Book Review: Overcoming Trauma and PTSD

Book cover: Overcoming Trauma and PTSD by Sheela Raja

Overcoming Trauma and PTSD by Sheela Raja is a workbook that incorporates elements of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT).

The book begins with an explanation of the effects of trauma, including how trauma memories, which are emotionally charged and situationally accessible, are different from verbally accessible memories. It then moves on to fundamentals of ACT, CBT, and DBT, and there are recommendations of specific strategies to try for various symptoms.

There’s a chapter on managing anxiety, and the author presents both the CBT approach of challenging difficult thoughts and the ACT approach of accepting them. She explains that one may work better than the other in different contexts, so it’s good to have both in your toolbox. I definitely prefer that kind of pragmatic approach to the more rigid must-challenge-thoughts approach that some CBT-oriented books take.

There’s also a chapter that addresses avoidance and exposure, and the author suggests that writing can be a useful part of systematic desensitization. The chapter on managing re-experiencing symptoms covers topics like mindfulness, grounding, and imagery rehearsal for nightmares (which involves practicing an alternate ending). The book also provides tips on when to seek help from a therapist and how to find one.

This is a short book—the epub version I got from the library was 105 pages. It’s set up as a workbook with clearly laid out worksheets, and while the exercises themselves would take time to work through, the written content is a quick and easy read. I think this book is most likely to be helpful for people who’ve experienced trauma but don’t have full-blown PTSD, or for people who want to try to manage on their own before seeking therapy and are looking for some basic guidance to get started. It’s probably not going to be all that helpful for people with complex trauma or severe PTSD, and that’s not really the intended audience anyway. I think it makes a reasonably good introductory book, and I liked the blending of strategies from ACT, CBT, and DBT.

Overcoming Trauma and PTSD is available on Amazon (affiliate link).

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

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