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Rendon, M. (2007). Handbook of short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy, Penny Rawson, H. Karnac Books Ltd., London, 2005, 195 pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 67(2):200-202.

(2007). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 67(2):200-202

Book Reviews

Handbook of short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy, Penny Rawson, H. Karnac Books Ltd., London, 2005, 195 pp.

Review by:
Mario Rendon, M.D.

Psychotherapy handbooks have appeared periodically since the inception of time-limited psychotherapy, a natural outcome of the clinical research conducted by psychoanalysts, mostly through single cases, for over a century. Handbooks and manuals are geared to uniformity so that results can be compared following a mainstream research model. Their application has granted “evidenced based” status to some modalities such as cognitive behavior therapy in that they lend themselves to a relatively uniform application to relatively similarly diagnosed human subjects. This approach has allowed for example the comparison between psychotherapy and certain medications for depression where psychotherapy unexpectedly fared quite well. In a pragmatic society where the doctor-patient relationship has been growingly mediated by a growing number of funding and “quality” custodians, time-limited psychotherapy with well-defined stages and protocols would make sense as an alleged benefit to all. The nagging problem is the uniqueness of each subject and the uniqueness of each therapist, in other words the stiff requirement of “objectivity” in an intersubjective field where both subjects are concomitantly distortionable objects. This enormous confounding factor notwithstanding, time-limited psychotherapies have proven to be effective in their limited aim of symptomatic treatment.

Although psychodynamic psychotherapy is probably the most practiced variety in the field, a definitive handbook on this modality is yet to be developed. The present book obviously follows previous publications by the author which are referenced throughout. Two main influences in her approach are Louis Marteau, a priest who pioneered psychodynamic and existential counseling in England (1986) and to whom the book is dedicated, and L. Wolberg who edited one of the earliest books on the technique of short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (1965).

The book consists of 11 chapters plus references and bibliography. At the end of each chapter there is a bulleted summary. Definition, focusing, contracting, flexibility, activity, techniques, endings, review, and conclusion, with two chapters dedicated to the contract, are the topics of the respective chapters and their titles very much summarize the proclaimed structure and characteristics of this approach.

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