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From The CriticsReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D. (Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book describes how to apply empirically supported therapies (ESTs) within the cognitive-behavioral tradition to individual clients. The author encourages therapists to understand formulations and techniques that underlie the various therapies. However, Dr. Persons urges the reader to not merely use a step-by-step manualized approach, which may not fit all clients, but design a plan that will meet the needs of the individual.
Purpose: The author notes that this book expands and elaborates on her earlier writings on case formulation, including a 1989 book, Cognitive Therapy in Practice: A Case Formulation Approach (W.W. Norton, 1989). She points out, "the most significant advance over my earlier work is that I now embed the case formulation in a larger framework of clinical hypotheses testing." She recommends that "clinicians examine the EST protocols to understand the formulations that underpin them and how the interventions in the protocol flow out of the formulations. Then they can use that information (not the step-by-step procedures of the protocol itself) to guide their work."
Audience: The intended audience includes practitioners, students, and residents in clinical psychology, psychiatry, counseling, and social work. It can serve as a text in graduate-level courses on cognitive-behavior therapy and in clinical practice. The author, director of the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, conducts research in cognitive-behavior therapy.
Features: An introduction to case formulation begins the book. Next, three theoretical orientations are discussed including cognitive theories, learning theories, and emotion theories. Finally, the therapeutic process is explored in depth. This part looks at assessing the problem and formulating personality dynamics and treatment goals. The author discusses how to monitor treatment progress and deal with treatment failure. The figures are extremely helpful in understanding what case formulation is all about and there is a limited photocopy license to reproduce certain forms, which include thought record, treatment/evaluation agreement, adult intake questionnaire, and case formulation worksheet. These forms are invaluable, especially to beginning therapists who get a chance to see how a seasoned veteran designs basic documents. The book is easy to read and walks the reader slowly but surely through the process of formulating treatment cases. Chapter six is a great example of where to start when developing a comprehensive treatment program. It uses case material and explains the rationale so readers can understand exactly how to do it. Chapter eight, on the therapeutic relationship, is also well done. It's not common to see a cognitive-behavioral approach focus on the therapeutic relationship. The author shows how to use the relationship effectively in therapy and how to handle problems.
Assessment: This excellent book describes treatment formulation and the therapeutic process well, from a cognitive-behavioral framework. The reproducible forms are extremely helpful, especially for new therapists who are beginning a private practice. All-in-all, the author helps us to look at the therapeutic process in cognitive-behavioral terms and design it with each specific client in mind, and not in terms of a general protocol. This is very refreshing, to say the least.