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Brief Dynamic Therapy


Reviewed by Lucero Smith

As part of the “Theories of Psychotherapy Series” from the American Psychological Association (APA), this book focuses the components and benefits of brief therapy. Intended for clinicians, Levenson’s book is informative and instructive as it is paired with a companion video that demonstrates the treatment. The brevity and organization make this book helpfully simple and user-friendly. Levenson utilizes tables, bulleted lists, and other visuals alongside her well-researched writing to clearly present this treatment as a viable tool for therapists.

This book is comprised of six chapters and subsequent sections including references and an index. In Chapter 1, Introduction, Levenson explains what brief therapy is and how it is nearly universal. She cites statistics to claim that most therapists and patients participate in brief therapy. Levenson concludes the introduction by specifying her emphasis on time-limited dynamic psychotherapy (TLDP). She describes it as “an integrative short-term approach that interweaves major principles of time-sensitive clinical work” (p. 13) that she will refer to throughout the book to make brief dynamic therapy demonstrable.

Chapter 2 explores the history of brief dynamic therapy in terms of four distinct generations. After providing an overview of the history, Levenson dives into the theories behind brief dynamic therapy and TLDP in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 takes the theories a step further and demonstrates how they apply during the therapeutic process. It contains tables and other visuals to make the instructions more comprehensible. Levenson transitions into the evaluation of TLDP in Chapter 5 which is brief and explores research in the field. Chapter 6 is also quite short and considers future developments in the field.

This book does a good job of explaining brief dynamic therapy, and more specifically TLDP, from historical, theoretical, and practical perspectives. I appreciate the brevity of the book too as it’s a quick read that is easy to reference. It was somewhat off putting, however, that Chapters 5 and 6 are so short relative to Chapters 3 and 4, which comprise the bulk of the book. Making the evaluation and future development chapters more substantial would have benefitted the overall viability and credibility of the book.

Levenson’s focus on TLDP provides a more narrow approach to the topic which does make the book easier to utilize, but the title slightly misleading. Regardless, I understand the advantage of using TLDP as a “vehicle” for getting the message across. Readers stand to learn plenty from this book and might be surprised, as I was, by the interesting facts about brief dynamic therapy.


Hanna Levenson, PhD is a practicing psychotherapist, an author, and a professor. She specializes in brief therapy and has practiced as well as conducted research for four decades. She has written and published dozens of papers as well as two other books. She is the founder of the Levenson Institute for Training and a professor at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California.


Lucero Smith is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, pursuing a B.A. in History with a minor in Urban Education. She has done extensive community engagement work in West Philadelphia schools. She also has experience conducting archival research at the Library Company of Philadelphia and research in problem solving learning. In addition to working for IJP, she also writes reviews for Somatic Psychotherapy Today.

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