Book reviews of: Substance Use Disorders in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Clients; Psychoeducation in Mental Health; Scars: Crative Approaches to Understanding and Coping with Self-Mutilation. Video review of: What Works in Psychotherapy.
Substance Use Disorders in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Clients: Assessment and Treatment, by Sandra Anderson, Columbia University Press, New York, 2009, 272 pages, $32.50 paperback, $84.50 hardcover.
Substance Use Disorders in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Clients is definitely recommended for anyone working with or needing to become educated in the area of LGBT clients and substance use. The author writes using basic language and inserts pertinent portions of the DSM-IV-TR, so that even the newest student can follow. She includes additional information for those who may already be in practice but not be as versed in drug terminology, creation, and use. Anderson takes the most up-to-date information (as recent as 2008) and compares it to older studies, allowing the more seasoned reader to become updated on what research is confirming or disproving from earlier studies. The author also gives current slang names for each drug, as well as the method(s) it is consumed, the ease in which a client may be able to produce the drug, and the length of the high, making it easy for a clinician to understand the terminology used by a client, as well as giving assessment tools for one who may not otherwise know what symptoms to look for while considering a client’s needs.
Although the earlier chapters deal with drug use on a broader spectrum as to how it relates to the overall LGBT population, a later chapter dissects drug use/abuse problems specific to certain types of drugs, making it a great resource for anyone working at the macro or micro levels of client care.
As a reader with a basic level of knowledge of both LGBT issues and social work theories, I especially appreciated that the book takes a general treatment approach (for example, motivational interviewing), gives a step-by-step “how to,” then uses empirical evidence to show how and why this method works specific to LGBT clients. This linear process allows for easy following and will mesh seamlessly with any student textbook information regarding techniques used with heterosexual clients.
Another great aspect of the book is the included initial assessments, which can easily be adapted for use in the field immediately, and the references to professional forms and writings for more in-depth information on any of the chapters’ topics.
The author also tackles many controversial aspects of the LGBT community, acknowledging at different points the lack of research specific to those who are transgender, non-white, and of the adolescent populations. This awareness allows the reader both to consider why more information does not yet exist and to reflect that some techniques may need to be altered for such clients to achieve the best result. The book also discusses how the gender identity disorder label in the DSM-IV-TR may be detrimental to clients’ needs but remains a mandatory diagnosis for many to receive the transitional materials required. Topics also included are: religion’s influence on clients who identify as LGBT, additional difficulties for members of multiple minority groups, legal and ethical issues, policy and legislative actions, and information regarding the likely future of this area/field.
The author begins the book with a reminder of NASW’s 1996 statement that practitioners cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation and ends the book mentioning that our current legal system does not protect LGBT citizens from discrimination and violence. Although there is clearly a great deal of work to do to grant and ensure equal rights for the LGBT community, the signing of the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation after this book’s publishing making violence against LGBT people punishable under the federal “hate crime” laws shows that we are on our way to equality and that each clinician can be a part of this necessary movement with an ability and willingness to treat substance use issues in a way specific to the needs of their LGBT clients.
Reviewed by Kristen Marie (Kryss) Shane, BS in Human Development and Family Science, specializing in family studies, MSW Student, Barry University.
Psychoeducation in Mental Health, by Joseph Walsh, Lyceum Books, Inc., Chicago, IL, 2010, 242 pages, $36.95.
Psychoeducation is an effective approach to addressing issues faced by individuals diagnosed with persistent and chronic mental illness. Joseph Walsh carefully presents a comprehensive and valuable guide for practitioners who plan to implement this approach in mental health treatment. As openly stated in the book’s title, Psychoeducation in Mental Health, Walsh presents the ABCs of this person-centered intervention against the backdrop of various aspects of mental illness.
According to Walsh, the general focus of psychoeducation is “teaching people about a problem so that they can reduce the related stressors or prevent them from occurring again.” Psychoeducation is defined as an array of programs that focus on educating clients about issues associated with mental illness, developing social supports, reducing perceptions of stigma, developing skills around problem solving, and crisis intervention.
Readers will appreciate the author’s clear presentation of definitions, purpose, and goals of psychoeducation.
The text is organized for reading in its entirety, as well as referring back for information about specific applications. Chapters 1-4 provide vital information on the history of mental health care, various human behavior theories (including family systems theory), and group dynamics.
