Hilde Bruch sets out to accomplish what has, until now, been virtually impossible - the teaching of psychotherapy by use of the written word, communicating the wisdom of a lifetime. Perhaps Dr. Bruch's unique success at a task that has been tried and tried again, only to result in stereotyped do's and don'ts, stems from her own learning experiences with two great teachers: Harry Stack Sullivan and Frieda Fromm-Reichmann.
Dr. Bruch shares her knowledge of the essential purpose of intensive psychotherapy as it has been shaped over her many years as a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and teacher. She sets forth a theoretical frame in straightforward and unmystical language without minimizing the complexities of demand that therapy makes on both patient and therapist.
The reader accompanies the therapist from his first encounter with the stranger who comes to him with his trouble through the various steps that lead to the resolution of the problems. The patient is viewed as a participant in a multifaceted system of many experiences and people, not as an individual isolated from the world around him. In Dr. Bruch's conception, psychotherapy is a situation where two people interact and try to come to an understanding of one another, with the specific goal of accomplishing something beneficial for the complaining person. The factors that help or hinder the attainment of this interaction are spelled out in the book, and the entire process of learning psychotherapy is thereby illumination.