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From The CriticsReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book provides a new model for psychotherapy, one which combines solution-focused therapy, motivational interviewing, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. The author believes that combining strength-based and skills-building models will assist clients in overcoming their difficulties more effectively than either of the approaches used separately.
Purpose: In the preface, the author states that this book "takes into account both individual resources and the areas where client skills can be bolstered, offering an eclectic practice approach that interweaves and operationalizes both strengths-based and skills-based approaches". Those are definitely worthy objectives and the book met them.
Audience: As the author asserts, "the helping process described in Building Strengths and Skills can fit any number of roles, including those of case manager, probation officer, caseworker, medical social worker, counselor, crisis worker, and therapist". In my judgment, I would add graduate students to the list because it gives them another approach to use with clients. The author is a credible authority in the subject matter of the book. Dr. Corcoran is Associate Professor of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University and has authored two other volumes dealing with families. The other contributors have good credentials as well.
Features: The book devotes its first chapters to describe solution-focused therapy, motivational interviewing, and cognitive-behavioral theory and intervention. Dr. Corcoran then spends three chapters integrating the models and showing specifically how to apply it. In chapter six, "Learning the Model: Applications to a Hospital Setting", case studies are presented followed by commentary. This is extremely helpful in learning the model and its application with clients. The second part of the book deals with how to apply this eclectic method with specific disorders, including adolescent behavior disorders, depression, substance abuse, marital therapy, and family violence. The book is wonderful because it presents so many case examples. Dr. Corcoran is a wonderful writer who is able to express herself in a clear, thoughtful manner. The material comes alive as you see it applied to specific problem areas. This book will be a wonderful addition to a student's library because it teaches them another method, one which is comprehensive but not complicated.
Assessment: I really enjoyed reading this book. The field of psychology is exploring more strength-based models, as opposed to deficit-based ones, but Dr. Corcoran has combined the two in an insightful way. You will not be disappointed with this book whether you are a new clinician or a senior therapist. Since this approach can be utilized in only a few sessions, it meets the demands of a managed-care driven society.