Becoming a Therapist: What Do I Say, and Why?

Becoming a Therapist: What Do I Say, and Why?

Becoming a Therapist: What Do I Say, and Why?

Becoming a Therapist: What Do I Say, and Why?


This book provides students and novice clinicians with nuts-and-bolts advice about the process of doing therapy, starting with the first contact with a new patient. Filling a typical gap in clinical training, the book focuses on such real-world tasks as setting up appointments and discussing payment, conducting effective assessments while setting patients at ease, and dealing with mundane and serious clinical concerns, including suicidality. Featured are a wealth of sample therapist-patient dialogues that bring each situation to life. Suzanne Bender and Edward Messner--a junior clinician and a seasoned practitioner and supervisor--provide a unique, combined perspective on how therapy is conducted, what works and what doesn't work in treatment, and how to take care of oneself as a clinician. Each chapter opens with a concise summary and concludes with a list of key terms. The book also includes a helpful glossary and suggestions for further reading.


Becoming a psychotherapist is an unusual experience. Some of my teachers have compared psychotherapy to an impromptu dance between two partners. You can plan the first “hello” and “thank you” at the end of the set, but what happens between the greetings is unpredictable. However, if you are familiar with some basic and common dance steps, you will have an easier time improvising with a new partner. Psychotherapy is similar. Advanced therapists have an expansive repertoire of “steps” at their disposal. They are comfortable dealing with the basics in psychotherapy, so they can tailor each treatment to meet the unique needs of a patient.

This book's purpose is to teach you the basic steps one needs to know fluently to practice psychotherapy. It is not a cookbook of what to say and when, but a guidebook to help the beginner understand and resolve common clinical dilemmas. We outline some common predicaments that emerge in many treatments and then evaluate a variety of responses.

As physicians, we refer to the person seeking therapy as a patient, but some therapists may prefer mentally to substitute the term “client.” Throughout the book, we have tried to avoid jargon so the text can be understood by a wide range of readers, including clinicians, patients, potential patients, and inquisitive laypersons.


What is psychotherapy suppposed to do? Psychotherapy can help patients cope with traumas, crises, losses, and developmental changes. It can enable people to bring out the best in themselves by recognizing and . . .

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