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Fitzpatrick, J.J. (1990). Meaning-Making Therapeutic Processes in Adult Development by Mary Baird Carlsen New York: W.W. Norton, 1988, viii + 264 pp., $25.95. Psa. Books, 1(4):489-490.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Books, 1(4):489-490

Meaning-Making Therapeutic Processes in Adult Development by Mary Baird Carlsen New York: W.W. Norton, 1988, viii + 264 pp., $25.95

Review by:
John J. Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.

Meaning-Making: Therapeutic Processes in Adult Development covers a wide range of therapeutic areas. The author's approach to therapy is eclectic and encompassing. “I work,” she writes, “to teach creative approaches, to unlock limiting fears, to retrain negative thinking habits, and to interrupt cognitive patterns which keep the client from opening his eyes to multiple possibilities” (p. 193). Mary Baird Carlsen writes extensively about her therapeutic experiences and employs numerous vignettes and didactic explanations to inform the reader about her manner of working with clients. The book is enhanced by the author's familiarity with the scholarly literature on a wide variety of conceptual frameworks for understanding adult development, yet the intellectual grounding for this book is provided almost solely by the writings of Erik H. Erikson, Robert Kegan, and Michael Basseches. Even though I would like to have seen a wider embrace of adult developmental theory, one of the assets of the book is that the author draws heavily on her own experiences with career choices. The process thus comes to life for the reader. Carlsen has learned a lot about how adults make meaning in their lives, and the enthusiastic manner in which she shares this information with the reader is refreshing and thought-provoking.

The book is divided into four sections: theory; the interface between theory and therapy; “meaning-making therapy”; and special therapies, that is, career development therapy, marital therapy and “creative aging.

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