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Trusting in Psychotherapy

Jon G. Allen, Ph.D.

  • ISBN 978-1-61537-391-8
  • Item #37391

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Trusting in Psychotherapy is an important book that fills a lamentable void: although virtually everyone—therapists, students, and patients alike—believes that trust is the foundation of psychotherapy, the topic has been neglected in the psychiatric literature, to the detriment of the therapeutic relationship. The author, who brings five decades of study and practice to the enterprise, posits that cultivating trusting psychotherapy bonds—especially for patients who have experienced developmental trauma in close relationships—is complex, challenging, and a critically important topic for examination. Whereas therapists are inclined to focus on patients' problems with trust, the author argues that trusting cannot be understood apart from trustworthiness and that therapists should give equal attention to the task of becoming trustworthy to their patients. Blending developmental science and ethical thought in an interdisciplinary spirit, the author draws on contemporary writings of philosophers to elucidate the concepts of trust and trustworthiness. What it means to trust in the practice of psychotherapy; the many facets of trusting and trustworthiness; attachment relationships, both secure and insecure; the central role of hope in trust; and the ethical-moral basis of trusting and trustworthiness—these and other topics are addressed with competence and care.

Intellectually engaging and designed to provoke thought, the book:

  • Offers a broadly developmental perspective, reflecting the belief that attachment trauma plays a profound role in many severe psychiatric disorders and emphasizing that the resulting and pervasive distrust and social alienation pose significant obstacles to developing therapeutic connections.
  • Provides an overview of the professional literature on developing expertise in conducting psychotherapy, with discussion of current research.
    Addresses the proliferation of new therapies in the context of competing schools of thought and what this proliferation means for the therapist caught between science and practice, academics and clinicians.
  • Is aimed chiefly at psychotherapists, yet its conversational, generally nontechnical style makes it accessible to those who are not mental health professionals, including patients who might wish to listen in on the conversation and families who desire a more complete understanding of the therapeutic process.
  • Includes key points at the end of each chapter to help the reader stay oriented and focused on the most important concepts.

Trusting in Psychotherapy argues persuasively that we should shift the balance of our efforts from developing therapies to developing therapists, a view that deserves to inform mental health research and thought leadership.


  • About the Author
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: The Scope of Trust in Psychotherapy
  • Chapter 1. From Trusting Therapies to Trusting Therapists
  • Chapter 2. Developing Trust and Trustworthiness
  • Chapter 3. Trusting
  • Chapter 4. Becoming Trustworthy
  • References
  • Index

About the Authors

Jon G. Allen, Ph.D., is Clinical Professor of the voluntary faculty in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Baylor College of Medicine, a member of the faculty emeriti at the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies in Houston, and an adjunct faculty member of the Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center.

Jon Allen has a remarkable way of writing about the basic truths of psychotherapy, and here he has done it again. What makes it possible for our patients to trust us, to find us and what we have to offer trustworthy? What makes good therapy possible?  Even more than our competence, it is our skill in being human, of finding in ourselves – in our history, in our souls - the capacity to deeply and truly connect with another. It is not the therapy, Allen reminds us, but the therapist that makes transformation possible. This is a beautiful book, wise, brilliant, and full of humanity.—Arietta Slade, Ph.D, Professor of Clinical Child Psychology, Yale Child Study CenterCo-Director, Minding the Baby

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