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The Gossamer Thread: My Life as a Psychotherapist (The Karnac Library)

The Gossamer Thread: My Life as a Psychotherapist (The Karnac Library) [Kindle Edition]

John Marzillier
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Product Description


I found this book so riveting that I could not put it down and read it in one sitting … John Marzillier describes his personal journey, revealing the human stories behind the distilled 'science' of psychotherapy. It will be an effective antidote to any tendency to assume that any one approach has the answer. --Phil Mollon, clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, and author of Shame and Jealousy

I cannot recommend this book highly enough... John Marzillier writes in a way that is a pleasure to read, being open and personal, always accessible and frequently with humour. His book is full of telling clinical examples. This is a book from which anyone in the helping professions has much to learn. --Patrick Casement, a psychoanalyst and author of Learning from the Patient

An insightful and entertaining account of what it takes to work as a psychotherapist... John Marzillier has produced a book that is warmly written, very informative and a pleasure to read. --Paul Gilbert, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Derby, and author of The Compassionate Mind and Overcoming Depression

Product Description

What really goes on in the therapist's consulting room? And in this most private of relationships, what is the therapist thinking?In this warm, revealing memoir, Dr John Marzillier, one of Britain's most experienced clinical psychologists, tells the story of his life and career as a psychotherapist. He recounts his journey from hard-nosed behaviour therapist, where every treatment method needed scientific justification, through trainings in cognitive therapy and psychodynamic therapy, to his final understanding of the value of the therapeutic relationship.Using case material from his professional practice, Dr Marzillier vividly describes his encounters with some fascinating and often tricky people who rarely conform to what is expected of them. He is candid about the mistakes he made and the lessons he eventually learned. He reflects on his experience of different psychotherapy schools and shows how his understanding of what matters most in therapy changed over the years.This is a richly human memoir, illuminating the person behind the therapist. Above all, it reveals the power of the therapeutic relationship to change lives for the better. Essential reading for all aspiring therapists and for anyone entering therapy.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 812 KB
  • Print Length: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Karnac Books (29 April 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005ML0FCA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #29,661 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gossamer Thread - very much worth reading 25 May 2010
'The Gossamer Thread' was an excellent book that I very much enjoyed. The author writes clearly with a good sense of humor. What I most appreciated was how the narrative unfolded on several levels as it followed his career in the field. I found myself as caught up by his experiences and the patients he works with as I would be by a novel or a collection of linked stories, while at the same time I became increasingly interested in learning about psychotherapy and how the academic linked to practice - what sort of problems real people have and how they may or may not get helped. The book did a lot to further my understanding of the dimensions of mental illness and the different approaches to dealing with it. It's well worth reading.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, funny and instructive 25 Oct 2010
How can a person really know what goes on in the mind of another human being? Exactly what is it that is necessary to know and understand in order to help that human being achieve a better quality of life? These are the questions that John Marzillier explores in his memoir of his 37 years living as a psychotherapist. The book traces his training and practice in three major schools of therapy (first behavioural, then cognitive, and later psychodynamic), and takes in other approaches along the way, each time offering a clear outline and thoughtful critique of the methods and techniques used. Early in his career,Marzillier learns that not every client or patient wants to change, and he relates, sometimes ruefully and frequently with hilarious self-deprecation, those cases where he was unable to help.

His beautifully written account is a refreshing and honest acknowledgement that no one model of therapy holds all the answers, and that theoretical dogmatism is an unhelpful trait in those who seek to help others find meaning in their lives. He reflects that the therapeutic endeavour is both complex and delicate, and that even with successful cases, it is not always easy or even possible to define what promotes healing and facilitates change. However, what emerges from his account is that when curiosity about the human condition together with respect and compassion for the client are underpinned by ethical and professional principles, psychotherapy may proceed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This book is a highly reflective, informative and touchingly honest account of an individual's life as a clinical psychologist/psychotherapist. In my opinion, it should be on the 'must read' list for all trainees and those within the profession. Marzillier has a refreshing approach which provides a fascinating insight into his personal and professional journey. His curiosity and hunger to learn from triumphs and losses is inspiring. The philosophy that 'one size does not fit all' is embraced in an insightful and thought provoking account.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gossamer Thread and The Boundless Ocean 2 Mar 2014
By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly appreciated John Marzillier's wonderful book on psychological therapy, as the reading of it caused deep reflection which led me into many fields. Not least of which is the whole relationship we have with the reflective activity of reading itself. Doors open, horizons widen, intense emotional experiences and thoughtful, reasoned self-questioning occurs; ideas become developed or discarded; change happens.

