Thursday, May 14, 2009

What I'm Reading this Week: Bad Therapy

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. 



talesofacrazypsychmajor said...

I second this recommendation. It's an excellent book.

Okay now back to watching grey's anatomy season finale:P They cut out her hippocampi and act all surprised when she loses short term memory no shit. They never read about HM? Blah. stupid tv. I love Christina tho.

David G. Markham said...

I am amazed at the books you read because I have read most of them too.

I wasn't that enthused about bad therapy having been a therapist for 40 years. I thought it was a bit contrived, and the premise of the book is that these are psychotherapist super stars who screw up too, just like you, and here's how they did it.

I didn't like the premise of the book and I didn't find it very entertaining, enlightening, or inspiring.

Irving Yalom's Love's Executioner and a few other books of psychotherapy stories are much more genuine, entertaining and informative.

Thanks for all you book reviews though. I love reading about what you are reading.

All the best,

David Markham