Book reviews - Online extra

The mindful way, preventing stress in organisations, autism and more.

The Mindful Way Workbook: An 8-week Program to Free Yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress
John Teasdale, Mark Williams & Zindel Segal

The Mindful Way is written for a wide range of users, including sufferers of recurrent depression, practitioners, and anyone who experiences daily stresses.  

What I particularly liked about this book is the fact that the authors do not waste time and establish a relationship with the reader straight away. They do not need to show you they know what depression is like – they know it. The language is genuine and gentle, metaphoric yet simple, and you soon realise that the book has got under your skin and has become a companion you trust. The content has a natural flow. It astounded me many times as I worked through the content, how timely the questions popping out in my head were answered.

A helpful feature of this book is that it includes representative, yet very personal quotes from people who have undertaken the program. These may help one realise how common one`s concerns are and may put one at more ease with their own thoughts or emotions. The workbook does not promise miracles; rather it understands the complexity of life and functions as a step-by –step guide towards enjoyment of the small things in life and compassion towards oneself and others.

Guilford; 2014; Pb £16.99
- Reviewed by Lucia Rehackova, who is at the Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University

Preventing Stress in Organisations: How to Develop Positive Managers
Emma Donaldson-Feilder, Joanna Yarker & Rachel Lewis

This book gives practical guidance on how to encourage line managers to prevent stress in their employees, which appears to be a relatively novel approach. Acknowledgement of the broader organisational context is provided giving a good deal of breadth to the work. Aside from the literature cited the authors discuss their own research and how it relates to their stress-preventing competency framework. Unfortunately this is one of the weaker areas because this is neither presented as a brief overview nor as a detailed ‘academic’ account. Links to more information are given prominently, yet this felt too simplistic to fully support the preceding arguments.

It is not entirely clear whether this book is intended as a development guide for front-line managers or those responsible for developing such resilience at the organisational level. I raise this point because this books as if it is about line managers, rather than for them. Despite this apparent criticism the book provides an interesting structure from which to address employee stress, which is arguably crucial in modern organisational settings.

As a manager myself, I believe this book has given me further insights and ideas on handling stressful situations, both for myself and others, and could therefore provide the same for others; especially those with some prior knowledge of the principles of psychology.  

Wiley-Blackwell; 2011; Pb £29.45
- Reviewed by Christopher Rossiter, who is a manager and postgraduate research student at the University of Surrey

Shrinking the Smirch: A Practical Approach to Living with Long Term Health Conditions
Jo Johnson

‘Shrinking the Smirch’ is a clever, interactive approach for dealing with a physical or psychological illness in a positive way. Building up a unique character of a ‘Smirch’ and referring it to the condition in question, gives the impression that it is much more manageable and easy to control.

Describing the ‘Smirch’ as a creature acting on its own accord is a great visual tool to explain that having a health issue is by no means anyone’s fault. Symptoms are explained in a way that is easy to relate to, plus there are a variety of practical coping techniques and activities offered. What is so convenient about this workbook is that it can either be read cover to cover or as something to dip into when needed.

It is difficult for sufferers to quash that feeling of being alone and believing their thoughts and feelings are unique. Important parts of each chapter are the insights from individuals who have experienced similar situations, showing that this is not the case. Overall, this workbook successfully demonstrates that it’s possible for anyone to control the challenges that come with a physical or psychological condition. A highly recommended read!

Speechmark; 2014; Pb £15.16
- Reviewed by Anna Torrens-Burton, who is a PhD student at Swansea University

Autism Breakthrough
Raun K. Kaufman
As an individual of who has a sibling with Asperger’s syndrome, I cannot emphasise enough what a useful tool Autism Breakthrough is for parents and carers of children with autism. Kaufman shares experiences from his journey of fully recovering from severe autism at a young age with the help of his parents’ Son-Rise Program. The main focus of the book is that of positive change, giving parents a sense of hope that recovery is possible, and allowing them to take full charge.

Kaufman’s approach is divided into fundamental skills such as joining, motivation and socialisation. Each skill is explained fully in an easy-to-understand way by using the perfect balance of science, anecdotal evidence and further examples to help enable a deeper understanding behind the mystery of what the child may be thinking or feeling. Activities are then included which help the parent to interact with their child, and allow the child to gain the skills to achieve their full potential all in the comfort of their own home.

Autism Breakthrough is an inspiring and heart-warming read that provides the resources needed to completely support those with autism and allow them to thrive in our world.

Vermilion; 2014; Pb  £12.99
- Reviewed by Shannon O’Dell, who is an undergraduate student at the University of Worcester

Out of the Blue: Six Non-Medication Ways to Relieve Depression
Bill O’Hanlon
Depression seems to be becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s society, and antiidepressant medication may not be effective for, or desired by, everyone, leading many people to seek alternative treatments. This book is helpful in empowering those suffering from depression to take action, as well as providing a useful insight for people who may not have experienced depression.

The author combines a range of different approaches and ideas, acknowledging that there is no quick fix and that one size does not fit all when it comes to finding effective interventions for depression. It is written in a way that does not raise expectations or give false hope, but instils a sense of realistic optimism that things can improve without the need for medication. The fact that the author himself has experienced depression and uses examples from his own experience as a psychotherapist, backed up by relevant research, makes it even more powerful.

The book is suitable for both clinicians and those suffering from depression. It is easy to understand for those with no clinical experience, but also gives ideas as to how the six techniques described can be implemented in practice, with examples of helpful questions and client/therapist dialogues.

Norton; 2014; Hb £20.00
- Reviewed by: Helen Crocker, who is a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner in an NHS IAPT service

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