BOOK REVIEW: Psychotherapy in Ireland

Edited by Edward Boyne, Columba Press, Dublin 1993 ISBN 1 85607 079 4, pbk

There is certainly a pressing need for a book on this subject and I welcome the publication of Ed Boyne’s volume, if for no other reason than that it provides a good start. However, I feel that it by no means exhausts the issues involved in psycho­therapy in Ireland.

The individual articles which make up the book are extremely valuable, and will, I hope, encourage more publications about standards and practice here. There are chapters on Psychoanalysis; Child Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy; Jungian Analysis; Constructivist Psychotherapy; Family Therapy; Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy; Gestalt Therapy; The Person-Centred Approach; Holotropic Breathwork; Integrative Psychotherapy. None of them is less than interesting and all give a clear and informative view of the particular form of psychotherapy. Having said this, however, I remain a little puzzled about which section of the public the book is intended to address.

For example, the article on Psychoanalysis is relaxed and chatty, talks about Freud’s biography as a convenient means of introducing theoretical issues and seems generally to be aimed at an interested layperson. On the other hand, several of the other essays describe their methods and theory in terms which would surely be most appropriate for people who already know quite a lot about the field. Yet again, the articles on the Person-Centred Approach and Integrated Psychotherapy are under­lined in a highly personal way by the writers, who express their personal commit­ments to ideas which plainly form part of a philosophy of therapy, the sort of thing which a reader with a strongly budding interest in the subject would enjoy. In short, the articles seem to cater for very different levels of interest. This is perhaps a pity, since it makes it almost inevitable that individual readers will pick out the articles at their own level, rather than be encouraged to look at them all. Having said that, I must add that the overall effect is certainly to emphasise the varied nature of the field.

The most serious reservation I have about the book is that it really cannot cover the field of psychotherapy in Ireland, which is evolving rapidly. There is, for example, no entry on psychodrama and also nothing about the various forms of therapy which have specific goals, like addiction therapy and the therapies which address loss. I feel the editor may have been rushing into print too quickly, and that a better title for this book would have been “Aspects of Therapy in Ireland”. Sadly, the book is irritatingly full of misprints. In some cases these are trivial (like the infuriating “Perl’s” for Perls’), but several are serious. For example, some of the diagrams do not seem to make sense along with the text – perhaps the arrows got reversed? Anyway, I feel that the book needs to be re-proofed before it can claim a place on the shelf, and at the same time, perhaps some of the information in the Appendices could be brought up to date.

Mary Montaut