Russ Harris, 2009, New Harbinger Publications, Oakland
I was looking for new ideas for helping people in the workplace to resolve their interpersonal problems, and this book was one of those Beverley Harper included in her recommended book list at the end of the CCBH Diploma course. I very much liked it. I was able to use some ideas to help people sort out their problems with colleagues. However, the book is more useful for improving couples’ lives together. It is aimed at couples whose relationship is ‘in reasonable shape’ or in ‘bad shape’, people who are not currently in a relationship but want to learn what went wrong in their previous ones, or for therapists looking for ideas how to work with relationship issues.
The volume is divided into three parts. It looks at what goes wrong in relationships, what commitment means if you want to make the relationship work, what kind of partner you want to be and how mindfulness can help you to handle your thoughts and feelings better. The basic principles of ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) are used, and you are taught how to apply them to make relationships work. LOVE is used as an acronym for ‘Letting go’, ‘Opening up’, ‘Valuing’ and ‘Engaging’. It encourages you to develop ‘psychological flexibility’, an ability to adapt to a situation with openness, awareness and focus, and to take action guided by your values.
Since reading the book I have been very motivated to help people with relationship issues, but unfortunately haven’t found the right situation to be able to test out the ideas yet, so cannot tell you if they work! The exercises at the end of each chapter are designed to be used with a partner (‘If your partner is willing’), but also give useful ideas for the therapist for the homework assignments for clients – with or without a partner. I agree with the book’s claim that ‘it gives realistic hope without promising too much or raising false expectations’. The language is easy to read, light hearted but doesn’t neglect the basic principles of ACT. What I would have liked to see more is the preventative side – how to build a good relationship from the beginning, and be prepared to share your life with someone you love – not waiting for things to go wrong first! Because of the practical aspects of the book, I think it could also be very useful as a resource with groups.
So thank you, Beverley, for your great booklist!
Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist