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Reviews Written by
PROF M. COOPER "Mick Cooper" (UK)
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Brief Intervention for School Problems: Outcome-Informed Strategies (Guilford School Practitioner (Paperback))
Brief Intervention for School Problems: Outcome-Informed Strategies (Guilford School Practitioner (Paperback))
by John J. Murphy
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A very useful guide to solution-focused counselling in schools, 16 Mar. 2012
I found this a very interesting and practical introduction to a solution-focused way of working with children and young people in schools. There are some very good ideas about how to work, and I imagine that school counsellors will find a lot of resources here to help them reflect on, and develop, their practice. Alongside/as part of the solution-focused emphasis, there is also a strong emphasis on collaborative working with clients, parents and teachers -- with a very helpful discussion of how outcome and process measures can be used to facilitate this process. It all points towards a very coherent and informed way of working with clients, with some good evidence that this can be of help. The one downside that I found to the book was that it was all, perhaps, a little too positive. It was great to read about success stories, but I also would have liked to have known more about difficult cases or where the approach wasn't so succesful.


Treating Chronic Depression with Disciplined Personal Involvement: Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP)
Treating Chronic Depression with Disciplined Personal Involvement: Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP)
by Jr. James P. McCullough
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £78.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relating at depth from a CBT perspective, 4 July 2011
Writing this review from the perspective of an existential/humanistic thearpist, I found this a very helpful and, at times, moving book. The basic premise is that clients who experience chronic depression often have very powerful assumptions about the negative reactions they will elicit from others - based on troubled past experiences - and that a very congruent, honest response from the therapist can help them develop new expectations and beliefs about how they can engage with others -- and themselves. Although this is a relatively familiar assumption within person-centred, existential and humanistic therapy circles, I found that McCullough's work added significantly to my understanding of the different ways in which we might bring in our own experiences of clients. Indeed, despite coming from a CBT background, some of the examples of therapist self-disclosure and personal honesty here go beyond what even person-centred therapists might consider appropriate, and I was very moved in places by the willingness of the therapists to really share their own experiences and even histories. Of course, there are also limits to how disclosing therapists should be, and I think McCullough's concept of DISCIPLINED personal involvement is a nice way of phrasing the need to always keen the client's best interests at the forefront in any self-disclosures. Really, I think this is a book that transcends orientation boundaries, and would be of value to any therapist who believes that their own personal engagement with clients has the potential to be of healing benefit.


Systematic Reviews (Continuum Research Methods Series)
Systematic Reviews (Continuum Research Methods Series)
by Carole Torgerson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very clear and practical introduction to undertaking a systematic review/meta-analysis, 16 May 2011
I found this a very practical, clear and concise introduction to conducting a systematic review or a meta-analysis, that clearly sets out the steps involved and would be an excellent first text for anyone in the social sciences interested in this area of study. Downsides of the book are that it is a quite brief (just 90 pages or so of text), focuses solely on reviewing randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and is specifically orientated towards educational research - so a touch less relevant for those outside of this field. Overall, though, a very valuable introduction.


Handbook of Self-Determination Research
Handbook of Self-Determination Research
by Edward L. Deci
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable, but a bit dated now, 3 May 2011
This is a valuable collection of chapters on self-determination theory and research: which emphasises the value of intrinsic and internal motivations, as opposed to external forces and coercion. From a humanistic, clinical perspective, it's some of the best evidence and theory available to support more person-centred, humanistic and existential therapeutic work. The book provides a very useful overview of the model, key findings, and then chapters on the various applications and perspectives, all very well-informed with empirical research. The only real downside is that, by now (2011), it is almost ten years old, and could really do with an updated edition. Hopefully they will work on that soon - it certainly deserves it.


The Evolution of Cooperation
The Evolution of Cooperation
by Robert Axelrod
Edition: Paperback

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only you could give more than five stars..., 3 May 2011
As Richard Dawkins puts it, this really feels like one of the most important books of modern times, and a text that should be essential reading from school age up. Drawing on the findings from the most simple of game scenarios -- the Prisoner's Dilemma -- it maps out some crucial lessons for how individuals, and societies, can enhance their wellbeing: forgive easily, communicate clearly, don't be the first to let someone down, stay in contact and retaliate/be assertive if you have to be. More than that, it shows how cooperative strategies actually have greater longevity and stability than more competitive ones, and in that respect heralds the possibility of a fairer, more enduring society. The maths may be a bit tricky for some readers, and some bits are a touch repetitive, but it really is worth sticking with (and applying!).


