Book Review- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Journal

Helpful ACT Journal
I recently got this little book from a colleague and I’ve gotta say it’s one of my new favorite ACT books to recommend to people. It looks so nice! And it’s a conveniently small size to take with you if you need prompts to practice when you’re at work or needing some support wherever you are.

Easy Techniques with Great Explanations
Josie does a great job of making the ACT techniques super understandable for people without a therapy background. She has great, down to earth explanations that don’t require you to know any psychological terms to start using them.

Flexible to Meet Your Needs
As she mentions in the book’s introduction, you don’t need to do any of the ACT skills in order. You can skim through until you find the section you need and then focus on that specific area until you start to feel better.

Who ACT Helps
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is what I use for people who need help managing their thoughts regardless of the cause. It’s like CBT- cognitive behavior therapy- but with an added focus on mindfulness and learning to be aware of your thoughts. ACT also helps if your stress is coming from your circumstances or environment as it teaches you a different way to interact with what’s going on to reduce your sense of stress from things outside your control.

Lessons From “The Giving Tree”

Debates About The Book
Most people who grew up in American schools were read “The Giving Tree” as kids. If you’re not familiar, it’s about a Tree who loves a Boy so much that she gives him one of her apples when he’s hungry and enjoys his play as he swings from her branches and climbs her trunk. The relationship evolves over the years, and she ends up giving him branches to make a house, her trunk to make him a boat, and finally he uses her stump as a resting place in his old age.

It’s often celebrated as a nice story on giving, and it’s also often criticized as an abusive relationship or one-sided relationship. There are many different interpretations from the religious to the environmental and ethical.

Tree Needs Boundaries
I think of the tree when I’m working with people pleasers, and you may recognize some of these tendencies in yourself. The boy has a need and the tree meets it without considering her future needs. It’s one thing for a tree to give a few apples, but branches don’t simply grow back every year. And once her trunk was cut down, she was no longer able to provide apples or branches or shade.

What would this look like if their relationship was a friendship with boundaries that considered each of their needs moving forward into old age? Primarily, the tree would not be able to give her trunk if she wanted to live a long life. She may have been able to give some branches, but not likely enough to build a house. For her best interest, her boundary might look like only giving him apples.

Second, boundaries might look like advocating for a more mutual friendship. If the boy wants apples each year, she might well ask him to give her regular fertilizer for her roots or help her get rid of a pest that’s bothering her.

Do You Need Boundaries?
If you’ve always identified with the tree in this story, think about the implications of maintaining this kind of relationship with someone else. Do you have any relationships that are taking so much out of you that you’re feeling burnt out and unable to continue as you have been? What would it look like for you if you put up some boundaries so your relationships benefited you equally?

Book Review: Hunt, Gather, Parent

Hunt, Gather, Parent

I grabbed this book from the library because I read parenting books like a starving person might go after food. As you may know, I’m not a parent myself, but I’ve been a nanny, a preschool class teacher, and now a therapist who has spent a great deal of time working with children and their parents.

Side note: I became a therapist partly (mostly) because even as a child I naturally gravitated to the relationship books. Imagine an elementary school kid passing over the fun books to grab a fat stack of dating, marriage, and parenting books. Anyway, I’m fairly certain I’m in the right career path.

The book promises to give a new look on parenting strategies based on those found in more traditional cultures around the world. But unlike most other books on traditional parenting, this author wrote the book with the goal of translating these traditional techniques into something usable by fully modern parents. It’s refreshing to see how these skills are used in tiny villages and how the author then uses them back in San Francisco.

If you’re like me and devour parenting books for breakfast, you’ll recognize many of these skills like allowing kids to follow their natural helpful instinct, managing your own anger and frustration so things don’t escalate, and giving kids space to practice growth on their own.

While the skills may not exactly be new, the presentation is fresh because the author was (and is still) in the middle of raising a toddler. The author’s description of her own childhood experience of growing up in a yelling home shows her struggles to adapt to parenting from quiet and calm. Readers who come from a similar childhood home may relate. But even for those of us who grew up in peaceful homes, it can still be a struggle to keep a sense of calm in the face of a screaming, crying, hitting toddler. And yes, this book goes into managing that kind of kid.

The narratives are engaging and worthwhile reading, but for parents needing immediate help (or for readers needing a quick reminder), each section concludes with a helpful boxed summary with practical tips to implementing these new strategies.

Interested? You can find the book here on the publisher’s website.

Need parenting help as you work through this book? Many parents use therapy as a space to get coaching, support, and education as they manage their own unique families. Contact me for any questions or to get started.