Useful Servants: Psychodynamic Approaches to Clinical Practice provides a simple but not simplistic overview of nine major approaches to psychodynamic theory and psychotherapeutic practice. Each chapter includes clinical vignettes as well as an extensive case illustration of how theories may be used in the consulting room. For beginners in the field, Useful Servants makes accessible the central ideas that have shaped the discourse of psychotherapy. The advanced clinician will find this book an invaluable review and reference tool, in particular, the chapter on Lacan offers a fresh and digestible summary of the clinical application of this immensely complex thinker (604 pgs).
“If we can judge by Useful Servants, Susan Levine is a new star in the psychoanalytic galaxy. The book is a superb overview of the works of nine of the most important contributors to psychoanalytic thought. Not only are the discussions of their work comprehensive, they are concise and eminently understandable. The clinical discussions amplify and clarify the theoretical material. While the book is aimed at the younger clinician, its erudition is such that even the most experienced practitioner will find it stimulating and enlightening.” – Sydney E. Pulver
“Out of her motivation to write the book that she herself needed when she was a new clinician, Susan Levine has created for beginning students and clinicians a much longed-for source of concise information about the otherwise bewildering array of theories extant in today’s psychoanalytic world. Beginning with Freud and ending with Lacan, her chapters sketch the central ideas of nine major thinkers about human development and psychopathology and the psychotherapeutic approaches that derive from the concepts of each. In every instance a case illustration shows a particular therapist with a particular patient, drawing upon the theory for a listening perspective, but never applying it rigidly, since its possibilities and limits will be profoundly affected but the unique dyad and by context. The accounts are not idealized, they show therapists struggling with profound challenges, dealing with their own countertransferences and sometimes but not always feeling successful in their efforts. The author’s commentaries facilitate the reader’s finding links between the theories, which are, after all, but provisional conveniences, to be refined or revised when they cannot encompass the data. I think the books will appeal not only to therapists who are yet novices, but to some of us who, having lived through the years of theory change and proliferation, have arrived at some idiosyncratic syntheses of these ideas.” – Jean Sanville
“Many of the great post-classical psychoanalytic contributors are here. Following Sigmund and Anna Freud appear Hartmann, Klein, Kernberg, Kohut, Lacan, Mahler, Stern, and Winnicott. In her eminently readable book, Susan Levine systematically introduces these well-known theorists with a note about their family backgrounds and goes on to showcase their ideologies in relation to everyday psychotherapy practice. Useful Servants makes the case that each theoretical perspective has something unique to offer, none is written in stone, none has the final answer, and all are needed as servants of the therapeutic task. Clearly and thoroughly explained by Susan Levine, each theory is accurately served and matched with a case history to which it is particularly relevant. A most useful and valuable servant for the recently trained clinician and the teacher of eclectic psychotherapy.” – Jill Savege Scharff