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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Mary Elizabeth Moody, MA, CCC-SLP(George Washington University)
Description: Communication Apprehension provides an in-depth investigation into the etiology, nature, and symptoms of this psychosocial anxiety. In addition, suggestions for treatment, mainly from a psychological perspective, are presented.
Purpose: The author's purpose as stated in the preface is to "demystify the devastating fear of performance...and to help" cope with the problem. The objectives are extremely worthy, and the answers much needed. The objectives are met from a psychological perspective, but the treatment approaches lacked the pragmatic behavioral techniques that are so often efficacious.
Audience: The book is written primarily for speech-language pathologists according to the author. In my judgment, the book would be a valuable initial introduction to performance anxiety for practitioners, professional speakers, and self-presenters at any level from amateur to professional. The author seems to be fully knowledgeable, and has drawn from other noted authorities.
Features: The book provides a thorough insight into the causes and conditions of communication apprehension, as well as an in-depth presentation of the cognitive factors, the psychological perspective, and the manifestations of communication anxiety. The last chapter suggests a treatment protocol with a progressive continuum. I found the book to be much more thorough than anything I have seen in this area before. The book refers to many of the "classical" explanations while including multidisciplinary wisdom. Explanation of neurological bases, psychosocial symptoms, and the physiology of the problem are the highlights of the book. However, the sections addressed to subspecialties of language disorders, fluency, and voice did not establish credibility. The author relied on exceptions seemingly to prove the rule — and the statement that "Clinicians and stutterers alike view the fear of public speaking as solely a consequence of a stuttering problem" leaves the reader with an erroneous impression — stuttering has myriad etiologies. I agree that speech pathologists can certainly benefit from a better understanding of communication apprehension, and a study of this book can provide this, but speech-language pathologists can apply the premises as needed without stretching the point. The format of the book makes it difficult to read and the long sentences and paragraphs were harder to process in the small type. On another point, I have found that specific behavioral (pragmatic) changes often reduce presentation anxiety much more effectively than the self-examination and understanding, measurement, and observational techniques. This is the greatest shortcoming of the book, and I would have liked to have seen this aspect addressed more thoroughly, especially since the book is aimed at speech-language pathologists.
Assessment: However, I will certainly use this book in my classes as well as in my practice with professional voice users.