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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: Medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) share a common presentation and clinical history that is often functional or psychological in nature. However, even knowing the functional roots, treatment can be a significant challenge. This book provides a CBT-related approach to treatment for patients with these challenging symptoms and syndromes.
Purpose: This is designed as a workbook on functional neurological symptoms for both clinicians and patients.
Audience: It is intended for any clinical practitioner working with patients who have somatoform or conversion disorders. Psychologists are a prime target, but other professionals will find it equally enlightening when stumped with traditional medical interventions. The authors have ample qualifications for a book on this topic.
Features: This book is very patient centered, and it is encouraging without judging or blaming. It thankfully taps into the digital age with purportedly high quality PDF materials available for clinicians to print for their clients and a couple of websites that provide free access to similar materials, as well as forums for discussion. The book begins with a simple introduction to functional symptoms and then proceeds to walk the patient through the process of self-assessment. The primary approach is the Five Areas Approach, which is described in detail in the book. For those familiar with CBT principles, this will be a comfortable way of working with patients. Goal setting completes the first section of the book, which is referred to as Workbook 1. Workbook 2 focuses on the mind-body link, how diagnoses are made in functional conditions, and normalizing bodily sensations or symptoms. Workbook 3 covers the Five Areas Approach and starts to provide a way to make changes, including some exercises and experiments. It also provides a list of helpful and unhelpful behaviors. Workbooks 4 and 5 continue the practical treatment approach. Workbook 4 is focused on behaviors, while Workbook 5 addresses cognitive distortions as they relate to symptoms. Throughout there are opportunities for exercises and self reflection. The final section of the book is a series of toolboxes targeted at various areas that can be especially challenging, including overcoming avoidance and reduced activity, problem solving, and assertiveness.
Assessment: This is a very helpful and practical book for overcoming functional illness. The CBT foundation is well supported and will be familiar to clinicians in helping their patients. As a self-help guide, the writing is simple, clear, and encouraging, so that patients can easily follow along without becoming discouraged or confused. The step-by-step instructions and practical toolboxes make this a highly valuable guide for therapy.