Review of The Art of the Psychotherapist by James F. T. Bugental

Early on Bugental warns that this is not a book for the beginner — rightly so. This book is, however; an extremely important contribution to the existential literature and the psychotherapy literature in general. Of all the discussions I’ve read of therapists trying to explain how to follow and use process, none have done as good of a job as Bugental does here. This is a great text for therapists trying to deepen their understanding of the therapy process and those trying to learn how to better track with clients. I would also recommend this book as a consideration for a text in an advanced case conceptualization seminar.

Bugental’s deep respect for the client, their defenses, and their ability to go where they need to go is very evident. The approach advocated for in this book requires such a respect for the individual therapeut as well as good therapeutic patience. While it is not written specifically for those interested in existential therapy and would be useful to many clinicians practicing from other approaches, it is certainly a depth psychotherapy approach.

While this book is not Bugental’s most entertaining read, it is one of his most important contributions — which is stating a lot when looking at what Bugental has offered the field of psychotherapy. It would not be recommended for consumer interested in learning more about the psychotherapy process or existential therapy. This is a book for professionals, and probably professionals with either some experience or guidance from a mentor/supervisor.