Review: The Introvert’s Edge to Networking by Matthew Pollard

This is a little different than my usual self-help review, but there’s a reason I was drawn to this book to review. First of all, my mission is to review books that will help therapists, either with their own business/self-improvement, or with their clientele. I’ve found that a lot of us therapists are introverts, and as introverts and helper types, we are often terrible at being business owners.

When I first started my private practice and was trying to build a healthy fee-for-service clientele, I used to go to networking events a lot – BNI (business networking international), chamber of commerce mixers, and what have you. I always found it awkward, not only because I’m an introvert, but also because of the nature of our business. I don’t know if you have noticed, but say “I’m a therapist” in a crowd, and no one says another word, just drifts awkwardly away to some other conversation. Like it or not, there is still a stigma around therapy, or a fear of getting “analyzed” or whatever.

My solution to this is a solution that Pollard goes into great detail about in this book. Specialize, find your niche, and find a way to say what you do without saying “I’m a therapist”. I’ve never come up with a clever two word title like Pollard suggests (if I did, I might be the Marriage Maven?), but I created a one liner that expressed my niche without using the word therapist or counselor. I used to say “I help couples in distress save their marriages from divorce court”. I developed a worksheet for my Therapist Marketing talks that help people find a niche line like this. But I also really love the idea of finding a two word description that prompts people to ask “What’s that?”.

I also really love Pollard’s advice to “be a giver”, and give people something of value instead of just trying to sell them on your service. Especially as a therapist, people don’t want you trying to convince them they need therapy (in public no less!) or diagnosing them at a networking event! But almost everyone could use your “5 tips for couples in distress” or “2 things you can do anytime when you’re anxious” type of information.

Pollard’s system is a system I think could work for a lot of introvert therapist-types. If you are trying to convince people to pay you upwards of $150 per hour out of pocket when they could possibly use their insurance instead, you’re not going to sell them using logic. You’re going to sell them on it by Pollard’s mantra: Success doesn’t come from being everything to everyone but being the only logical choice to a select few.

This book will be out on January 19, 2021 and is available for pre-orders now.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from Net Galley for my review. The link above is an Amazon affiliate link and I receive a small compensation from orders placed through this link.

Review: The Five Core Conversations for Couples by David Bullitt, J.D. & Julie Bullitt, LCSW-C

I wasn’t a huge fan of this book. The concept is interesting – Julie is a counselor and David is a divorce lawyer, so they do have some really interesting perspectives and stories. And if you think of it as more of a “memoir”, you will probably enjoy it. But if you are looking for some real, practical advice, I think it’s lacking a bit. The five topics of conversation are: communication, finances, parenting, sex, and work-life balance. All of these are also what I would say are probably the five most crucial topics. But again, if you are looking for some real in-depth advice, you’ll be disappointed.

One of the things I do like about the book is the abundance of metaphors. Being somewhat of a “metaphor queen” myself, I got a few new ideas on easy ways to explain concepts here. For example, they talk about the oxygen masks on planes (take care of yourself first before helping others); replacing the roof on your house (you don’t wait until it’s falling in to replace it); make-it and take-it basketball (if you made the mess, you’re the one who should clean it up); and the escort car to a wide load vehicle (sometimes you’re the one who needs help and sometimes you’re the one providing it). So if you are a therapist who uses a lot of metaphors, you’ll like this book for that.

There are also some really good one-liners to remember. The key to working on the ebbs is to work harder on the flows; if it won’t matter, don’t say it; and so forth. But there is also some advice I don’t like. For example, when they were talking about the silent treatment, they said that time outs are like five year old tantrums and have no place in a relationship, because it’s punishment. Maybe they were only talking about it in terms of the silent treatment as punishment, but time outs when things are heated can be a very effective strategy in my opinion, and I’m afraid couples will read this wrong. And I kind of really don’t like how they talked about differences in sexual frequency – it felt disrespectful to me. I felt that the book was really weighted towards the person who does not want sex as much and disregarded the pain that often happens for the person who does want sex more often.

The book is basically a log of conversations between the two of them over the years. And don’t get me wrong – conversations between a counselor and a divorce lawyer are probably endlessly entertaining. I found the tone of the book a bit snarky, however. Also, you must be comfortable with foul language, because there’s a lot of it. I’m not a prude regarding language, but I feel like it’s somewhat of a trend to try to make books appealing by swearing a lot.

Again, if you read this more like a funny memoir of two people with converging (diverging) careers, you might like it. But if you’re looking for more solid couples advice, there are a multitude of better options.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from Net Galley for my review. The link above is an Amazon affiliate link and I receive a small compensation from orders placed through this link.

