David's Reviews > American Therapy: The Rise of Psychotherapy in the United States

American Therapy by Jonathan Engel
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's review
Oct 14, 11

mostly ok overview of the history of psychotherapy in the US by a historian of science. Clear, concise writing, good mix of research reviews and quotes from prominent individuals. My quibbles were:

1. The organizational structure is odd -- randomly mixes chapters on specific problems (e.g., alcohol abuse) with chapters on treatment approaches (rise and fall of psychoanalysis, rise of biological psychiatry) with professional/social trends (struggle for legitimacy as an independent profession for social work, ph.d. vs. psy.d. training in clinical psychology, onset of managed care). Could have done it strictly chronologically and mixed these topics, or picked one vs. another organizing theme, but the seemingly random interspersing of sample chapters from each way of carving the pie was a bit jarring.

2. Subject is too large for comprehensive review, but some of the choices for topical emphasis were questionable -- lots of material on AA, which isn't psychotherapy and isn't led by therapists, very little on behavior therapy other than some cursory material on early experiments in this vein.

3. Sloppy library research for a historian -- e.g., says on p. 226 that rush et al. (1977) found combining antidepressant meds with cognitive therapy to be superior in the treatment of depression -- in fact, there was no combination condition included in that study. Calls Hans Strupp "Krupp" a couple times on p. 234. Says on p. 255 that people with OCD "improve little with psychotherapy" without ever mentioning or reviewing research on the Tx of choice for OCD, exposure with response prevention.

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