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Psychotherapy: An Eclectic-Integrative Approach, 2d ed.

This is the second edition of Garfield's book outlining his interpretation of eclecticism in psychotherapy. The sleeve notes suggest that it is relevant to 'upper level students', as well as to practising clinicians.

The book, in 14 chapters, covers a very wide range of headings, from the introduction through descriptions of various forms of therapy and phases of psychotherapy, to an overview of therapeutic variables and research in psychotherapy. The chapters are fairly readable, clearly drawing upon the author's experience and well supported with references. The reader is directed towards the handbook of Psychotherapy and Behaviour Change (4th ed.), edited by A. E. Bergin and S. L. Garfield, (1994, Wiley) for more in-depth review of evidence, this apparently leaving the author of this book to fell free to wander rather further into the world of speculation and personal opinion than would usually be found in a textbook.

It is, however, the deliberate and openly declared aim of this book to offer one person's thoughts and views which at times leads to frustration when inadequate support is given. Much of the book is devoted to an overview of the vast field which is psychotherapy, and offers little specific detail about what the author really thinks an eclectic integrative approach is. It is, of course, possible that the author means no more by 'eclecticism' than the matching of therapies to problems, which idea he describes briefly in one section of the book.

The important issues of theoretical incompatibility of various therapeutic or (or at least, theoretical) approaches and the possibility that an eclectic approach means that the therapist has no coherent model for intervention are hardly addressed at all. This neglect of detail and failure to wrestle with the potential inadequacies of eclecticism is surprising in a book written by an author who might otherwise have been expected to develop these things in much greater depth.

A strong underlying theme of the book seems to point to a liking for cognitive behavioural approaches, but it seems that, although finding little in psychodynamic approaches for which he has any evidence of effectiveness, and while criticizing more traditional straightforward counselling approaches as being the kind of thing offered by inexperienced trainees, Garfield feels that it would be unsatisfactory or, perhaps, politically incorrect, to put some form of limitations on, or boundaries to, eclecticism.

While the book does give an interesting and readable overview of the history of, and breadth of, psychotherapy, detailing the current situation and status of psychological therapies and counselling, it does not serve as well as a basic text as might others which more specifically present themselves as giving an overview of the field.

As a book which might be judged as presenting and elucidating an eclectic integrative approach, this book offers little that is new, gives little specific detail about what an eclectic-integrative approach really means in practice, and runs the risk, so frequently encountered with writings on eclecticism, that readers may deduce and conclude from the writings of such a renowned author in the field that 'anything goes'.

SIMON EASTON (Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth)

COPYRIGHT 1997 British Psychological Society
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Easton, Simon
Publication:British Journal of Psychology
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 1997
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