I’d recommended Phillipa Perry’s Couch Fiction as an accessible introduction to the little-understood process of psychotherapy. But also, The Gossamer Thread, the memoir of John Marzillier. Setting off his professional life as a young clinical psychologist, enthused by cognitive theories in vogue at the time, he ends up a very different flavoured psychotherapist integrating a number of ideas, before retiring to a life of writing fiction.
Marzillier’s trajectory through some iterations of the therapy profession involves re-aligning himself along the way to different theoretical orientations and modalities. He’s honest about his struggles with what he believes to be the short-comings of behavioural, cognitive behavioural and psychodynamic approaches. Not only does this offer the reader an idea of what these different types of therapies involve (and how they all differ from clinical psychology), but because he trained when many of these approaches were first developed, we have the benefit of meeting his esteemed colleagues, who pioneered them, along the way.
He’s cautious of theoretical dogmatism and humble about the ‘curative’ effects of talking therapy, but he highlights something all us therapists know – the relationship between a client and therapist is what really matters and offers the fertile ground for positive change.