Book Review—Mind, Consciousness, and Well-Being

by Daniel J. Siegel and Marion F. Solomon (Eds.)

 

Consciousness helps bring rise to equanimity and neural integration. Consciousness promotes well-being, resilience cultivation, and integrative neurological growth; raises telomerase levels for maintaining and repairing the ends of chromosomes; optimizes epigenetic regulators for decreasing inflammatory diseases; and improves physiological approaches to health care. The book Mind, Consciousness, and Well-Being (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology), edited by Daniel J. Siegel, MD, and Marion F. Solomon, PhD, is a symposium of the 2017 Interpersonal Neurobiology Conference presentations and embraces interdisciplinary perspectives. This in-depth scholarly, practical, and immersive collection explores the nature of the human mind, the experience of consciousness, and how our social brain influences our connections with others and with ourselves.

The book’s chapters consist of a collection of presentations offering an overview of current neuroscience research for the efficacy of mind–body integrative techniques in clinical psychotherapy. The presenters include counselors; psychiatrists; social workers; psychologists; marriage and family therapists; addiction specialists; mindfulness and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) practitioners; crisis intervention counselors; educational and guidance professionals; and dance, movement, and somatic therapists.

What role might consciousness play in well-being? Interconnectedness and social integration are two considerations, according to this book, which is about understanding the different levels or aspects of our one reality. Topics introduced include the top-down model and the embodied brain, that is, the embodied mechanism of energy and information flow. This leads to self-organization within a complex system. Energy and information also give rise to subjective experience, consciousness, and processing of information. The system of energy and information exists between our own body and the rest of the world. According to the conclusive work herein, boundaries between inner and inter are illusions; culture is made up of constructs and perceptions. The top-down model explains the pathology of a self that is separate from others and the planet. As such, the mind is said to be located in a collective, in relation to others.

In the book’s last chapter, Dr. Daniel Siegel assimilates the lectures from the presenters, and he suggests applications with detailed models of delivery in the clinical environment. Dr. Siegel provides an exercise for mindfulness integration for readers to connect with others and the planet. Mindfulness, kindness, and compassion lift the veil of these illusions and allow us to embrace the importance of our differentiation—social justice and our linkage, or oneness. Seeing through the veil of illusion allows you to see yourself as separate from others, and once the veil is lifted, there is a we instead of me. Integration of me and we is called MWe, a word and movement introduced by Dr. Siegel. The flow of energy transforms our well-being—health and harmony flow from the integrated relationships with others and the planet, and when we bring inner compassion to this energy, we shape our quality of information and our embedded relationship to the world.

This book is appropriate for counselors interested in current findings in the scientific fields of mindfulness and compassion-based theoretical applications, therapeutic presence, quantum physics, neurology, and interpersonal neurobiology. The chapters offer evidence-based exercises, respective to the presenter’s discipline, for strengthening our awareness of interpersonal connectivity, or MWe. All of which are presented as applicable to the clinical practice of psychotherapy, including the empathy and receptive flexibility for delivering clinical services. Implications are suggested for social injustice, depressive disorders, trauma, and Alzheimer’s disease, among several other common conditions.

 

Siegel, D. J., & Solomon, M. F. (Eds.). (2020). Mind, consciousness, and well-being. W. W. Norton.

Reviewed by: Evan Guetz, MS, LAC

The Professional Counselor

http://tpcjournal.nbcc.org

Book Review—Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counseling (2nd ed.)

by Kathy M. Evans and Aubrey L. Sejuit

 

Coursework and trainings in cultural competencies are often approached as an afterthought, a perspective used to enhance and improve existing practice. Counseling programs often include a course in multiculturalism and diversity focused on teaching theories of cultural and identity development, but this has a drawback: Students become responsible for integrating the course content into their intended area of practice. For career professionals, that can be a huge task—integrating counseling skills, career development theory, practical knowledge of vocations and employment law, cultural competencies, and social justice initiatives. Kathy Evans and Aubrey Sejuit’s second edition of Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counseling is a valuable tool in this process; it seamlessly weaves together these categories to provide a thorough guide for the culturally competent career counselor.

