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Anthony C. Theuninck (United Kingdom)

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Intensive Short-term Dynamic Psychotherapy: Theory and Technique
Intensive Short-term Dynamic Psychotherapy: Theory and Technique
by Patricia C. Della Selva
Edition: Paperback
Price: £23.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The most succinct introductory text to ISTDP, 23 July 2014
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Dr Patricia Coughlin's text continues to remain one of the most accessible introductory texts to Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP). Her book helpfully contextualises the ISTDP approach within psychoanalytic literature and proceeds to take the reader through the systematic method originally created by Dr Habib Davanloo. Dr Coughlin brings her own personality and adjustments to the original method that demonstrates the depth of her compassion alongside the precision in her thinking.

The book offers an overview of the basic theoretical tenets and metapsychology and each chapter builds up the readers understanding as it follows the process of therapy from the first "trial therapy" (to assess suitability) to working with defences, building up the self/ego through restructuring defences, facilitating grief, integrating positive feeling, consolidating character change and attending to the process of ending and follow-up.

Dr Coughlin illustrates with revealing vignettes how ISTDP offers a powerful integrative method that draws on the breadth of psychodynamic metapsychology, utilising precise cognitive and experiential techniques with a here-and-now focus. The therapy aims to support a person to access their agency and engage their feelings with compassionate understanding for past compromises that are now unhelpful and the end the repetition of harmful patterns. Dr Coughlin's writing carries a depth of feeling that moves. For the novice, this book is likely to be an emotionally transformative experience that also clarifies the specific treatment components required to enable transformation. For the seasoned clinician, the precision of the method and its location in psychodynamics, learning theory and neurophysiology will inspire.

This remains an introductory text however, and the field of ISTDP continues to develop with different clinicians emphasising and elaborating different aspects of the ISTDP approach. More extensive texts, with greater detail in technique and application include Mastering Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy: Roadmap to the Unconscious by Josette ten Have-de Labije and Robert J. Neborsky as well as Co-Creating Change: Effective Dynamic Therapy Techniques by Jon Frederickson

For trainees and those seeking a clear accessible succinct overview of the ISTDP approach, this text remains indispensable.

Living Like You Mean it: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want
Living Like You Mean it: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want
by Ronald J. Frederick
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.51

5.0 out of 5 stars Want to cope and grow? Check out your feelings!, 24 Mar 2014
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Dr Frederick's self-help book is not only warm, heartfelt and inspiring, but also sound in its scientific thinking and broad in its view of the human condition. Whilst some self-help books will focus on a specific problem area, Dr Frederick goes to the heart of what it means to be a human being who struggles and suffers and seeks help.

At the heart of our nature lies the power of our feelings and the need to connect with numerous people in various forms. This book is part of a movement in psychology that engages with such a view through integrating ideas from the fields of psychodynamics, experiential therapies, and cognitive behavioural therapy, whilst being located firmly in the sobering reality of our neuro-physiological bodies.

In this technological world where "thinking" and "logic" are disproportionately valued, Dr Frederick joins the ranks of Daniel Goleman and others to remind us of the importance of developing emotional awareness and emotional intelligence. Like the psychoanalysts and attachment scientists, he focuses on how our psyche's are built out of a need to manage our feelings and desires and adapt to others around us. Where this adaptation is compromised, a person develops defences against their feelings that may do more harm than good.

Dr Frederick has a very human and accessible writing style that moves you along through his ideas and suggestions. As he is with his patients, so he guides you through the book, reaching out compassionately and inviting you to engage with yourself and others in a deep and emotionally meaningful way.

Dr Frederick takes his you through a series of short chapters with touching case studies to help a person 1) build awareness of her/his feelings and defences, 2) learn skills for managing fear, and 3) move towards compassion for self and intimacy with others. It is through this process that a person becomes more empowered and free from or more able to manage psychological disorders and relationship conflicts.

Like all self-help books, this book cannot replace the caring attentive and personalised focus that a therapist/psychologist can offer you. Whilst this book imparts an important view of our human nature and how we can respond to ourselves and others, it cannot make you your own therapist. Additionally this book by its very nature questions whether that is ever possible. If our feelings are intimately bound up in how we relate to others, then surely the attention of a caring human being cannot be replaced by a book. However, Dr Frederick does bring you close to his kind and precise attentive care and invites you to begin to do the same for yourself and seek out others who will help you take this further.

Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships
Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships
by Dr Sue Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.31

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vulnerability and Intimacy as vital ingredients to life and relationships, 24 Mar 2014
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Dr Sue Johnson is part of a movement in self-help books that are based on sound science and evidence. You could spend ages trawling through the plethora of self-help or start with a scientifically verified approach. Dr Johnson gives you that.

