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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book describes therapy with men, plain and simple. Each chapter begins with conceptual material, followed by case presentations. The editors and contributors attempt to elucidate cultural notions of work with males and how to apply it in real-life therapy sessions.
Purpose: According to the editors, "In the Room With Men: A Casebook of Therapeutic Change is a volume dedicated to chronicling the features of psychotherapy with men with an eye toward showcasing how psychotherapy can be a powerful, effective, and life-changing experience for both client and psychotherapist. This book is about not only the experience of being engaged in psychotherapy with male clients but also the ways in which psychotherapists can adapt their practice to best meet the needs of men (p. 4). The editors continue: "This book was inspired and grew out of our passion and interest in working with men. At the University of Southern California, where we worked together as clinical supervisor (Mark) and predoctoral intern (Matt), we co-led a men's therapy group and spent numerous hours sharing our ideas and experiences of doing psychotherapy with male clients" (p. 7). Later, they add: "It was our intention to bring the reader into the therapy room in order to know the client, the therapist, and their clinical work together. We did this by specifically asking the contributors to share critical dialogue and conceptualizations, as well as their own reactions and pushes and pulls that they may or may not have shared with their clients" (p. 8). Those are worthy objectives. The book definitely met the editors' objectives.
Audience: According to the editors, "finally, we hope the readers, especially the less experienced clinicians, will recognize and find comfort from the humbleness, openness, and uncertainty that these experienced clinicians shared in regard to the work with their clients" (p. 8). They add: "It is our hope that a wide range of audiences can use In the Room With Men: A Casebook of Therapeutic Change (p. 10). Later, "for more seasoned mental health practitioners, bringing the reader into the counseling room, as described by informed practitioners, will help practitioners develop a better appreciation for the complexities and nuances of doing therapy with men. This book, we hope, offers a mirror to reflect on one's own personal reactions and clinical practice with male clients" (p. 10). I agree with the editors regarding the target audience. Graduate students in psychology would gain a tremendous amount as well from hearing seasoned veterans share their experiences. The editors and contributors are credible authorities in the subject matter of the book.
Features: This volume begins with understanding the culture and norms of therapy with males. Then the adventure begins of reading therapy transcripts from various vantage points including: a). Engaging men as a female therapist (Chapter 4) b). The case of the angry black man (Chapter 9) c). A case of gay male heterophobia (Chapter 15), and d). Male gender and eating disorders (Chapter 16) The chapters with clinical vignettes present the different phases of treatment followed by questions from the editors regarding the work. This book is great because the case studies are well written and address a wide variety of problems. The contributors are very open and explain any difficulties they had in the therapy. It is a true joy to hear such transparent and honest assessment of their work. One can easily learn from the clinical examples.
Assessment: This book is great for all those working extensively with men. It is easy to read and presents the highs and lows of working with male clients. It is so rare to see male clients (unless court ordered), especially in outpatient settings, so this book really provides valuable insight. The contributor's discussion of the clinical vignettes is what makes this book wonderful. As a clinician, I always appreciate when theory and practice are combined. This book does exactly that. The women's movement has done a fabulous job of presenting theories of female development in the past 20 years or so. This book helps men to begin catching up, especially in terms of theory.