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Review of "Favorite Counseling and Therapy Homework Assignments"

By Howard G. Rosenthal, Ed.D.
Brunner-Routledge, 2000
Review by Prem Dana Takada B.B.Sc. (Hons) M.A. Clin Psych on Oct 30th 2001
Favorite Counseling and Therapy Homework Assignments A fantastic collection of "Homework Assignment," i.e. the work that goes on in between session by a fantastic group of therapists, following on from Rosenthal's Favorite Counseling and Therapy Techniques. He declares, "This, my dear reader, is a landmark book: It includes more accomplished, eminent therapists sharing their psychotherapeutic homework strategies than any previous work ever published." The dream team of experts consists of 58 creative counselors and therapists who reveal their favorite homework, tasks or exercises for promoting change.

There are homework interventions for adults, children and adolescents, in individual, group or marriage and family counseling. Whether it's a "letter from the future', "sun-cloud-tree, magnifying minimizing technique", or simply "together time" a wide range of therapeutic approaches are covered including assertiveness training, REBT, CBT, Gestalt therapy, transactional analysis, marriage and family therapy, neurolinguistic programming, multicultural counseling, voice therapy, career and vocational counseling, and brief and solution orientated therapy.

My favorite?, "What do I want?" by therapist Jesper Juul for its seeming simplicity yet absolute pertinence. Asked initially with profound interest and kindness by the therapist and then taken home as an invitation by the client. As he states, "(bringing) people to the reality of their own beings and -- old fashioned or not -- is still a prerequisite for durable and rewarding contacts with others". Runner-up could have been the work of the Andreases, but I don't feel that their Perceptual Positions approach is adequately covered even in the relatively long (6 pages) given. Instead, I nominate Rosenthal himself for his "After Hours Therapist" strategy, for its creativity and, even though it runs the risk of doing therapist out of business, what better goal of therapy than to teach clients how to be a therapist unto themselves.

As Jeffrey Kottler asserts "homework assignments are essential to lasting change". Albeit, he qualifies, "the most successful and lasting changes… (do) not come from my efforts to structure and prescribe homework. Rather they come from our collaborative partnership in which we invented something new."

So this text is extremely suitable for somewhat experienced therapists looking for ways to expand their current repertoire or simply tickle their creative belly button. Given the wide range of approaches contained in this compact book it could be a little misleading for the novice therapist since little of the underlying theory or approach is explained and only so much can be detailed in the 2-3 page format per expert utilized.

© 2001 Prem Dana Takada

Prem Dana Takada, B.B.Sc. (Hons) M.A. Clin Psych, originally trained as a Clinical Psychologist in Melbourne, Australia where she also acquired registration as a Family Therapist. After leaving Australia, Prem Dana worked as a Principal Clinical Psychologist in West London where she continued to work with individuals, couples, families, and as a group therapist and received further training as a Hypnotherapist in Oxford. She has traveled widely having also lived and worked in India, and has been in Japan for the last five years where she currently runs the Psychotherapy and Healing Practice and is President of Mental Health Providers Japan--a professional organization established for Western Therapists.