Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer book reviews for my therapy-minded peoples

Something is wrong with me!  I used to be the girl with a novel under her arm at the doctor's office and in the grocery checkout line.  I laughed at friends who wasted their time on non-fiction.  Grad school has taught me at least one thing: never say never.  It's pointless and makes one feel conspicuously stupid.  *sigh*

I have managed to squeeze in a true crime book about a serial rapist (lighthearted summer fun!) but, other than that, my summer reading picks have been pretty practical so far.  It just struck me that some of these titles may interest some of y'all!  ....because, after all, I hang out with weirdos who read non-fiction.  *argh*

The Schopenhauer Cure by our buddy Irv Yalom
Chel's rating: mind blowing and heart stopping, buy it NOW! 

Pardon me if I use a bad cliche and say that every therapy student, therapist, psychologist, and lover of humans should read this book.  Yes, I just shoulded on my friends.  It's that awesome.  This book takes the reader through a year in the life of a therapy group and its leader.  One of the group members is exceptionally difficult to like and his case can seem hopeless a lot of the time.  We know he's human all along, but he won't admit it to himself or anyone else.  I banged my head on the wall.....really.  By the end of the story, I was in love with this character for his courageous willingness to be the flawed person that the rest of the group was growing to love.

It especially brought home for me that I need to bring patience, love, and more patience to my work with clients.  The ones who seem hopeless and unlovable have the farthest to go, and might just be the ones that amaze us.

Surviving Graduate School in Psychology by Tara L. Kuther 
Chel's rating: validating and anxiety-reducing, but repetitive

What a helpful little book, and how I wish I'd read it 18 months ago!  This book is aimed mostly at students in doctorate programs, but is useful for us Master's plebeians, too.   Kuther covers practicalities like moving and finances as well as relationships with friends and mentors, stressors, practicum issues, writing, and finding one's own identity as a practicing therapist or psychologist.  Her brief coverage of impostor syndrome and research showing that graduate school causes students to "revise their sense of self" makes me feel less like I'm losing it.  I'm normal.  Well...not really normal, but just a grad student.  Whew!

On Being a Therapist by Jeffrey A. Kottler
Chel's rating: if Mr. Kottler is single, I'd like to ask him to marry me

Wow.  The book I was hoping to write in 40 years has already been written.

I started reading this last semester during Basic Psychotherapy Skills.  I had an inkling about how good it was then, but I didn't have the experience to fully appreciate it (maybe I still don't, but I'm getting closer, thanks be to God).  It's sort of like Irvin Yalom's "The Gift of Therapy" with more topical organization and less existentialism.  I'm especially grateful for the chapter on failure and how to use it.  Good stuff.  Our profs and mentors tell us this stuff, but it never hurts to read things in black and white while in your pyjamas, sleepy and vulnerable enough to let it really sink inThis book is my new binky.  Watch for me at the grocery store and see if it's under my arm.

General Principles and Empirically Supported Techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Chel's rating: everyday usefulness off the charts!

Thanks to Dr. Chad Wetterneck for suggesting this on day one or two of practicum.  This surprisingly inexpensive book has a chapter on almost every clinical issue out there.  I've referenced it in two term papers, used sources from it in a class project, and used it to help conceptualize at least one practicum case.  It's both lit review and how-to manual.  Get a copy and tape it to your left forearm so you can use it all day!

OK folks, that's all I have to suggest for now!  My own therapist has suggested a small stack of books that I'm hoping to chat about in the next month or so.  She's so maddeningly right all the time, I'm sure they'll be great.  *argh*

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