Book Review: Pocket Therapy for Emotional Balance

Book cover: Pocket Therapy for Emotional Balance by Matthew McKay et al.

Pocket Therapy for Emotional Balance by Matthew McKay, Jeffrey C. Wood, and Jeffrey Brantley is part of a series of pocket therapy books from New Harbinger Publishers. The book is short, the chapters are bite-sized, and it’s very easy to read.

The book is based on dialectical behaviour therapy, with a focus on emotional regulation. It’s very practical, and doesn’t get into theoretical elements of DBT or any kind of diagnostic labelling.

The book explains primary and secondary emotions, and the link between emotions and physical sensations. It also covers identifying emotions and recognizing them as a source of information. Through describing your emotions, it creates a sort of container around them to decrease overwhelm.

Speaking of overwhelm, a skill covered early in the book that’s referred back to repeatedly is REST: Rest, Evaluate, set an Intention, Take action. Other topics/skills include distraction (which is differentiated from avoidance), taking a time out for self-care, progressive muscle relaxation, and building positive emotions and self-compassion.

Mindfulness is a major theme in DBT, and this book talks about things like present-moment awareness, mindful breathing, and time-travelling (when our minds pull us in the direction of the past or future).

The book also guides you through preparing coping thoughts and radical acceptance coping statements. While that kind of thing could easily get a bit hokey, this book didn’t go there.

I think this book would be a good fit for someone looking to learn some therapy skills without having to do a lot of reading. It doesn’t require any prior familiarity with DBT, and it’s geared towards emotional overwhelm in a general sense rather than any particular diagnosis. Everything is clearly explained without a lot of jargon. It’s a therapy book for people who might not otherwise be inclined to read a therapy book.

Pocket Therapy for Emotional Balance is available on Amazon (affiliate link).

I received a reviewer copy from the publisher through Netgalley.

You can find my other reviews on the MH@H book review index or on Goodreads.

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