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on 14 August 2010
Psychotherapy is recognised as a valid method for helping in the management of depression, anxiety and other emotional issues. This text is an interesting examination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy edited by two well known authorities on the subject. A broad spectrum of therapists who use Rogerian, Jungian, Lacanian and many other approaches contribute to the discussion on the how, where and why CBT offers an alternative to Prozac or other medication-based methods. I found the views on what talking therapy actually does, allowing people to look at their patterns of thinking, food for thought. It's an impressive claim to suggest two people (patient & therapist), can achieve a clinically successful outcome. What should the end result be-happiness, contentment, emotional balance, or maybe even not accepting a life with no or a limited future in extreme cases? Many therapists seem to put a great deal of emphasis on their individual therapy's uniqueness. Perhaps there's an unnecessary deceit within this proposal. When there are so many options to living a life-why would someone consciously choose a way that makes for dissatisfaction or worse?

This material covers a really interesting subject, is well edited and one that I've already noticed I refer to as a reference guide.
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VINE VOICEon 31 August 2010
Man! This is one weird book! It started off so well - let's get a book together which looks at Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy from a number of points of view. The title could be: `Critically Engaging CBT in an Age of Happiness'. What a good idea! It would deal with the whole Layard thesis and illuminate the field. In order to be systematic, let's ask each author to follow the same format: 1. The world view underpinning your approach; 2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of your approach in relation to CBT?; 3. What is your approach's view regarding the alleged `cost-effectiveness' and evidence/research-based `efficacy' of the CBT approach?; 4. Your approach's conception of therapeutic change?; 5. How well, if at all, does or can your approach cohere with so-called `medical-model' thinking?; 6. What place do the notions of `happiness' and well-being hold in your approach?; 7. How could or might your approach respond to the `Layard thesis' that many hundreds of thousands of people are needing relief from psychological/emotional distress and unhappiness?; 8. To what extend, if at all, would it be possible for your approach to align itself with, or even create a hybrid with, CBT?
Sounds good, doesn't it? But at some point well after the authors had been engaged, the title was changed to drop the word `happiness'. Some of the authors kept to the old title, some of them switched to the new one. The confusion was not helped by the fact that the authors did not actually know much about CBT, and did not refer much to the CBT literature in order to critique it. They were more interested in describing their own approach, which was a bit weird. Even weirder were some of the contributions in their total avoidance of the job in hand. John Heaton, for example, was supposed to deal with the relation to existentialist therapy, but instead embarked on a high-flown discussion of Wittgenstein, which was more or less incomprehensible to the average reader. Similarly, Ian Parker's chapter, presenting Lacanian psychoanalysis, veered wildly off the point and read like a sort of turgid rebellion against CBT.
The three authors who were supposed to come from the CBT camp and reply to all this were understandably baffled by all this and politely pointed out the various inadequacies in the replies. The two editors tried manfully to pick up the pieces and make some sense of the whole mess. But man! This is one weird book! My advice is - don't bother!
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