Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Body Image Workbook - A Review

The Body Image Workbook
(T.F. Cash)

This is an older book and the language, pictures, and statistics are dated (there is a newer, 2008, edition, but it’s not in the public library system yet), but the book was readable. My biggest criticism is it wasn’t until Step 5 that the reader was expected to challenge their beliefs and behaviours. The previous chapters were informative and likely helpful to anyone working on their self-image. I do think education is a necessary step in recovery, but I believe it should be incorporated into exercises promoting change early on in the process.

The first two Steps were quite laden with negative language. In Step 1, there is a worksheet at the end of the chapter called, “My Needs for Change,” which uses the word ‘need’ repeatedly. To me this implies a fair amount of pressure and judgment. Better language would be using the word ‘can.’ So instead of ‘I need to change…’ statements, one can substitute, ‘In order to…I can…’

Step 2 gives a thorough summary of the ways self image can affect a person including self-esteem, identity, interpersonal anxiety, sexual fulfillment, depression, and eating disorders. There was one exercise in this chapter which subjects were encouraged to immerse themselves in negative thoughts knowing this would elicit unhealthy emotions which I definitely thought should be left out. At least it should have been balanced by an exercise promoting positive thoughts.

Step 3 introduces relaxation and meditation techniques as well as desensitisation strategies, all of which is practised in more detail in the following chapters.

Steps 4 – 7 were the most useful focusing on not only identifying problems, but encouraging behavioural and cognitive changes.

Step 7 introduces mindfulness techniques to be incorporated into every day life. It offers ideas for maintaining well-being such as rewarding oneself and exercise. Also, kudos to the author for not being too shy to use the word ‘masturbating.’

Step 8 provides a summary of one’s progress and change and how to achieve long-term maintenance of new behaviours.

While I found some of the language overly negative, there are times when the author’s well grounded beliefs do come through in the writing, such as in the ‘Final Words of Encouragement’ sections where the author provides a concise summary of the ideas being presented.

Final Rating: If you have a book shelf that needs to be filled and you find this book at a thrift store or in a free bin, go ahead.

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