APA Book Notes
From behavior therapy to psychoanalytic therapy, practitioners have many theoretical orientations to choose from. Often the course they pick mirrors the theories they were taught as students. But as new mental health concerns arise and practitioners themselves change, strictly following one school of thought may limit practitioners' ability to treat patients most effectively.
That's the contention of the new APA book, "How Therapists Change: Personal and Professional Reflections," which concludes that psychologists should feel free to embrace contributions from other orientations.
In the book, editor Marvin R. Goldfried, PhD, invites 15 leading practitioners--such as George Stricker, PhD, Lorna Smith Benjamin, PhD, Larry E. Beutler, PhD, Arnold A. Lazarus, PhD, Leslie Greenber, PhD, and Barry E. Wolfe, PhD--to discuss how they have incorporated new treatment models into their knowledge base. The result, the practitioners say, is that they have become better therapists.
"Most of us as therapists eventually learn that we cannot function effectively without moving outside of the theoretical model within which we had originally been trained, recognizing that the strength of another orientation may at times synergistically complement the limitations of our own approach," says Goldfried. "Added to that is the role of our professional and personal life experiences, which create more of a flow in how we work clinically, involving an integration of who we are as a person within our role as therapist."
The book focuses on psychologists who treat patients using psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral or experiential therapy. In each chapter, therapists explain the original lessons they learned, the strengths of that original orientation, the limitations, how change occurred for the therapist and how he or she currently practices. Framing each contribution by these guidelines allows readers to see similarities and differences in the thematic issues among the three types of therapy, Goldfried writes in his introduction.
Goldfried hopes the book offers a glimpse of the growth and maturity of practitioners. "What students typically see in class is the outcome of the process, not the process of change that the faculty person went through," he says. "This book is not just for beginning students, but also for practitioners who are trying to update and change."
"Expertise does not come in the first months or even years," writes chapter author Lorna Smith Benjamin, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Utah. It takes years to hone one's skills and the patience and self-discipline to see it through, she says.
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