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Prescriptions Without Pills: For Relief from Depression, Anger, Anxiety, and More Paperback – July 19, 2016
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About the Author
A graduate of Harvard and NYU, Dr. Susan Heitler is a clinical psychologist practicing in Denver. Her first book for therapists was "From Conflict to Resolution.” She followed this up with resources for couples who want to improve their marriage: "Power of Two and The Power of Two Workbook."
Dr. Heitler’s master therapist video on couples’ therapy, "The Angry Couple," is used in training programs globally; she has lectured on her treatment methods in China, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East, where she recently keynoted the regional psychological conference in Beirut.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Who is this book for?
My 10 year old grandson Harel recently came to visit me at my therapy office. Sitting in one of the bright yellow chairs where my clients and I sit Harel asked, “You just sit here and talk with people? Sounds like your job is offering psychology to people when they need it.”
Psychology For People When They Need It could have been the name for this book. If you are someone who feels in need of help to free yourself of a negative emotional state, the prescriptions here aim to give you access to much of what you would learn in my psychology office. If you are a therapist, these prescriptions hopefully will expand your repertoire of remedies for helping people who are suffering from emotional distress.
In my therapy office, large windows enable the Denver sunshine to infuse the room with positive energy. This book aims to illuminate and refresh the dark corners in your life. Colorful contemporary art decorates my office walls. May your feelings of distress give way to similar uplifting visions.
In sum, my hope is that the therapeutic prescriptions you are embarking on reading will help you like they help the clients in my therapy office. If you are a therapist, my hope is that the remedies in this book will further your effectiveness with your clients.
Why is psychological treatment, self-administered with the prescriptions in this book or administered by a therapy professional, important?
Painful emotions hurt. They actually light up the same pain centers of your brain as physical hurts do. While both emotional and physical pain serve to tell you that a problem that needs attention, sometimes the pain messenger itself becomes as much of a problem as the situation that the pain is alerting you to.
In addition to causing emotional suffering, the impacts of emotional distress on physical health can be substantial. Unhappiness and anxiety leave you become more susceptible to illnesses from simple colds to cancer. Your immune system functions less effectively and your ability to heal from wounds and illness decreases.
Fortunately, psychotherapy helps to relieve both the emotional and potential physical consequences of distress. One major research project found that when patients diagnosed with a mental health disorder received treatment for their emotional distress, their overall medical costs were reduced by 17 percent. By contrast, the medical expenses of those who received no treatment for their mental disorder increased by 12.3 percent. Improvements in emotional health improve physical health.
Research has established that bibliotherapy such as you are doing by reading this book can offer effective mental health treatment. Adding the help of a therapist can make the results even more long-lasting. The more severe your emotional symptoms, the more important adding a therapist will be. In any case, do take this form of therapy seriously, making your reading and implementation of the prescriptions a priority.
Like recipes in a cookbook or directions in a how-to manual, this book gives you step-by-step instructions.
When my husband Bruce and I were still in graduate school, our first baby arrived. We both were relatively clueless about parenting. With great delight, my husband bundled baby Abigail up, strapped her into a chest-facing carrier where she could snuggle warmly into his chest, and took her for a long walk to enjoy together the Connecticut shoreline where we then were living. Clouds alas blew in. Bruce turned to head homeward as soon as a damp drizzle began. By the time we unwrapped tiny baby Abigail at home however, the dampness and chill had so plugged up her new respiratory system with mucous that she was barely breathing.
To my husband’s credit, he never lost his composure. “Where is that Dr. Spock book?” Bruce asked me calmly. “I think nurses at the hospital packed it in the box of goodies they sent home with us.” I scurried to look and to my relief succeeded in finding the still-unpacked book.
“Let’s see,” Bruce said calmly, “what the book says if you look in the index under the word nose.” We’d only been married less than 10 months, but I knew at that moment that Bruce would be an blessedly reliable partner in living.
“Nose: If a baby’s nose is stuffed, use a syringe to remove the mucous.”
I quickly retrieved a blue rubber squeeze syringe from the hospital’s new-baby gift box. Two squishes later and Abigail was breathing like a normal infant. Phew!
Why do I tell that story now? I am hoping that you will be able to turn to this what-to-do-when book for similar help when emotionally challenging situations arise in your life.