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by Judith Belmont
W. W. Norton, 2015
Review by Lynne Trevisan, D. C. on Feb 9th 2016
Clients come to therapy because they want help. They have taken steps on their own to improve their lives but have not reached the point of fully overcoming the problems in their life. Clients look for a relationship that is "non-judgmental [and has] unconditional regard" (Belmont, 2015, p. 4). When there is a strong patient-therapist relationship, the patient is willing to take more steps and risks knowing they are supported (Belmont, 2015).
Belmont provides a clear outline of the book in the introduction chapter. The chapters in the book share an introduction and discussion on each of the top ten most common client problems, treatment tips, toolkit of metaphors -- how the current situation is similar to a toy or common household item -- therapeutic take-aways, handouts, and recommended resources. The recommended resources include items for clients, treatment tools, and web links. The book focuses on psycho-education and shares links where the therapist can download handouts, worksheets, and activities created by the author. Belmont recommends these be used both during appointments as well as assigned to the clients on their own time and then returning to go over the results.
The first chapter covers stress. Belmont covers statistics of how people experience stress, and how often they experience stress. Stress can be experienced as psychological symptoms, physical symptoms or a combination of both. Belmont helps the therapist guide the client to view stressors as positives. Stress can motivate people to grow, do more, and be more in their lives. Common stressors usually represent challenges to very positive life experiences, samples of which are shown in the book. Belmont provides resources to manage stress and tools to help clients focus the positive aspects of their stressors.
Chapter two addresses anxiety, which tends to accompany stress. "Th[e] chapter provides a variety of mindfulness-based, acceptance-based, and cognitive behavioral strategies to help [the] clients manage their anxiety" (Belmont, 2015, p. 42). In this chapter, the handouts and journaling suggestions are helpful for the client to identify the base cause of the client's symptoms. Belmont shares examples of different types of Cognitive Behavior Techniques (CBTs) to help reach the client's core beliefs, and then assistance to correct those beliefs to make them realistic and more positive.
One of the things this author enjoyed about the book is the use of the coping cards as shared in Chapter 3 -- Depression, along with other chapters. The cards are created by the therapist and client. These cards address coping strategies for stressful times, irrational thoughts versus rational thoughts, and affirmations and coping statements.
Anger behaviors are the focus of chapter four. Belmont demonstrates reasons for anger and the thinking/feelings that trigger anger. She talks about anticipating scenarios that will cause anger and aggressive reactions. Visualization techniques and self-talk are recommended for coping cards. Belmont also gives examples of changing thoughts from victim to victor in difficult situations. The visualization technique helps clients understand to focus on the facts, not interpretations and judgments of what they are seeing or experiencing. The book discusses methods of using anger to make positive changes instead of consuming the person holding on to the anger.
In this author's opinion, one of the most important chapters of the book is chapter six -- conflict solutions to improving problematic relationships. Clients come to therapy for resolution of a primary problem. Belmont points out that those primary problems invariably affect relationships with spouses/partners, children, extended family, co-workers, and even strangers.
The remaining chapters address procrastination, forgiveness, low self-esteem, regret and remorse -- going from guilt to gratitude, and change-resistance. The last chapter shares how to put each techniques from the book into practice.
Overall, the book is written in language that is easy to follow. The chapter material is well-organized and provide tools that can be put into use immediately. The additional resources -- books, worksheets, activities, websites -- are all excellent locations to grow one's practice and really effect change in your clients' lives.
Belmont, J. A. (2015). The therapist's ultimate solution book: Essential strategies, tips & tools to empower your clients. NY, New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
© 2016 Lynne Trevisan
Lynne Trevisan, D. C., Assistant Professor, College of Health, Human Services, and Sciences, Ashford University