The Gossamer Thread: My Life as a Psychotherapist

The Gossamer Thread: My Life as a Psychotherapist

by John Marzillier

Using three different case studies with clients, a British therapist describes his personal journey from his early career as a behavioral psychologist, to his later years, where he embraced a more intuitive and reflective psychodynamic approach.
Below are three extracts from my book, The Gossamer Thread: My Life as a Psychotherapist (Karnac, 2010). The book describes my personal journey as a psychotherapist, how I started as a bumptious behaviour therapist, young, inexperienced and highly confident, and ended as a psychodynamic psychotherapist with a more reflective and intuitive way of working. Along the way I trained in Beck’s cognitive therapy although I found myself almost immediately doubting the rational simplicities of this approach.
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© 2010, Karnac Books. Reprinted with permission.
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John Marzillier
John Marzillier MA, MSc, PhD is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist living in Oxford, England. In a long career he worked as an academic psychologist, a clinician and a private practitioner in psychotherapy. He trained in behavioural, cognitive, cognitive-analytic and psychodynamic therapies, a professional journey that he describes in his personal memoir, The Gossamer Thread: My Life as a Psychotherapist published by Karnac Books in 2010. He has retired from his psychotherapy practice to work as a writer. As well as continuing to write about psychotherapy, John writes fiction and poetry, which can be found on He is currently writing a book on people’s responses to major trauma based on recorded interviews with trauma survivors. John’s website can be found on
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CE credits: 1
Learning objectives:

  • Identify some of the key distinctions between behavioral, cognitive, and psychodynamic approaches to psychotherapy.
  • Describe one way to incorporate Beck’s concept of schemas into a therapy session with a depressed client.
  • Learn how to engage clients in the therapeutic process using three different theoretical approaches.
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