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Book Review of "The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety"

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Updated September 23, 2011

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The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety may be a useful resource for people who struggle with the experience of anxiety. Although anxiety and fear are natural human emotions, many people have difficulties with them. People who experience intense anxiety and fear, such as people with PTSD, may find it hard to manage and sit with these emotions. In addition, because these emotions are difficult to tolerate, many people develop unhealthy behaviors in an attempt to cope, such as substance use, deliberate self-harm or some other avoidance behavior. Fortunately, help is available.

Addressing Avoidance and its Impact on Your Life

These avoidance behaviors may work initially. However, in the long-run, they aren't effective. Anxiety and fear may come back even more intense. In addition, a person may find that they are spending more and more of their time trying to escape their anxiety. People may also find that they begin to make choices in their life that are motivated by trying to avoid the experience of anxiety, interfering with relationships, work, leisure activities and other pleasurable experiences. So, how does one find a way out of this trap?

The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety, published by New Harbinger Publications and written by Drs. John Forsyth and Georg Eifert, assists people in developing a new way of responding to their internal experiences. The goal is to help people create a meaningful and fulfilling life. The information presented in this workbook is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a behavioral treatment designed to help people reduce avoidance of internal experiences, such as thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations.

Specifically, the overarching goal is to increase the extent to which people are willing to have their internal experiences. Instead of putting all effort into trying to prevent or escape emotional pain, ACT assists people in placing this effort into making choices based on living the life that they want to live.

This workbook takes people through the basic tenets of ACT, with the goal of increasing acceptance of anxiety, as well as how to live a meaningful life despite the experience of anxiety.

An Excellent and Unique Resource

There are a number of positives in this workbook. It explains difficult concepts in a simple, easy-to-understand language. In addition, it uses a number of metaphors to help communicate complex ideas, such as the trap of avoidance and how to move forward in life despite the presence of perceived barriers.

In addition, the workbook has a number of exercises that you can go through to foster emotional acceptance and establish a meaningful and fulfilling life. One unique aspect of this book is that it also presents a number of mindfulness exercises as a way to increase the extent to which people can approach their internal experiences in a nonjudgmental and nonevaluative way. It even includes a CD that has guided mindfulness meditations, which can be a tremendous help when you are first learning a mindful approach to your thoughts and feelings.

Finally, the authors present the material in a validating and compassionate tone, which can help the reader understand that anxiety and fear (as well as the struggles that people have in response to these emotions) are natural and common human experiences, fostering greater self-acceptance and compassion.

This workbook is not designed for any particular disorder. Instead, it is a resource for anyone who struggles with anxiety. Given this, although the workbook would likely be useful for someone with PTSD, it may not directly address some of the specific symptoms of PTSD. However, the skills presented in this workbook definitely apply to PTSD symptoms and would greatly benefit someone struggling with this disorder.

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