Book Reviews

safer surgery; reading development; autism and intensive interaction; stories and analogies; Barbara Tizard; coaching; and web-only reviews

Safer Surgery: Analysing Behaviour in the Operating Theatre.
Rhona Flin & Lucy Mitchell (Eds.)

Like other publications that have come from Rhona Flin’s human factors powerhouse, this collection is a work of great quality. About half of the 80+ contributors are surgeons and anaesthetists; the majority of the remainder are human factors specialists plus a variety of social scientists. The themes that link these diverse disciplines are a passionate interest in the safety of operating theatre teams and a wealth of skills and experience. These are people who really know what they are writing about.

The 27 chapters are sensibly clustered into four parts. Part I, comprising chapters 2–10, deals with instruments for measuring human performance in the operating theatre. The focus here
is upon the assessment of non-technical skills and teamwork. Part II deals with observational studies of anaesthetists, again focusing on non-technical skills and teamwork (chapters 11–15). Part III (chapters 16–24) covers a variety of observational studies of theatre teams. I found this section especially interesting dealing as it does with a range of human factors issues: team communication and problem solving, the failures that arise in successful orthopaedic procedures, remembering to do things later and resuming interrupted tasks, surgical decision making, and the impact of time pressure and distractions on team task performance. The final part takes a broader perspective (chapters 25–27). These fascinating concluding chapters provide tremendous added value to the collection as a whole.

This tough-minded and rigorous book does a splendid job of broadening the evidence base for the human factors understanding of behaviour in the operating theatre. But this is not something for the scientifically faint-hearted. The large majority of the chapters deal with very specific research activities, and are generally written with all the leanness of a good journal article – and appropriately so. Nor is it for those with simply a general interest in patient safety, though the final three chapters do offer such an overview. It is instead an invaluable source book for those actively engaged in measuring, observing and improving the performance of surgical teams. While this may limit the size and scope of its possible readership, it will remain for some time to come one of the key reference books in this hugely important domain of healthcare activity.

Ashgate; 2010; Hb £75.00
Reviewed by James Reason who is Emeritus Professor, University of Manchester 

Reading Development and Difficulties
Kate Cain

This is a clear and incisive account of current research and theory on reading development and the difficulties that can prevent skilled and fluent reading. Written as an introductory text (part of a series of textbooks from the BPS Blackwell imprint), it assumes no background knowledge but provides a comprehensive and balanced account of reading development focusing on the interrelated skills of word reading and comprehension.

Kate Cain examines the relationships between written and spoken language and the way that this supports the development of word-reading skills and the ability to extract and integrate meanings from a text. The author outlines the difficulties and issues for assessment and intervention for two distinct subgroups of reading difficulty: children with developmental dyslexia and children with poor reading comprehension.

The book concludes with a review of the simple view of reading as a framework for the study of reading development and reading difficulties. This is a well written, clearly structured and highly accessible text that provides students and professionals with an authoritative overview and up to date resource on reading development.

BPS Blackwell; 2010; Pb £24.99
Reviewed by Paul Riddick
who is Senior Educational Psychologist, Leicester City

Autism and Intensive Interaction: Using Body Language to Reach Children on the Autistic Spectrum                                             Phoebe Caldwell
Recently awarded the Times/Sternberg Award for her pioneering autism treatment, at the age of 76 Phoebe Caldwell shows no signs of quitting her extraordinary work.

At the forefront of the recent revival in Intensive Interaction’s  popularity, Caldwell constantly impresses with the ease with which she establishes significant communication with people condemned as impossible to connect with. This skill is illustrated in her current DVD by an unedited section of film showing Caldwell achieving interaction with a child displaying severe avoidant behaviour, seemingly through her sheer perseverance and uncanny ability to view the world through the eyes of the individual involved.

This DVD may not be the perfect introduction to Intensive Interaction for those unfamiliar with the subject, due to its autism-specific focus (e.g. in reducing sensory overload), as opposed to a general overview of the topic. However, it is inspiring to view this technique in action, especially delivered with Caldwell’s unique blend of spontaneity, sensitivity and dedication, which capture the true essence of Intensive Interaction.

Jessica Kingsley; 2010; DVD £19.99
Reviewed by Abigail Methley who is a research assistant at Bangor University

Stories and Analogies in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Paul Blenkiron

Everyone knows that stories, analogies and metaphors can give powerful insights into a wide range of issues. Creating narratives and images in our mind can have profound effects on thinking, feeling and behaviour. Here Paul Blenkiron skilfully examines the way in which stories and analogies can be used in a systematic and directive manner to tackle specific issues typically faced within CBT contexts. 

