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Doing Supportive Psychotherapy

John Battaglia, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-1-61537-262-1
  • Item #37262

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The author of Doing Supportive Psychotherapy set out to address a paradox: although conducting psychotherapy is one of the most intimate and exciting things a mental health professional can do, many textbooks on the subject are dull, with formal, stilted dialogue between patient and therapist which prompts the question, Does anyone really talk like that? This text was designed to be different. In a dynamic, informal style, the book draws the reader in, providing the essential building blocks that are both applicable to any mental health discipline and compatible with any type of psychotherapy. The dozens of case examples presented were taken from actual cases and illustrate a full range of interactionsfrom the excellent to the seemingly ineffective: all have instructional value. Likewise, the dialogue between therapist and patient is conversational in a realistic way, sometimes eloquent, sometimes not. This approach gives the reader a true sense of the scope of the therapeutic interaction. In addition, the underlying structure of the book is logical and easy to grasp, beginning with the evolution of supportive psychotherapy and ending with a chapter on termination.

  • The principles of learning to do a psychodynamic formulation are outlined in a step-by-step fashion, making it easy to learn, progress, and practice.
  • The concepts and techniques explored throughout the book are grounded in the psychotherapy literature, and evidence-based research is cited where relevant.
  • The book emphasizes that psychotherapy is an inexact science, therapists are human, and the process of therapy is a journey that is constantly changing rather than static. This approach reassures the reader, who feels supported in a holding environment while learning psychotherapy.
  • The text is short and sweet, designed to teach essentials and include just enough to get clinicians started in supportive psychotherapy.
  • Although the text is targeted at readers on the path toward becoming psychotherapists (social workers, family counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists), those who don't conduct psychotherapy will find it an essential tool for learning how to understand patients as well as for learning strategies and techniques for keeping a good therapeutic alliance (which inevitably translates into good medication compliance).

Doing Supportive Psychotherapy is a brief, spirited book, which functions as both instructional text and paean to psychotherapy. In vigorous, personal prose, the author leaves readers with the message that they are not alone as they venture into the overwhelmingly complex, perplexing, and yet totally wonderful endeavor of the talking cure.


  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. A Brief History and Evolution of Supportive Psychotherapy
  • Chapter 2. Psychodynamics and the Therapeutic Alliance
  • Chapter 3. Getting Started and the Behavior of the Therapist
  • Chapter 4. Transference and Countertransference
  • Chapter 5. Strategies and Techniques
  • Chapter 6. Trauma
  • Chapter 7. Special Populations: Borderline Personality Disorder, Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders and Schizophrenia
  • Chapter 8. Termination
  • Index

About the Authors

John Battaglia, M.D., is Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and Medical Director of Program of Assertive Community Treatment in Madison, Wisconsin.

A concise, readable, and very experience-near guide to supportive psychotherapy. Full of clinical examples and discussion questions, this book could be used by trainees in any mental health field.—Deborah L. Cabaniss, M.D., Associate Director, Residency Training, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University, Department of Psychiatry

This book is an essential tool for any learners and professionals looking to forge meaningful, impactful therapeutic relationships with their patients—even for clinicians not intending to 'do psychotherapy'. Through engaging case examples, this book will teach the reader how to make relatively quick sense of the complex life histories that our patients bring to us, and how to truly allow patients to feel heard using specific techniques. The high-yield, practical pearls that Dr. Battaglia provides promise to form the basis for effective interactions with your patients on a daily basis. In a nutshell, this book will optimize the likelihood that your patients would answer yes to the question Does your provider understand you?. If you have time for one quick, enjoyable read in the next month that will immediately benefit your patients, it should be this.—Claudia L. Reardon, M.D., Associate Professor, University Health Services, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Psychiatry

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