A Book Review by Tim Brunson, PhD
While reading the first couple of chapters of Anxiety Disorders: The Go-To Guide for Clients and Therapists by Carolyn Daitch, PhD, I was particularly affected by a very short phrase. She wrote that "anxiety is not a character flaw." As I look at this set of very common mental pathologies as the human power of simulation and anticipation gone awry, I concur with her simple yet, extremely profound approach. This is a book that provides both clarity and – more importantly – hope.
In this book Daitch takes on the challenge of providing a meaningful explanation and logical therapeutic approach both for individuals, who may be enduring anxiety problems, as well as therapists, who may be baffled as they seek effective techniques. Declaring that she practices what she calls "technical eclecticism," she effectively explains the origins of anxieties, discusses in depth the primary types, and courageously presents a wide range of approaches including traditional, recent innovations, holistic, and even relevant medications.
Even though I initially doubted whether she had written a definitive guide that would provide sufficient credible content for the clinician while remaining informative and readable for the average person, I must admit that she did so quite successfully. Starting immediately in the first chapter, she effectively wove in case studies, which inspire compassion in the therapist as they empathetically encouraged hope and positive expectation for a person who is either suffering from anxiety or is close to someone who is. I found that her stories – and her conversational and personable writing style – enjoyably held my attention.
Anxiety Disorders is content-rich without being overwhelming. I found every page informative and thought-provoking. Even though all of the chapters were very logically organized, I specifically appreciated how she presented chapters on each one of the major categories, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. These chapters provided clear explanations as to the nature of a particular anxiety, interesting and appropriate case studies, and multiple therapeutic approaches. A therapist who reads this book will improve his or her understanding concerning the disorder while improving one's ability to formulate an effective treatment plan. Anxiety sufferers – and their families or significant others – will most likely be transformed into more informed clients, who will be imbued with trust and confidence in the likelihood of a cure.
Dr. Daitch is in many ways one of the most innovative thinkers in the Ericksonian hypnosis community. In fact, I consider Affect Regulation Toolbox -- rather than D. Corydon Hammond's Handbook of Hypnotic Suggestions and Metaphors -- to be the most important contribution that has come out of that group for some time. Although my readers will recognize that my view of the nature of hypnosis is considerably broader than Daitch's, I most definitely applaud how she applies hypnotherapy to anxiety disorders.
Anxiety Disorders contains the most coherent and effective explanation of the nature and curative approaches of a mental disorder that I have reviewed for some time. It is highly readable, packed with understandable ideas, and provides clinicians with a wealth of practical steps. This is a book that I highly recommend both to current and potential anxiety clients and clinicians seeking to help them.