ACT for Social Anxiety – A Great Self-Help Book and Treasure Trove of Resources

ACT for Social Anxiety – A Great Self-Help Book and Treasure Trove of Resources

I’ll make a confession here: I’m a failure at bibliotherapy. By bibliotherapy, I mean assigning a self-help book to a client and following it along with the client in order to guide treatment. For clients who are interested in self-help resources, I’ll make recommendations for books that clients can read on their own as a complement to treatment, but I feel stifled at the idea of using the book to guide treatment.

The authors of Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Social Anxiety & Shyness have made things much easier for therapists like me. The book is based on a group treatment for social anxiety that has been studied in two published research studies—an initial pilot followed by a randomized controlled trial.

On their website (www.actonsocialanxiety.com), the authors offer a downloadable treatment manual based on their book. The manual is an adaption of the group treatment manual they (Jan Fleming, MD and Nancy Kocovski, PhD) used in their research studies. It includes copies of the handouts, so you don’t have to press your book against the photocopier—which I find a bit of pain to do in the digital age.

If you visit the publisher page on the New Harbinger website and register, you can also download audio files of the exercises (e.g., mindfulness exercises) and a separate collection of the handouts.

I’ve not had a chance to use the book in therapy yet, but I’ve read through it and am very impressed with it. The book is engagingly written, includes interesting exercises, and is relatively concise (I prefer brevity in a self-help book).

For all these reasons, I highly recommend Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Social Anxiety & Shyness. You can find additional resources at the authors’ website and on the publisher’s website (under the “Accessories” tab—but you must register). Check it out—it’s one of the better self-help books I’ve read and the resources the authors provide are extremely generous.

Book Review: Self-Help That Works

Book Review: Self-Help That Works

Even as a professional psychologist, I feel overwhelmed browsing  the self-help shelves of the average book store. There’s a glut of titles, many written by people with no relevant credentials. I sometimes wonder how people wade through them all!

In the past few years I have developed an interest in the effectiveness of self-help books. Even when self-help books are based on well-researched principles, it’s rare for researchers to study the effectiveness of specific books as a standalone treatment. Given this situation, I was pleased to come across the new edition of  Self-Help That Works (2013; 4th ed.). This book rates a staggering number of self-help books and client resources, including websites and movies about mental illness. The authors solicited the involvement of nearly 5,000 professionals across several research studies. These professionals rated resources on which they felt familiar, and these ratings were aggregated into averages.

The rating system features 5 stars and a “dagger” (†) symbol urging people to stay away from a particular resource.  Most—but not all—of the entries have some text describing it and why it received its rating. Chapters are divided across 41 different issues. Sometimes the chapter layout seemed a bit confusing in that particular books were not always listed where I expected to find them; overall, though,  the layout is pretty sensible, and the titles and authors are all listed in the index, so that you can look up any particular books or authors with ease.

Given the massive scope of this sort of project, there’s no sense quibbling over ratings with which I agreed or disagreed. I do wish the range of possible scores were more limited, though. Given the incredible number of choices, I think the authors could have championed the ones they liked, noted what they thought were okay, and warned people against the sketchy ones. However, a tremendous amount of work has gone into this, and there are probably good reasons for the system they used.

I think this book is worth having in any professional library. It’s a thorough book, with more than 2,000 entries according to the authors. With this book, you’ll always have a handy and thoughtful resource you can consult when a client or colleague asks for recommendations about a particular mental health topic. This alone makes it worth having it around

Great New Book on OCD for Clients

Great New Book on OCD for Clients

Recently I read OCD: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. As the book is aimed at a lay audience, I’ve already written a post for our client-centered companion blog, The Art and Science of Living Well. However, because OCD is rare enough that many professionals don’t know a lot about it, I thought I’d give the book a mention here.

The book came out this year and was written by Michael Tompkins, PhD, who works at a private practice in the Bay area and is an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Its chock full of up-to-date information and provides a wonderfully concise summary of the ins and outs of having OCD.

I’ll confess here that I often find it tedious to read through books written for a lay audience. With OCD, however, I whizzed through it across two evenings. The book condenses a wealth of information into an economical readable format that’s about the length of a novella.

Want a brief overview of medications and augments for OCD that are supported by research? It’s there. Want some advice on how or whether someone with OCD might seek accommodations at work or school? It’s there, too.

Dr. Tompkins’ writing is direct and precise, yet his concern and compassion for those with OCD shines through.

I realize I’m harping a bit on economy of the writing. Perhaps I’m a bit finicky, or perhaps I’m too practiced in sifting through journal articles for what I want to know to read anything word-for-word anymore, but wordiness drives me up the wall. Most of the time, I find myself skimming through self-help books just wanting to get it over with.

I will clarify here that OCD is not a self-help book; rather, it’s provides an overview of options for someone with OCD, and it lists a number of self-help books in its References section.

OCD: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. I recommend picking it up for your professional library if there’s even a possibility you might work with someone with OCD. It’s a up-to-date and handy resource.

UPCOMING TRAINING EVENTS

January 31, 2020, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm · Portland, OR · Details

This workshop is intended to be part 1 of a two day workshop, but can also be taken on its own. This workshop is useful for therapists who want an update on the current clinically applicable research on how shame functions, including an overview of how and when shame tends to be adaptive versus maladaptive. This day has two primary goals: 1. To provide an overview of research on shame and self-criticism that can guide clinical practice and 2. To allow therapists to experience the model from the inside-out so as to develop greater personal self-compassion and a deeper intuitive understanding of compassion-based intervention strategies. Read more

February 1, 2020, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm · Portland, OR · Details

This workshop is intended to be part 2 of a two day workshop, but can also be taken on its own. If you already have a thorough understanding of the functions of shame and a good understanding of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, then it is you will probably be OK taking just the second day of this workshop. The workshop proceeds to discuss how ACT processes can be focused on addressing chronic and pervasive shame-based difficulties, with a particular focus on flexible perspective taking. Demonstrations of how to use perspective taking and compassion-fostering strategies with clients will be provided and attendees will also practice in small groups. An overview of chair work in the context of ACT will be provided. Read more

February 29, 2020, 9:00 am – 12:15 pm · Portland, OR · Details

Exposure is one of most the effective treatments for anxiety, trauma, and obsessive compulsive and related disorders (e.g., OCD, PTSD, panic disorder). A transdiagnostic intervention, exposure involves the repeated and systematic engagement with avoided stimuli that cause anxiety. Unfortunately, exposure remains underutilized by clinicians (e.g., Scherr, Herbert, & Forman, 2015), mostly due to misunderstandings of how exposure works and perceived difficulty of using it with clients. This half-day workshop will address these gaps by drawing from research on enhancing clinician understanding of and ways to overcome barriers to delivering exposure therapy (Farrell et al., 2016). Using didactics, role-play, and experiential exercises, participants will learn flexible application of exposure for a variety of clinical targets. Read more

April 17 and 18, 2020, 9:15 am – 5:00 pm · Portland, OR · Details

Do you ever “get stuck” as a therapist? Do some of your clients press your “hot buttons”? Do you ever find yourself struggling and thinking about “what do I do next” or feeling anxious, scared or stressed in therapy? In this workshop we will work on clarifying your therapist values and defining what is “difficult” about “difficult” clients. Through discussions, demonstrations and roleplays we will then work on these difficult clients and look at the processes from a compassionate ACT perspective. Read more