Learning cognitive behavioural therapy: An illustrated guide


Despite this book being unrelated to pain management, I can’t go past this one for learning how to develop the basic skills in cognitive behavioural therapy.

It’s (you guessed it!) ‘Learning cognitive behavior therapy: An illustrated guide’ written by JW Wright, MR Basco & ME Thase, published by American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc, Washington, 2006.  It is one of the titles included in the ‘Core Competencies in Psychotherapy’ series, and was written to provide ‘an immersion in the fundamentals of each form of psychotherapy and explicitly addresses the seix core areas of competency needed in medical practice as outlined by ACGME and the American Board of Medical Specialties’. More importantly for me, it’s a really clear guide, based on firm evidence – and with a DVD to demonstrate how CBT is carried out.  Now that’s a bonus!  Just to top it off, purchasing the book allows you to photocopy the worksheets for clinical use (but not for organisations or people borrowing the book from libraries and so on).

What’s in the book? As expected for a book that aims to be a ‘core competencies’ resource, it covers the basics.  Basic principles, the therapeutic relationship, assessment and formulation, structuring and educating, working with automatic thoughts, behavioural methods, modifying schemas, common problems and pitfalls, treatment chronic disorders, building competence – and the worksheets and resources.

Included in each chapter are both structured learning exercises in which the reader is asked to carry out some elements of the CBT process (such as recognising automatic thoughts, questioning methods for core beliefs) and DVD illustrations of clinical encounters (with therapists acting as patients).  Throughout the book, clinical examples are used – sadly, they’re mental health cases, but you can’t have everything!  The writing style is very readable, and throughout, the reader is encouraged to consider his or her own situation.

What I liked about the book? the DVD to demonstrate one approach to approaching working with a client.  This is great when you’re not able to readily watch other therapists at work. It’s also helpful when you want to review how well you’re following CBT vs incorporating what you could call ‘eclectic’ practice!  I also liked the tables, the worked examples, the learning exercises – and the references and resources.

What I didn’t like about the book? Well, really, the only thing was that it’s not about chronic pain!

I thoroughly recommend this book as a basic text and a practical reference book for your clinical library. At US$55, it’s not too horribly expensive either.

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