The inaugural Psychology Book Club post is here!
This month’s offering is “The Making of a Therapist” by Louis Cozolino.
The Whistle-Stop Tour
- Intended audience: Trainee and early career psychologists
- Content: A 213 page guide to common pitfalls and experiences of the new therapist
- Readability: Easy to read and relate to with plenty of ‘take home points’
- Practicality: Questions posed throughout help you work out how to apply the advice
- Cost: Kindle $AUD 21.50; Hardback copy from the Book Depository $AUD 35.67
- Publication details: W.W Norton and Company Ltd. 2004
- Overall rating: ★★★★★
The Extended Review
I’ve read a few books aimed at early career psychologists but this is easily my favourite. Cozolino provides a witty, honest and practical account of the common concerns of new therapists and how to address them. The book is split into three sections: getting through your first sessions, getting to know your clients and getting to know yourself. He covers just about everything from Imposter Syndrome to counter-transference. Don’t be put off by the Freudian language though. I found that it all made sense and could easily be applied in my own clinical work even though I don’t come from a psychodynamic orientation.
The take home points for me were Cozolino’s observations about self-knowledge, the idea that we each need to be aware of, manage and even make use of, our own personal experiences and biases within the therapy room. Cozolino’s stance on this issue was that simply “being professional” by making sure we are aware of ethical codes, guidelines and our own limitations isn’t enough. Too often being professional means staying only “above the neck” and something I’m realising in my own training is that you can’t do therapy well if you’re completely in your head.
I feel I don’t have the words to explain this idea well enough. I guess it’s one of those things you have to experience yourself to truly appreciate the difference but perhaps the infinite wisdom of Heart and Brain from The Awkward Yeti comic series will help. I think doing therapy above the head is like leaving Brain completely in charge, he gets the job done but sometimes he misses the point entirely and makes things unnecessarily difficult. The view Cozolino and I share is that ideally therapists harness Brain and Heart, allowing Brain to focus on the theory, the science, the ethics and the strategies and Heart to focus on being present, open to experiences and meeting needs to build therapeutic rapport and model healthy coping. This latest offering from Nick Seluk about Brain and Heart seems pretty apt: http://theawkwardyeti.com/chapter/heart-and-brain-2/.
Price wise, ‘The Making of a Therapist’ might be a little out of reach for the student budget. However, I consider this book recommended reading for all trainee and early career psychologists who do therapeutic work, so maybe try to find it in your local university library if you can.
I’d love to hear your feedback on ‘The Making of a Therapist’ if you’ve read it and other recommendations – reading and professional for early career psychologists.
~ Honourable Mentions ~