BOOKS OF THE WEEK
Two recent books bring greater clarity to aspects of mental health care.
One book is “The Power of Therapy” by Joshua Newman, a psychotherapist in private practice in Albuquerque. It directly and clearly addresses basic therapy questions.
The other is “How My Brain Works” by Barbara Koltuska-Haskin, a neuropsychologist in private practice also in Albuquerque. It’s an informative guide to what may be a little-known specialty in psychology.
Newman cited two previously published books which are in part comparable to “The Power of Therapy.”
“One of them is a glimpse of what therapy offers. The other gives advice on how to get the most out of therapy. I think my book does both and goes beyond those concepts, ”he said. “I have a whole section on finding a therapist, trying to anticipate what to expect and how a client can avoid pitfalls in order to get the most out of therapy.”
These points related to therapy are discussed in detail in the first part of the book.
Part Two, titled “The Journey,” reviews concepts such as the healing power of the outdoors and the exploration of the psyche. There are many concepts that can help readers better understand the assessment and treatment of a range of mental health issues, Newman wrote in an email.
The third part is about relationships, that is, the client’s relationships with family members, with potential mates, with conflicts within relationships.
“It’s my experience that the quality of relationships has a huge impact on our mental health, whether it’s with couples or individual work,” Newman said.
The fourth and final part is “Commonly Addressed Problems in Therapy”.
The chapters in this part deal with issues such as addiction, grief and loss, and depression. Depression is an emotion that goes beyond sadness or the blues, writes Newman. This can include symptoms such as loss of energy, decreased motivation, difficulty concentrating, distorted thoughts, changes in appetite, or thoughts of death.
One form of clinical depression, he said, is seasonal affective disorder. In some cases, the disorder is caused by changes in the weather or by fewer hours of daylight at that time of year. From his observations, Newman said, the disorder often has a social dimension. Vacation stress or trauma can arise if you spend more time with family members or if other people may feel a greater sense of loneliness or loss.
“The holiday season amplifies that (social dimension),” Newman said.
“The holidays remind people to take care of themselves, maybe change the expectations of ourselves and society, and not be afraid to contact a healthcare professional, friend or member of the community. family. “
Newman said he wrote the book for two audiences – people already in consultation and wanting to explore the issues in more depth, and those who have never been in therapy and want to know what to expect. Both audiences seem to benefit from the suggestions presented consistently by the author, including how to achieve therapy goals and keep them focused, and how to get the most out of each therapy session.
The first half of Koltuska-Haskin’s compact book, “How Does My Brain Work,” explains what neuropsychology is, what are the elements of a neuropsychological assessment, and what an assessment can accomplish.
The author writes that the main purpose of the test is to assess a person’s cognitive functioning or brain function.
She sees the assessment process as a bridge between medicine and psychology. “It helps the doctors understand what’s going on and is also helpful for the patient,” she said.
Problems that should be addressed in an assessment are “memory function, attention / concentration, information processing, problem solving … In addition, your emotional functioning, such as depression, mood and anxiety, should be assessed because problems in these areas affect the way your brain processes information, ”writes Koltuska-Haskin.
If your brain isn’t working the way it should, you could be suffering from dementia, insomnia, or high anxiety, she said, and the result is you have no quality of life.
The second part of Koltuska-Haskin’s award-winning book deals with maintaining a healthy brain. It describes steps individuals can take to improve brain health. These stages include physical exercise, good nutrition, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, gratitude and compassion, and active learning.
In the preface, Dr. J. Mitchell Simson, associate professor in the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, pointed out that neuropsychological testing, as the author writes, can help those working with patients. with various coexisting medical and psychological disorders. Among the disorders he mentioned were PTSD, chronic pain and substance abuse.