Character Styles by Stephen M Johnson
Favourite Psychotherapy Books: Part 1: This was my bible through my therapy training and a bit of a transition object from trainee psychotherapist to a more confident one. The depth and breadth of the book was reassuring for me and gave me a good base to tackle a lot of issues in therapy.
From the emotional to the psychodynamic to the body and energetic descriptions of the character structures I felt held by the expertise in it. Considering I was doing an integrative psychotherapy training and being bombarded with the whole breadth of therapeutic thought, I felt a bit overwhelmed. This book had enough for me to feel contained in exploring the various strands of therapuetic thought as it covered the basics and a whole lot more. Anxiety, as you may have gathered, was an issue for me in my training.
Character Styles is based on the work of Wilhelm Reich, a student of Freud, weren’t they all, who looked at the physical impact of various forms of emotional distress.
Now, ‘Character Styles’ still has pride of place on my book shelf even if I don’t have to read it much anymore which, for me, is a good sign. I would recommend it whole heartedly to psychotherapy students, regardless of their anxiety levels, as it does explain a lot in one fell swoop. I’m not sure if it gets the pride of place I feel it should have on counselling courses but that’s not my place to say. It can be a bit dense in the reading but like a rich chocolate cake, it can only be digested in small portions as it’s so rich.
I don’t think I would recommend it to clients as it’s a pure technical read. You read it so they don’t have to.
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