Title: Growing Pains

Subtitle: Making Sense of Childhood: A Psychiatrist’s Story

Author: Dr Mike Shooter

This book – Growing Pains – was recommended to me by a psychology colleague. I was a little dubious, but was quickly proven wrong!

If you work with children or teenagers you’ll get real value out of this book – it’s full of the realities and challenges of the work, but retains a palpable sense of hope for positive outcomes.

I gave it 5 stars. Here’s why:


This book is a retrospective. It’s Dr Shooter’s look back on his professional life. But it’s more than just a series of case studies – a lot more.

Each chapter hinges around the story of one or more children. They are also themed, so that the details of each child and their problems highlights particular aspects of the work.


– Strangely, this didn’t seem like a ‘work book.’ I enjoyed reading it and found myself going back to it without the need to be disciplined about it or feeling like it was an effort; I wanted to read more.

– The writing flows well and is conversational in style without being trite. It’s simply stated and accessible – free from the usual meaningless and cumbersome medical jargon.

– The cases aren’t all happy endings or successful interventions – they throb with the reality they illustrate. Things go wrong, things go right (deliberately or not), but above all they go! You’ll recognise the dilemmas, hopes, disappointments and celebrations – it all rings true to life.

– Mike Shooter’s vision for the work, his concern for the kids he serves and the determination to make a difference, even if it means bucking the trend or kicking the convention, shines through!

– I loved the author’s willingness to question his own practice, to highlight where he got things wrong or misjudged his young patients. There’s an honesty about the writing that I found very refreshing.

– Dr Shooter also questions the system in which he worked – particularly during the epilogue – this particularly excited me. I’m not sure I’ve read a book about working with troubled kids that did this before and I found myself cheering as I read it!

– In sharing his own history and ongoing battle with depression, Mike Shooter humanises himself and, by extension, that most venerated professional niche of mental health, psychiatry.

– Above all, this is a book full of hope. The challenges that children and families face often seem overwhelming. But there’s something in Shooter’s humanity, his empathy and his careful employment of his skills that left me with real hope that our best efforts really can make a difference. And, after all, that’s what it’s all about!


– I wanted more and would buy volume two in a flash if it ever materialises.

– It set me thinking about writing something similar looking at the lessons from my own practice experience over the years. Watch this space…


Get the paperback  – here

Get the audiobook – here

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© Jonny Matthew 2019

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the above are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

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