The text is structured similarly to a typical multicultural counseling course. Chapters 1 through 4 discuss the importance of culturally competent career counseling, highlighting issues including the history of discrimination against marginalized groups in the workplace. Readers are introduced to concepts, such as worldview, locus of control and responsibility, and bias, and encouraged to explore their own biases and values. Each concept is framed from the perspective of career development, with examples and reflective activities emphasizing stereotypes or microaggressions related specifically to work- and workplace-related issues.

Chapters 5 through 7 delve into the application of cultural competencies in widely used career development theories and assessments. Evans and Sejuit examine classical career development theories (Parsons, Super, Holland) as well as newer theories to provide career professionals with guidance on how to reconcile those theories’ cultural shortcomings with ethical practice. Dimensions that are often measured in career assessments—interest, personality, and cognitive ability—are discussed, including the monochromatic landscape in which these assessments were developed. Evans and Sejuit then take the topic one step further, providing a framework for career professionals to administer and interpret assessments in a culturally informed manner.

Chapters 8 and 9 explore specific applications of cultural competencies, including in work with children and adolescents and social justice and advocacy. This is the text’s strongest section. Evans and Sejuit provide a multitude of evidence demonstrating how career information received in childhood and adolescence shapes adult career decisions, disproportionately affecting minority and low–socioeconomic status communities. Evans and Sejuit demonstrate that by simply engaging children and adolescents in an ethical and informed manner, practitioners are affecting outcomes. This is especially crucial information, as children and adolescents are often overlooked in the field of career counseling and development.

My only complaint is that Evans and Sejuit do not dive into more material in working with specific populations. The text is energizing and leaves the reader wanting to know more. However, this simplicity is also the text’s strength. At the core, the text is not only about working with and advocating for marginalized populations, but also about learning to effectively work with clients who differ from yourself as a practitioner. Activities and reflections are incorporated into each chapter of the text to provide a starting point for this process.

Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counseling contains introductory information that will serve any professional looking to begin their journey toward cultural competency in career counseling. However, it is also an excellent tool for experienced practitioners who want to develop their knowledge of incorporating cultural competencies and social justice in their work. Again, Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counseling takes practitioners beyond the material covered in social justice and multicultural and diversity trainings and provides a comprehensive guide for professionals of all levels.

 

Evans, K. M. & Sejuit, A. L. (2021). Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counseling (2nd ed.). National Career Development Association.

Reviewed by: Erin Connelly, MS, EdS, University of North Georgia

The Professional Counselor

http://tpcjournal.nbcc.org

Book Review—Embodiment and the Treatment of Eating Disorders: The Body as a Resource in Recovery

By Catherine Cook-Cottone

 

Dr. Catherine Cook-Cottone’s Embodiment and the Treatment of Eating Disorders: The Body as a Resource in Recovery provides a well-researched, organized, and easy-to-read guide to her Embodied Approach to Treating Eating Disorders (EAT-ED). Clients suffering from eating disorders frequently consider the body an enemy. Embodiment works within the war zone to help clients heal holistically. She refers to embodiment as a “basic human right” throughout the book, emphasizing its importance.

Cook-Cottone developed the four pillars of embodied practice: (a) mindful self-care, (b) being with and working with what is present in the current moment, (c) honoring effort and struggle (i.e., self-compassion), and (d) cultivating a mission and purpose in life. The approach focuses on the now and what is ahead while learning from the past.

Treatment of eating disorders is, at best, moderately effective. Cook-Cottone posits a new approach, incorporating body-based elements to help clients heal from eating disorders. Over 350 references provide the reader with a broad-based research library, connecting theoretical underpinnings of the approach and its basis. It also compiles Cook-Cottone’s experience of over 20 years working with clients healing from eating disorders and her research, including 20 publications. The author uses personal and professional experiences to deepen content, sharing her history of suffering with an eating disorder and using vignettes of clients to illustrate points.

Part 1 makes the case for embodiment, citing relevant theories and how embodiment relates to symptoms of eating disorders. Cook-Cottone discusses the bodily felt sensations of emotions and discusses how emotions provide information for survival. She discusses the existential basis for embodiment and the need of clients with eating disorders to make meaning out of their lives and to replace meaning that the disorder may have held for them.

