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Book Reviews   |    
Essentials of Treatment Planning
Reviewed by Stacey Dixon, Ph.D.
Psychiatric Services 2003; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.54.3.407-a
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by Mark E. Maruish; New York, John Wiley & Sons, 2002, 243 pages, $34.95 softcover

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For the most part, this book in the series Essentials of Mental Health Practices accomplishes what the series editors, Alan S. and Nadeen L. Kaufman, set out to do. Essentials of Treatment Planning provides an efficient, accessible, and informative overview of "the development and implementation of treatment plans in behavioral health care settings." The book's author, Mark E. Maruish, does a commendable job of walking the reader through the assessment phase of treatment planning, the formulation of the case, the development of all the essential elements in the plan, and the monitoring of a patient's progress through reviews and revisions of the treatment plan. Maruish manages this complex task while maintaining an atheoretical stance so as to make the information presented useful to clinicians from most, if not all, theoretical approaches.

Although any mental health care provider could glean a better understanding of the importance, purpose, and elements of treatment planning from this book, Essentials of Treatment Planning is clearly geared more toward clinical practice psychologists and psychiatrists. For example, there is an excellent chapter on contributions of psychological testing to clinical assessment and treatment planning, which delineates when and how testing can bring forth necessary and useful data to flesh out the assessment and monitoring phases of treatment planning. Although this chapter is highly recommended reading for psychologists (as well as for some psychiatrists who have an interest in testing), its technical language regarding specific tests may be lost on providers from other disciplines, such as psychiatric nurses or social workers.

Maruish, who works for United Behavioral Health, strives to give examples of how treatment planning requirements vary with the clinical practice setting—for example, inpatient versus outpatient—and his experience with managed behavioral health organizations is clearly applied throughout the book. Many managed behavioral health organizations give the clinician a format for treatment planning that requires minimal, if any, true individualization of the treatment. Some organizations go so far as to provide lists of objectives or interventions to select from. Readers who come from settings that are not governed by managed health care—for example, state hospitals or grant-funded clinics—may have to work a little harder to apply the principles of good treatment planning, particularly the writing of interventions, for their patients. Maruish discourages the use of one-size-fits-all planning and provides a thoughtful discussion of how one's theoretical approach and case formulation should drive treatment decisions. However, readers who are looking for the nuts and bolts of how to write individualized interventions may come away unsatisfied.

Still, the prose and layout of the book make for easy reading. "Rapid references" throughout each chapter provide reminders of the most salient information in an outline format. A posttest with an answer key is located at the end of each chapter. Also, in each chapter Maruish continues building on a case study to put the knowledge into practice. Overall, I would highly recommend this book as a concise, well-crafted overview of the subject of planning mental health treatment.

Dr. Dixon is director of treatment planning at the Memphis Mental Health Institute.

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