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The Psychotherapist's Essential Guide to the Brain is a 147 page full-colour illustrated guide for psychotherapists describing the most relevant brain science for today's mental health professionals. Taken from the best of the series published in The Neuropsychotherapist, and completely revised, this book represents an easy to read guide for anyone working in the mental health arena.
In February 2016, The Neuropsychotherapist, a magazine devoted to informing mental health professionals about the neuroscience of psychotherapy, introduced a regular column on the brain for the practising clinician. The column proved popular because it interpreted relevant facts from a large body of technical knowledge in language accessible to the non-scientist. In view of the positive readership response, it was decided to compile all instalments of The Psychotherapist's Essential Guide to the Brain together with new material into a stand-alone volume that might become a handy addition to the psychotherapist's bookshelf.
Why learn about the brain? Surely a therapist has a range of therapies and techniques at his or her disposal that can be effectively implemented without a degree in neurobiology. Certainly some would argue that the application of techniques and the experiential learning of what works and what doesn't is the path to take. But is this the best approach, in light of the knowledge that is now available to us? Does a medical doctor familiarize him or herself with only the symptoms and not the cause and mechanisms of an illness?
"There is, I believe, much to be gained by understanding at least the fundamentals of brain function that play a critical role in our mental well-being," says author Matthew Dahlitz, psychotherapist and Editor-in-Chief of The Neuropsychotherapist.
Freud, some will be surprised to learn, began his career as a neurobiologist, studying the nerves of crayfish with a view to forming an objective science of mental states based on neuroscientific research. Later he altered direction into psychoanalysis-research was not paying the bills, and the neuroscience of the day avoided the difficult subject of subjective experience and focused on the "nuts and bolts" of brain function. Now, with a greater understanding of both the subjective experience of the mind and the objective activities of the brain, the two disciplines of psychoanalysis and neuroscience can not only inform one another but integrate to provide a more mature and holistic understanding of mental well-being.
"It is my hope that this book will open your mind and encourage you to take a more holistic perspective than ever before," says the author. "As therapists we are privileged to live in a time when breakthroughs in the neurobiological sciences are both confirming and informing vital aspects of psychotherapeutic practice, breaking down traditional barriers and stimulating multidisciplinary approaches that will ultimately revolutionize how we think about mental health."
For the psychotherapist this book may well form an important step along the way to acquiring the best tools and knowledge available in the quest for real change and lasting well-being for their clients.