During the last decade, as public awareness of the role of therapy has increased, so too has criticism of specific approaches to therapeutic practice. In this book, Dr Spinelli examines the assumptions of his profession. He argues that in seeking to cure, heal, educate, free and change the client, in seeking to promote ‘mental health’, psychotherapists and counsellors not only end up abusing their clients and themselves but they also succeed in setting themselves impossible tasks and goals which actually impede the therapeutic process. Through his critique, Spinelli demystifies therapists’ language and theories. He argues that key areas of the client–therapist relationship have been neglected and, using case material from his own practice, explores in full the way in which therapists should engage with and listen to their clients in order to be of help. Over the years, Spinelli has become increasingly aware of the philosophical naïveté of many therapists—their unnecessary and artificial reliance on ‘techniques’ and their abuse of the power bestowed on them in the therapeutic relationship.
PART ONE Demystifying some fundamental ideas about therapy
PART TWO Demystifying the issue of power in the therapeutic relationship
PART THREE Demystifying therapeutic theory:
1. The Psycho-analytic model
PART FOUR Demystifying therapeutic theory:
2. Cognitive-behavioural and humanistic models
PART FIVE Demystifying the therapeutic relationship
We’re playing those mind games together—John Lennon
Try to imagine a world where psychotherapy or counselling do not exist. Imagine that not only are there no more private practices for those who can afford to pay specialists to listen to and assist them in dealing with their problems, nor are there any similar services provided by local authorities, community groups and educational or religious establishments, but also that there are no longer any telephone help-lines such as the Samaritans, Childline, and so forth, nor are there any problem pages in your newspaper or magazine, nor any radio station ‘agony aunts’ and ‘uncles’, nor any self-help books, or ‘pop’ psychology manuals, to help you cope with stress or sexual problems or to teach you to live more suitable or hedonistic or caring or fulfilling lifestyles. And consider, as well, how much less ‘psychobabble’ there would be for morning television hosts to endlessly chat on about or to find ways of having you reveal, live, on the air, the various concerns and dilemmas you face each day or can no longer live with. Consider as well the nature of the everyday conversations you might engage in with your colleagues, friends, children, spouse or partner, and how much of their content would now be bereft of notions and ideas that would be derived from popular usage of therapeutic terminology. How great would be the gaps in people’s thinking and communicating about themselves and others? How would people cope with the myriad variety of problems that psychotherapists and counsellors (both trained and self-made) are experts in dealing with? How would they even recognize them or discern their existence?
Spinelli's book is a superb introduction to contemporary debates in psychotherapy, and is relevant to current controversies in the psychotherapeutic community. In addition, the book is itself an ethical endeavor, as it prevents the therapist assuming the power of 'expert' in therapeutic relationship, whilst also acknowledging that subtlety and skills are needed for the job. Published in metapsychology online reviews, March 2008. Reviewed by Laura Cook.