Introducing Cognitive Therapy to Skeptics

Article excerpt

Introducing Cognitive Therapy to Skeptics A Practical Guide to Cognitive Therapy Schuyler, D. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1991. (162 pp.) $22.95 (USA), $32.95 (CAN) (hardcover).

After several sold out workshops at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Schuyler has developed an introductory text about the nature of cognitive therapy. Designed especially for psychoanalytically oriented practitioners interested in learning about cognitive therapy, the text is written in a conversational style that is easy to read, and it is relatively short; it successfully introduces many of the important concepts related to conducting short-term cognitive therapy. For individuals with no prior exposure to cognitive therapy, this text may serve as a good means of helping students and practitioners gain an understanding of how traditional cognitive therapy can be implemented.

In Part I, Preliminary Issues, the book becomes more than a text on cognitive therapy. Chapters 1 and 2 provide a list of the "active ingredients" in therapy and principles for conducting "practical psychotherapy." Chapter 1 introduces the author's informal discussion group called "PIG" (Psychotherapy Idea Group). It is through discussions with this group that the "active ingredients" in therapy were generated. These ingredients are divided into therapist, patient, therapist/patient match, and process variables. Chapter 2 integrates established ideas about the ingredients of effective psychotherapy with the author's basic principles for conducting "practical psychotherapy." Some of these ingredients include educating the client and significant others about their difficulties, identifying client resources, teaching client skills, and acceptance and encouragement of the client.

Part II, The Cognitive Model, consists of Chapters 3, 4 and 5 and introduces many of the essential concepts associated with cognitive therapy. Chapter 3 introduces the short-term nature of cognitive therapy and some of the fundamental concepts generated in the 1960s with an emphasis on work by Beck (1967). Chapter 4 attempts to clarify some of the distinctions between psychoanalytically oriented therapists and cognitive therapists by discussing terms such as the unconscious, transference and role of the past. Chapter 4 also introduces concepts such as automatic thoughts, cognitive errors, and schemas, while Chapter 5 introduces some of the techniques associated with cognitive therapy including the triple column technique, and replacing dysfunctional thoughts.

In Part III, Applying the Model, Chapters 6, 7 and 8 provide the reader with applications of cognitive therapy to issues involving intimacy, marital separation and working with elderly. In Part I V,Extending the Model, Chapters 9,10,11 and 12 seek to explore the use of cognitive therapy as a long-term treatment method, as a process of changing identity processes, to conduct couples therapy, and to conduct follow-up sessions as periodic "booster sessions." And finally, Part V, The Model in Practice, consists of separate case studies presented, respectively, in Chapters 13,14 and 15.

Some considerations regarding the book first involve the defensive posture taken in relation to psychoanalysis. The author describes his personal struggles with surviving professionally in a vocation dominated by a psychoanalytic viewpoint and introduces the basic concepts of cognitive therapy (Chapter 4) by addressing concerns experienced by psychoanalysts. It is unclear whether a chapter on long-term applications of cognitive therapy is necessary or just another means of selling cognitive therapy to therapists invested in using more longerterm types of methods. …