Read this great review by Sean Stanek, MA, LMHP, LPC of How to Fail as a Therapist! (Original post can be found at http://beginningcounselor.webs.com/apps/blog/show/10601769-review-of-how-to-fail-as-a-therapist-50-ways-to-lose-or-damage-your-patients)
Review of How to Fail as a Therapist: 50+ Ways to Lose or Damage Your Patients
I would like to share with you a little book that was recommended to me by Janice Maddox of Reno Counseling through a comment on my blog: How to Fail as a Therapist: 50+ Ways to Lose or Damage Your Patients. This book inspired Janice to begin getting feedback on the quality of her services from her clients. This book has many helpful suggestions, not just on soliciting client feedback, but also on talking to patients about medication, conducting research, and avoiding burnout.
As a the title suggests, How to Fail as a Therapist is a bit snarky and satirical. Written by Bernard Schwartz and John Flowers, both of whom are PH.D psychologists and clinical supervisors, this book draws heavily on fictional and real examples of how both new and experienced therapists interact with their clients. Such examples are short and illustrate the points in each chapter rather well.
How to Fail as a Therapist uses chapter titles similar to the book title, which in my opinion, makes the book rather fun. The first chapter, titled “How to fail before you start therapy – The intake process” sets the tone for the book. The authors go on to address the problem the chapter title suggests, then offers ways that therapists can avoid making the same error. Each chapter afterwards follows in a similar manner.
I believe that this book is invaluable to new counselors because it addresses common problems that arise while learning how to meet the needs of our clients. The section on “How to avoid collaboration with the client” was helpful to me because it reminded me that I do not have to have all the answers. Sometimes it is our clients that come up with a great solution, and we need to celebrate this more often. Ultimately, the client is likely to experience a better outcome when he or she is a part of generating a solution. Each chapter provides so many great suggestions that you will likely walk away with a few great insights and ideas each time you flip through the book.
I think counselor educators should use How to Fail as a Therapist as part of their programs. It enriches the discussion by showing clearly the mistakes that we all can unintentionally make while learning our craft. Plus, it adds an element of reality. Sometimes in our graduate programs we can forget that therapy is serious, that our clients’ pain is real and they are looking for ways to ease this pain. This book reminds us that we need to take care, involve our clients, avoid our own burnout, keep abreast of current research, and help turn around bad attitudes, among many similar directives.
How to Fail as a Therapist is an entertaining read and a helpful one too. This little volume is easy to read, understand, and use because it shows the common mistakes but also offers solutions to avoid these pitfalls. I hope that if you read it you find it as helpful as I have in my practice.
–Sean Stanek, MA, LMHP, LPC