What makes this book such a coherent piece of work is its structured presentation of useful content paired with the well-thought-out narrative in which these ideas are communicated. The author not only presents a wealth of useful stories and analogies, but also uses these effectively to explain concepts, in addition to providing tips on how these might be applied within CBT. 

If this book were a bag of sweets, it would impress with variety, colourfulness and taste; and anyone working with, or even just interested in CBT would be guaranteed to find a lot of pieces they want to eat. I recommend having the whole bag.

Wiley-Blackwell; 2010;
Hb £31.99
Reviewed by Stephan U. Dombrowski who is a Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen

101 Coaching Strategies and Techniques
Gladeana McMahon & Anne Archer (Eds.)

The book provides coaching practitioners with a range of focused, practical and bite-sized strategies that cover a number of common issues faced by professional coaches. It also seeks to contribute novel practical strategies to the existing coaching toolkit, as opposed to being a strictly academic text.

The techniques, from a variety of coaching backgrounds, are organised in six structured and accessible sections. There are clear portrayals of each strategy with its purpose, description, an explanation of the process accompanied by examples, potential pitfalls, suggested solutions and a bibliography.

The aim of orchestrating a large diversity of coaching approaches in the book is commendable; however, there is a lack of elaboration of the transitional process from theory to practice, and an overlap of certain techniques may leave the reader with a sense of ambiguity.Overall this book is a useful resource worth reading and referring to from time to time, yet it should be read with a mindset that positive, holistic coaching can never be reduced to strategies and techniques.

Routledge; 2010; Pb £16.99
Reviewed by Wang Qing who is a PhD student at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol

Home Is Where One Starts From: One Woman’s Memoir
Barbara Tizard

This fascinating book relates the story of how a little girl in poor circumstances in London grew to be an eminent psychologist with a world reputation.

Barbara Tizard was born in 1926 into a troubled family, with a busy teacher mother and an alcoholic absentee father.  Despite this she won scholarships first to a boarding schools, then to St Paul’s and finally to read medicine at Somerville College, Oxford alongside her first love.

His eminent academic family disapproved of the match, so Barbara felt it necessary to change courses to PPE.

She later married Jack Tizard, a New Zealand student at the university, who shared her passion for socialist causes. In the end they settled in London where Jack was appointed to an MRC Unit at the Maudsley Hospital. They started a family, and Barbara took a course leading to a degree in psychology, with which she was appointed to do research on brain physiology.

Barbara’s research interests shifted to social problems with an emphasis on implications for policy.  After her husband’s premature death, she became Director of the Thomas Coram Research Unit, founded by Jack Tizard. This Unit has been foremost in shedding light on a variety of social issues. Her personal research flourished and, among other books, Adoption: A Second Chance became a classic. Her eminence has been recognised by her Fellowship of the British Academy, her Honorary Fellowship of the BPS and Honorary Membership of the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

This is a candid personal account of a life richly lived, presented with a vivid commentary on unprecedented political and social changes and reflecting advances in developmental and social psychology.

Word Power Books; 2010;
Pb £12.99
Reviewed by Alan and Ann Clarke who are formerly of the University of Hull



Web only reviews

‘You Ought To!’ A Psychoanalytic Study of the Superego and Conscience

Bernard Barnett

This book provides a survey of the development of the concept of the superego through Freud's writings and those of his followers, in particular Anna Freud, Klein, and Winnicott.  It is written from within a psychoanalytic tradition wherein the need to postulate this concept of an (unconscious) monitoring and punishing agency as part of our psychic structure is not questioned.  So those who wonder whether our ordinary language concepts of guilt, remorse, shame, judgement are enough, will not find this addressed here.


Even among the ideas surveyed, there is a frustrating lack of critical appraisal.  A further omission was the decision not to explore the development of the system superego in adulthood.  In a society where social structures are changing rapidly, adult development is likely to become of greater importance.


The use of literary examples is nice, but isn't followed through, their use fading in later chapters, rather than linking ideas between chapters.


As a psychodynamic counsellor, I hoped to find an argument as to why the concept of the superego was of continuing importance, but I was disappointed.


Karnac; 2007; Pb £14.99

Reviewed by Chris Baines, who is a psychodynamic counsellor, and training as a counselling psychologist



Personal Development and Clinical Psychology

Jan Hughes & Sheila Youngson (Eds.)

