How Does Psychotherapy Work?


Publisher: International Psychotherapy Institute

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The premise of How Does Psychotherapy Work? is that psychodynamic psychotherapy affords the patient an opportunity – albeit a belated one – to master experiences that had once been overwhelming, and therefore defended against, but that can now, with enough support from the therapist and by tapping into the patient’s underlying resilience and capacity to cope with stress, be processed, integrated, and ultimately adapted to. (450 pp.)


“Dr. Martha Stark has taken the fledgling field of comparative psychoanalysis into a new and important domain. She develops in great detail a framework for contrasting and exploring the major contemporary models of the analytic process. She takes us underneath the slogans and banners of the various schools so that we may compare their underlying concepts and presuppositions. And she demonstrates what different technical systems actually look like in live action by presenting a remarkably rich array of clinical examples. Her ideas will contribute to the enrichment of both the thinking and clinical sensibility of clinicians at all levels of experience and sophistication.”

—Stephen A. Mitchell Ph.D., New York, NY

“Dr. Martha Stark has brought together the three fundamental theories about how therapy works that prevail in our friend at present and has shrewdly drawn out the virtue of each. Her own integrated conception is at once sophisticated and practical. Therapists at every level of experience will profit from it. Engaging and convincing clinical vignettes bring Stark’s concepts alive, illustrating them in a way that resonates with a practitioner’s experience. Hers is a no-nonsense, deeply human, eminently useful study of what really happens in successful psychotherapy.”

—Owen Renik M.D., San Francisco, CA

“Dr. Martha Stark is a phenomenon. Her courses in postgraduate education are legendary. Now, with this volume, she distills her teachings into an accessible and lively dialogue that captures her inimitable style.”

—Alfred Marguiles M.D., Newton, MA

“Martha Stark is a gifted teacher—able to clarify without sacrificing complexity. No one is better at conveying the essence of psychoanalytic theory, through careful explanation and practical examples. In her books, she forges a unified basis for psychotherapy, drawing on the strengths of the major schools of psychoanalysis. Beyond the rationale and method of our work, Stark captures its joy.”

—Peter Kramer M.D., Providence, RI

“This book is much broader than the title would suggest. Stark describes the entire panorama of the therapeutic encounter in a style that is forthright, simple to understand and yet not oversimplified. Martha Stark manages to offer practical advice within the context of a sophisticated reading of psychoanalytic theory.”

—Arnold H. Modell M.D., Newton, MA

“A remarkable book, Dr. Stark illustrates the therapeutic action of the major psychoanalytic theoretical paradigms with many vignettes that clinicians will be readily able to recognize from their own practices. The clinical moments are described with extraordinary candor and vividness. This integration of theory and practice makes the book both highly relevant clinically and extremely instructive theoretically.”

—Anna Ornstein M.D. and Paul H. Ornstein M.D., Brookline, MA

“Dr. Martha Stark is a superb teacher whose scholarship and passion make her stand out in a crowded field of psychoanalysts. One of her gifts is to take complex material and communicate it in a clear, concise fashion that is immediately understandable to her audience.”

—Pamela Enders Ph.D., Boston, MA

“This is a book that should be required reading for any therapist in training and for any therapist in practice. The book is brilliant and covers so much therapeutic ground. I was fascinated by the material all the way through and have applied some of her relational concepts to my own practice with excellent results. Dr. Stark’s other books are brilliant as well. I had the good fortune of studying with her many years ago in Boston and through her books, others can partake of her extensive knowledge.”

—Roberta Finkel Keats, Boca Raton, FL

“I just completed Martha Stark’s 4 week online course, and it was marvelous! Martha presented us with a meta-theory of her own creation that captures the many disparate threads of psychoanalytic though and organizes them into several modes, all of which can be flexibly integrated into the therapeutic encounter and all of which are relevant and essential to therapeutic growth. How many people can do this? I am shaking my head. I found this class to be transformative for me as a clinician in that it infused me with new energy and an exciting way to conceptualize my work. I immediately began using the interventions in the room. It has brought me back to loving what I am doing, which was, to be honest, feeling a bit wan.”

—Louise Ryder Ph.D., Bozeman, MT

“I was ecstatic to learn that Martha Stark was teaching this course. It was professionally ‘transformative’ for me—highly interactive, intense, and thought-provoking. There is no other psychodynamic psychotherapy course like this one! Thank you!”

—Beverly Benedettii APRN, Easton, MA

“I have just completed Dr. Stark’s online course and words like outstanding, superlative, and powerful come to mind for me as I reflect on the theoretical and clinical integrations that were taught in an experience-near manner. I am a 1983 graduate of the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology and this continuing education course ranks among the very best I have ever taken over the 30+ years of my practice.”

—Joan Thompson Psy.D., Newton Centre, MA

“I am not a professional, I am a client. I have read many books on psychology to understand what is wrong with my mind. This one is the best book I have ever come across. In fact, I read at least one page a day at work and one page at home. I carry this book with me all the time. It’s such a treasure, every line in the book is a lesson for my life.”

—Selvakumar Subramanian, Chicago, IL

“Dr. Martha Stark ‘practices psychiatry with skill and grace.’ Her extensive knowledge and depth of understanding about the mind and the body, her capacity to innovate and outside-the-box creativity, her tireless determination, and her ever-present good humor have freed me up to pursue—with passion—my dreams. I consider myself blessed to have been able to benefit from her expansive mind, her wisdom, and her generous worldview. Thank you!”

—Christine Amis M.D., Yarmouth Port, MA

“Your extraordinary productivity is to be much admired, as is your lucid, succinct manner of presenting this richly textured material.”

—Jeremy Nahum M.D., Cambridge, MA

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