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Arundale, J. (1995). How to Survive as a Psychotherapist. : By Nina Coltart. London: Sheldon Press. 1993. Pp. 114.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:212-213.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:212-213

How to Survive as a Psychotherapist. : By Nina Coltart. London: Sheldon Press. 1993. Pp. 114.

Review by:
Jean Arundale

This book of essays, a few based on lectures to psychotherapy organisations but many newly-written pieces, both light-hearted and serious in its approach, has been collected as a guidebook to the profession. Nina Coltart is a well-known and distinguished Independent psychoanalyst, who was for ten years the Director of the London Clinic of Psycho-Analysis, and a past Vice-President of the British Psycho-Analytical Society. The author herself questions the choice of ‘survival’ as an apt metaphor for the practice of psychotherapy, suggestive as it is of teeth-gritting endurance of major catastrophe. Her transformation of the term from its usual meaning into one that describes positive enjoyment and creativity is a bit laboured, but Nina Coltart's own personality comes through as someone who, much more than simply enduring, has flourished and enjoyed her work and her life. With liveliness, humour and good sense, she has produced a fluent, candid trip through the career of the analyst/psychotherapist.

The problems of survival are loneliness, uncertainty, involvement in the suffering of others, etc., but Coltart reminds us that we take up this occupation by choice, so that, knowing what we are in for, we should have no cause for grumbling. In fact, her book might well serve as a warning beacon for those thinking of taking up the profession, pointing out the occupational hazards along the way. Perhaps forewarned is forearmed, but her presentation of training as a near-impossible obstacle course, might well put off the would-be trainee altogether.

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