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Book Review, May 2019

Published January 2019 by Bluebird, London (176 pages)

ISBN-10: 1509850880  ISBN-13: 978-1509850884

Reviewed by Susanne Habran Jensen

The book gives a clear insight and understanding of how to work with Low Intensity Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (LICBT). The LICBT is a form of CBT which is used to treat mild to moderate, common mental health problems over a shorter length of contact. The authors of the book shares in a very pedagogical way how LICBT can be used in a structured therapy. Through empirical material the reader it taken though a highly practical and supportive approach which I view as a significant strength of this book.

The authors write that their core mission with the book is to teach the reader how to perform LICBT, I would say that this mission is completed if the reader reads the first seven chapters in detail. Thereafter the rest of the book can be used more independently, depending on the internet or/and need of the reader. The wide variety and extensive number of exercises linked to the books chapters are useful and easy to understand and apply. Also the case studies make sense and are linked to the topics in a pragmatic and meaningful way.

The book start with an overview of the psychotherapeutic approaches which were instrumental in the development of CBT and therefore for LICBT. This overview is short and well written. I see this introduction being especially important when the reader is a coach and/or new to CBT in general. The origins and basics of CBT are also shared through the authors proposed internet clips. I especially liked the one by David Clark https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvH9kUUmGog. For the non-native English reader it can be relevant to know David Clark also works with Anke Ehlers (which this book does not mention), however I mention this here because this researcher has also written texts in German and she has, tougher with David Clark done some very interesting and useful work  on CBT and especially on the emotional factors linked to cognition.

The fact that the LICBT approach has a focus on a shorter length approach aligns well with coaching. Thus, many ideas can be taken and converted into coaching. E.g the structural part such as the practical tools with information gathering and the session recording sheet. But also more cognitive information such as the cognitive-bias description on unhelpful thinking styles, including the self-reproach, intuitive thinking, selective attention and extreme thinking. I my view the the chapters 3 (understanding the problem), 7 (behaviour change and client engagement), 16 (work and wellbeing) and 17 (supervision) are the most relevant for the field of coaching, or at least this is where I during my own reading could make most links to my current and past clients. I think that especially chapter 16 which is about “work and wellbeing” can be relevant for most coaches, both professional and life coaches. Hence, the way in which the chapter work and wellbeing is written allows it to give the reader an understanding of the links between work and wellbeing and the role which the LICBT practitioner can have in supporting clients to manage work related issues. This chapter gives a focus on what happens to people who are struggling at work and to the extent that they are experiencing anxiety or depressive moods, and not necessarily people with a diagnostic. It describes the symptoms arising due to poor recognition by an employer and the person’s own reluctance to seek support because of concerns about stigma. From experience I know that this is something which often can be encountered with coaching clients. Due to the stigma some people would seek a coach and not a psychologist. Because the general perception can be that working with a coach is about performance and working with a psychologist is about mental health or even a potential disorder. Therefore the general awareness which chapter 16 allows the coach-reader to acquire is an important insight. Insight in the sense of a better knowledge, understanding and identification of symptom, and not insight in the sense that the coach is now ready to take-on a client with a depressive mood or a client who can be diagnosed as depressive. Furthermore this chapter describes the potential benefits of work and the central role in the wellbeing of individuals. The chapter does give more of it’s focus to the  impact of job loss, long-term unemployment and the importance of engaging client with work-related issues during unemployment. Giving insight into the difference between work and employment and how the practitioner can support the client to think about work in a more creative way. As in all chapters, useful exercises and case studies are proposed to the reader. Lastly, the chapter highlights occupational health services and proposes further readings. In this latter part of the chapter it does become more UK-orientated. Thus, giving a focus to how the UK based employment advisers and related services such as occupational health services can liaise effectively. Yet, I do find the insight relevant and the approaches can globally be translated into a non-UK structure.

The suitability of this book as a general reading for psychologist can be questioned, especially if the psychologist already works with CBT and are used to diagnostic work. Yet, it does give newer elements due the the ‘Lower Intensity’ perspective. Still I am of the view that if a psychologist is proficient in another Cognitive Behaviour Therapeutical approach the book may be too lengthly. However, I write this review for the EMCC with an aim of allowing coaches to get insight into how this book would be able to support their coaching practice, and here it certainly could be a relevant practitioners guide. This guide will allow readers from the fields of coaching, counselling, supervision, and related fields to learn and adopt principles of CBT (Cognitive behaviour therapy) with the ‘Lower Intensity’ perspective into their coaching practice. Furthermore, the aspects of service delivery such as service promotion and self-referral are well explained and can support to maximise the impact of the coaching.

The future potential reader should be aware that the book has a strong UK connotation. Some chapters have a strong focus to the UK NHS (National Health Service). The arrangement of healthcare services which support LICBT and the economical arguments that in the UK have driven the development of LICBT. Both from a Political and Economical perspective this seems to make sense, yet some of the insights are not useful for a non-UK practitioner. Moreover, in general the NHS insights are not relevant for the fields related to coaching, and I would tend to say not even for the UK coaches. In general I enjoyed reading the book, it gave me a clear insight and understanding of the theoretical work which had led the writers to work and develop Low Intensity Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (LICBT).

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