The British Journal of Psychiatry
An Introduction to the Psychotherapies (4th edn)
Chris Mace

Although this book is nearly 30 years old, I had never seen it before. First impressions are favourable. A multi-author guide to the range of current psychotherapies through 18 chapters, including ones on psychotherapy with young people and the elderly, it nearly always succeeds in delivering on the essentials. These are: the key principles of an approach; when it is likely to be used; and the extent to which there is evidence for its effectiveness. A sense of consideration for the reader's likely needs informs the book so thoroughly that it is surprisingly readable, with several chapters likely to become recommended introductions for a given approach. The book's value is augmented by summary lists of key readings, where most contributors are commendably objective in their selections.

A brief historical introduction allows some reference to be made to areas, such as person-centred psychotherapy, which are thereafter effectively ignored. While no book of this kind is likely to be completely comprehensive, three omissions were noticeable given the likely needs of trainee psychiatrists. First, although several important models of brief psychotherapy are considered in some depth (based on the work of Malan & Davanloo; Ryle & Hobson), the one that is now the most widely used, Klerman's interpersonal psychotherapy, is not. Second, supportive psychotherapy (the darling of many MRCPsych examination essays) retains a chapter, but in it, as elsewhere, the newcomer to the field is given no guidance on what the term counselling means, or on how it might differ from psychotherapy. Third, one apparent consequence of the prioritisation of general principles here is a failure to illustrate psychotherapy when practised other than in out-patient settings. (The chapters on behavioural therapy and psychotherapy for older people are exceptions here, but one on `family therapy in the adult psychiatric setting' is misleadingly titled. Moreover, there is no acknowledgment at all of the role of specialist hospitals or therapeutic communities.) These caveats aside, I recommend trainee psychiatrists have access to a copy of this reliable compendium throughout the early years of training.