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Book Review

The Art and Science of Brief Psychotherapies: An Illustrated Guide, 2nd ed

David J. Lynn, MD

Published: November 15, 2012

The Art and Science of Brief Psychotherapies: An Illustrated Guide, 2nd ed

edited by Mantosh J. Dewan, MD; Brett N. Steenbarger, PhD; and Roger P. Greenberg, PhD. In book series: Core Competencies in Psychotherapy. American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc, Washington, DC, 2012, 372 pages, $70.00 (paper; DVD included).

This book is part of the Core Competencies in Psychotherapy series, which originally followed the psychiatry training requirements put in force by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) in 2002. It is intended for use in training psychiatry residents. It contains a number of chapters that are updated from the first edition and some new material.

The term brief psychotherapy in the ACGME requirements has always had a great deal of ambiguity. The editors have wisely used this as an opportunity to do 2 things: to describe a diverse set of important brief therapies and to put them in an educational perspective.

They have included a remarkable range of brief therapies, which have been well selected for their research support and broad utility. Updated from the earlier edition, the book’s offerings include Judith Beck on cognitive therapy, Edna Foa on exposure therapy, Hanna Levenson on time-limited dynamic psychotherapy, Scott Stuart on interpersonal psychotherapy, and Mantosh Dewan on combining brief psychotherapy and medications, together with other excellent contributions. These are concise presentations, well written and authoritative. I was very pleased to find no statements about one therapy being more effective, or more fundamental, or "deeper," or more lasting in its effects than the others. Each chapter is an attempt to describe, explain, illustrate, and teach, rather than an attempt to defend or justify or persuade.

The included DVD, new to this edition, is an important attempt to illustrate activities, processes, and therapeutic situations. Altogether, there are 3 hours of videos. This addition is well conceived. Anyone who has worked with residents in classroom and seminar formats knows how important it is to engage them and capture their attention. Invariably, some will have omitted the reading assignment; video material can draw them in and get them to grapple with the concepts. The video segments in this collection will be most useful if the instructor first carefully reviews them in detail, then chooses particular passages for discussion.

Putting the therapies in an educational perspective is important, and this task is approached in different ways in several chapters. A new section titled "Building a Foundation for Successful Therapies" precedes the descriptions of the therapies. This section begins with a retained chapter on common factors, which reviews patient variables, relationship factors, and placebo, hope, and expectancy effects. This is an adequate brief review of research findings, but it could be improved by closer attention to educational issues. Do the common factors suggest a set of fundamental skills? Should these skills be taught before specific therapies?

The other chapter in this new section is an excellent discussion and illustrated description of motivational interviewing. A set of skills is presented here that can be used within other brief therapy approaches. I found this chapter to be very clear, accessible, and useful.

On the whole, this is a notably compact, very useful, and authoritative book that does a fine job with a challenging task. Faculty will find it extremely valuable as a key resource for teaching residents several different brief psychotherapies. It is so clear and accessible that residents will be able to use it on their own.

David J. Lynn, MD

Author affiliation: Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago, Illinois.

Potential conflicts of interest: None reported.

Volume: 73

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