Cover: Making Contact: Uses of Language in Psychotherapy, from Harvard University PressCover: Making Contact in PAPERBACK

Making Contact

Uses of Language in Psychotherapy

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$29.00 • £25.95 • €26.95

ISBN 9780674543164

Publication Date: 10/15/1988



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Making Contact by Leston Havens, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is a basic grammar of empathy—a sort of Strunk and White for psychotherapists. While it may not be of much use to laymen, it might be of great interest to those who at one time or another have lain upon a couch… Obviously, the author of this quite lively and quite lovely text is interested and skilled in providing genuine verbal havens rather than with easy intellectualizations.—Susan Monsky, The Boston Globe

This highly original book, filled with illuminating clinical examples, is actually a primer of grammar and rhetoric for the psychotherapist… We are also given glimpses of the work of an artist-therapist who has crafted a personal style of great power and who consistently provides the date on which his new ideas are based… This volume is clearly the result of a lifetime of experience. It systematizes and categorizes what a wise…therapist does to help his patient… The writing is admirably lucid and simple, and those of us with less experience—or less sheer therapeutic talent—may be beguiled into thinking we can quickly achieve the therapeutic dexterity of the master therapist that Havens is… Even the most experienced therapist, however, will learn new things, will rethink the ways he or she talks to patients, and will do better work after studying this book… This is a most important contribution that I highly recommend.—Nancy C. Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D., American Journal of Psychiatry

This is a book about the therapeutic use of words… The author offers an excellent series of vignettes from his considerable clinical experience… This is a truly new and vital addition to the literature on psychotherapy.—D. R. Freebury, American Journal of Psychotherapy

With vignettes, metaphors, and a focus on the experience of the patient rather than labels or jargon, Havens depicts three kinds of language intended to facilitate contact with patients suffering from the three kinds of absence. Embedded in these approaches, however, is far more than ‘how to’ techniques. The reader is introduced to an elegant, clinically useful, and subtle way of thinking about some of our most troubled and troubling patients. Havens clearly knows that without passion there is no truth. Indeed, he demonstrates how disciplined passion can aid us not only in reaching our patients, but also in reaching the dark parts of ourselves as well.—Fred Scectman, Ph.D., Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic

The virtual elimination of inpatient psychotherapy in modern American psychiatry makes the appearance of Leston Havens’ book most welcome. Havens, a nationally known Harvard clinician and teacher, has gathered a lifetime of psychotherapeutic wisdom into less than 200 pages of advice to those who treat ego-damaged patients—the psychotic, the seriously depressed, and the borderline. This well-written book can be of use to therapists of all levels of sophistication.—Walter Weintraub, M.D., Hospital and Community Psychiatry

Havens refers not only to the psychiatry greats, but to classic and contemporary authors from Shakespeare to Nabokov, to T.S. Eliot, to Wittgenstein. A dozen clinical vignettes offer a revealing glimpse into how therapy is done by a master practitioner. The book’s evocative power is reminiscent of Winnicott’s writings… Making Contact is written in lucid and energetic English and is a pleasure to read… [The book] shows how a cultured, versatile, concerned and mature therapist goes about his work—understanding patients and helping them resolve problems, change personalities, break out their alienation and find sense in themselves and in life.—Alexander Elder, M.D., Psychiatric Times

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