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Parkinson, J. (2003). How to Choose A Psychotherapist by Neville Symington, Joan Symington, Andrew Symington and David Symington. Published by Karnac Books, London, 2003; 62 pages; £9.99 paperback.. Brit. J. Psychother., 20(2):244-247.
   

(2003). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 20(2):244-247

How to Choose A Psychotherapist by Neville Symington, Joan Symington, Andrew Symington and David Symington. Published by Karnac Books, London, 2003; 62 pages; £9.99 paperback.

Review by:
Judy Parkinson

This short book was conceived, written, edited and illustrated by the Symington family, Neville and Joan Symington, both practising psychoanalysts, and their two sons. Neville Symington's text is very well illustrated by his wife's graphic cartoons.

There are six chapters, closing with a short glossary of psychological treatments and preceded by an introduction. Neville Symington states that the book has been written for patients. This could apply either to someone looking for a psychotherapist or someone already in therapy but for whom the therapy is not working. He explains that the Western world has seen a huge growth in the number of counselling and psychotherapy trainings, and that practitioners abound, within a culture that anticipates and expects the meeting of individual emotional needs. Psychotherapy and counselling serve a population which, unless guided, may not know where to look for, or how to discern, a good practitioner and, unfortunately, standards of training are very variable.

The book is written in simple jargon-free language that will easily be related to by the layman, but which also conveys the seriousness with which Neville Symington approaches his subject.

At the beginning of the first chapter, entitled ‘The purpose of psychotherapy’, he states clearly that the aim of psychotherapy ‘is to cure sickness of the mind’ (p. 3). This, to my mind, helpfully sets the practice of psychotherapy within a context which differentiates it from a talk with a friend and separates ‘something quite mild’ (p.

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