Kottler, J.A. and Carlson, J. (2003). Bad therapy: Master therapists share their worst failures. New York: Brunner – Routledge.
When I saw the title of this book staring out at me from the shelf I was immediately intrigued. Bad Therapy? Who writes about that? I’ve read many books in which therapists share cases, both good and bad, many stories of those who survived bad therapy, and of course books that bash the entire idea of therapy at all. Thinking it would be a collection of short stories, I stuck it in my bag for work the next day ready to jump in.
While it many ways it was a collection of short stories, in other ways it wasn’t. Kottler and Carlson put together a set of interview questions which they sent to participants ahead of time and conducted a study of sorts, so things didn’t flow quite as well as I’d hoped they would.
The authors spoke to twenty-two different therapists, and while their biographies were impressive, I have to admit the only one I was familiar with was William Glasser the founder of Reality Therapy. The therapists had a variety of backgrounds and worked with a variety of theories, which is something, I appreciated about the book. Further, it was refreshing to hear therapists be honest about the mistakes they have made or were perceived to have made. Although, I have to admit, most frontline workers I know are readily willing to admit they’re not perfect!
In terms of recommendations, it’s definitely worth checking out if you have any interest in therapy. At only one hundred and ninety-nine pages it’s a short read, and due to the format, it’s good for reading when you only have a little bit of time. It’s probably not a great read if you’re looking for something entertaining (which I usually am). Finally, as I mentioned before it’s presented in interview format rather then as short stories and sometimes the flow seems just a little bit off, so if that’s important to you, probably not a book you’re going to want to open up.