Speaking the Unspoken


Speaking the Unspoken:

Breaking the Silence, Myths, and Taboos That Hurt Therapists and Patients

 by Ken Pope, Nayeli Chavez-Dueñas, Hector Adames, Janet Sonne, and Beverly Greene

Publisher: American Psychological Association  2023  Paperback, Kindle, eBook

“Here, at last, is the book we never really knew we needed, but needed so desperately. ‘Silence and silencing have shaped the psychotherapy profession.’  Truer words were never (un)spoken.”  
Eric Y. Drogin, JD, PhD, ABPP
Harvard Medical School
Former Chair, APA Committee on Professional Practice and Standards

“This book is essential reading for anyone who practices, teaches, supervises, and studies psychotherapy.  It will help you to recognize and overcome barriers to thinking clearly, speaking openly, and listening respectfully about unspoken topics in our profession.  The engaging vignettes, thought-provoking exercises, suggested strategies, and informational pearls of wisdom will strengthen your courage, humility, readiness, and skills to engage in authentic discussions.”
Joan Cook, PhD
Professor of Psychology
Yale University

“Kenneth S. Pope, the foremost psychological ethicist of our time (someone who walks the talk), and a diverse and distinguished cadre of co-authors provide a necessary exploration of censored and challenging topics in psychotherapy. They show how correct Sigmund Freud was in positing that suppressed material will ‘come forth later in uglier ways’.”
Etzel Cardeña, PhD
Thorsen Professor in Psychology
Lund University, Sweden
Co-editor of Varieties of Anomalous Experience and founding editor of the Journal of Anomalous Experience and Cognition

“What a treasure of a book!  The teaching, practice, and profession of psychotherapy are enhanced when we openly and directly address, understand, and continuously process ‘taboo’ topics that are challenging.  The amazing authors provide history and sources of resistance to topics such as group identity, anger, oppression, and sexual feelings regarding clients.  Most importantly, and of significant value, the book provides strategies that inspire us to have the courage, confidence, and determination to address the relevant issues in the various contexts in which we work.  After reading this outstanding, compelling, must-read contribution, you will agree that creating a culture of speaking up benefits us all!” 
Melba J. T. Vasquez, PhD, ABPP 
Independent Practice
Former President, American Psychological Association

“Speaking the Unspoken: Breaking the Silence, Myths and Taboos that Hurt Therapists and Patients is a must-read for EVERY therapist. The authors raise awareness and brilliantly illustrate how to address critical, contemporary, and challenging issues in therapy and supervision, including oppression and racism. I highly recommend this book!” 
Lillian Comas-Díaz, PhD 
Recipient of the American Psychological Association Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in the Practice of Psychology
Past President, Psychologists in Independent Practice, APA Division 42
Author: Multicultural Care: A Clinician’s Guide to Cultural Competence

“Have you ever avoided talking about something important?  Have you ever wished for the courage to speak up?  In clear and accessible prose, Speaking the Unspoken explains what underlies the fear and the other obstacles that keep us silent.  With remarkable clarity, the book models the courage to discuss complex topics and provides practical advice for how and when to discuss previously unspoken matters.  Every psychotherapist should read this intelligent and transformative book.” 
Jennifer Joy Freyd, PhD
Founder and President, Center for Institutional Courage
Professor Emerit, Psychology, University of Oregon
Adjunct Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University
Editor, Journal of Trauma & Dissociation

“Brave and compelling, Pope and colleagues’ volume paves the way to change and enlightenment of mindsets in clinical training, supervision, and practice.  This courageous book outlines what is NOT DISCUSSED in clinical practice, supervision, and consultation, the impacts of these, and guideposts to identify, reflect, and address them.  The authors address emotionally, politically, and personally charged topics that are avoided. It is a “must-read” for educators, supervisors, and clinicians-in-training.” 
Carol Falender, PhD
Adjunct Professor, Graduate School of Education and Psychology, Pepperdine University
Clinical Professor, University of California, Los Angeles, Psychology Department
Co-author, co-editor of six books on Competency-based Clinical Supervision, one on Competency-based Consultation

“‘Several topics have been historically avoided in psychotherapy.’  The opening line in this book sheds light on a central truth – we tend to avoid certain topics because we have been told it is ‘uncultured’ to address them in ‘polite society.’   Although we may wish it to be so, averting our gaze does not remove these issues and problems from reality—not in society and not in our practices.  The authors, experts in ethics, multiculturalism, practice, and training, excellently guide us through our own necessary edification. They invite us not to collude with the silence and the avoidance created when we hide behind the veil of ‘politeness’ and the guise of clinical neutrality.  The book aims to enhance our skills and tolerance to feeling distressed and uncomfortable when we do “Break the Silence.”  In learning how to do the necessary yet uncomfortable, we benefit our profession and the people we serve.
Cynthia de las Fuentes, PhD
Independent Practice

Table of Contents:


Introduction: Unspoken Topics in Psychotherapy and How This Book Can Help Break the Silence

Part I: The Problem of the Unspoken

1.. A Chilling Context for Psychotherapy: Cancel Culture, Hyperpolarization, Books and Topics Banned by the State, Frightened Academics, and Self-Censorship
2. A Silenced Profession: The Toxic Effects of Taboo Topics
3. Systems of Silencing and Cognitive Cues for Keeping Quiet
4. An Example of the Problem: Therapists' Sexual Attractions, Arousals, and Fantasies

Part II: Preparing to Break the Silence

5. Looking Inward: A Self-Assessment of How We Respond to Challenging Topics
6. Strengthening the Courage to Speak Up: Creating a Supportive Context

Part III: Speaking the Unspoken—Exercises for Explorating and Learning

7. Talking About Physical Difference and Disability
8. Talking About Sexual and Affectional Orientation
9. Talking About Sexual Reactions to Clients
10. Talking About Anger
11. Talking About Oppression
12. Speaking Up About White Supremacy Culture
13. Talking About Religion
14. Talking About Money and Fees
15. Talking About Death and Dying

Part IV: Speaking the Unspoken Beyond Psychotherapy

16. Speaking Up in Supervision and Consultation
17. Speaking Up in the Profession and the Community

Part V: But What If...

18. Hitting a Wall, or The Wall Hitting Us: What to Do When Confused, Scared, Disheartened, or Stuck

About the Authors




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