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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: As a complement to the many resources on manualized treatments, this book examines the general aspects of communication that occur in therapy and how students and clinicians can improve not only what they say, but how they say it.
Purpose: This second edition is aimed at updating theories, science, and therapeutic approaches.
Audience: It is appropriate for anyone working clinically with psychological patients, ranging from clinicians to students. This book has been used as an introductory textbook in graduate clinical courses and practica. The author is experienced in this area and is a natural choice to write this type of resource.
Features: An overview of theories of communication in therapy begins the book. Several approaches are considered and the overlap between therapy types is explored in some detail. This is followed by a review of attachment theories as they relate to emotional factors between the therapist and patient. The author strongly encourages attention to this dynamic attachment process as a core to therapy and a primer to the rest of the book. The next few chapters turn to a psychodynamic perspective, but that should not deter behaviorists because the discussions of cyclical patterns of interpersonal interactions are applicable to a wide variety of approaches and orientations. Later chapters focus on the subtle distinctions between exploration and interrogation by carefully scrutinizing the way in which interactions occur between the therapist and patient. Examples illustrate "what no to do," and provide guidance about beneficial communication methods. It presents a nice balance between encouragement and focusing on strengths and being forthright when unpleasant truths need to be faced. There are a few downsides to the book, one being the organization and writing style that lacks excitement or inspiration, partly due to the lack of a single figure, illustration, or table in the entire book. The other downside is lack of specific examples or dialogues to illustrate how the author would handle certain situations, although some may find this too directive and detracting from the general theory of therapeutic communication.
Assessment: This book provides a reasonable introduction to therapeutic communication. The information is solid and useful, but the writing style and delivery may become somewhat tedious for readers, and the lack of specific examples may engender some frustration in budding student therapists. I read the first edition in graduate school, and the changes in this second edition do not immediately stoke my desire to update my library.