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Official Review: Resilience: A Workbook

Posted: 01 Jun 2018, 07:25
by ButterscotchCherrie
[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Resilience: A Workbook" by Kathryn Den Houter, Ph.D..]
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4 out of 4 stars
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I’ve been going through a life situation that’s unquestionably tough for quite some time now. I became determined at an early stage to stay strong and positive and am always looking for ideas and inspiration. Perhaps many of you are also confronted with challenges in today’s world. I am so lucky to have found Resilience: A Workbook by psychologist Kathryn Den Houter. She notes that people don’t come to therapy because things are going well, but because of pain. However, being broken can be a powerful catalyst for change. Den Houter wondered why some individuals could not sustain therapy gains while others triumphed over their circumstances and went on to do well. She identified seven qualities shared by the strong and the durable.

Part One is devoted to the seven resilient qualities. Each is illustrated in a chapter pairing Den Houter’s clients who leveraged that quality with a famous person who did likewise. In Part Two, the focus switches from theory to practice. The tools include relaxation exercises and activities to help raise self-esteem by cultivating positive yet realistic self-talk. Each chapter is rounded off with study questions that can be answered alone or, preferably, discussed in a group setting.

Sometimes, I felt that Den Houter was stretching the similarities between the qualities of the famous people and her clients a bit too far. However, I enjoyed thinking laterally to understand the connection. In the best examples, it became clear that the author was considering the resilient quality from different angles. The chapter on what she terms dark walking, for example, is about fear of literal darkness as well as of the dark side of our nature. I was awed by how moved I was by the story of Stevland Morris (Stevie Wonder). Told that he had 'three strikes' against him because he was black, blind, and poor, he chose to consider himself worthy, talented, and rich in imagination.

I appreciated the opportunity to transform my own dark thoughts in Part Two. I loved the way the book became interactive here. The tools are arranged meaningfully into chapters with eloquent, memorable headings. ‘Reverse the Curse’ helped me to find alternatives to feeling doomed in my current situation, for example.

A red thread throughout is the significance of faith and spirituality in resilient people’s lives. In that connection, I found the book overly centred on Christianity. This is not to say that it’s peppered with biblical material; its substance is story and evidence-based psychology. However, I was missing an acknowledgement that strength and encouragement can be derived from other religions, or from non-religious sources. Diversity was apparent in Den Houter’s selection of noteworthy biographies. She featured both men and women and people from different backgrounds. In the story about a transgender person, however, there seemed to be considerable emphasis on finding a medical cause. Both there and in the story about someone who was worried about being homosexual, I was missing a clear statement that there is nothing wrong with being transgender or homosexual.

I believe, however, that this was an oversight rather than an expression of prejudice. The book appeared professionally edited and was virtually typo-free. As it is an excellent resource that is quick to read yet packed with valuable information and exercises, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I highly recommend it to anyone who needs guidance on staying strong in tough circumstances – you will truly find what you need. Although the book is worthwhile for individuals, the study questions are aimed primarily at groups, so I recommend it to those as well. If you really dislike biographies or can’t stand self-help books in general, this might not be the book for you.

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Resilience: A Workbook
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Re: Official Review: Resilience: A Workbook

Posted: 02 Jun 2018, 03:08
by inaramid
I love the idea behind this book, particularly since it seems so different from other self-help books that pervade the market these days. The author's background certainly lends credibility to this work. It's also great how stories of real clients and famous people are used to demonstrate the author's points. Thanks for a great review!

Re: Official Review: Resilience: A Workbook

Posted: 02 Jun 2018, 04:19
by gen_g
Thank you for the extremely detailed and informative review. This seems like a great book for those who need help, and I am glad that there is diversity present. Also, I hope that things will get better for you much sooner rather than later!

Re: Official Review: Resilience: A Workbook

Posted: 02 Jun 2018, 08:09
by ButterscotchCherrie
inaramid wrote:
02 Jun 2018, 03:08
I love the idea behind this book, particularly since it seems so different from other self-help books that pervade the market these days. The author's background certainly lends credibility to this work. It's also great how stories of real clients and famous people are used to demonstrate the author's points. Thanks for a great review!
Yes, there are biographies and books with exercises out there, but I don't think I've seen the two combined quite like this before. There's a lot packed into what isn't a very long book.

Re: Official Review: Resilience: A Workbook

Posted: 02 Jun 2018, 08:13
by ButterscotchCherrie
gen_g wrote:
02 Jun 2018, 04:19
Thank you for the extremely detailed and informative review. This seems like a great book for those who need help, and I am glad that there is diversity present. Also, I hope that things will get better for you much sooner rather than later!
Thank you! In the absence of some miracle the objective circumstances aren't likely to change very soon, though you never do quite know. A good thing is that I am now especially receptive to books like this that give me real tools for working on my attitude.

Re: Official Review: Resilience: A Workbook

Posted: 02 Jun 2018, 20:48
by Dael Reader
Just a note. You commented on the strong Christian-centered nature of the book. I checked out the author on the Barnes & Noble website and discovered that she attended Calvin College, which is a Christian college operated by a fundamentalist denomination. (And yes, they do believe that homosexuality is a sin.) Whenever I'm looking for a self-help book, I make sure to check out the author first. Obviously, people of any faith can write a book worthy of reading. But it's always good to have an heads-up about the authors bias, especially in books that include sections on faith and spirituality.

