Books and Other Publications
A USER'S GUIDE TO THERAPY
What to Expect and How You Can Benefit
Book Review by Doug Greenlee MA/MS LMFT, LADC, CGC
Printed by the Minnesota Association of Marriage and Family Therapy
Doug Greenlee MA/MS LMFT, LADC, CGC
Staff Psychotherapist, Recovery Plus, St. Cloud Hospital
Kaiser, T., (2009). A User’s Guide to Therapy: What to Expect & How You Can Benefit. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., pp. 282. $18.95
Do you remember when you were a therapist-in-training? If so, do you recall what it was like to ‘learn the ropes’ as you simultaneously implemented various therapeutic models, monitored ethical and legal practice dynamics, managed face-to-face contacts with your clients, participated in weekly supervision and prepared for independent licensure? Or, perhaps, you are currently a therapist-in-training and you are, in fact, trying to manage all of the aforementioned tasks—and more! (Did I mention personal life?) Regardless, whether you are a tried-and-true or therapist-in-training, you clearly know what it is like to struggle with the demands of your career and personal life. Now, imagine yourself as if you were a potential client who is struggling with threatening personal issues and who is trying to figure out what to do, where to go and whom to see for help! What trustworthy resources are available for the potential client to help him/her problem solve those personal dilemmas?
Dr. Tamara Kaiser, an Associate Professor at St. Catherine’s and St. Thomas’ School of Social Work, is a compassionate and insightful author who has captured the potential client’s therapeutic-seeking dilemmas in her book, A User’s Guide to Therapy: What to Expect & How You Can Benefit (Norton, 2009). Kaiser provides a wealth of easy-to-understand therapeutic information and informed decision making processes that provides clear direction for the client and enhances the tried-and-true and in-training therapists’ awareness of their potential clients’ therapy-seeking challenges. How does she accomplish this?
The warm and siren-like tonal quality of Kaiser’s prose evokes the presence of a compassionate and knowledgeable muse who invites the potential client to venture further into her text for more information and guidance. Demonstrating her ability to explain poignant and common therapeutic concepts in a thoughtful and clear manner, Kaiser’s narrative voice eases the potential client’s angst, as s/he reads about therapeutic effects, counseling models, change dynamics, developmental stage influences and common problems that may be related to the client’s issues and expected outcomes. Thus, as the potential client reads Kaiser’s Guide, s/he quickly discerns that s/he has vicariously consulted with a narrator who is not only a knowledgeable and a skillful therapist but also someone who can be trusted as a therapeutic guide.
In addition to Kaiser’s obvious narrative skills, she carefully introduces the potential client to the realities of the therapeutic process. Kaiser provides for her reader solid information and several pathways to ease the potential client into the therapeutic process whereby the potential client develops a greater awareness about the coping styles that simultaneously protect and maintain his/her issues. Kaiser succinctly explains the importance of the therapist’s use of ‘compassion and accountability’ dynamics that enhances the client’s ability to learn more about him/herself by acknowledging aspects of his/her past experiences, by creating greater client awareness of potential or actual changes in the present moment and by assisting the client as s/he sustains those changes over time. Equally important, Kaiser skillfully articulates for the potential client that this process may, at times, be uncomfortable for the client, but it is also the means whereby the client creates greater comfort within him/herself over time.
Kaiser has constructed her Guide in a manner that befits her noteworthy counseling style, which delightfully reflects the stance and style of many therapists who demonstrate on a daily basis compassion and accountability for their clients. Moreover, Kaiser’s clarity of vision and seamless narrative skills enables her to describe accurately the struggles that potential clients experience as they seek therapeutic treatment. With this in mind, Kaiser’s Guide is also instructive for therapists, as she reminds the therapist about the real challenges that potential clients experience, as they seek treatment. In the end, Kaiser’s Guide accomplishes its therapeutic goal with aplomb, guiding the potential client and therapist to find each other, literally and figuratively.