The second part of the book provides clinical steps to implement the EAT-ED process. Throughout Part 2, Cook-Cottone provides detailed practice guides and scripts to help clinicians implement EAT-ED. She covers the empirically backed treatment methods for the eating disorder diagnoses of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorders, and recommends implementing the EAT-ED approach in conjunction with existing best practices.

She also discusses mindful self-care, one of the four pillars of her EAT-ED approach, and asserts that the ability to practice mindful self-care is necessary for healthy engagement with the world. The EAT-ED pillar of cultivating a mission and a purpose in life is discussed in terms of embodied meaning. Living with intention—understanding values, meaning, and purpose—helps the client focus on what is important to them, replacing their focus on calories, inches, and pounds.

The EAT-ED pillar of being with and working with what is present in the current moment is described as embodied wisdom. Being mindful allows the client to experience the body and learn to understand their own needs, wants, and joy through the body. Cook-Cottone refers to our bodies as our main source of “wisdom, connection, calming and self-soothing” (p. 153). She discusses the four cornerstones of being with and working with what is present in the current moment, which are the clients’ understanding of (a) their level of arousal, (b) sensations in the body, (c) sensory input, and (d) feelings; these cornerstones help clients understand that the body has wisdom and help them learn how to listen to that wisdom.

Although Cook-Cottone discusses the four pillars of embodied practice as the structure of the EAT-ED approach, the book does not follow the structure. As discussed above, she describes three of the four pillars in chapters titled with other terms, forcing the reader to tie the pillars to the concepts. Additionally, she does not detail the pillar of honoring effort and struggle (i.e., self-compassion) in the same manner as the others. Noting that the pillar exists should help clinicians recognize its value, but the book does not provide specific information or guides related to this pillar.

Cook-Cottone relates several practices helpful for clients with eating disorders, including yoga and equestrian therapy, as well as time in nature and relaxation. These practices can help clients develop their sense of embodiment and learn to enjoy the experience  their bodies. As a dance/movement therapist, I found her discussion of dance/movement therapy (DMT) disappointing; she refers to movement-based therapies as “practices” rather than “therapeutic interventions” (p. 216). DMT, an embodied form of therapy and a profession for over 50 years, has been used effectively to treat clients with eating disorders. For example, restricted eating can be reflected in restricted movement and DMT can help clients expand their movement repertoire and, therefore, expand their opportunities.

Dr. Catherine Cook-Cottone ends with wisdom, asserting that the therapist using these tools with clients should practice embodiment themselves. Overall, this book provides an insightful approach for clinicians that can enhance their effectiveness in their work with clients recovering from eating disorders.

 

Cook-Cottone, C. (2020). Embodiment and the treatment of eating disorders: The body as a resource in recovery. W.W. Norton.

Reviewed by: Melissa Meade, MS, NCC, LPC/MHSP-T, R-DMT

The Professional Counselor

http://tpcjournal.nbcc.org

Book Review—My Life with a Theory: John L. Holland’s Autobiography and Theory of Careers

by Jack Rayman and Gary Gottfredson (Eds.)

 

The definitions of career, the “time extended working out of a purposeful life pattern through work undertaken by a person,” and work, an “activity that produces something of value for one’s self or others,” are learned by students enrolled in many graduate counseling training programs (Reardon et al., 2019, p. 6). The text My Life with a Theory: John L. Holland’s Autobiography and Theory of Careers, edited by Jack Rayman and Gary Gottfredson, engagingly describes one person’s career whose work undeniably produced considerable value for the profession of counseling. Although the editors note that the target audience for this book is counselor educators and their graduate students who are studying Holland’s theory, readers from other disciplines such as history and philosophy of science, gender studies, higher education, and psychometrics will find value in its contents.

The 366-page book is well organized into seven sections primarily composed of previously published writings authored by John Holland and other leading scholars presenting Holland’s theory of personalities and work environments. Ample exhibits, drawn from Holland’s archive of correspondence and summarizations of past notes, papers, and presentations, provide additional context for his work as a researcher and detail about the development of his theory. These artifacts and anecdotes engaged this reviewer on a personal level with Holland’s life and work, something unexpected from a text focused on the development of theory.

