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From The CriticsReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D. (Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book discusses therapy with single parents from a social constructionist point of view. It combines understanding family meanings with a solution-focused approach, as opposed to a pathology orientation.
Purpose: According to the authors, "this book is directed toward helping those therapists who work with white, middle-class, divorced, and widowed clients — those individuals who would be most likely to seek the services of mental health therapists in private practice. This is where our expertise lies, and it is here that we feel we can make the most appropriate contribution. In no way do we mean to minimize the importance of the other groups; we have simply decided to focus on particular segments of the single-parent population, the divorced and the widowed, in order to provide an in-depth analysis of the single-parent situation rather than a superficial gleaning of all groups fitting into the single-parent category," The book definitely meets the authors' objectives.
Audience: Therapists are the target audience. Dr. Atwood is the director of the graduate programs in marriage and family therapy at Hofstra University and has published numerous books and articles in this field. Dr. Genovese is an adjunct assistant professor of health professions and family studies, also at Hofstra, and has published in the area of bereavement and adolescence.
Features: The book's four parts cover social and psychological experiences of the single again, sexual experiences of those who are single again, single again and dealing with the larger systems, social construction therapy with the single-parent family. Many of the chapters contain brief case examples which help to highlight the concepts. The book is easy to read and delivers on the stated purpose. Chapters 10 and 11 nicely describe the social constructionist approach, although I wondered why this discussion came so late in the book. Chapter 11, "Conclusions," is a wonderful chapter that covers the pathological approach and how it differs from a solution focused model, which the book espouses. An annotated bibliography and a list of Internet resources, follows a traditional bibliography at the end of the book. The only drawback of the book is that it only discusses middle class, European-Americans.
Assessment: This is an excellent volume because it really covers the ground you expect. It discusses therapy with single parents through the lens of social construction theory. The brief clinical cases help to explain the material. The book is practical and easy to read. Most of the chapters have therapy strategies, reaching out to the target audience. If you are working with single parents (and who isn't), this is the book to have. Unfortunately, the authors only focus on European-American single parents, which is a drawback.