Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Book Reviews -- Common Principles of Psychotherapy by Chris L. Kleinke

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Book Reviews -- Common Principles of Psychotherapy by Chris L. Kleinke

Article excerpt

CHRIS L. KLEINKE: Common Principles of Psychotherapy. Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, Pacific Grove, CA, 1994, 305 pp., $43.25.

Chris Kleinke partially succeeds in his ambitious aim of expounding common principles. This excellent book stresses fundamentals, trying to raise and answer questions at every point about the meaning, purpose, and effectiveness of various approaches, from the standpoint of common sense and basic morality, and with strong guidance from the psychotherapy research literature.

Kleinke has a knack for plain talk. He argues compellingly that in the end psychotherapy works best when it involves clear and direct language, progressively clarified goals, therapist responsiveness and flexibility (e.g., with regard to selfdisclosure and rules of engagement), a minimum of jargon and special arrangements derived from excessively abstruse theories, and when based on personal and ethical values that get clearer as the therapy proceeds.

He is at his most compelling when he cuts through a morass of competing theories and selects or formulates ideas that get to the heart of the matter. For example, his discussion of the nature of psychotherapy in terms of Jerome Frank's concept of the person's "assumptive world," and of the basic strategies for developing perspective and bringing thought and judgment to bear on implicit or unconscious assumptions is wonderfully clear. Similarly, his very skeptical account of modern trends in diagnosis, with its low level of intellect and its tendency to pathologize experience, and his preference for functional assessment (drawn heavily from E. Erikson, A. Lazarus, J. Young, and others), is sensible and clear. It underscores the destructiveness of much psychiatric diagnosis with its drug-oriented categories. These sections would be especially useful to people whether beginners or practitioners, who are trying to reorient themselves to therapeutic values in the antitherapeutic modern mileu of corporate managed care.

In view of all this sophistication, it is unfortunate that Kleinke's book suffers from superficiality, both as regards the individual and his or her relation to society. …

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