By: Book Reviewers
Book reviews from the Winter 2011 issue of THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER magazine.
Earning a Living Outside of Managed Mental Health Care: 50 Ways to Expand Your Practice (243 pages), Edited by Steven Walfish, Ph.D., American Psychological Association, Wash. D.C., 2010, list price $69.95, APA member $49.95.
Just like Dr. Walfish’s first book, Financial Success in Mental Health Practice, this book is full of gems of ideas on expanding your practice. There is nothing wrong with wanting a managed care practice—just be aware of its limitations and frustrations that accompany it. One of the many advantages of a non-managed care practice is efficient cash flow and certainly better pay. Who could say NO to that?
Although the book is written for psychologists, many of the ideas are also applicable to other mental health professionals. The second chapter of this book is such an eye-opener. It is entitled “Seven Keys to Building Your Dream Non-Managed Care Practice.” The number two key is something I have been doing all along, but I never thought of it this way. “Think of yourself as a brand name.” What a novel idea! We all are familiar with the Disney brand, Apple, Sony, and others. Remember, we have a business. Think marketing. You have to buy the book to learn about the other six keys.
The book looks at 50 ways to expand your practice. Each one is written as a chapter by itself. The book is divided into 12 general areas: family psychology (six chapters/ideas, example: pre-marital counseling), psychoeducational psychology (five chapters, example: psychological testing), health psychology (four chapters, example: smoking cessation), business psychology (five chapters, example: executive leadership coaching), services to government (five chapters, example: Social Security Disability assessment), services to organizations (three chapters, example: assessment for men and women entering religious life), finance (two chapters, example: coaching traders and investors), teaching and supervising (five chapters, example: supervision of therapist), specialty groups (three chapters, example: mind-body skills training group), forensic psychology (six chapters, example: serving as an expert witness), products (two chapters, example: developing software for social service programs), and positive psychology (four chapters, example: developing a sport psychology practice). All these chapters are written by psychologists who are in actual private practice.
I am a seasoned therapist with 30+ years in private practice. I have a 95% private pay practice, and I found this book helpful. And remember, buying this book is a business expense.
I have known the author for about five years. My knowledge of him stems from knowing him through an online discussion list that I moderate. I feel that I can fairly review his book because of my objectivity about the quality of his book and the practicality of the ideas. Anyone reading the book can see the usefulness of the suggestions.
Reviewed by Mila Tecala, clinical social worker in private practice in Washington D.C. She is a co-author of a book with a lawyer entitled Grief and Loss: Identifying and Proving Damages in Wrongful Death Cases.
Values-Based Coaching: A Guide for Social Workers and Other Human Service Professionals, by Marilyn Edelson, NASW Press, Washington, D.C. 2010, 291 Pages, $34.19.
Voted “Top 10 Business Coach” by Women’s Business Boston, a division of the Boston Herald, licensed social worker Marilyn Edelson has written a book that differentiates the role of a social worker from that of a coach in a way that promotes the former without belittling the latter. This sometimes seems to be a fine line, as there are several places in the book where Edelson parallels a coach’s responsibility to maintain confidentiality and other standards held within the NASW Code of Ethics, as well as where she points out situations in which a coach should consult with a social worker or other mental health professional. These instances occur in text throughout the chapters, as well as in the appendices, where the reader can find the “International Coach Federation’s Code of Ethics,” as well as “Top Ten Indicators to Refer a Client to a Mental Health Professional.” Although obviously a book favoring coaching, Edelson gives professionals an unbiased look at the differences between professions, urging readers to carefully consider whether becoming a coach should be the next move in building their careers.
Although coaching is a newly recognized profession, becoming well-known only in the past two decades or so, the book gives a brief history of the profession and its founders, and it includes a great deal of information on different coaching theories and schools, as well as the process to become a certified coach. More than simply a book that explains the coaching profession, later chapters guide the reader through the process from figuring out whether coaching is right for them to ways to build and grow a coach’s business. The journey includes self-exploration questions, assistance deciding whether to specialize in one population, discussions about how to bill and collect payment from clients, and examples of coaching intake forms, as well as sample marketing tools. Although no one should enter into a new career based solely on one book, there is a definite sense that, if one decides to become a coach, this is the all-in-one must-have manual.
