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Most of the existing psychodynamic literature approaches the treatment process from one particular theoretical perspective or another. Yet, what contemporary psychotherapists need most is practical information that transcends individual perspectives. After all, they must be able to treat patients who suffer from structural conflict, structural deficit, and relational conflict, and they must be able to understand the theories of therapeutic action associated with these concepts of psychopathology in relation to one another.
Originally published in 1996, Understanding Therapeutic Action: Psychodynamic Concepts of Cure both surveys different theories of therapeutic action and offers an integrative model of treatment. Editor Lawrence E. Lifson has brought together contributors who are among the leading theoreticians and practitioners of psychodynamic psychotherapy. Their chapters’ cover all the major perspectives on therapeutic action and are organized into sections covering structural and object relations theories; the self as the focus of therapeutic action; and an integrative approach to the concept of cure. The emphasis throughout is on the translation of theory into clinical practice, with attention given to the contributions of patient and therapist alike in the curative process.
Providing clinicians with a comprehensive overview and synthesis of the different models of therapeutic action, this collection is an illuminating exercise in comparative psychotherapy and a valuable tool for enhancing the applicability and effectiveness of clinical work.
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A faculty member of the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute, Lawrence E. Lifson, M.D., is a Lecturer on Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Lifson practices psychotherapy and psychoanalysis in West Newton, MA.Review:
"How does psychotherapy heal? In attempting to answer this question, this collection transcends the polemics generated by the dichotomies of insight versus empathy, interpretation versus affirmation, and recall versus reconstruction. The contributions of 14 distinguished psychoanalysts are anchored in the established idiom of transference, therapeutic alliance, interpretation, and transformation of memory through its recontextualization. Yet they present a bevy of new concepts such as relational conflict, psychological provision, optimal responsiveness, safe-enough clinical environment, and the patient's inclination toward 'self-righting.' The result of this tension between tradition and innovation is a clinical document that is theoretically provocative, technically illuminating, and intellectually delicious!"
- Salman Akhtar, M.D., Training Analyst, Philadelphia Psychoanalytic Institute
"This fine collection of 14 original, well-writen essays presents a powerfully informative account of current thinking about therapeutic interventions and their consequences. The many clinical vignettes richly illustrate the contributors' thoughtful and creative discussions."
- Anton O. Kris, M.D., Training Analyst, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute
"As psychoanalysis enters its second century, its mode of therapeutic action remains steeped in mystery. This splendid new volume offers a variety of perspectives on this mystery, so that the reader comes away enriched by new understanding. Eschewing a single reductive vision, the editor has carefully selected contributors who reflect the current pluralism within psychoanalysis. The resulting collection will be equally useful to beginners and experienced analysts."
- Glen O. Gabbard, M.D., Callaway Distinguished Professor of Psychoanalysis, The Menninger Clinic
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