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Sadow, L. (1991). A Safe Place: Laying the Groundwork of Psychotherapy: By Leston Havens. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. 1989. Pp. 162.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 18:306-308.

(1991). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 18:306-308

A Safe Place: Laying the Groundwork of Psychotherapy: By Leston Havens. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. 1989. Pp. 162.

Review by:
Leo Sadow

The task Leston Havens set for himself in this volume is formidable. It is to write a book for a general readership as well as for the profession. That so ambitious an undertaking would be unlikely to succeed at both is hardly unexpected. Havens does much better at presenting a thoughtful, benign, and essentially very decent approach to psychotherapy for the general reader than he does at presenting the sort of solid clinical and theoretical arguments needed to buttress his positions for the professional reader. As an existential experience the book has much more the feel of a popular work, and it is from this perspective that I shall comment first.

'A Safe Place' is both the title and the major thesis of the book. It refers to the creation of an ambience within the psychotherapeutic situation which so effectively addresses the fears and concerns of the patient as to make it safe for him to expose himself increasingly to whatever lies within. A corollary is the frequently repeated idea that one's travails come about because of interactions, social as well as cultural, and not primarily, or even mainly, as a consequence of inner conflict or other intrapsychic cause. This 'interpersonal' posture is an important part of Havens' Sullivanian approach to psychotherapy. From the vantage point of the general reader, this posture is probably seen as non-threatening.

The language of the book fits well with the idea of a safe place. There is an almost total absence of jargon.

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