Reviewed by Kristen Marie (Kryss) Shane, MSW, Program Director at Ravenswood NORC.
Jane Addams: Spirit in Action, by Louise W. Knight, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 2010, 334 pages, $20.95 hardcover.
With this book, Louise Knight, currently self-employed as a nonprofit consultant in Evanston, Illinois, has written an accessible second biography of Jane Addams. Knight takes the reader from the death of Addams’ mother when Jane was a mere two and a half years old to her final surgery and quiet passing. Addenda include a short hagiography of current works on Addams’ life and a list of the books she wrote. With more than 34 pages of endnotes, this book is clearly well-researched.
To Knight, Jane Addams was first and foremost a woman of deep spirituality and moral power. “They [Mohandas Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy, and Addams] believed in the moral power of all human beings, thought that spiritual values should permeate every action, and understood their lives as the best means they had to teach” (p. 243). The reader soon discovers that Knight’s primary goal in writing this book is to understand Addams’ evolving spirit, the sources of her moral strength, and the forces that shaped her resolve during a life lived so frequently in the public view.
Seven chapters categorize the stages of Addams’ development from the youthful dreamer admiring isolated, heroic figures to the college aspiration to freedom, the settlement house activist in Chicago, and the more public roles as ethicist, politician, dissenter, and ambassador. The word “first” may be the most frequent word in this book, as it chronicles Addams’ contributions to the settlement movement, labor reform, women’s suffrage, Progressivism, civil rights, and the peace movement.
The portrait of Addams drawn by Knight is not that of a radical, but that of a passionately consistent moral philosopher who was compelled to act. To Knight, Addams remained her entire life acculturated in late 19th century morality of self-sacrifice and self-discipline. She wrote and spoke as a woman of her era, and the public acceptance of her messages may have been due, in part, to the conservative morality of her life.
After reading the first four chapters of this book, this reader tired of Knight’s tendency to interpret the younger Addams’ inner thoughts and motives, but this tendency was less problematic during the more public stages of Addams’ career, when self-disclosure was more frequent and amply documented. I am, however, left with a sense of disappointment that Knight was unable to communicate more clearly how Addams’ reputation developed in the early years. The transition from local settlement worker to national figure is too abrupt and poorly explained.
Twenty-first century social workers may still find inspiration in the life of Jane Addams, and accordingly, this history is recommended for their consideration. To the extent that contemporary social workers enter the profession in response to a moral imperative, Addams’ life is a reminder of that call, and an encouragement to trust the power of morality to change the world.
Peter A. Kindle, Ph.D., CPA. LMSW, is an assistant professor at the University of South Dakota and can be contacted by e-mail at Peter.Kindle@usd.edu.
Struck by Living: From Depression to Hope, by Julie Hersh, Brown Books Publishing Group, Dallas, Texas, 2010, 223 pages, $19.95.
Julie Hersh is an accomplished woman living with her husband in a spectacular house where they regularly throw extravagant parties. She has a full staff to care for the house and her two young children. She participates in an active social schedule with friends and family. Yet, despite her seemingly enviable existence, she finds herself so hobbled by depression that she locks herself in the garage, sits in her car with the engine running, and waits for the fumes to end her life. Suicide, she believes, is the best way she can help her family.
Suicide can be shocking and unfathomable to everyone in a patient’s life, from family members to the clinicians who treat them, and even to the victims themselves.
Julie Hersh’s Struck by Living: From Depression to Hope gives a clear and lucid depiction of the descent from depression into suicide. In a memoir reminiscent of Kay Redfield Jamison’s classic An Unquiet Mind, she offers a glimpse of her experience in a very accessible and touching collection of twenty-six chapters describing her inspiring yet harsh journey through severe depression to a promising, if tenuous, recovery.
Of particular interest is Hersh’s account of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), often considered a controversial treatment. Initially, she is wary of the potential memory loss and possible long-term side effects. She recounts an experience in group therapy in which a woman who has just undergone the procedure paces, disoriented and confused.
