|Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews|101 Healing Stories101 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started Using HypnosisA Primer for Beginning PsychotherapyA Therapist's Guide to Understanding Common Medical ProblemsACT With LoveAssessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems, Second EditionBad TherapyBefore ForgivingBeing a Brain-Wise TherapistBiofeedback for the BrainBody PsychotherapyBody SenseBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBrain Change TherapyBreaking ApartBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheChoosing an Online TherapistClinical Handbook of Psychological DisordersClinical Intuition in PsychotherapyClinical Pearls of WisdomCo-Creating ChangeCompassion and Healing in Medicine and SocietyConfessions of a Former ChildConfidential RelationshipsConfidentiality and Mental HealthConfidingCouch FictionCounseling with Choice TheoryCritical Issues in PsychotherapyCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesDecoding the Ethics CodeDepression 101Depression in ContextDo-It-Yourself Eye Movement Techniques for Emotional HealingDoing ItE-TherapyEncountering the Sacred in PsychotherapyEnergy Psychology InteractiveEssays on Philosophical CounselingEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingEveryday Mind ReadingExpressing EmotionFacing Human SufferingFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFamily TherapyFavorite Counseling and Therapy Homework AssignmentsFlourishingFlying ColorsHandbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for TherapistsHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHeinz KohutHow to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Go to TherapyIf Only I Had KnownIn SessionIn Therapy We TrustIn Treatment: Season 1Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and PsychotherapyIs Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Issues in Philosophical CounselingIt’s Your HourLearning from Our MistakesLetters to a Young TherapistLove's ExecutionerMan's Search for MeaningMetaphoria: Metaphor and Guided Metaphor for Psychotherapy and HealingMindfulness and AcceptanceMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for DepressionMindworks: An Introduction to NLPMockingbird YearsMomma and the Meaning of LifeMotivational Interviewing: Preparing People For ChangeMulticulturalism and the Therapeutic ProcessOf Mice and MetaphorsOf Two MindsOn the CouchOne Nation Under TherapyOur Inner WorldOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsPhilosophical CounselingPhilosophical MidwiferyPhilosophical PracticePhilosophy and PsychotherapyPhilosophy for Counselling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy PracticePlato, Not Prozac!Psychologists Defying the CrowdPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychosis in the FamilyPsychotherapyPsychotherapyPsychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy for Personality DisordersRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRationality and the Pursuit of HappinessRecovery OptionsRent Two Films and Let's Talk in the MorningSaving the Modern SoulSecond-order Change in PsychotherapySelf MattersSelf-Determination Theory in the ClinicSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapyStrangers to OurselvesTaking America Off DrugsTales of PsychotherapyThe Art of HypnosisThe Case Formulation Approach to Cognitive-Behavior TherapyThe Crucible of ExperienceThe Education of Mrs. BemisThe Fall Of An IconThe Gift of TherapyThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Love CureThe Making of a TherapistThe Mummy at the Dining Room TableThe Neuroscience of PsychotherapyThe Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Healing the Social BrainThe New PsychoanalysisThe Philosopher's Autobiography The Portable CoachThe Portable Ethicist for Mental Health Professionals The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Problem with Cognitive Behavioural TherapyThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Schopenhauer CureThe Talking CureThe Therapist's Guide to Psychopharmacology, Revised EditionThe UnsayableThe Wing of MadnessTheory and Practice of Brief TherapyTherapyTheraScribe 4.0Toward a Psychology of AwakeningTracking Mental Health OutcomesTreating Attachment DisordersWhat the Buddha FeltWhat Works for Whom? Second EditionWhy Psychoanalysis?
by Jeffrey Kottler and Jon Carlson
Review by Michael Sakuma, Ph.D. on Oct 1st 2003
Bookstores around the country are filled with "how-to-do"
therapy cookbooks. Few of these books fulfill their promise of "teaching"
the part-science, part-art of therapy. Certainly the concept of "therapy"
is a nebulous construct. What exactly is therapeutic about therapy? No one is
really sure. The book Bad Therapy by Kottler and Carlson is a unique
offering into the "how to" do therapy literature; it is this, but it
is also much more.
An implicit premise of "bad therapy"
seems to be that students can learn about what to do (in therapy) by studying
what not to do. It is a clever approach, though knowing exactly what is bad
therapy is difficult given the aforementioned idea that good therapy is so
elusive to understanding. Each story in the book teaches a basic concept or
skill central to "good" therapy through a story of mishap. I found
myself, notoriously fleeting of attention while reading, riveted to each story,
trying like a detective to guess what the "mistake" was. Sometimes
right, sometimes wrong, I found myself learning or at least, reaffirming what I
should know as a therapist.
What I like most about the book, however, is the "truth"
uncovered by the different therapist's disclosures.
I dare say all therapists have bad sessions on
occasion. Some of us wonder if we are competent to do therapy, especially
after an especially bad (perceived) mishap or interaction with a patient.
These fears are compounded by the fact that failures and mistakes are rarely
discussed amongst colleagues, or in the literature. Each perceived mistake is
magnified and contrasted upon the backdrop of other's infallibility.
Cognitively we know that others make mistakes too, but without seeing or
discussing them, how can we be sure?
This type of book fills a very important niche
in the pedagogical literature on psychotherapy. Not only does it teach how to
do therapy, but it also models the more human side to therapy: mistakes happen,
therapists have insecurities, no one is perfect.
It also models the fact that, just as we want
our patients to become more reflective in their lives, so to must we be
reflective in our work. I'm sure that there are many therapists, either in
practice or in training who believe that they are above mistakes or even,
therapy, for themselves. This "unawareness" has all the ingredients
of disaster- though this type of therapist would likely not even recognize it.
To paraphrase Lao Tse, "the key to understanding is to first recognize
ignorance" (at least this is what I keep telling myself).
I should add that in my all-too human "car-crash
voyeurism" waited for a really juicy screw-up. For better or worse, none
really came; in fact some "mistakes" were somewhat lame. Perhaps
self-disclosure must have limits (these people still need to keep their jobs
after all!). I recommend this book to all therapists, either in graduate school
or out in the field. There are many household names (from our field) in this
book. It is nice to see that they are human too.
© 2003 Michael Sakuma
Michael Sakuma is Chair of the Psychology Department at Dowling College, Long Island, New York.