For over a century clinicians have been asking “why” and looking for specific causes to explain client’s symptoms. In this book, Michael changes the paradigm completely as he focuses on asking “how” not “why.”

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Rather than following the psychological tradition of endlessly analyzing why people make choices they make, Michael’s innovative and refreshing book, The Discriminating Therapist, focuses on how people make the important life choices they make.

When responding to a therapist’s well considered “how” question, such as, “How do you determine whether you have control in that situation?” the client’s strategy for making choices is revealed, especially what distinctions the client is or isn’t making that can lead to poor choices. Thus, therapists can more quickly and efficiently identify targets of treatment.

Conventional wisdom can guide us but also confuse us when good pieces of advice contradict each other. Consider these examples:

  • Look before you leap BUT he who hesitates is lost.
  • If at first  you don’t succeed, try, try again BUT there’s no sense in beating a dead horse.
  • Better to be safe tha sorry BUT nothing ventured, nothing gained.

So, which piece of sage advice is best to follow? The only reasonable answer: It depends. The DiscriminatingTherapist addresses the obvious follow-up question, “It depends on what?”

What factors should our clients take into account when they try to answer life-determining questions such as, “How do you know whether to listen to your feelings or override them?” or “How do you know whether you should stay in or leave a relationship? The Discriminating Therapist provides answers.

In The Discriminating Therapist , Michael addresses twelve common discrimination issues that underlie the most common problems therapists are asked to treat, including depression, anxiety and PTSD. He offers typical examples of client statements therapists regularly hear that highlight what the client doesn’t know that ends up hurting him or her. Michael provides the therapist with a “clinical compass” that helps aim the therapy in the right direction.

The Discriminating Therapist makes identifying and hitting therapeutic targets faster and easier. Michael, an internationally respected psychologist who has lectured in more than 30 countries and authored 14 previous books, has spent nearly 40 years developing an approach to therapy that is brief, highly practical, and easily integrated with anyone’s existing approaches.

The Discriminating Therapist represents his most original insights and methods for providing effective treatment. Discover “how” you can apply these in your own work.


In this video, Michael describes the book The Discriminating Therapist: Asking “How” Questions, Making Distinctions, and Finding Direction in Therapy


For over a centrury clinicans have been asking “why” and looking for specific causes to explain client’s symptoms.  In this book, Michael changes the paradigm completely as he focuses on asking “how” not “why.”


Michael provides the therapist with a “clinical compass” that helps aim the therapy in the right direction.

BOOK REVIEWS of The Discriminating Therapist

The Milton H. Erickson Foundation Newsletter

“The Discriminating Therapist book is groundbreaking…this is treatment without interpretation…This book contains much information to quickly move the client forward to resolving his/her difficulties…It can change the way you work.”

Shawn C., Amazon Review

“The Discriminating Therapist is unique in that it guides you through a step-by-step process to discover what you, the clinician, actually need to do to achieve good results with each client. It provides both an overview to the process and then several specific examples of how to apply that process with a range of common issues. As I apply the principles described in this book, I increase my effectiveness as a therapist dramatically..

A Grateful Reader, Amazon Review

“Helping therapists quickly identify where important life decisions can go awry is enormously helpful and is already changing some of the ways I do therapy. It’s easy to read, incorporates a lot of useful current research, and gets my highest recommendation.”


Linda Guhe., MSW, Amazon Review

“This important book by Michael Yapko, distinguished & wise clinical psychologist, illustrates in clear steps how helping professionals of all disciplines can improve clients skills in making choices and important decisions in their lives. This book will also appeal to anyone wanting to improve skills in making decisions that enhance their lives. I am grateful as well as delighted to have this book as a reference and resource for helping others … and myself … in understanding an effective process for making decisions.”

Pamela Hollings, Amazon Review

“Yapko offers a perspective that highlights the efficacy of focusing client’s on how they make decisions rather than why they make the choices they make. Twelve key discriminations are also provided, along with a summary of primary issues and criteria to help clients become discriminating decision-makers and effective problem-solvers. I highly recommend this book and I thank Michael Yapko for his innovative work.”

Amazon Customer, Amazon Review

“The refreshing directness, and insightful, thoughthfulness in this book, will aid any counsellor, psychologist and psychiatrist who is looking forward to breaking new ground with challenging people with emotional or psychological issues.”

Jody Thomas, Amazon Review

“Fantastic! Well written, well organized, and a valuable addition to any therapist’s library. Its brilliant practical application on solid theoretical foundation make it an incredible resource!”

Tomas Bahama, Amazon Review

“I enjoy the author’s writing style, taking complex concepts and breaking them down, and demonstrating to the reader these concepts can be understood, learned, and implemented into their lives.”

Dr. Evelyn A. Segal, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis

Below is a portion of the review in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis Volume 60, 2017 Issue 2. the full review is only available through the Journal

“…Michael Yapko has again written an original and ground-breaking book for clinicians. His insightful thinking and voice come across on every page. Indeed, a lifetime of Dr. Yapko’s clinical acumen and experience is reflected within its concise, well-organized 160 pages…

Consistent with his prior publications and teaching, Dr. Yapko blends positive psychology, cognitive neuropsychology and cognitive psychotherapy…to teach practical skill sets to clinicians from a variety of theoretical backgrounds. These skills include increased awareness of the implications of cognitive style on therapist and client decision making. Indeed, a primary aim of this book is for therapists to better recognize when drawing out the differences between one or more choices or assertions will further the effectiveness of the therapy…

The Discriminating Therapist has three parts. Part one establishes and defines several discrimination strategies as the basic framework for strategic psychotherapy, which is his primary approach… Part two focuses on “experiential deficits” and the well-directed “how” question… In part three, Dr. Yapko elaborates on “Twelve Key Discriminations,” each with its own chapter, all using a similar, manageable format… Like all of Dr. Yapko’s publications, the discussions around each essential discrimination question are sophisticated and thought-provoking… Although Dr. Yapko writes and teaches extensively on hypnosis, this work is aimed at a wider clinical audience. It synthesizes his expertise in his other areas of interest, including depression and strategic psychotherapy. Hypnosis is mentioned just once in passing, in a clinical example. Nonetheless, students of Dr. Yapko, myself included, are fully aware that the most effective hypnosis sessions interweave many of the themes highlighted in The Discriminating Therapist. Thus, I end with the observation that reading this book will benefit you as a clinician whether you choose to address how a client makes decisions within the therapeutic session directly or as part of your use of hypnosis. Dr. Yapko’s latest book, with a compass motif on the cover, points the way for each of us and is truly a therapist’s therapy book.”


This book is only available in electronic form.
You can purchase a Kindle version on Amazon or you can purchase an e-pub version on this website for any other device such as your ibook or computer.