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Kairys, D. (1952). A Primer for Psychotherapists: By Kenneth Mark Colby, M.D. New York: The Ronald Press Co., 1951. 167 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 21:423-426.

(1952). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 21:423-426

A Primer for Psychotherapists: By Kenneth Mark Colby, M.D. New York: The Ronald Press Co., 1951. 167 pp.

Review by:
David Kairys

It is a brave man who undertakes to write a text book on psychotherapy. While psychoanalysis has gone far in developing a coherent body of theoretical concepts and a method of applying these concepts in standard analytic treatment, the use of analytic insights in other therapeutic approaches has yet to be reduced to any kind of transmissible formulation. To formulate the unformulated for an audience of beginners in psychotherapy is therefore an undertaking beset with inevitable difficulties. Dr. Colby's book, despite a great deal of excellent content, does not entirely succeed in surmounting these difficulties. To put the matter briefly: Dr. Colby gives his readers valuable instruction in the minute-to-minute management of a variety of therapeutic interview situations, but does not succeed, in my opinion, in conveying a picture of the over-all management of the therapy of a neurosis.

The author addresses himself to 'the beginners in psychotherapy … interns or residents in psychiatric hospitals, practicing psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and psychiatric social workers'. The initial chapters, dealing with the selection of patients, the qualifications of the therapist, and details of procedure and physical set-up, contain sound counsel which should be helpful to any beginner. Perhaps the one piece of practical advice with which analysts would most readily disagree is the injunction, 'If it is at all possible, use a couch'. At least the beginner should be made aware that this is a debatable point, and that the use of the couch involves much more than just the question of the therapist's comfort.

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