By Carolyn Daitch W. W. Norton, 2011 Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Jul 26th 2011
In her Introduction to this book, author and licensed psychologist Carolyn Daitch explains that her intended readers are both people who suffer from anxiety disorders and the therapists who treat them. Daitch goes on to explain that her primary target audience is the client, although she hopes that therapists will find the material useful as well. Given that I am a psychologist myself, I was a bit disappointed to learn that this is actually more of a self-help book. However, my review focuses mainly on the merits that this manual offers to a client population.
Daitch organizes her book in several different ways. First, she provides an overview of anxiety disorders, including the prevalence, causes, and common interventions. Next, she reviews relaxation techniques and related calming strategies which can be used for coping with all types of anxiety situations. This is followed by a discussion of all of the major anxiety disorders in turn, with additional treatment information and case examples provided for each disorder. (Note: Daitch does not cover post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as she states that this disorder is complex enough to warrant a separate book.) In the final two chapters, Daitch talks about the role of medication, herbal supplements, and healthy lifestyle factors in the treatment of anxiety.
I found Chapter 4, “Relaxation Techniques for Everyone,” to be the most useful section of this book. Here Daitch presents tried and true anxiety management strategies; these are techniques which a therapist can use with a client or which readers of the book can easily practice and learn on their own. Included are various types of breathing strategies, simple visualization practices, progressive muscle relaxation, and more. My one complaint is that the layout could have been simplified into a more easy-to-read, workbook-like format.
Daitch then moves into the individual disorder descriptions. Although she cautions readers not to skip ahead to the chapter specific to them--she notes that all of the chapters might contain useful information which can be easily adapted to various situations--of course, many readers will indeed skip ahead, and this is a flaw with the arrangement of the book. It would have made more sense for Daitch to address all of the disorders in a single chapter and then to cover each type of intervention in greater depth.
Certainly, I think that this book may have some utility to clients with anxiety disorders, and as a therapist, I did pick up a few ideas for tweaking my interventions with my clients. However, I believe that the scope of Daitch’s work is too broad to be entirely effective. If I were going to recommend a self-help book to one of my anxiety disorder clients, I would not recommend a general book on anxiety disorders such as this one; rather, if my client was dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) for example, I might suggest a workbook designed specifically to target OCD. By attempting to capture such a broad audience, I believe that Daitch has unfortunately reduced the helpfulness of her work.