Two books deal with mental health problems and explain how to get the most out of therapy
BOOKS OF THE WEEK
Two recent books provide more clarity on aspects of mental health care.
One book is “The Power of Therapy” by Joshua Newman, a psychotherapist in his own practice in Albuquerque. It deals directly and clearly with fundamental questions of therapy.
The other is âHow My Brain Worksâ by Barbara Koltuska-Haskin, a neuropsychologist in her own practice, also in Albuquerque. It’s an informative guide to a perhaps little-known specialty in psychology.
Newman cited two previously published books, some of which are comparable to “The Power of Therapy”.
âOne of them is an overview of the therapy offers. The other gives advice on how to get more out of therapy. I think my book does both and goes beyond those concepts, âhe said. “I have a whole section on finding a therapist who tries to anticipate what to expect and how a client can avoid pitfalls in order to get the most out of therapy.”
These therapy-related points are discussed in detail in the first part of the book.
The second part, called “The Journey”, deals with concepts such as the healing power of nature and the exploration of the psyche. Many of the concepts can help readers better understand the assessment and management of a range of mental health issues, Newman wrote in an email.
The third part is about relationships, that is, the client’s relationships with family members, with future companions, with conflicts within relationships.
“In my experience, the quality of relationships has a huge impact on our mental health, whether it’s in couples or working alone,” Newman said.
The fourth and final part is âProblems that are often treated in therapyâ.
The chapters in this part deal with topics such as addiction, grief and loss, and depression. Depression is an emotion that goes deeper than sadness or the blues, Newman writes. It can be symptoms such as loss of energy, decreased motivation, difficulty concentrating, distorted thinking, changes in appetite or thoughts of death.
One form of clinical depression, he said, is seasonal affective disorder. In some cases, the disruption is caused by weather changes or less daylight at that time of year. Based on his observations, Newman said, the disorder often has a social dimension. Vacation-related stress or trauma can occur as you spend more time with family members or when others experience increased feelings of loneliness or loss.
“The Christmas season adds to this (social dimension),” Newman said.
“The holidays are a reminder to people to take care of themselves, maybe change expectations of themselves and society, and not be afraid to see a doctor, friend or family member.”
Newman said he wrote the book for two audiences – people who are already in counseling and want to dig deeper, and those who have never been in therapy and want to know what to expect. Both audiences seem to benefit from the author’s coherently presented suggestions, including how to achieve and focus therapy goals and how to get the most out of each therapy session.
The first half of Koltuska-Haskin’s compact book âHow My Brain Worksâ explains what neuropsychology is, what the elements of a neuropsychological evaluation are and what an evaluation can achieve.
The author writes that the main purpose of the test is to assess a person’s cognitive functions or the performance of the brain.
She sees the evaluation process as a bridge between medicine and psychology. “It helps doctors understand what is going on and is helpful for the patient too,” she said.
Topics that should be addressed in an evaluation are âmemory function, attention / concentration, information processing, problem solvingâ¦ Your emotional functions such as depression, mood swings and anxiety also need to be evaluated, as problems in these areas affect the way your brain processes information â, Writes Koltuska-Haskin.
If your brain is not working the way it should, you may have dementia, insomnia, or high anxiety and the result is a lack of quality of life.
The second part of Koltuska-Haskin’s award-winning book is about maintaining a healthy brain. It outlines steps that individuals can take to improve brain health. These steps include exercise, eating right, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, gratitude and compassion, and active learning.
In the foreword, Dr. J. Mitchell Simson, Associate Professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, suggests that neuropsychological tests, the author writes, can help those working with patients with various concurrent medical and psychological disorders. The disorders he mentioned include PTSD, chronic pain, and substance abuse.