Nature's Magic: Synergy in Evolution and the Fate of Humankind
Nature's Magic: Synergy in Evolution and the Fate of Humankind
by Peter Corning
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £54.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Definitive, but a bit overdone, 3 May 2011
I thought this was a great book. It's basic argument is that the roots of progress - whether evolutionary, anthopological or social - in the emergence of synergies: win-win relationships in which entities can fare better in cooperation with other entities than in isolation . It's a case of 'survival of the most synergetic', and Corning makes an enormously comprehensive and definitive case for all the different forms of synergies that exist. The downside is that he tends to give five or six examples where really only one or two are necessary, and although they are often fascinating, the book can feel quite a tome to plough through and, I think, could be considerably briefer. Robert Wright's Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny -- somewhat unfairly criticised by Corning - says, I think, much the same thing, and is a little more succint about it, and probably an easier read. Corning's tendency to over-illustrate his point also means that, in many instances, I wasn't entirely clear what he was trying to say. I think the central argument could have been pulled out more strongly, and some of the core concepts could have been clarified. Unlike Wright, however, Corning does seem to be arguing that the development of synergies is neither a good or bad thing, per se, but something that has the potential to be both constructive and destructive, and this seems a valuable and very interesting viewpoint. Overall, I think the argument being made here is enormously important - just a shame that it's not presented in a somewhat simpler, and more accessible way.


Between Give And Take: A Clinical Guide To Contextual Therapy
Between Give And Take: A Clinical Guide To Contextual Therapy
by Ivan Krasner Boszormenyi-Nagy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £80.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Great therapy, turgid book, 16 Dec. 2010
I was directed towards this book by a colleague who felt that it was the definitive text on contextual therapy. As an existential therapist and author (see Existential Therapies), I was interested in how contextual therapy might be an expression of existential -- and particularly Buber-ian -- ideas, within a family therapy context.

The therapy itself sounds great, and has some fascinating and original ideas that do, indeed, seem to extend some key existential ideas into the realm of family therapy, and in a way that has not been articulated or developed by other theorists and practitioners in the existential field. The approach is particularly rooted in the work of Buber (see I and Thou (Continuum Impacts) and particularly the chapter on dialogue in Between Man and Man (Routledge Classics), and there is an emphasis on helping to establish 'genuine dialogue' between family members: relationships in which both partners are able to express their needs, while also recognising their responsibility to give. This latter part, I felt, was particularly valuable and original: existential writers often talk about the need to 'own' one's freedom, but not so frequently the responsibility to care for, and give to, others. There are also particularly interesting discussions of how this dialogical possibility plays out in 'asymetrical' relationships - for instance, between parents and children - and the practice of 'multidirected partiality' (ie empathy and acceptance to all the voices within the family), as outlined in the book, feels a particularly unique and valuable contribution to the field -- individual therapy as well as family/systematic.

As a book, though, I was really frustrated and disappointed by the degree of repetition and overlap across sections, and the very unstructured and unfocused way that the different ideas were introduced. It felt to me like the book could have been edited down to almost half its length or more, without any serious loss of content! New ideas and terms were introduced throughout the book, but often again and again in different places; and, even more frustratingly, often without any clear and focused definition anywhere of what they actually meant. I am not sure why the book was like this, maybe it is a collection of individual presentations of the ideas, which is why there is so much overlap, but it is really inexcusable to publish a book, and at such a price, where this hasn't been adequately edited out. Perhaps there is a more concise presentation of contextual therapy somewhere, I really hope so, as it has so much to offer to our field.


