Behind the Voices is a snapshot Q&A featuring the hosts and guests of MHPN’s six-part podcast, ‘Book Club’
. The rules of engagement are simple: MHPN asks five questions, and our hosts and guests provide their answers. What’s the point? To get a sense of the voices behind each episode… How they think, what they’re currently reading, what they’ve learnt through or since their initial conversation together, and what book they’d want to discuss next on Book Club.
Read on to hear from Dr John Cooper and Professor Mark Creamer of Book Club Episode 4: “Agree to Disagree? A Frank Conversation on ‘Common Features of Psychotherapy’”.
Book Club is essentially a conversation between two mental health practitioners. John and Mark, as episode 4’s host and guest respectively, was there a moment or comment during your conversation with one another that sparked a new perspective on Jerome Frank, psychotherapy, and the broader issue of orthodoxies in psychotherapeutic approaches?
JOHN COOPER: Not so much a new perspective…more of a clarification or re-emphasis of the non-binary nature of the topic. Highlighting and applying the common features of effective psychotherapy in clinical practice and adhering to an evidence-based approach can/should both occur. The two are not mutually exclusive.
MARK CREAMER: No specific moment, but I was struck by how relevant our discussion was – twenty five years or so after John and I had first debated these issues. The fundamental questions – about the common elements across different psychotherapeutic approaches – are as relevant today as they were when Frank wrote his famous book (and this paper) in 1970.
If Jerome Frank were alive today and here with you now what would you like to say to him or perhaps ask of him?
JOHN COOPER: Well done Jerry…you saw through and rose above the cult of personality! (would that be too disrespectful…?)
MARK CREAMER: I would bring him up to date on the key developments over the last few decades that, I think, put his work into a new light … advances in diagnosis, assessment, and our understanding of phenomenology, as well as advances in treatments (both psychological and pharmacological).
And… if Frank were to listen to your episode, how do you think he would respond?
JOHN COOPER: I’m not sure but I know I would feel very self-conscious. He might be slightly bemused that we are still talking about his ideas and maybe disappointed the field hasn’t progressed further.
MARK CREAMER: I’m sure [Frank] would be flattered to think that we are still discussing his ideas fifty years later! Hopefully he would agree with our comments on where his ideas are still relevant and where they are not.
To give our readers a sense of the person behind the voice of Book Club episode 4, can you tell us what you last read for pleasure and / or what you last read for work, and sum each up in three words?
JOHN COOPER: For pleasure: Mythos - The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry. Engaging, informative, fun.
For work: The Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. Important, sobering, hopeful.
MARK CREAMER: The last book I read for pleasure was Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell.
The last thing I read for work was a review of TF-CBT for PTSD in situations of ongoing threat by Naomi Ennis, Iris Sijercic, and Candice Monson.
And no, I can’t sum either of them up in three words!
If you had a chance to talk about another book / text of your choosing on Book Club, what would it be and why?
JOHN COOPER: Maybe something I read many, many years ago when I was at school – something like John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath or J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. I’m sure they had a greater impact on me in my callow youth than I realised at the time.
MARK CREAMER: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, about the struggle of a Mexican woman fleeing violence in her home town and trying to escape with her son as undocumented immigrants to the United States. A powerful story of resilience and survival in the face of severe adversity.
We’ve talked a lot about words, and we’ve had a chance to hear your voice in the podcast. Could you show us your bookshelf, favourite reading spot, last book you read, or something else?
JOHN COOPER: This is a photograph of the books currently sitting on my bedside table. I must confess to not having finished any of them!
MARK CREAMER: All my reading is on kindle these days … this is a screenshot of some of the books from my kindle library (although my wife and I share a kindle account so half of them are hers.
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