Huges and Youngson have developed a unique, thought-provoking text on personal development in the profession of clinical psychology.


The authors gently guide the reader through the topic of personal development exploring its standing and importance, introducing theoretical models, enticing curiosity about issues of power and identity, whilst also evaluating different training course approaches.


The style and flow of the text provides an accessible read with case studies, conversations between the authors and interviews with clinicians, trainees and service users colourfully illustrating different aspects of personal development.


The last chapter is a useful summary of the major themes discussed throughout the text whilst elaborating on these and providing further suggestions of future developments in this area.


A multifaceted book that can be used flexibly for different purposes, whether that is individual personal development or developing and training others. A very comprehensive read that can be dipped into when necessary or read as a full volume.


This book is a true gem and has certainly given me fresh and inspiring insights into how to approach and enhance my own personal development.


BPS Blackwell; 2009; £25.99

Reviewed by Hannah Butler, who is an Assistant Clinical Psychologist for Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Psychology Service for Children, Young People and Their Families.



Happiness at Work: Maximising your Psychological Capital for Success

Jessica Pryce-Jones

This book feels like it hasn’t quite decided whether it’s an academic text (with great detail about the research approach and working rigorously through all aspects of the proposed model) or a self-help book (the writing style is quite light and the referencing approach – not indicated within the text but at the back of the book – makes it a little confusing to know which statements are personal opinion and which are based on solid research).  Because of this my initial reactions were quite critical, but by the end I felt that there are some interesting and useful insights that could be helpful to individuals (and employers) searching for happiness at work.  


There are good explanation of the key concepts (although the rigorous reporting of the model means sometimes having concepts in different sections that seem to have practical overlap), and some very good and insightful suggestions for development. I particularly like the frequently inserted panels with quotes from those interviewed – these provided well-chosen, succinct illustrations of the points.


Wiley-Blackwell; 2010; Pb £12.99

Reviewed by Emily Hutchinson, who is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist, Consultant and part-time Senior Lecturer




Theories of Counselling and Psychotherapy: An Introduction to the Different Approaches

Stephen  Joseph

This text provides a concise overview of the common counselling and psychotherapy theoretical models. Each chapter focuses on a particular approach with a detailed introduction, a theoretical overview and a brief critique. It invites the reader to challenge their existing assumptions and to critically evaluate current social constructions of psychopathology.


A more contemporary critical contextualising of some approaches would have been useful; for example,. in the psychodynamic chapter some sexualities are positioned as pathological within the theory overview, but this is not addressed in the critical discussion. Psychologists are also aligned closely in the text with the medical model, which is perhaps unreflective of counselling psychology, as is describing qualitative research methods as non-scientific and thereby less valuable than quantitative methods. 


This book is likely to be invaluable though to counselling and psychotherapeutic practitioners starting out and is a useful addition to the training literature. The brevity and accessibility make it a ‘must have’ for anyone wanting a relatively short but detailed introduction to the main therapeutic approaches, in short a book that they will actually read from cover to cover.


Palgrave Macmillan; 2010; Pb £19.99

Reviewed by Penny Lenihan Consultant Psychologist and Tony Kainth Psychologist in Doctoral Training with Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic, West London Mental Health Trust



The Adolescent and Adult Neuro-diversity Handbook: Asperger Syndrome, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Related Conditions

Sarah Hendrickx (with a chapter on dyslexia by Claire Salter)

The concept of neuro-diversity opposes the view that neurodevelopmental disorders as such autism represent atypical neurological development, and instead takes a positive focus on individuals with ‘different brains’. From this perspective, the book features eight chapters each covering a different neurodevelopmental disorder with a focus on these conditions in adolescence and adulthood. The final two chapters provide suggestions for supporting individuals in learning and work environments.   


Each chapter includes sections on the history of the condition and causes (very brief), and considers the characteristics and implications of the condition with a focus on adults. The sections on diagnosis and assessment provide DSM criteria and do a good job of highlighting issues of comorbidity and complexity in diagnosis. Self-help and support strategies are emphasised in the sections considering treatment.     


Essentially this is a self-help book for individuals who have, or think they might have, a neurodevelopmental condition. Health and education professionals will find other books and resources that are more relevant to their needs. This book did, however, provide some insight into the experiences of adults with conditions such as ADHD and dyspraxia.


Jessica Kingsley; 2009; £13.99

Reviewed by Ruth Wadman, who is a  Research Fellow, University of Nottingham


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