Short-Term Therapy Techniques, by Christ L. Zois and Margaret Scarpa. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson Press, 1997.
Reviewed by Jon Frederickson
This book, although not advertised as such, could function as an introduction to intensive short term dynamic psychotherapy as practiced by Davanloo. Written in clear, easy to understand prose, it simply describes the elements of technique in ISTDP without reference to any of the classic ISTDP terms such as “head-on collision”, or challenge, unlocking of the unconscious. In that sense, it’s a very straightforward description of ISTDP but without the jargon. The introduction is followed by a chapter on the goals of an evaluative session. The longest chapter is devoted to a sample evaluation session in which the therapist outlines the areas of disturbance, identifies defenses and the resistance, shows triangle of conflict work, works with both impulse and intimacy in the session, and many other themes. It is an excellent example of an evaluation session and allows the reader to get a practical sense of how an ISTDP therapist might proceed.
The transference chapter is noteworthy because it addresses countertransference (an area often overlooked in the EDT literature) and its relationship to the patient’s resistance. In a nutshell, the patient’s resistance will often evoke a complementary counter-resistance in which the therapist and patient enact a conflictual relationship as a way for both of them to collusively avoid facing some more disturbing area. A chapter on defenses addresses the issues of defense identification and restructuring. Another unusual feature of this book is a chapter on the midphase of short term therapy. Here the authors discuss issues of intimacy, sexual feelings, and oedipal conflicts which arise in the midphase of treatment. Two chapters on termination use termination phase sessions to illustrate the replaying of conflictual themes, facing grief, and triangle of conflict work during the termination phase.
Although the book does not break new theoretical ground, it has a lot of clinical material to illustrate not just technical points, but the clinical back and forth flow of a session. It is out of print but can be found through on-line booksellers such as amazon.com or abebooks.com.