Magazine article Psychotherapy Networker

BOOKMARKS; New and Noteworthy: Surveying the Latest Summer Titles

Magazine article Psychotherapy Networker

BOOKMARKS; New and Noteworthy: Surveying the Latest Summer Titles

Article excerpt

Counseling With Choice Theory: The New Reality Therapy

By William Glasser

Quill. 231 pp. ISBN: 0-06-095366-7

In 1965, William Glasser published Reality Therapy , a seminal work in which he argued that mental illness, as typically conceived, did not exist. In Counseling With Choice Theory , he has returned to reassert that "What is labeled mental illness . . . are the hundreds of ways people choose to behave when they are unable to satisfy basic genetic needs, such as love and power, to the extent they want."

Critics of the prevailing biochemical theory of mental illness might find comfort in Glasser's theories, just as critics of the prevailing Freudian school found comfort in them in the early 1960s. But they won't find much intellectual ammunition in this solipsistic work in which assertion masquerades as argument and every case study conveniently attests to the acuity of the author's vision.

Glasser isn't the first therapist to build a book around case studies. But he seems unaware that for these studies to carry the burden of proof, they must have the ring of authenticity. His don't. Everyone who utters a word in this book sounds like Glasser. Even a short story composed by a writer whom Glasser is treating sounds as though it were written by Glasser.

To complicate matters further, Glasser identifies this client as the screenwriter of a well-regarded movie. The man's work on this film is central to his story because his life is eerily similar to that of his protagonist. As it happens, the movie in question had only two screenwriters. One of them is well known, and his life in no way resembles that of the man in Glasser's book. So, either Glasser has all but exposed a client, or he has fabricated the man's authorship of the screenplay. Neither possibility inspires confidence in the credibility of Glasser's evidence.

Tales of Solutions: A Collection of Hope-Inspiring Stories

By Insoo Kim Berg and Yvonne Dolan

W. W. Norton. 175 pp. ISBN: 0-393-70320-7

The case study is deployed to better effect in this anthology on solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT). Berg and Dolan have collected more than two-dozen stories from therapists who have achieved good results by asking clients to focus on imagining a solution to their problem, rather than on analyzing the issues that led them to seek treatment.

The authors use the case studies as departure points for the discussion of clinical techniques. Their advice on wording questions in such a way that clients feel neither threatened nor judged is especially helpful.

Unfortunately, the methodological chapters are not nearly so strong. SFBT, as described by Berg and Dolan, relies heavily on encouraging clients to imagine what their lives would be like if, by some miracle, they woke up one morning to find their problems solved. The "miracle question" may be a useful tool to carry in one's therapeutic kit, but placing it at the center of one's practice may strike some readers as relying too heavily on the power of wishful thinking.

New Directions in Sex Therapy

Edited by Peggy J. Kleinplatz

Brunner-Routledge. 342 pp. …

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