by Nina Josefowitz and David Myran
The first and most important challenge that any author who wishes to write a book about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) must face is the fact that the market is swamped with texts on CBT. These range from single chapters in theory textbooks to entire books devoted to the philosophical underpinnings of the theory. These also include a great number of manual-type books that are designed to provide step-by-step instructions in how to apply this theory to a clinical setting. CBT Made Simple, by Josefowitz and Myran, falls into this category. Broadly, it is a text designed to translate somewhat ambiguous theoretical concepts into practical, replicable steps that can be followed to produce a therapeutically beneficial result. Fortunately, this text presents CBT in splendid fashion and stands as a wonderful option for counselors who wish to incorporate this theory into their practices.
The text is broken down into three parts, which are further divided into individual chapters. The flow of the book makes logical sense, especially from the viewpoint of the practicing clinician, which this book is aimed toward. There is clear and intentional movement from the foundation of the theory, to basic CBT work, to more advanced interventions. The book concludes with a review of two clients that were consistently discussed throughout previous parts of the book.
The strongest element of this text is its intentional organization. Throughout the book, the authors reference the fact that CBT takes practice and that counselors who are new to CBT should not expect to be experts immediately. Knowing this, the authors provide consistent “practice” information in the core elements of the theory at the beginning of each chapter. They create a parallel process in which each chapter begins by setting an agenda, then working through it, and concluding with assigned homework. This allows the reader to become familiar with how to organize and conduct initial counseling sessions using this CBT method and then reinforces that knowledge throughout the text.
Additionally, the text encourages the reader to try the techniques on themselves or apply the principles to their own lives. This makes the book feel much more approachable. Also, the book does well in its use of concrete problems and solutions. The two recurring client cases present difficulties that most counselors will see in their clients at one time or another. The problems are addressed through the book in a way that seems doable and easy to follow. For example, when describing work with a client suffering from depression, some authors will say: “assist the client in understanding the nature of their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and how those are related.” That’s a great goal, but difficult for some counselors to grasp. Alternatively, Josefowitz and Myran give step-by-step instructions for dealing with issues similar to this: (1) Identify the client’s thoughts; (2) Judge whether the thought is irrational; (3) Help the client to dispute the thought; and (4) Create a more effective action plan. This way is not strictly better, but is very congruent with the way this text approaches CBT.
This text will find its greatest application with professional counselors currently working in the field who are wanting to incorporate CBT into their practice and are in need of an excellent guide. Overall this book seeks to do one thing: educate practicing counselors in an effective way to practice CBT, and it does just that.
Josefowitz, N., & Myran, D. (2017). CBT made simple: A clinician’s guide to practicing cognitive behavioral therapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
Reviewed by: Wes Allen, NCC, University of Tennessee
The Professional Counselor