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BOOK REVIEW: Eating Disorders: Journey to Recovery Workbook and Eating Disorders: Time for Change

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
September/October 2003 Volume 13, Number 5
©2002 Gürze Books

(Laura J. Goodman and Mona Villapiano, Philadelphia, Brunner/Routledge, 2001; 220 pp)

(Mona Villapiano and Laura J. Goodman; Philadelphia, Brunner/Routledge, 2001; 174 pp)

This paired set of workbooks for clients and therapists adds to the growing literature of similarly paired workbooks already available. These contributions, written by two experienced psychotherapists, come from a welcome perspective, focusing on the client's motivation and stages of change, using the now-familiar model that has been extensively applied to alcohol and substance abuse.

The client's book begins with images consisting of a tree of life, in which the eating disorder stems from roots and affects all the branches and the web of life. Next are discussions of set-point theory, dieting and emotions, and physical changes associated with weight. This presentation is thoughtful, but I wondered if some clients might be too easily put off by technical terms such as "thermogenesis" and "cognitions," which are introduced without literal explanations. The therapists with whom these work-bookers are working may need to explain these terms.

The workbook nicely progresses through nutrition, assessing stage of change, relationships between spirituality and eating; body image; exercise; women's issues; men's issues for male patients; substance abuse; trauma and abuse. It also addresses special circumstances such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and diabetes; the treatment team; "media madness," a section for family and friends; and a final reprise, followed by resources.

Most chapters are filled with open-ended structured questions, closed-ended questionnaires, tables, stories, poems, illustrations and affirmations. I particularly liked the way the chapters on substance abuse and trauma and abuse dealt with their material. The psychopharmacology chapter includes questions assured to make clients better consumers–with intelligent questions to ask prescribing physicians about medications and what to expect.

The therapist workbook doesn't exactly parallel the client workbook, which may prove confusing. To my mind, a book that more closely coincided with the client's version would have better served therapists. It could then be supplemented with additional material and discussion, as a sort of teacher's guide. Nevertheless, this volume does cover more or less the same ground as the client's workbook, focuses on motivation and stages of change, and contains much useful information and some worthwhile assessment tools.

Here's a suggestion: we need a consumers' guide to workbooks. Although a great deal of their value depends on the coaching of therapists, their intrinsic differences may make some workbooks more suitable for certain audiences than others.

— J.Y.


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