HOW TO FIND A GOOD PSYCHOTHERAPIST A Consumer Guide by Judi Striano (Professional Press, P.O. Box 50343, Santa Barbara, Calif. 93150: $7.95)
Your nerves will likely tell you if your physician doesn't do a good job, sending signals of pulsing pain. Evaluating a psychotherapist is trickier, though, for he or she can be an arbiter of your pain, self-worth and even identity. How to tell when such a person leads you astray? Psychologist Judi Striano offers some useful, pragmatic tips in this original book. "A helpful therapist is genuine, human, open and natural," she writes, while good therapy "is a balance." On the one hand, therapists must not talk too much (often a sign of over-intellectualizing); on the other, a simple "tell me more about it" is hardly worth $75.
Unfortunately, Striano doesn't describe different theoretical orientations used by psychotherapists, such as cognitive, Jungian, Adlerian and Freudian. She does discuss Freud, but in an overly dismissive way: "Don't look for a 'psychoanalyst,' who is someone who follows the teachings of Sigmund Freud." She believes that the best therapists are eclectic, but patients need to know about the different schools of thought, for some approaches are bound to predominate. This is a minor omission, though. All in all, Striano's book is the most sensible, helpful consumer guide available, offering inspiring quotes about how therapy can help as well as unusually strong consumer testimonials about how it can harm.