The heart of the text is its second section, which contains Holland’s heretofore unpublished autobiography, which he drafted primarily in the decade prior to his death in 2008. Holland’s writing in this section is engaging and peppered with humorous anecdotes that make for an enjoyable reading experience about how he grew as a man in parallel with his eponymous theory. His life story provides an exemplar of career in how he navigated the complexities of personal and business relationships while developing and disseminating a theory that would form the basis of career assessments and interventions for millions of counseling clients around the globe.

A focus of Holland’s autobiography is his journey to becoming a researcher and publisher. Though he cautions the reader that his experiences were unique, Holland organized his autobiography in a way that will prompt nascent investigators to reflect on themselves and the challenges that a career in research will provide. Example topics addressed include identifying a research problem, finding a niche in which to work, collaborating with editors and publishers, and coping with critical feedback and research failures.

Known for his keen analytical mind, a somewhat rebellious nature, and a degree of directness that would get him into trouble with employers, journal editors, and critics, Holland does not hesitate to hold himself to account for his own foibles as a spouse, colleague, and theoretician. One of the many strengths of this book is Holland’s honest reflection on how criticism of his work, especially around issues of gender equity and measurement, motivated him to reexamine and improve his theory and related assessment instruments.

The book is well indexed and includes a glossary defining terms used in Holland’s theory, an annotated roster of key people who influenced Holland’s life and work, and an appendix of abbreviations frequently used in vocational assessment. One shortcoming of the PDF e-book received for review is that this excellent reference information is not hyperlinked to related concepts in the preceding writings and exhibits it supports. The inclusion of such links in future versions of the text could enhance the book’s utility for readers, especially those learning about Holland and his theory for the first time.

Rayman and Gottfredson have compiled a rich source of information that provides a technically complete description of one of counseling’s most influential and well-known theories. Concurrently, this text tells a fascinating story of personal growth and resilience in the face of changing cultural and economic norms during the second half of the 20th century. It embodies a theme that ran throughout Holland’s life and that this reviewer emphasizes when working with clients and teaching counseling for career concerns to graduate students—an integrated balance of aspirational and rationale approaches to developing one’s career yields the most fulfilling and productive life. This book is a thorough and authoritative source that should be read by practicing professionals and students enrolled in counselor education graduate programs for years to come.

 

References

Reardon, R. C., Lenz, J. G., Sampson, J. P., Jr., & Peterson, G. W. (2019). Career development and planning: A comprehensive approach (6th ed.). Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.

_____

Rayman, J., & Gottfredson, G. (Eds.). (2020). My Life with a Theory: John L. Holland’s Autobiography and Theory of Careers. National Career Development Association.

Reviewed by: Darrin Carr, PhD, HSPP

The Professional Counselor

http://tpcjournal.nbcc.org

 

Book Review—A Therapist’s Guide to Treating Eating Disorders in a Social Media Age

by Shauna Frisbie

 

Working with the adolescent population can be difficult. These are the years when people develop their sense of self and identity, and with the world at their fingertips through social media, that sense of self can be skewed. Today’s young individuals are bombarded by images that are not realistic and many times see themselves as flawed in comparison. This is when an eating disorder can develop. A Therapist’s Guide to Treating Eating Disorders in a Social Media Age presents an innovative therapeutic approach to eating disorders that highlights the influence of social media.

The author, Dr. Shauna Frisbie, has spent over 25 years treating clients with eating disorders. This experience has given her a firsthand understanding of how social media has changed the playing field when treating adolescents. She begins the book by describing eating disorders and how they can be affected by social media as well as the world we live in. She discusses the COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine-related effects that have led to higher use of social media. As this pandemic continues, adolescents are becoming more and more secluded and reliant on social media for their social interactions. Screen time has replaced social gatherings and activities with others as they navigate this new existence.