I most appreciate those books, fiction or non-fiction, which take me into these areas.

Marzillier's beautifully titled book explores his own development in the field of psychological therapy, and the development of particular therapeutic approaches, as much as it also explores his successful or less than successful experiences with clients, suitably anonymised, and often with stories changed, to also protect the confidential integrity of the client's story, in case a former client reads and thinks `that is me!'

John Marzillier almost stumbled into clinical work by default, beginning to work using behavioural techniques in the late 60s and early 70s. This model was heavily based on physiology and learned behaviours, biased towards large scale statistical `objective' scientific studies, and drew much of its methodology from observed animal behaviour. Marzillier began to feel uneasy, as 'something' was missing in this approach, and almost by instinct he found himself, through a more dynamic engaged relationship with individual clients, drawn to exploring thought processes and even gaining curiosity about `back stories'

He was moving closer to embracing the role of the relationship between client and practitioner as integral to treatment. The `relational field' approach though was still in the future for his work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gossamer Thread 27 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
If you want to know what it is like to be a psychologist you could do worse than read this fascinating memoir. As the author himself says towards the end of the book – helping human being is a messy and complicated business and there is no guarantee of success. Even if you can agree with anyone, including the patient, on how to measure success in the first place.

The author writes in an interesting and never less than compassionate manner about his patients and also about his own successes and failures. He shows what it is like to try out a new type of therapy when none of the rules have been established. He emphasises that whatever helps people to live their lives how they want to without debilitating depression, anxiety or phobia is a good thing.

Reading this book made me realise that the human mind and human behaviour are ultimately so complex that psychology is still only scratching the surface. Trying to help another human being understand their problems must always be a worthwhile job but it is one fraught with pitfalls and a false step can have devastating consequences. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in psychology or self help.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a great and interesting read
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily accessible & somehow familiar
I found myself unable to put this account down. Also observed feeling perplexed/intrigued/@ Times dumbfounded by perceived resonance between both some of the experiences and some... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Desiree
5.0 out of 5 stars should be compulsory reading for the trainee therapist
Its difficult to overemphasise the value of this book. By means of ruthless honesty the author peels back the layers of a mature therapist to reveal the struggles mistakes fervour... Read more
Published 5 months ago by dark habit
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes buy it.
Very readable and interesting. I like the style and would recommend it to others.

I would place in on the reading list of all trainee therapists.
Published 5 months ago by Karry
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gossamer Thread: My Life as a Psychotherapist by John Marzillier
A lovely read capturing with a refreshing and open honesty the journey of a career. I read this during the first months following my retirement from a 40 year career moving from... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mrs S M Bell
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read
A fascinating read about this man's work as an analyst and his progression from cognitive and behavioural perspectives to psychodynamic.
Published 12 months ago by Vevo
5.0 out of 5 stars First class
This book manages to blend autobiography, psychological theory and case stories in near-perfect balance. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Meg A
5.0 out of 5 stars refreshing
found this book a refreshing account of the psychotherapist thoughts and experience from each client he treated. Read more
Published 22 months ago by R. Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars recommended
I'm a person centred counsellor & I bought this for a friend and colleague. She emailed me a week later to say she was really enjoying it and recommended I borrow it when she has... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Irene Rose
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
I'm 19, currently doing a counselling and psychology degree. This book was very beneficial. It gave me a real insight into the career that I am aiming for! Read more
Published on 29 Aug 2011 by rebeccaj92
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