So, you’re considering to give psychotherapy a try. Maybe you’ve been once before and after one or two sessions, you gave it up because you didn’t feel like you were gaining anything from the experience. Or maybe you’ve never tried psychotherapy before because it’s a little scary and seems a little bit “too much” for your particular problem. You don’t know what to expect. You don’t know how to find a good therapist. And you have no idea of where to even begin.
Enter Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On without Wasting Time or Money by Richard Zwolinski and CR Zwolinski (who also blog here at Psych Central at Therapy Soup). This is a must have book for anyone who’s considering psychotherapy or who’s tried it briefly and given it up. Why? Because it walks you through the entire process of therapy, from how to hire and interview a therapist and your first therapy appointment, to your treatment plan and keeping your expectations realistic.
Ten succinct chapters lay out the basics of modern psychotherapy treatment. The writing is direct and simple, with little jargon and no psychobabble without an explanation first being offered. Each chapter is well-organized and interspersed with vignettes that nicely illustrate a highlight in the chapter.
Chapter 1 discusses what psychotherapy is and isn’t, including running through all the different kinds of professionals who offer therapy today and what their credentials mean. Chapter 2 discusses the “Successful Therapy Formula,” which includes nuggets like, “The therapist must be a motivated, experienced professional” and “Therapy must be carried out in a reasonable treatment time frame.”
Chapter 3 focuses on interviewing potential therapists by phone and gives you the questions to ask and the information to look for when talking to therapists. This chapter includes a phone interview checklist that many people will find invaluable, since interviewing a professional by phone does not come naturally to most of us. The authors also emphasize the importance of asking for professional references from a potential therapist, but that’s something I would find of limited value. Even the worst therapists will have professional colleagues, but few know the actual quality of the work done behind closed doors. (Clients — the most obvious source of useful information about the quality of a therapist — can’t act as references, as the authors point out. However, doctor-rating sites — which sometimes include therapists — are worth checking out as one alternative.)
To me, finding the right fit between you and a therapist really isn’t a matter of credentials or references (I think those kinds of things are the absolute minimal basic requirements). It’s often a matter of instinct and just sitting down with a professional and seeing if their personality and approach to change is going to jive with yours. After all, it’s not the specific credential or therapeutic approach that’s going to help you be successful in therapy — it’s your relationship and connection with your therapist. That has to be there, or else all of the other stuff just doesn’t matter.
Chapter 4 focuses on your first psychotherapy appointment and includes another checklist that runs through the history and evaluation questions most therapists will focus on. It also includes an evaluation worksheet that allows the person to gauge the quality of their interaction with the therapist. This can help a person make a decision about staying with that therapist, or looking for another one. Chapter 5 covers treatment plans — which help both the therapist and the person understand reasonable goals for therapy and how progress toward them will be tracked.
Chapter 6 looks at how therapy should progress, including some basics of most therapy, such as reframing situations and revisiting your treatment plan from time to time. Chapter 7 examines the qualities of a good therapist — experienced, ethical, competent and caring — and lists red-flags to look for that signal a bad therapist. The use of examples of hypothetical bad therapists helps a person to know the kinds of things to look for in real life.
Chapter 8 focuses on the things that may hold you back from being successful in psychotherapy, including things such as financial concerns, feeling disconnected, therapist hopping, therapy addiction and dishonesty in therapy. Chapter 9 covers how to track your progress in therapy over time while Chapter 10 looks at the process of knowing when to move on (and how to do it in a healthy, positive manner).
While I believe the book is targeted at therapy “newbies” — those who’ve never tried psychotherapy before — as someone with some experience with psychotherapy, I still found myself learning all sorts of beneficial things from it. I think it would be ideal for even experienced therapy-goers, especially if they’ve sometimes found themselves “stuck” in therapy, or wondering how to better pick their next therapist.
If there’s any drawbacks to this effort, it’s that the authors are obviously in the patient’s corner and write from that perspective. That’s great for many people, but for others, they may find the assertive approach the authors encourage too forward or difficult to undertake. That’s okay, though, as I read it from, “This is the ideal perspective, do what feels right to you and makes sense in your situation.” Not everyone is going to fit in the kind of situation the authors detail, so at the end of the day — like all self-help books — you have to take away from it what has value to you in your life and situation.
The other thing I very much enjoyed about this book is how easy a read it was. Sometimes you sit down with a book like this and it plods along with very little to keep the reader engaged. The authors have done a fantastic job by keeping this book interesting with the real life patient stories and interviews interspersed throughout. And keeping it focused at just 226 pages, it means you can get through it without feeling like you need to commit a month to it.
The authors have created a very good reference guide and “how to” in Therapy Revolution for anyone who is interested in exploring getting started with psychotherapy. I think it’s an excellent resource and one worthy of your time if therapy is of interest to you.
Softcover, 226 pages.
Psych Central's Recommendation: Worth Your Time! +++Your Recommendation (if you've read this book):
Want to buy the book or learn more?
Grohol, J. (2010). Therapy Revolution. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2010/therapy-revolution/
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.