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Roberts, J. (1986). The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom (3rd edition). Published by Basic Books: New York 1986; 590 pp.; £20.75.. Brit. J. Psychother., 3(2):183-184.

(1986). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 3(2):183-184

The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom (3rd edition). Published by Basic Books: New York 1986; 590 pp.; £20.75.

Review by:
Jeff Roberts

This is the third and longest edition of a classic text book. Irvin Yalom's Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy was first published in 1970. The two earlier editions were characterised by readability and comprehensiveness. In an extremely reader-friendly fashion Yalom systematically introduces us to a pragmatic interpersonal approach to group psychotherapy which he reviews from all angles. The book is an almost automatic recommendation for the person about to conduct his first group. Almost all that Yalom has to say is supported by his own or other people's research which is listed in a substantial bibliography. Incidentally, in the second edition this appears at the end of each chapter. In this edition it is collected at the end of the book.

As a disciple of Sullivan, Yalom is fundamentally interested in an interpersonal psychotherapy although he has been attracted by other schools of thought including the existential. Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic formulation are not among his strong points so that the book lacks the essential contribution to understanding human motivation and personality structure which is provided by these disciplines. It is this which for me makes this very good book an intermediate rather than advanced text. Yalom's good sense and good humour are ever present; he enables one to think clearly about all kinds of difficult situations, but the management of the most difficult patients and commanding the higher levels of understanding of group processes are not to be found within this volume.

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