Description: This is a step-by-step manual for treating survivors of childhood abuse. The authors introduce a "resource loss" model for understanding childhood abuse and have developed a two phase program for individuals suffering from such trauma.
Purpose: The authors describe their purpose in the preface: "This book provides a treatment program that takes into account the long trajectory of disadvantages experienced by many abuse survivors that precedes their arrival into the therapist's office. The concept of the 'interrupted life', which guides this treatment, refers to the disruption caused by abuse to self-regulation and interpersonal capacities that otherwise would have been expected to develop. The treatment is intended to provide the survivors with emotional and social skills they did not have the opportunity to obtain due to the diminished presence of a competent, caring, nurturing parent and the burden of managing the abuse, often alone or in secret." The book meets the authors' objectives.
Audience: According to the authors, "this book provides an evidence-based treatment for mental health providers who work with survivors of childhood abuse." They continue: "This book is also for the survivors themselves. We hope that each survivor may 'see' something of themselves in the descriptions and stories told in the book and, more important, find the interventions and ways of approaching problems relevant to them. Ideally, survivors perusing the book can come to know what they need or want and be better prepared to search for an effective therapy that is appropriate for them." The authors all have relevant experience in addressing PTSD.
Features: The book contains three basic parts: theoretical considerations and treatment guidelines; skills training in affective and interpersonal regulation (STAIR); and narrative story telling (NST). Each chapter in the last two parts has a box summarizing theme, planning and preparation, agenda (for the session), and session handouts. Each chapter in the two treatment phases (chapters 10-24) contains homework and/or worksheets for the client to complete. This readable book contains practical information that can be used by both experienced and novice therapists. The authors summarize their treatment philosophy in chapter 1: "The treatment philosophy described in this book affirms that recovery from childhood trauma requires the rehabilitation of resources and life skills that were derailed or denied in the skirmish of survival in a chronically abusive environment. The treatment is at heart a resource recovery program, with an emphasis on reclaiming and building emotional and social competencies. We adhere to the notion that resources above and beyond those necessary for survival must be recruited and accumulated in order to recover from the damages inflicted by a trauma. In addition, like many other researchers, clinicians, and survivors, we have found that emotional processing of the trauma is a powerful if not a critical component in trauma recovery."
Assessment: This is a wonderful book because it is can be used pragmatically with clients. Though trauma work is difficult, this book provides a coherent rationale and treatment program. It makes intuitive sense. I have not seen another treatment manual for survivors of childhood abuse like this one on the market.