Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Book Reviews -- Therapeutic Communication by Paul L. Wachtel

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Book Reviews -- Therapeutic Communication by Paul L. Wachtel

Article excerpt

PAUL L. WACHTEL, PH.D.: Therapeutic Communication. Guilford Press, New York, 1993, 301 pp., $32.00.

In Therapeutic Communication, Wachtel applies the principles of classical psychoanalysis to dynamic psychotherapy in general. He addresses an important, but often unexplored concept how best to express and phrase one's interpretation to the patient.

The author's theory is based on: "Cyclical Psychodynamics." He describes how viscious circles continue the patient's problems, and how interpersonal realities and intrapsychic conflicts reinforce each other. He emphasizes present-day reinforcements rather than past fixations. He stresses working through the anxiety paralyzing the patient by properly handling the transference. The author gives special importance to language and to words, to how exactly we express ourselves and how best to do so in a nonaccusatory manner. He explains how words can easily be misunderstood. We should employ language not to interrogate the patient, but to reduce the patient's resistance, to help build up the patient's strengths, and to make him more open to change.

Wachtel devotes a large section of the book to a discussion of supportive therapy. He considers supportive therapy to be helpful and fundamental--not patronizing to the patient. He explores Freud's early use of suggestion, and then Freud's later apparent rejection of same. He offers evidence, however, that Freud and many experienced therapists continue to use suggestion and supportive therapy in an effective and constructive fashion. …

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