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Book Review: Compassion: Conceptualisations, research and use in psychotherapy

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COMPASSION: CONCEPTUALISATIONS, RESEARCH AND USE IN
PSYCHOTHERAPY
Edited by Paul Gilbert, Routledge
ISBN 158391983X, £19.99

Star Rating: 3/5

The Oxford Concise Dictionary defines compassion as “pity,
inclining one to help or be helpful”. It is a key component of any
helping relationship particularly in social work or counselling but
how often is this concept explored? It seems rarely, writes David
O’Driscoll.

This book sets out to change this with a collection of essays by
an international group of authors. The first half of the book deals
with conceptualisation and research on compassion, while the second
half focuses on its clinical use in psychotherapy. The concept is
neglected in the western psychological tradition but in the eastern
tradition it is an important aspect in Buddhism.

But I found it difficult at times to contemplate such a diverse
group of ideas from social constructivism to cognitive behavioural
theory and Buddhism. I was also puzzled that psychoanalysis was
dismissed, despite several authors’ interest in attachment theory,
which is rooted in psychoanalysis. But, overall, I would recommend
this book to clinicians.

David O’Driscoll is a psychotherapist and assistant
director at Respond, which works with people with learning
difficulties who abuse or who are abused.

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