The Anxiety and Depression Workbook by Michael A. Tompkins incorporate cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques to help you improve emotional flexibility. This is defined as “the ability to respond to life’s challenges with an appropriate level of emotion, and then to recover as these situations change.” Sounds pretty good to me.
Somewhat like Overcoming Avoidance, which I reviewed recently, this book takes a transdiagnostic approach that will help with symptoms of both depression and anxiety. I preferred this book’s approach, as it didn’t push avoidance as the be-all and end-all that the other book hinted at.
The author comes out with the standard CBT lines that you avoid because of feared outcomes, including avoiding positive things because you think you don’t deserve it or you’re afraid of feeling better. There’s the implication that if you just stop avoiding, positive emotions will manifest like a purple people eater. I’m sarcastic because depression doesn’t just happen one way. Granted, depression that way is exactly what the book is targeting, but eventually, there comes a point where doing things for the sake of them is just a waste of time because clearly the positive just isn’t happening.
However, aside from that little hiccup, I liked the exercises included in the book. There was a “north star” exercise that reminded me of the acceptance and commitment therapy life compass. Mindfulness was presented as a way to develop more flexible attention.
The book covers CBT bread and butter concepts like negative automatic thoughts, identifying hot thoughts, the downward arrow technique, thinking traps, and testing predictions. Things are explained clearly and in a novel enough way that it’s still interesting for a reader familiar with CBT.
There’s a chapter devoted to emotional avoidance, i.e. trying to avoid feeling certain emotions. It covers how to practice exposing yourself to emotions as well as physical sensations.
Another chapter focuses on gratitude and self-compassion. It includes myths that might make you dubious about self-compassion, which I think would be highly relevant for anyone who struggles with a noisy inner critic.
The worksheets throughout the book had clearly filled out examples. They tend to be a bit more involved than some of the basic ones that you may have seen before; again, I think this increases the relevance of the book for people who have some familiarity with CBT already.
I think this book is well done, from the explanations to the exercises to the worksheets to accompany them. I can definitely see it being useful in dealing with depression or anxiety.
The Anxiety and Depression Workbook is available on Amazon (affiliate link).
I received a reviewer copy from the publisher through Netgalley.