Books: The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Anxiety
Comprehensive, Explanitory, Experiential & Effective
This review is from: Chapman, Gratz & Tull: The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Anxiety: Breaking Free from Worry, Panic, PTSD, and Other Anxiety Symptoms (Paperback), Oakland: New Harbinger, 2011.
TDBTSW4A joins NH's previous DBT workbooks on bipolar disorder and depression, as well as the original DBT Skills Workbook by McKay et al, and DBT guru Thomas Marra's Depressed & Anxious as right there with the most comprehensive, explanitory, experiential and effective do-it-yourself or professional psychotherapeutic adjuncts available. If there are any significant flaws here, they're largely in the somewhat slavish adherence to Linehan's original writing, rather than the more nuanced descriptions of technique made possible by personal experience.
(Additionally it might be useful to some to understand that DBT is a late 1980s vintage collection of cognitive, behavioral and experiential -- early "mindfulness" -- techniques that represent the best theories and practice of the time. The more modern mindfulness-based cognitive therapies like ACT and MBCT per se are far more influenced by Kabat-Zinn's MBSR. And many find them to be more "organic" and "natural," and less "technical" and "mechanistic."
That said, even ACT and MBCT seem "crotchety" to me compared to the newest stuff built on even more existential and experiential awareness that emphasizes a process that could be set forth thus: 1) Detach, 2) Look to see, 3) Notice, 4) Focus, 5) Observe, 6) Acknowledge, 7) Accept, 8) Own, 9) Stay with, and 10) Allow... that facilitates "emotional digestion" and "conflict resolution" very nicely. But that therapy has yet to have a name, and the workbooks have yet to be written. Sigh.)
The University of Washington's Marsha Linehan (mercifully) changed the course of the profession with the publication of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder in 1993, but until Dimeff & Koerner, Marra, McKay, van Dijk and others "translated" it into plainer English, the single most widely health-insurance-approved therapeutic system in use today was well beyond the reach of those without substantial post-graduate education.
All of the books thus far mentioned here have made DBT increasingly accessible to high school graduates with average or better reading and comprehension... and moreover if they turn to the highly helpful http://www.dbtselfhelp.com/ website if temporarily stumped.
My own personal and professional hat is very much in hand to Sheri van Dijk (on Bipolar), as well as others in the greater rubric of the mindfulness-based cognitive therapies including Steven Hayes, Victoria Follette, Sheela Raja, Bob Stahl & Elisha Goldstein, John Forsyth & George Eifert, Stan & Carolyn Block, Dan Siegel, et al, et al. Special mention should, of course, be made of Jon Kabat-Zinn, without Linehan and whom a whole bunch of people would still be suffering horribly. Their work in the early '90s broke the doors down.
For those sufficiently long in the tooth to recall the existential movement in psychotherapy of a half century ago, DBT as set forth by these authors, by McKay and by van Dijk is something "method existentialism." It's a just-do-it mechanization of the artful approaches of Aldous Huxley, Ronald D. Laing, Irvin Yallom, Frits & Laura Perls, Alan Watts, Richard Alpert, Nathaniel Branden and Stewart Emery. One can learn how to do noticing, observing, accepting, owning and just hanging out with life on life's actual terms by using the techniques of mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness.
For those exposed to Wilson & Smith's 12 Step method, DBT is something like Steps 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10 and 11 on steroids, but that go down very easily. The "inventory" is No Big Deal when you've got a head full of DBT. Most of the blanks Bill and Bob couldn't possibly have recognized in the late 1930s -- nor that recovering smack addict Jimmy Kannon could have known about in the 1950s -- are filled in here.
For those who've tried Eckhart Tolle, Arthur Deikman, S. N. Goenka, Joel Kramer or Jiddu Krishnamurti and found them hopeful but just out of reach, a workbook like this one will pretty surely provide the bridge over the troubled waters if one leaves nothing out. The Power of Now, The Observing Self, The Art of Living, The Passionate Mind and The First & Last Freedom are in the "grail" league. But for many raised on TV and pop cult-ure, the dots are not quite close enough, and the methods are not sufficiently spelled out. Dig through this and/or one or two of the other NH workbooks mentioned here, and reading the "great books" is like riding down a waterslide. I am not kidding.
Moreover, read Tolle, Deikman, Goenka, Kramer or the Grand Old Man himself after working two or three of these, and you'll find yourself on the "rocket to the fourth dimension" Bill Wilson spoke of in Alcoholics Anonymous. TDBTSW4A is Door everyone would do well to walk through.
(c) 2013 by Rodger Garrett; all rights reserved. Links are permitted. Please comment or inquire to email@example.com. Thank you.