Dr. Frisbie explores how cultural influences and our human need for social belonging can be skewed by the use of social media. This is very evident in the most recent generations, Gen Z and Millennials. She then takes the reader on a journey into the visual culture that each of us interacts with daily, developing the reader’s understanding of phototherapy techniques and treatment. From this base the reader moves to an understanding of what identity formation is, how it is developed, and how it can be affected by the use of social media. Dr. Frisbie explores family and identity through client narratives of childhood experiences. With the use of case studies throughout the book, the reader is given a look inside the therapy room.

The technique of using images for narrative creation with the client allows the therapist to understand the client’s perspective. By using this technique, the client discovers the underlying messages that are impacting the relationship they have with their bodies. Social media is full of images—good, bad, and ugly. By using images to help the adolescent discover their narrative of self, the therapist can make the client comfortable.

Dr. Frisbie has given the reader a great deal of information that is quite easy to absorb and put into practice. The depth of the information when discussing the science behind our identities and how social media may play a role in that development is enough to give the reader an understanding without the weight of being overwhelmed by it. The reader will walk away with a better grasp on how social media may play a role in their clients’ lives. With this understanding, a therapist can navigate the possible troubled waters of the adolescent client and their body image.

 

Frisbie, S. (2020). A Therapist’s Guide to Treating Eating Disorders in a Social Media Age. W. W. Norton.

Reviewed by: Amy Perschbacher, MA, NCC, LPC, Ronan Psychological Associates

The Professional Counselor

http://tpcjournal.nbcc.org

Book Review—Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Theory and Practice for Treating Disorders of Overcontrol

by Thomas R. Lynch

 

Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Theory and Practice for Treating Disorders of Overcontrol, written by Thomas R. Lynch, introduces a new treatment that focuses on disorders of emotional overcontrol. The intended audience for the book is clinicians treating disorders such as refractory depression, anorexia nervosa, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. These disorders tend to be more chronic in nature and this book offers clinicians a resource to address these hard-to-treat disorders. Although radically open dialectical behavior therapy (RO DBT) is considered a new treatment, it has over 20 years of research backing the modality, having been based on dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), mindfulness-based therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Gestalt therapy, and motivational interviewing, just to name a few.

Reading this book was a pleasant surprise. The manual is easy to read and the writing style is engaging, which made the content fascinating. Terms are explained beautifully to help a clinician who is new to the approach understand the given information. The book provides valuable new tools to help clinicians deal with disorders that have historically been resistant to traditional CBT and even DBT. One of the most enjoyable chapters of this book was the chapter on maximizing client engagement. In this chapter, the clinician is given transcripts to read through and is also given word-for-word questions to ask the client to improve engagement. This chapter alone makes the book irreplaceable, especially for a new clinician who is trying out this modality for the first time. In addition, the chapter can be modified to fit many other client presentations and not just those of overcontrol.

Dr. Lynch teaches clinicians to encourage self-inquiry for clients rather than focusing solely on changing unpleasant emotions. The tendency for a “quick fix” in therapy is also addressed. The manual breaks down how therapy sessions should flow and offers steps to move the client forward. RO DBT addresses loneliness and alienation, which is not something that I have run across in other treatment modalities—this feature alone is invaluable.

A strength of this book is the plethora of resources that are provided. The book includes an appendix of assessments to help clinicians determine the needs of their clients and decide the correct intervention strategies to use. Not only are there assessments geared toward the client, but there are also assessments for the clinician, to ensure that they are delivering quality services and an adequate delivery of their specific approach. In addition to the assessments, Dr. Lynch offers insight on social signaling and even how to arrange the clinical room.

Overall, this is a very helpful book. It offers hope to a large group of clients who have typically not been able to find treatment that effectively addresses their complex needs. The book is an excellent resource for clinicians treating clients who are slow to warm up to therapy and have trouble with social relationships. This manual is great for those who are wanting to stay abreast of cutting-edge treatment modalities. It is an excellent primer and becomes even more beneficial when used along with the skills training manual, handouts, and worksheets that are available.

 

Lynch, T. R. (2018). Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Theory and Practice for Treating Disorders of Overcontrol. New Harbinger.

Reviewed by: LaShanna S. Stephens, MS, NCC, CCMHC, LPC, Sound Advice Counseling, LLC

The Professional Counselor

http://tpcjournal.nbcc.org