The Gossamer Thread: My Life as a Psychotherapist

Author(s) : John Marzillier

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The Gossamer Thread: My Life as a Psychotherapist

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This book is a memoir of the author's professional life as a psychologist and psychotherapist. It shows his progression from a hard-nosed behaviour therapist with a strong commitment to science to a psychodynamic therapist with an interest in narrative. Along the way he shows the way the main schools of psychotherapy (behavioural, cognitive, psychodynamic) work, drawing on case material from his professional practice. He shows the mistakes he made and the lessons he eventually learned from his patients. His focus on clinical cases enables readers to see psychotherapy in operation and get drawn into the ups and downs of trying to help some fascinating and often tricky people who rarely conform to what is expected of them.

The book is free of jargon and can be enjoyed without any prior knowledge of psychology or psychotherapy. It is designed to entertain and inform the general readership about the mysterious world of psychotherapy, what goes on behind the consulting room door. It will be of particular interest to the increasing number of people who encounter psychotherapy either through their own experience of seeking help or the experiences of family and friends or through reading of popular books such as those of Oliver James and Irving Yalom.

It should also prove invaluable for those interested in training as a clinical psychologist, counsellor or psychotherapist.

Reviews and Endorsements


'I found this book so riveting that I could not put it down and read it in one sitting . John Marzillier describes his personal journey, revealing the human stories behind the distilled 'science' of psychotherapy. It will be an effective antidote to any tendency to assume that any one approach has the answer.'
- Phil Mollon, clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, and author of Shame and Jealousy

'I cannot recommend this book highly enough... John Marzillier writes in a way that is a pleasure to read, being open and personal, always accessible and frequently with humour. His book is full of telling clinical examples. This is a book from which anyone in the helping professions has much to learn.'
- Patrick Casement, a psychoanalyst and author of Learning from the Patient

'An insightful and entertaining account of what it takes to work as a psychotherapist... John Marzillier has produced a book that is warmly written, very informative and a pleasure to read.'
- Paul Gilbert, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Derby, and author of The Compassionate Mind and Overcoming Depression

'Filled with personal reflections and clinical vignettes, this gem of a book should be essential reading for all therapists from all therapeutic persuasions.'
- Windy Dryden, Professor of Psychotherapeutic Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London

About the Author(s)

John Marzillier worked for thirty-seven years as a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist in various settings including psychiatric hospitals, GP practices, a university clinic and in private practice. He retired in 2006 to become a writer. He has published numerous academic articles as well as novels and poems. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

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