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Why Therapy Works: Using Our Minds to Change Our Brains

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  181 ratings  ·  23 reviews
That psychotherapy works is a basic assumption of anyone who sees a therapist. But why does it work? And why does it matter that we understand how it works?

In Why Therapy Works, Louis Cozolino explains the mechanisms of psychotherapeutic change from the bottom up, beginning with the brain, and how brains have evolved—especially how brains evolved to learn, unlearn, and rel
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 9th 2015 by W. W. Norton Company
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Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
On the whole, I found this book interesting and edifying, written in Cozolino's usual engaging, often conversational manner.

There were a couple of things I took issue with, namely, a chapter on 'alphas' and 'betas' that seemed highly dubious and problematic to me, and the fact that some terrible, traumatic client experiences were recounted with jokey headings and 'humourous' comments.
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love a book that demystifies a thing. This brief book gave me good insights into myself and what I've experienced in therapy and has helped me consciously and deliberately reframe the stories my brain tells me. Definitely worthwhile.
Oct 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
Psychology abounds with theories on how to fix people, what techniques to use, how to use them and for how long. Evidence-based therapies are all the rage - CBT, DBT, MI, etc, etc. When I was in graduate school I was urged to really dig in and embrace one theory and use it as the basis for all of my work. In reality, I borrow from all of the above choices and more - like having a buffet of techniques.

Studies also say that what works best is the therapeutic alliance. If the psychologist and pati
Maria Grigoryeva
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Part of me is always struggling what if this whole therapy thing is just another hype.. does it really work or something of inflated and subjective value like modern art? This book has added one of the missing bit to my puzzle, sufficiently detailed but still pretty comprehensive explanation what exactly is physically happening with our brain when we go to the therapy.
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book. I enjoyed the interwoven elements of neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology, all of which combine to explain why psychotherapy works. I like how this book explores the importance of social relationships, especially during early childhood, to healthy development of the whole person.
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent primer on neuroscience of therapy.

Accessible primer on how psychotherapy works from a neuroscience perspective. Perfect introduction to more complex understandings of the neural mechanisms of change.
Rafael Felix
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Clear, direct, simple to understand quickly gets to the point. Very good
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
another fantastic book by Cozolino. a great read in the Interpersonal Neurobiology series. Social Schema attachment section was fascinating...
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really great material. A great summary of attachment theory.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the social theory (alphas/betas). Also, why was nothing cited in this book.
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Therapy does work, and an understanding of how it works is a wonderful gift to possess. Louis Cozolino describes the ways in which psychotherapy addresses and meets the complexities of our brains and nervous systems with sensitivity and his own vast knowledge and experience.
The book is written with clarity and in language that is accessible to all readers. If you've been in therapy, are contemplating or just curious about therapy, or thinking about a career as a therapist, add this to your readi
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: counseling
I'm not totally sure. Some chapters I really enjoyed and others I didn't really relate to. I appreciated learning that the naming of emotions and sensations increased cortical control of the amygdala and other such neuroscience. However, the portion on alpha and beta social schema didn't totally resonate for me. I do think trauma was explained well and interestingly. Yet I found myself feeling fairly often that I just wasn't feeling terribly grabbed and engaged by the book. I'd maybe say 3 1/2?
Julian Meynell
This is a very uneven book. It claims to be for the person with a casual interest in therapy or for current or potential patients, but if anything it is even more aimed at practitioners. The book is written at a very easy reading level. For me it was a little too easy. I doubt that anyone who would want to read this could not take a slightly more complex writing style.

Why therapy works is a very interesting question to me. I have no doubt that therapy can produce at least small miracles and I kn
James Marcus
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent introduction into the world of psychotherapy. Also shows superb insight on the way humans think and how we all experience pain in different ways. What matters is how we see and respond to this pain. And yes our brains can be rewired through the power of this therapy.
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: depression
Great book!

For anyone interested in learning about the neuroscience that explains why psychotherapy actually works, this is the best introductory explanation out there. Enjoyable, clear and to the point, I highly recommend it.
Jason Comely
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, reference
A mix of neuroscience and new age. An excellent primer for anyone who wants to learn more about the psychotherapeutic process.
Jeanie Kenkel
Too much science, and the reader can't do anything with those parts of the book. It was better toward the beginning. Also, the author addresses the reader as if she is a therapist.
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
A bit of a slow read, seems to mostly be aimed at other therapists, but there were some gems for those of us who are in therapy as well.
Gregory Kaplan
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great read for people considering therapy or beginning therapy for the first time, or for clinicians to use as a resource for answering clients’ questions. Introduces some basic features of therapy: attachment, neurobiology (specifically neuroplasticity), transference, etc. Nothing new is included, but it’s a well organized and narrated map of the terrain. Accessibly and engagingly written.
Michael Maloney
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it
There are many things I like about this book (Particularly sections I and III) but on the whole I was annoyed there was no reference section to the book. This was dredged up during section II where I couldn't take some of his views seriously talking about social hierarchy, because he didn't support it with outside evidence.

I went into this hoping to see how therapy changes our brain, and the author does go through that, but not in the indept way I was hoping for.

A good read, but I felt I could
Well examined process

I found this book helpful to remind me of the processes involved in "talk" therapy. The author offers a clear and precise description of the brain process that makes talk healing in our lives. He also offered suggestions of things to present to patients a as ways to aid the internal and external healing process. It's a good book for the novice as well as the seasoned therapist
Brian Thomas
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for anyone dealing with the emotionally broken

I found this book to be profoundly helpful in my own living and in the lives of the men I work with in the recovery program that I lead. This book is foundational in understanding the pain and suffering that many people who are broken struggle with every day. A must read for any caregiver.
Dec 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Pro review forthcoming from PsychCentral.
Deborah Hailey
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Learned so much
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