Psychotherapy: An Introduction for Psychiatry Residents and Other Mental Health Trainees

Article excerpt

Psychotherapy: An Introduction for Psychiatry Residents and Other Mental Health Trainees Psychotherapy Phillip R Slavney. Baltimore (MD): The Johns Hopkins University Press; 2005. 153 p. US$16.95.

Reviewer rating: Good

Phillip Slavney has written this book for psychiatry residents commencing the practice of psychotherapy during their residency training. He states in the preface that his goal is "to help beginners get started" (p xiii). In keeping a relatively restricted focus on the difficult task of orienting beginning residents to psychotherapy, he has written a volume that his anticipated resident readership is likely to find helpful.

Slavney declines to align himself with a particular modality of therapy, choosing instead to discuss elements of psychotherapy and supervision that are fundamental to all modes of psychotherapy. He notes in the epilogue that "[tjheory and technique are important, but they are less important than common sense and character" (p 132). It is common sense and character that he concentrates on in this volume. In "Life Story Reasoning," the first of 4 chapters, he addresses the tasks of gathering information from the patient, making meaningful connections in the patient's life story, and developing narrative truths that help the patient to understand himself or herself. He notes that the patient's life story may be understood in several ways, according to different schools of thought, and cautions beginning therapists to avoid maintaining a particular theoretical view at the expense of considering the patient as an individual with a unique history and situation.

In the book's second chapter, "Personality: The Patient's and Yours," Slavney reviews the concept of personality and discusses ways in which the patient's personality may influence the course of therapy. Here, he supplies brief sketches that give readers a sense of likely dilemmas encountered with various personality styles. Slavney concludes this chapter with a consideration of ways in which the resident's personality may shape the psychotherapy. He is noncommittal about the importance of a resident's own therapy, which is surprising, because this book otherwise clearly values self-awareness in psychotherapy and supervision. …

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