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The Client-Centred Therapist in Psychiatric Contexts: A therapists' guide to the psychiatric landscape and its inhabitants

The Client-Centred Therapist in Psychiatric Contexts: A therapists' guide to the psychiatric landscape and its inhabitants

Lisbeth Sommerbeck

ISBN 978 1 898059 55 4 (2003)

Cover Price £18.00

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Why do not more client-centred therapists work in psychiatric settings? Whatever the answer, this book is a solid attempt to pave the way for a greater involvement. Lisbeth Sommerbeck brings over 25 years' experience of working as a client-centred therapist in psychiatric contexts to her explanation of the psychiatric system and how to forge a working relationship with other staff. This is a positive bridge-building book, aiming to bring together two helping cultures that otherwise might see each other as hostile. With diploma and masters students in sight it should both widen placement possibilities, and encourage therapists to work in multi-disciplinary teams with confidence.

PART ONE: The Author's Conceptualisation of Client-Centred Theory
• The basic concepts
• On the universality of client-centred therapy
• On the relative importance of the three core conditions with psychiatric clients
• On the role of developmental theories • and finally a note on ideals and reality

PART TWO: Relating with the professionals of psychiatry
• The complementarity of client-centred therapy and the medical model
• Client-centred theory and the question of psychiatric diagnosis
• The patients from the psychiatrist’s viewpoint
• The duality of the client-centred therapist in the medical model setting Example: Protecting the therapy process
• The role of the client-centred therapist in staff conferences
• Helping the helpers and taking care of the caretakers
• The limits of the setting are the therapist’s limits
• Advantages of working in the medical model setting of a psychiatric hospital

PART THREE: Relating with the patients of psychiatry
• Patients diagnosed with psychotic depression Characteristics of the therapy process The issue of suicide
• Patients diagnosed with other kinds of psychoses The diagnosis of schizophrenia ‘Out of contact’ Pre-therapy
• Other characteristics of therapy processes with psychotic clients
• Patients diagnosed with a near-psychotic condition
    The risk of facilitating actualisation of the client’s more destructive potentials
    Near-psychotic clients and unconditional positive regard
    Near-psychotic clients and empathic understanding
    Near-psychotic clients and congruence
    Near-psychotic clients and non-directivity
    Doing no harm

PART FOUR: Cultural differences, the critique of psychiatry and another perspective

As an enthusiast of the person-centred approach, and one who works in a psychiatric setting, I feel I have benefited immensely from reading this book. … I wholeheartedly recommend it to person-centred counsellors and therapists seeking more of an understanding of psychiatric settings — I believe this should include all trainees and person-centred therapists. I share her opinion that 'psychiatry today is in dire need of a humanistic revitalisation'. This book will hopefully encourage others, as it has me, to embrace with her the challenge of working towards this. Rachel Freeth, HCPJ, April 2004

I read this book with several different hats on. As a counsellor trainer I thought this book offered a valuable way of bridging the gap between the medical model and client-centered therapy. … As a counsellor with an integrative theoretical orientation, I found the author's classifications of client-centred therapists illuminating. … As a mental health nurse, this book introduced me to 'pre-therapy' first developed by Garry Prouty. … I think this is an invaluable book both for trainers and experienced counsellors working within a variety of settings. It has certainly left me feeling reflective on how I communicate my experience of empathically understanding the client. Victoria Cole, CPJ, March 2004

Sommerbeck’s 30 years’ of experience working in a psychiatric setting make this lucid book a must-read for anyone interested in working humanistically with clients who bear severe diagnoses or within institutions and systems. Kathy Moon

It is clearly and beautifully written. Anyone working in a medical or psychiatric context should read this. And anyone working with seriously disturbed clients outside these settings should also read it. To my knowledge, there is no other book like it. C.H. ‘Pat’ Patterson

I started to read Lisbeth Sommerbeck’s book and think it is the best and most valuable contribution to the Person-Centred Approach I have read in years. Marlis Pörtner

I have just read Lisbeth Sommerbeck’s wonderful book. Anyone working with anyone should read it. Jerold Bozarth

Lisbeth Sommerbeck

Lisbeth Sommerbeck

Lisbeth Sommerbeck is a clinical psychologist, accredited as a specialist in psychotherapy and supervision by the Danish Psychological Association. Since 1974 and until she retired in 2011 she was employed in Danish psychiatry, where the bulk of her work consisted in psychotherapy, supervision, consultation and teaching. She has written books and articles about various aspects of client-centred therapy and in 2002 she initiated the Danish Carl Rogers Forum.

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