Clinical Pearls of Wisdom:
21 Leading Therapists Offer Their Key Insights

Michael Kerman, Editor

Leading Edge Seminars' Michael Kerman is editor of Clinical Pearls of Wisdom: 21 Leading Therapists Offer Their Key Insights (Norton Professional Books).

Organized around the most common presenting problems, each author shares and defines three “clinical pearls of wisdom”, and discusses them in the context of an annotated case example.

  • Treating Depression: Pat Ogden, Bill O'Hanlon, and Michael Stone
  • Treating Trauma: Dusty Miller, Diana Fosha, and Babette Rothschild
  • Treating Anxiety: Reid Wilson and Margaret Wehrenberg
  • Treating Grief: Kenneth Doka, Robert Neimeyer, and Sameet Kumar
  • Working with Couples: Sue Johnson, Carolyn Daitch, and Evan Imber-Black
  • Working with Children: Dan Hughes, Lenore Terr, and Aureen Wagner
  • Working with Adolescents: Janet Edgette, Martha Straus, and David Wexler
  • The Therapist's Attachment Patterns as Sources of Insight and Impasse: David Wallin

To purchase this book, please visit Caversham Booksellers. (link opens in a new window)

Reviews of Clinical Pearls

Over the years mental health clinicians develop unique ideas and procedures, which the find to be extremely effective with their clients. For those who are always on the lookout for new methods Clinical Pearls of Wisdom: 21 Leading Therapists Offer Their Key Insights offers the reader a treasure chest of time-tested concepts. Immediately upon reading this anthology I felt that I had benefitted from the collective experience of many of the professions most competent practitioners. Edited by Michael Kerman, MSW, the founder of Leading Edge Seminars, this volume presents a concise series of chapters in which each therapist shares a few well-chosen pearls, a relevant case history, and a summary.

I was particularly impressed by the collection of contributing experts. Other than Carolyn Daitch, PhD, and Bill O'Hanlon, LMFT, two of my personal favorites for whom I have previously reviewed one or more books in the past, this work includes chapters by several highly respected clinicians, teachers, and authors in the fields of psychology, psychiatry, and therapy.

Clinical Pearls of Wisdom discusses the most frequently addressed presenting problems to include anxiety and depression, grief, working with couples, adolescents, and children, and trauma. Also, there was an excellent chapter on the therapist's attachment patterns by David Wallin, PhD, California clinical psychologist and author.

The main value that the reader gets out of this book is the opportunity to consider alternatives. Each of the authors' pearls represents a well thought out approach to the client's presenting issue. In every category you will find different approaches taken by experienced clinicians, who have developed their skills and refined their knowledge after very long history of working with clients. What particularly impressed me were the humility, humanity, and compassion shown by each of them.

Even though I must strongly recommend Clinical Pearls of Wisdom to mental health clinicians, it is also a book that would be appreciated by others in the healing profession. Indeed, there is a lot that anyone can learn from how these therapists manage helping relationships with their clients. Also, you will easily glean further understanding of the value of their professions and the problems faced by a large percentage of the people that all healers encounter.

Reviewed by Tim Brunson, PhD, (November 2009) from The International Hypnosis Research Institute

Oh the joy of a book you can just dip into in those spare segments of time! The editor, Michael Kerman, has drawn together 21 different therapists with a wide variety of approach, experience and expertise to produce this book. It is divided into manageable chapters, each of which can be read in around 20 minutes, arranged for easy navigation into eight sections: depression, trauma, anxiety, grief, couples, children, adolescents and a conclusion. Each section contains three chapters that are clearly structured, with each contributor giving an introduction, three ‘pearls of wisdom’ with explanations, followed by a case example.

I find this genre of book to be very useful and for me this one compares well with others I have read and reviewed, thanks to its lively style and clear structure. It is fascinating and educative to hear about what other professionals do in their work – not always the easiest information to come by, given our commitment to confidentiality.

It is my belief that we learn from others, and that our professional style evolves as a unique blend of what is innate and what others inspire us to be. Therefore I particularly liked the editor’s concluding remarks in the introduction: "Your therapeutic approach will always have the flavour of you. It can never be replicated by anyone else except you. Your style, your temperament, your sense of humour and your way of being present with others are indispensable and unique elements of your therapeutic alliances."

Inviting the reader to pick the chapters in whatever order makes most sense to them, he urges us to "balance what you learn from their many insights with ongoing curiosity about the “you” who performs this meaningful and interesting work." That works for me!

Reviewed by Sue Rowe in Therapy Today (April 2010, Vol. 21, Issue 3), published by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Sue Rowe is a trainer, supervisor and BACP accredited counsellor.

This is a valuable book, offering useful, sometimes inspirational, ideas for working with the experiences of depression, trauma, anxiety and grief, and the issues most commonly presented by struggling couples, children and adolescents. Contributors, including Bill O'Hanlon and Michael Stone, were each asked to share what the editor terms their "pearls of clinical wisdom" - three insights or techniques which they consider to have had the greated impact on their work with clients, in helping them change habitual patterns of behaviour, thoughts and emotions. The book emphasizes that therapy is not just a set of techniques but an art, in which the most important qualities are those of empathy and emotional intelligence.

From Human Givens Journal (June 2010)

The idea of a master class, a forum in which experts reflect at length and pass on a distillation of their accumulated practice wisdom, is not new, although it may be more familiar in the arts than in psychotherapy. However, that is to some extent what this book is. 21 psychotherapists speak about personal approaches to therapy and offer pearls from their experience.

It is not a daunting book, and is structured in an accessible way. There are seven sections, eight if you count the concluding reflection on the therapeutic experience, each with a number of authors. Most of the major areas of clinical practice are covered, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, children, couples and so on, and each contribution follows a set pattern. First is the pearls, a brief listing of three clinical pearls based on personal reflection and feedback the author has received often, a concentrated version of many years of practice. then each author gives a case example, a presentation of a case that best exemplifies the "pearls" in action. They also offer an analysis, a sort of commentary - why they did what they did and what they thought about it then, and now. Finally, each author provides a series of concluding remarks about the preceding material and offers readers a sense of their thinking behind their clinical work, and how this approach might be integrated into other people's client work.

It is not a book to read cover to cover, but rather one that from time to time can be dipped into. It is not academic in tone, and although the chapters are referenced it is not heavy reading. The writers all seem to take a friendly, conversational approach. They use the first person, and will often discuss their own reactions to the therapeutic event, or engagement.

Most of the authors seem to have an interpersonal, psychodynamic and psychoanalytic bent. The authors do not really favor a behavioral method. There is little by way of pharmacology and no consideration of the treatment of psychosis. It is also focused on individual therapy (or perhaps couples or families) but not groups, and makes more use of therapeutic approaches than clinical trials or examined evidence.

The book comes out of Leading Edge Seminars (Michael Kerman, who edits the text is the founder), a private organization that provides education and training workshops for mental health professionals through North America. It is, to that extent, an in-house publication, and the selection of authors is also limited to those mainly from the private sector. It may also be said that the whole text has something of a North American flavour to it, both in style and content. It is not a text book, and it is not a complicated or dense read. It may have sections that are reaffirming to the beginning therapist, and it will guide and prompt rather than instruct. For experienced therapists it may be more confirming than illuminating, more of a prompt than a revelation, and for many it will contain a small vignette that has resonance.

Review by Mark Welch, PhD, in Metapsychology Online Reviews (July 27, 2010, Vol. 14, Issue 30)