, as well as for psychotherapy supervisors and instructors. Even experienced therapists would likely benefit from the examples discussed in this book as a 'refresher' for practical examples of techniques to apply in common clinical encounters. I applaud Drs. Bender and Messner for writing such a relevant, practical, and needed guide for novice therapists."--Journal of Psychiatric Practice
Annals of Clinical Psychiatry

"Drs. Bender and Messner decided to correct the lack of a good teaching text for the beginning therapist. ...[Their] book clearly fulfils its goals to teach the basic steps, the nuts and bolts, and to be a guidebook rather than a cookbook. It is wonderfully written, comprehensive, detailed, yet very practical and useful. The wealth and quality of therapist-patient dialogues is a great feature....All practicing clinicians could benefit from reviewing issues presented in this volume. I also suggest that this book become a required reading in residency training programs."--Annals of Clinical Psychiatry
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781572309432
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/11/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 332
  • Sales rank: 288,595
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Suzanne Bender, MD, is a Staff Psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Edward Messner, MD, is a Senior Psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

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Table of Contents

I. The Consultation
1. First Contact
2. The First Moments
3. Initiating an Alliance and Assessing Safety
4. Enhancing the Therapeutic Alliance and Eliciting History
5. Collecting a Psychosocial History and Screening for Common Psychological Disorders
6. Formulating a Treatment Plan

II. Frame and Variations
7. The Frame
8. Setting the Fee and Billing
9. Telephone Calls: From Dependencies to Emergencies
10. No-Shows, Late Arrivals, and Late Departures
11. Confidentiality and Its Limits

III. Chemistry
12. Substance Abuse
13. Integrating Psychopharmacology with Psychotherapy

IV. Therapeutic Dilemmas
14. Management of Impasses
15. Empathic Lapses
16. Transference and Countertransference
17. Termination

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2008

    Succinct Guidelines for Therapists

    Dr. Bender has managed to take the basics of good therapy guidelines and comingled the basics of running the business of a practice into a very readable writing style to give either a new therapist or one already in practice sound guidelines for the successful management of private practice. She also uses specific examples of how to manage the difficulties most therapists encounter with individuals who may be private pay with 'real dialogue' one might use to make money issues therapeutic points to be brought up during sessions. Her suggestions on handling return phone calls to clients and helping clients to be reminded of the resources one has to manage self-soothing during minor crises are very helpful. Chapter titles are inclusive and there is a very nicely detailed index for specific topics one may NOT find listed in the titled chapters. This is a good reference manual, and detailed just enough to not be overwhelming. Becoming a Therapist reminds us all that there are for more details to becoming a therapist than graduate school, practicums, internships and board certifications. This book picks up from that point and prepares one to take the steps needed to begin the process. The author shares warmly some of the experiences that caused her chagrin in a very open and honest way. I think you will find this book a pleasure to read, and very helpful to your career. Dr. Bender welcomes us to her world of professional conversation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2010

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