Dr Johnson starts with the science of love and intimacy, referring to evidence that people who are in loving relationships have lower stress hormones and more resilient immune responses and are less at risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. She writes, " Contact with a loving partner literally acts as a buffer against shock, stress and pain. The people we love...are the hidden regulators of our bodily processes and our emotional lives" (pg 25). Lovingly secure relationships are vital to our health. At the heart of our well-being is an adult attachment need for loving connections akin to a child's attachment need. Our attachment need is fundamental to our psycho-physiological nature; we are social creatures.

Dr Johnson focuses on first helping you to evaluate and become aware of the dances or patterns that maintain hurt between couples. She then supports your becoming curious and compassionate about your "raw spots" or "emotionally vulnerable" parts. Our vulnerable raw spots are the flashpoints that trigger irrational rows and deadening distance in our relationships. Getting to know our own and our partner's raw spots is the starting point for building a strong relationship. In awareness and compassion for our own and our partner's vulnerability, lies the building blocks of our strength.

Dr Johnson leads you through various chapters on building love and closeness in various facets of your relationships, both emotional and sexual. She presents the process of learning about each other and growing together as a series of conversations suggesting that change can be ordinary and do-able, like a conversation, if you give it time.

For some couples there may be an additional complication to overcome, namely the consequences of trauma. Dr Johnson dedicates a chapter to this, to help couples consider the additional challenges that healing from trauma brings.

This book will offer vital sound advise and knowledge, but the trouble with all self-help is how to apply it to yourself and your relationships. Whilst Dr Johnson's readable and touching style goes a long way, for some this may be easier than others. What Dr Johnson highlights in this work however, is that healing and thriving happens through relationships. If you are struggling to apply the ideas in the book, it may be worth considering the caring support and professional guidance that a professional relationship with a trained therapist/psychologist can offer to you and/or your partner.

Mastering Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy: Roadmap to the Unconscious
Mastering Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy: Roadmap to the Unconscious
by Josette Ten Have-De Labije
Edition: Paperback
Price: £36.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, detailed, practical, groundbreaking, 24 Dec 2013
Mastering ISTDP is one of the most recent and comprehensive texts on this modern psychodynamic method. Building on the legacy of Habib Davanloo in Canada and David Malan in the UK, the authors have further refined and operationalised the method of Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP).

This text fits within a growing school of therapies that are integrating neuroscience and physiology within the theory and practice of psychological therapy. It also forms part of a movement in systematised integrative thinking that utilises a psychodynamic metapsychology to bring together highly effective treatment techniques from neuroscience, attachment-focused theory and cognitive-behavioural practice.

The text precisely operationalises therapeutic variables, such as the physiological process of anxiety, defensive adaptations, and emotional, instinctual and relational impulses and complexes. In the method, the cognitive-behaviourist will find familiar approaches, such as the precise focus on the here-and-now, the collaborative transparent stance, use of psychoeducation, goal focus, problem solving, clear differentiation of cognition, affect, physiology and behaviour. The psychoanalyst will be familiar in the territory of defensive structures against unconscious process/impulse/pain/trauma, structures that lead to self-sabotaging mental representations (object relations), that trigger dysregulated anxiety and manifest in distressing symptoms or destructive reenactments. The attachment-focused or relationally oriented therapist will resonate with the priority given to affect, attachment longings and the live use of the real relationship, distinguishing between and using both the "real" and transference relationship in an explicit way.

Lengthy authentic transcripts of therapies are provided. This is unique within the field of psychotherapy as a whole where most therapeutic texts will only provide polished academic dialogue to illustrate a point. The transparency the authors offer of their work is characteristic of the bold and progressively empirical stance that ISTDP takes in the field of psychodynamic therapies specifically. It is the bedrock of this approach, to empirically unpack the HOW of psychotherapy, as opposed to primarily emphasise the philosophy or metapsychology of the mind as pure psychoanalytic texts are sometimes want to do.

A distinct advantage of the real (anonymised) therapy transcripts is to give the reader an insight into the very human, emotional and dynamic nature of the therapeutic conversation. Conversely it may add to the challenge to precisely understand the layers of depth being presented. The authors however, make every effort to lead the reader through a precise dynamic sequence using a "traffic light" chart that guides clinician intervention.

This book is ambitious in its reach. At one level it is an introduction to the theory and practice of ISTDP, whilst it also advances that theory and comprehensively covers the precise application of the method across different psychological problems (agoraphobia, depression, somatisation, relational/attachment traumas). Whilst aiming to be definitive, the depth and richness of this text also testifies to the burgeoning potential in applying this unique framework to additional aspects of human struggle and suffering.

One of the challenges of the text is the density of ideas and writing in the theoretical chapters, which can at times be tiring to stay with. However, the student or clinician who is willing to enter into detailed study of this text will be richly rewarded. The support of a training programme would without saying be of value in this endeavour.

In conclusion, the wealth of information and the ground-breaking depth of clinical technique and wisdom this book conveys is second to none and sets the bar for the future of focused psychodynamic theory and practice.

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