Despite taking medications, therapy, a brief visit to a psychiatric unit, and then a month-long visit to a rehabilitation center, her struggles with suicidal thoughts continue. Her options dwindling, she finally agrees to give ECT a chance. Almost immediately, she notices a change for the better. Encouraged by her progress, she stops all medications and therapy, quickly resulting in a relapse. Her story includes more missteps and setbacks, while emphasizing the importance of ECT in her gradual road to recovery.
The book ends with Hersh’s inspiring speech at a major fundraising event for the Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas, offering a promising direction in her personal journey.
For anyone who works with clients who undergo ECT for depression or those who are considering the treatment for themselves or family members, this book can provide the kind of insight only possible from someone who has experienced its benefits firsthand.
Reviewed by Jamie Keaton Jones, LCSW, psychotherapy training candidate at Washington Square Institute.
Supervising the Reflective Practitioner: An Essential Guide to Theory and Practice, by Joyce Scaife, Routledge – Taylor & Francis Group, London and New York, 2010, 294 pages, $39.95.
Reflecting on one’s experience and knowledge facilitates adult learning. This reflective orientation also stretches our relational capacities. For social workers, this includes making deeper connections with the evolving social and emotional dimension of the clients we encounter and our efforts to work with them in authentic partnership. From this perspective, reflection can be seen as the mindful consideration of one’s actions or a dialogue of thinking and doing through which one becomes more skillful. Supervising the Reflective Practitioner, written for both social workers and other helping professionals, carefully describes a process through which patterns of behavior become clear and how they can promote insight into the nature of our assumptions and motivations. The author delineates reflection as both a means and an end. That is, reflection becomes not only a way of examining one’s work, but also a way of approaching the work, and a way of preparing for the work. The author expands reflective practice to include seeing it as a tool for quality enhancement, increasing organizational self awareness, and for strengthening practice.
Throughout the book, the author skillfully suggests a number of approaches to integrate formal and informal knowledge and embrace self-knowledge as a necessary professional competency. For reflective qualities to become an intrinsic attribute of one’s professional role, the author proposes that they need to be exercised and guided in actual practice and in a supervisory relationship with more experienced and reflective partners.
The book begins with an introduction to reflective practice, and carefully outlines the challenges to becoming the reflective practitioner. Subsequent chapters identify various frameworks supporting reflective practice and describe the benefits to both personal and professional development. Next, the supervisor qualities that support reflective practice are delineated, followed by specific guidelines aimed at fostering the practitioner’s reflective capacities—for example encouraging the supervisee’s inquiry or asking the kind of questions that may challenge assumptions or behaviors, methods to encourage self-awareness, decentering the supervisor’s authority and encouraging looking at other perspectives, writing about one’s work to foster learning, and different tools for supervision such as recordings, live supervision and supervisory groups to list a few.
This book’s orientation to reflective practice and the parallel orientation to knowledge construction are not intended to be the only approach to fostering the supervisee’s professional development through supervision. However, the author shares her experiences in a way that opens new pathways for supervisors to consider when working with supervisees. The characteristics of reflective practice seem to be a good “fit” with the Council on Social Work Education’s revised Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) published in 2008, which introduce the notion of requisite student competencies as opposed to content and areas to be covered. Self awareness, ethical practices, critical thinking, the context of practice, and cultural competence are but a few essential practice competencies, which parallel the fundamentals of reflective practice. The EPAS standards shift the curricular focus in social work education on what social workers do in practice or an outcomes performance orientation, rather than specific content areas taught. The assessment of the student’s work is seen as a vehicle to encourage learning and development rather than to focus on a grade, and the field experience is considered to be the signature pedagogy. The last chapter of this book offers a number of creative ways for the fieldwork supervisor to both support supervisees in developing their reflective practice and to help them to connect their learning to coursework assignments.
Overall, I think you will find the author’s writing style to be extremely readable and user-friendly. What could be seen as abstract and boring content is brought to life with numerous case illustrations, diagrams, and even a sprinkling of humor. Anchored in the professional literature, this is a book packed with numerous ideas for the supervisor to draw on that support reflective practice.
Susan W. Gray, Ph.D., Ed.D., MSW, LCSW, is professor of social work at Barry University.