Book Review: The Seven Deadly Sins? Issues in Clinical Practice and Supervision for Humanistic and Integrative Practitioners.

Anne Kearns

Karnac Books, London. 2005    ISBN 1-85575-353-7

The author’s work as a supervisor of nearly or newly qualified psychotherapists was the seed for a post- qualification training course which led to the writing of this book. The title is misleading, but is clarified when the author explains seven major themes – namely diagnosis; schizoid phenomena; addiction; envy; shame; eating disorders and trauma, as being topics which were under discussed or not covered in the supervisees’ original training. Each theme is discussed in turn presenting developmental issues, common factors and possible reasons present in each.

Attempting to make more accessible some concepts from the world of psychoanalysis, self- psychology and affective neuroscience, the author brings in a wide range of ideas in how to deal with transference, counter transference, therapeutic attitudes and defences.   I found that I normally speak a different language from the author and would probably have worked with some of the clients in her case studies in a different way.

References are made to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, DSM, and it is used as a framework to include fundamental existential issues central to the client’s work. However, the author’s empathy and ability come across and there are many pertinent comments in a language we can all understand.

This leads on to what could develop into an interesting discussion on types of humanistic and integrative therapists working today. There is the therapist who is trained in more than one aspect of therapy – and then the single school therapist who learned only one language and is sticking to it.  This is debatable in the accreditation requirements of humanistic and integrative psychotherapists today.

This is a worthwhile book for supervisors, trainers and practitioners.  The suggestion that individual chapters may be referred to when required is a good idea.   It is not possible for any training course to provide details at depth for every issue brought into the therapy room and all practitioners may benefit from keeping a copy of this book on their bookshelves.

Alison Hunter founded Amethyst Resource for Human Development in 1982 and was a founder member of IAHIP. With over thirty years experience in the field of psychotherapy she continues to train students and is in demand for her supervision skills in Killaloe, County Clare.