MH@H Book Reviews

Book Review: The Better Boundaries Workbook

The Better Boundaries Workbook by Sharon Martin uses a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) approach, incorporating mindfulness and self-compassion, to help readers establish boundaries to function better in relationships. The author is a psychotherapist, and if you’re into mental health on Pinterest, you’ve probably come across some of her pins.

The book begins with a look at what boundaries are, as well as common misconceptions about them, e.g. that they’re selfish. It then explores factors that can contribute to difficulties with boundary-setting, including dysfunctional families and feelings of fear and guilt.

In part 2, the author describes a 4-step process for boundary-setting, which consists of clarifying, identifying, implementing, and fine-tuning. There are also tips for effective communication, like using I statements and making clear requests, as well as a range of different suggestions on how to say no. There’s clarification around areas that might get confused, like compromise vs. conceding when it comes to negotiating boundaries.

Part 3 covers boundary issues in specific contexts, including at work, with your partner, with children, and with difficult people. Part 4 looks at boundaries with yourself, and the author gives lots of good tips for managing boundaries with technology.

I’ve reviewed a number of self-help workbooks from New Harbinger Publishers, and on the book-workbook spectrum, this was one of the more workbook-leaning ones. There are lots of prompt questions and room to write.

The book is more about prompting you to think things through for yourself rather than guiding you by the hand, which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you’re looking for. In the chapter on boundary violations, for example, some examples of challenging scenarios were given as a lead-in to prompt questions, but the scenarios themselves weren’t worked through. I thought it might have been helpful to give example answers for some of the prompt questions based on the scenarios.

I think if you’re looking mostly for a book to read about boundaries, you might find yourself wanting more than what this book gives you. However, if you’re wanting to put in the effort and reflection to go through all of the exercises, I think this book would be a really good choice. This is certainly an important topic that tends to be challenging for a lot of people. The author’s approach is warm and supportive, and she does a really good job of clarifying what boundaries are and what they aren’t. Overall, I would say it’s a good book, and whether it’s right for you or not just depends on what you’re looking for.

One thing the book didn’t address that’s come up for me is what I would call boundary creep. By that, I mean boundary-pushing that’s minor enough that it’s tolerable, but it keeps happening until it gets to the point where the cumulative boundary-pushing is just way too much, and none of it is tolerable anymore. At that point, I tend to fall back to my “I’m done, I can’t do this” boundary.

Do you have any particular type of boundary situations that you tend to struggle with?

The Better Boundaries Workbook 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.

26 thoughts on “Book Review: The Better Boundaries Workbook”

  1. What great timing. I recently finished drafting up a post on boundaries but haven’t published it yet. This sounds like one for those wanting to look at their boundaries and make some changes, while learning a bit more about boundaries generally. As with most things, that’ll require reflection and effort like you say, but it’s good to have something like this at hand to guide you and perhaps give you the confidence you need to do it. To assert boundaries and to uphold them when they’re being pushed is not easy.

    I see what you mean about the smaller encroachments on boundaries that happen repeatedly. That’s annoying. I suppose it would be a case of enforcing the boundary and setting a consequence for it being pushed, even slightly. Ie. “If you nudge my boundary or dare to even touch it, you can fuck right off”.

  2. This is an important one to sort through for me as well. I think a large part of it IMO is truly getting to know yourself and what does/doesn’t work for you – also, getting over the “I don’t want to create conflict” hump. I’ve also been writing about this and will post eventually..I like that so many people are thinking about this particular topic at the same time!

  3. This is definitely something I struggle with and have only recently begun to address it. I like the part about clarifying compromise v. conceding. I imagine that is something I may get caught up in.

      1. I have many issues with boundaries… I know I do. And those with BPD do really tend to struggle with not only setting them but respecting other’s boundaries due to our self-protecting and control type mechanisms in place… its really difficult…
        I just saw “boundary creep” and thought…that has to be me 😆

  4. This definitely sounds like a workbook I could benefit from as my boundaries and allowing people to push through them is something I have always struggled with.

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