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Ferneau, E.W., Jr. Klein, D.C. (1969). Mental Health Consultation and Sector Psychotherapy. Psychoanal. Rev., 56B(2):327-339.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Review, 56B(2):327-339

Mental Health Consultation and Sector Psychotherapy

Ernest W. Ferneau, Jr. and Donald C. Klein, Ph.D.


It is our purpose to compare and contrast one system of psychotherapy and one widely held view of mental health consultation. We have been struck by certain similarities between sector psychotherapy and crisis consultation and believe it would be valuable to compare, and also contrast, the two approaches. The particular similarity between these two helping activities that originally caught our attention was a matter of general technique; each apparently placed much, emphasis on what might be termed “implication and indirection.” Other similarities include economic factors, a view of goals as being limited, a focus on a particular structural issue, an emphasis on the importance of the relationship, and the endorsing by each of certain specific techniques. We wish especially to stress here the importance that each system attaches to both the technical and the interpersonal aspects of the total relationship.

We also believe that the two theoretical systems may supplement and strengthen each other. It is further conceivable that this comparison may also contribute further to clarifying the nature of a more generic concept—the helping relationship.

With the growing use of consultation by clinically trained community mental health workers, our comparison may help to facilitate the transfer of competencies from therapy to consultation and to avoid a confusing of the two roles. Caplan, of course, has amply reasoned why the two roles must not overlap.11

Such role-confusion has been identified (e.g.,15)

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