Re: Official Review: Resilience: A Workbook

Posted: 02 Jun 2018, 21:30
by CatInTheHat
ButterscotchCherrie wrote:
01 Jun 2018, 07:25

A red thread throughout is the significance of faith and spirituality in resilient people’s lives. In that connection, I found the book overly centred on Christianity. This is not to say that it’s peppered with biblical material; its substance is story and evidence-based psychology. However, I was missing an acknowledgement that strength and encouragement can be derived from other religions, or from non-religious sources. Diversity was apparent in Den Houter’s selection of noteworthy biographies. She featured both men and women and people from different backgrounds. In the story about a transgender person, however, there seemed to be considerable emphasis on finding a medical cause. Both there and in the story about someone who was worried about being homosexual, I was missing a clear statement that there is nothing wrong with being transgender or homosexual.
I don't think I could get past there not being an acknowledgment of how useful other world religions and spiritual ideologies are also effective. And a medical cause for transgender people? In 2018?

Re: Official Review: Resilience: A Workbook

Posted: 03 Jun 2018, 01:00
by ButterscotchCherrie
Dael Reader wrote:
02 Jun 2018, 20:48
Just a note. You commented on the strong Christian-centered nature of the book. I checked out the author on the Barnes & Noble website and discovered that she attended Calvin College, which is a Christian college operated by a fundamentalist denomination. (And yes, they do believe that homosexuality is a sin.) Whenever I'm looking for a self-help book, I make sure to check out the author first. Obviously, people of any faith can write a book worthy of reading. But it's always good to have an heads-up about the authors bias, especially in books that include sections on faith and spirituality.
Thanks for your comment! That doesn't surprise me, though I have to say that the religious content of the book was not overstated, for all that.
I love your picture by the way. I'm not religious but I believe in coffee!

Re: Official Review: Resilience: A Workbook

Posted: 03 Jun 2018, 01:07
by ButterscotchCherrie
[/quote]

I don't think I could get past there not being an acknowledgment of how useful other world religions and spiritual ideologies are also effective. And a medical cause for transgender people? In 2018?
[/quote]

Thanks for your comment. Yes, good point. There are so many other faiths out there. The author mentions a breathing exercise at one point that she seems to attribute to Christianity, but to the best of my knowledge, it comes from Buddhism. I also found that part of the transgender person's story odd.

Re: Official Review: Resilience: A Workbook

Posted: 03 Jun 2018, 09:18
by Dael Reader
ButterscotchCherrie wrote:
03 Jun 2018, 01:00
Dael Reader wrote:
02 Jun 2018, 20:48
Just a note. You commented on the strong Christian-centered nature of the book. I checked out the author on the Barnes & Noble website and discovered that she attended Calvin College, which is a Christian college operated by a fundamentalist denomination. (And yes, they do believe that homosexuality is a sin.) Whenever I'm looking for a self-help book, I make sure to check out the author first. Obviously, people of any faith can write a book worthy of reading. But it's always good to have an heads-up about the authors bias, especially in books that include sections on faith and spirituality.
Thanks for your comment! That doesn't surprise me, though I have to say that the religious content of the book was not overstated, for all that.
I love your picture by the way. I'm not religious but I believe in coffee!
I'm a liberal Christian without a church. So I spend my Sunday morning at St. Arbucks enjoying what I call a Coffeehouse Sabbath. It's where I get a lot of reading done. Good luck to you in your quest for resilience.

Re: Official Review: Resilience: A Workbook

Posted: 03 Jun 2018, 10:43
by CommMayo
I get a kick out of the description of people as being strong and durable. Are they absorbent too? Sorry, just sounds like an ad for paper towels.

Seems like a lot of the gist is that life is all about how you react to it.

Re: Official Review: Resilience: A Workbook

Posted: 03 Jun 2018, 11:30
by ButterscotchCherrie
Seems like a lot of the gist is that life is all about how you react to it.
[/quote]

Yes, there is a focus on the observation that different people can view the same event quite differently, which comes up in CBT. Thanks for your response!

Re: Official Review: Resilience: A Workbook

Posted: 03 Jun 2018, 17:27
by stacie k
I think it would be interesting to learn about the seven resilient qualities and how the author identified them in clients as well as famous people. This sounds like a worthy read. Thanks for the great review!

Re: Official Review: Resilience: A Workbook

Posted: 03 Jun 2018, 17:55
by kandscreeley
I'm sorry you are finding yourself in such a difficult circumstance. I myself am going through a tough time, and this book sounds like it could have some good information to offer. I could use a self esteem boost for sure. Thanks for the wonderful review.

Re: Official Review: Resilience: A Workbook

Posted: 04 Jun 2018, 00:48
by joshfee77
Sounds like an excellent resource for building strength and resilience to triumph over adversity. Valuable tools for just about anyone. Great review!