Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Stories We Tell Our Clients: Alleviating Suffering and Understanding Classic and Innovative Therapeutic Approaches

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Stories We Tell Our Clients: Alleviating Suffering and Understanding Classic and Innovative Therapeutic Approaches

Article excerpt

VERED SLONIM-NEVO, ITZHAK LANDER: Stories We Tell Our Clients: Alleviating Suffering and Understanding Classic and Innovative Therapeutic Approaches. Russell House Publishing, Dorset, UK, 2008, 175 pp, $37.95, ISBN 978-1-905541-19-5.

Vered SIonim-Nevo, who specializes in family therapy and is a peace activist, is an associate professor of social work at Ben Gurion University in Israel. Itzhak Lander is a lecturer in social work at Sapir Academic College, also in Israel. He specializes in child therapy and is a long distance runner. Together, they present here a book intended for social workers, psychologists, family therapists and counselors. There are ten chapters in the book and each story deals with a different problematic theme we may encounter in the quest of helping our clients. Crisis, trauma, traumatic bereavement, intergenerational transmission of conflict, loss, death, social rejection, self destructive sexual behavior, eating disorders, loneliness, isolation and suicidality, amongst others, are presented and the dynamics that lead to pathology are researched meticulously and explained extensively by Slomin-Nevo and Lander. Each chapter of the book is divided into three parts: a unique story of a clinical interaction, followed by an analysis of the client's situation using theory and research, and finally an explanation of the specific intervention used in each case with a focus on rationale, theory and empirical basis for the intervention chosen.

The highlights of this short book are the stories of the patients themselves. These stories are unique to the clients and to the land of Israel, but the themes are universal for those who work in the mental health field. Each chapter has an intriguing name such as "The Young Man in a Room," which is about a 24-year-old man who, prior to his compulsory army service in the Israeli army, has barricaded himself in his room for two years. The therapist decides to reframe his situation by admiring the young man's integrity and his change strategy is to lecture the patient on psychological development, almost like taking an introductory course at the university.

The stories presented here are certainly evocative and the interventions nonconventional. "The Man Who Went Bankrupt" tells the story of a formerly successful businessman who went bankrupt, was divorced by his wife, and is now seriously depressed and considering suicide. The intervention is to bring him to a hospital to hear the stories of patients in a cancer ward to demonstrate that his situation, in contrast to a person with cancer, is not that bad. "I Forfit My Life for Mommy" tells the story of a thirteen year old who refuses to go to school. She lives "in an ok house with ok furniture and ok food and a seemingly ok mother but . . . nothing at all was ok." Her father and mother are divorced and she lives in an unhealthy dyadic relationship. The therapist responds to this patient by telling a story about himself and his difficult family situation. When he finds out that the patient's father was a tennis champion, he embarks on years of "tennis therapy" and eventually pays for the patient's father to travel over and play tennis with the patient.

"Heavenly Father I am Sinking" tells the story of a devout Christian "girlish woman, naive and pure . . . tall and skinny, blonde wispy hair in pigtails" who, as a child, discovered her depressed mother hanging from a beam in her bedroom a suicide. Her father, while superficially caring about the family, becomes more distant and remarries, only to have his second wife die in a car accident. The patient decompensates after revealing this to the therapist "she was transformed almost overnight from nice little daddy's girl to a vixen, getting deep into alcohol and sex," plagued by depression and suicidality. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.