Subsequent chapters provide instruction on implementing psychoeducation in the treatment of several disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and bereavement. Walsh also describes examples of various psychoeducational group models that may serve as templates for the reader to adapt and implement in various settings.
Each chapter in Part Two of the text highlights research findings that indicate positive clinical outcomes as a result of psychoeducational intervention.
Overall, Psychoeducation in Mental Health is a text that all mental health professionals, including social workers, should have as a resource. Experienced and new practitioners to the field will find this book a valuable tool in work with patients and families. The current state of the mental health field places high value on patient-centered approaches as well as support for families touched by mental illness. This book offers helpful information and guidance to practitioners interested in implementing psychoeducation as a recovery tool.
Reviewed by Arlene M. Young, LCSW, Clinical Social Worker, Connecticut Mental Health Center.
Scars: Creative Approaches to Understanding and Coping with Self-Mutilation, by Sara Martino, Ph.D., Apprentice House, Baltimore, Maryland, 2009, 115 pages, including appendix, $18.95.
Scars is a collective gathering of material surrounding the often taboo topic of self mutilation. Whereas the author provides necessary background information regarding the history and definition of self mutilation, the topic itself continues to be difficult to study because of the inability to get an admission from clients and the fact that many who self mutilate are not in therapy.
Dr. Martino outlines several therapies throughout the text, primarily surrounding narrative therapy as an introduction to her own use of creative approaches in providing intervention services to young women in group settings. Dr. Martino has developed and continues to develop her own intervention in working with young women by utilizing narrative therapy, in addition to “The Healing Without Words Model” of therapy, utilizing creativity as a form of self evolvement. Dr. Martino draws upon her own experiences working with groups of young women, both adolescents and college-aged women. She takes the reader through her outcomes, both positive and limited. Dr. Martino stresses the use of her creative approaches in conjunction with the client working directly with a therapist to ensure the client receives the best possible treatment available.
Although the book offers good insight into working with women who self mutilate, more studies are required to obtain a baseline and objective outcomes. The text itself provides a basic introduction. Some studies are cited, although there are several that are not. The book is also repetitive and has numerous typographical errors.
This may be a difficult book for young women with minimal education to follow, and it may potentially be perceived by some to be biased regarding women’s issues. I would only recommend this book for social work students as a supplement for narrative and creative therapy approaches, and not as the only educational tool. Professional social workers established within their fields of study will most likely be able to read the book and utilize the material as warranted for their own individual practices.
Reviewed by Cindi Jeffrey, LISW, LMHP, Social Work Consultant.
What Works in Psychotherapy, Institutional/Instructor’s Version, Scott Miller, with Randall C. Wyatt, Psychotherapy.net, San Francisco, CA, 2009, 58 minutes, Institutional/Instructor’s Version—$149.00, Individual Version—$49.00.
Whether a social worker is an intern, a first-year practitioner, or transitioning into clinical work, he or she may wonder what is the best approach for helping a client change. This question becomes the title and premise for the DVD What Works in Psychotherapy. In this straightforward, yet well-produced interview, author Scott Miller discusses his book The Heart and Soul of Change. His book examines concepts including the therapeutic relationship, the role of diagnosis, client feedback, stages of change, and cultural differences in therapy.
Miller raises an interesting tension between the tools or technology of therapy (such as CBT, manualized treatment, diagnostics) and the therapist’s relationship to the client. In contrast to searching for a “magic bullet” of treatment that can be applied mechanically to a specific diagnosis, Miller promotes treatment tailored more to the individual that includes an emphasis on client feedback and the therapeutic relationship. “There is, in fact,” he says, “no other more empirically validated concept than the [therapeutic] alliance.”
What Works in Psychotherapy would be especially valuable to social work educators and students. Included with the DVD is an instructional manual with viewing tips, a reaction paper assignment, discussion questions, and a complete transcript.
For social workers wanting to reevaluate their clinical practice, the DVD could serve as a way to reconnect with “true north” in their work. It is encouraging to hear that the strengths perspective that is so valued in social work can apply to the profession itself. Miller asserts, “Our diversity as a profession, working in different ways, believing different things.... It’s a strength that needs to be nurtured.” What Works in Psychotherapy can promote the discussion on how to do just that.
Reviewed by Michelle Estile, LMSW, Clinician, Family Counseling Services, Inc., Athens, GA.
These reviews appeared in the Summer 2010 issue of THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER (Vol. 17, No. 3).