Daniel, Dialogues on Realization
Daniel, Dialogues on Realization
by Martin Buber
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into Buber's early thinking, 6 Dec. 2010
For readers interested in existential philosophy and therapeutic practice, this is a really wonderful short book. It contains five essays by Buber on a range of themes, containing the essence of his early thought that would go on to be articulated in his classic text I and Thou (Continuum Impacts). At this point, Buber is mainly referring to the humanising mode of engagement as 'realization', and distinguishes it from a more formal, 'orienting' mode of engaging with the world. In realization, Buber talks about an openness to the world that allows it to be what it is, to emerge in the fullness of its particular Otherness - what he would come to later refer to as an I-Thou attitude to an other. Buber's work is less explicitly relational here, and often it is more in reference to entities and environments, but that makes it no less powerful and engaging.

Of all the existential philosophers, I find Buber the most poetic and beautiful to read, and that is just as evident here as in his later works. There was one particular passage that moved me to tears, as it seemed to summarise so beautifully what therapy is about:

'So long as one is in the calm of his becoming, the Thou that he bears in himself may be enough for him. But when the flood comes to him, then his need and summons is to find the Thou to whom he can speak in the world.'


Dialogical Philosophy from Kierkegaard to Buber (SUNY Series in Jewish Philosophy)
Dialogical Philosophy from Kierkegaard to Buber (SUNY Series in Jewish Philosophy)
by Samuel Hugo Bergman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very accessible introduction to theologically-orientated existential and relational philosophies, 17 Nov. 2010
This book seems to be relatively unknown, but I found it a bit of a gem. It's title as a text on dialogical philosophy, but it provides more of a review of some of the key ideas of a range of existential and relational philosophers, particularly Kierkegaard. In that respect, it was one of the most lucid accounts of his thinking that I have come across. What is particularly unique about the book, though, is that it then goes on to describe the philosophies of some of the lesser known Jewish 'co-existentialist' thinkers in the first part of the twentieth century: such as Rosenzweig, Rosenstock, and Ebner. There is also a short final chapter on Buber: which shows how Kierkegaard's dialogical philosophy of relating to God has transformed into a more inter-human philosophy of relating to other beings. It's unfortunate that there isn't more on Buber, and the different ideas discusssed in the book feel a little ad hoc, but the clarity and succintness of the text more than make up for that. So it's a great text for anyone interested in existentialism, and particularly for readers interested in dialogical existentialism and the work of Martin Buber, giving a lot of clarity and insight into the context from which his ideas emerged.


Soteria: Through Madness to Deliverance
Soteria: Through Madness to Deliverance
by Loren R. Mosher Voyce Hendrix Fort
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A valuable overview of one of the best-researched psycho-social interventions for schizophrenia, 20 Oct. 2010
Soteria was a community-based therapeutic house for helping people diagnosed with schizophrenia to move forward in their lives. It was based in the US, and developed primarily by Dr Loren Mosher, first author of this book, whose work was strongly influence by R. D. Laing and his developments at Kingsley Hall. The book gives a detailed account of how the Soteria project developed, how it was run, and the main treatment principals. What is particularly unique about Soteria is how rigorously it was evaluated, and there are details of the research projectst in this book. The therapeutic approach used in Soteria was an 'interpersonal phenomenological' approach, similar in many ways to the work of Laing, with an emphasis on helping clients to re-form authentic relationships with those around them and find supportive and loving relationships. From the research that is presented, the approach seems to have been as effective as more medication-based treatments, which is extremely encouraging for the development of treatments for 'schizophrenia'.

Overall, I found the book very interesting, and there were many very vivid and powerful stories of the people who used the House. It is, probably, the best book about community-style interventions for schizophrenia, and really lays out the way in which such a project can be developed and run. There is also a great deal of energy and commitment in the text, and it is clear that Dr Mosher and his colleagues have a deep, deep passion for the work that they did. In some ways though, for me, this was also the downside of the book: that it's not as critically reflective as, perhaps, it could be (not surprising, perhaps, given the amount of external criticism that such a project faced). The other downside of the book, for me, was that some of the detail was in the wrong place - for instance, I would have liked to have known more about the specific findings from the research, and less about the names and characteristics of the people who worked there. But that comes from the perspective of an academic, and I imagine others may find those personal story very involving. The book is clearly a labour of love, and it is a necessary read for anyone with an interest in Soteria or community-based interventions for schizophrenia. For people interested in the debates and research around 'schizophrenia', and particularly the non-pharmacological perspective, it should also be of great interest.


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