Review: Stop Walking on Eggshells (new 3rd Edition) by Paul Mason and Randi Kreger

This book is kind of a classic in the field and many of you may have read it or have it on your shelf. This is a newly revised and updated third edition and I received it free from Net Galley for my review. They correct some common assumptions here: in the DSM it says only 2% of people have borderline personality disorder (hereafter BPD), but they say it is more like 5.9%. Also, about 40% of people with BPD also have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, so there is new content about that personality disorder too, and how it intersects with BPD. Also, many people assume that BPD is mostly women and they say this is not true – men are just as likely to have it, but they are written off as abusers and violent offenders. All in all, with these statistics, most of us will encounter someone like this in our practice or our life and it’s good information to have.

The layout of the book is begin by describing BPD behavior and figuring out whether or not someone you love or know has the disorder. One of the things I love about this book is that throughout, they have quotes and stories from people with BPD and from people who love them, sharing their experience. And while these stories may not mirror your situation exactly, it is really helpful to read people’s experiences. I also like that they have such a compassionate and empathetic view of BPD clients. They are so careful never to vilify and to be so respectful of how hard it is to cope with these symptoms.

The next large section is about how to work on yourself and protect yourself. One of the main points throughout the book is that you cannot change the BPD person, only they can do that. So you must set limits and boundaries, have consequences for bad behavior, and get your own support. They give several examples of ways to do this in a non-shaming way, since shame is such a trigger for these folks.

Lastly they cover some unique situations – children whose parents have BPD, and parents who have children with BPD. These differ a bit from relationships that you have chosen, and there are some different strategies. Also they cover the fact that sometimes BPD folks do lie and create rumors, especially when the relationship is ending such as divorce. They talk about what to do with self-harming behaviors and suicide threats. And then there is a resource appendix with information on treatments, mindfulness and books/support groups.

All in all, this is valuable information. And although you may not be in relationship or have a client with BPD, like all personality disorders it is a continuum and I think the information here could help with pretty much any relationship where you feel you have to walk on eggshells.

Disclaimer: The link above is an Amazon affiliate link and I receive a small compensation from orders placed with this link. Summaries are NOT intended to replace the purchase of the book, but simply to save you time reading!

Review: Escaping Emotional Abuse by Beverly Engel, LMFT

Beverly Engel has written a plethora of books, mostly about anger and abuse. This book focuses mostly on shame, which she says is the root of all emotional abuse. First the abuser has shame and takes that out on others in the form of abuse, and then the victim is consistently shamed until that is their primary emotion as well. Engel sets out in this book to give a shamed victim some tools to identify their shame and determine what they should do about the relationship.

Engel begins by helping the reader identify whether, in fact, they are in an emotionally abusive relationship, and if so, how shame interfaces with that. She gives the reader some specific tools to stop believing what the abuser is saying, use anger productively, and start to begin offering yourself self-compassion and self-kindness.

Engel then moves on to determining whether you should stay or go. This depends on several factors, the first being whether or not you think you can safely confront your partner. If so, she offers specific suggestions on how to do that. She also outlines what makes abuse intentional vs. unintentional, and how to determine whether or not your partner has a personality disorder that would make change difficult.

I love that she confronts how you might feel if you do leave, that you will probably be tempted to go back. And she offers some really good guidelines and exercises to do so that you can get some perspective on whether or not that is just loneliness or emotion, or whether it really is a good idea to return. Throughout, she offers no judgment whatsoever if you decide you want to stay or go.

Having never been in an abusive relationship, I can’t tell you with 100% accuracy if this book would be soundly helpful. But I would certainly offer it to a client in this situation, or do the exercises together. Like all self-help books, this one will work best if you take it slow and actually do each exercise with a lot of thoughtfulness.

I received this book free from Kensington Publishing for my review, and it will be on sale January 1, 2021.

Disclaimer: The link above is an Amazon affiliate link and I receive a small compensation from orders placed with this link. Summaries are NOT intended to replace the purchase of the book, but simply to save you time reading.

Review: Feel by E. Trent Thompson & Arielle Estoria

This is a little bit different of a review. E. Trent Thompson is a friend of mine, and this little book would be such a fantastic Christmas gift for your therapist, your therapist friends, your colleagues — or really anyone! This book is a list of emotions, and Arielle writes a beautiful poem that describes the emotion. Then Trent compliments that with an artistic depiction of the emotion. Here’s an example:

We keep this on our coffee table in our lobby for clients to peruse. One of my colleagues used it for a support group, opening with each person choosing a page for check-in. And it can be used in so many ways with clients who find it hard to identify emotion, or it would be appropriate for anyone who loves art or poetry.

You can still get this as a Christmas gift, and in the month of December, you can 10% off your purchase with the code FEEL234 at https://etrentart.com/feel!

Review: Your Brain is Always Listening by Dr. Daniel Amen

First of all, I love Dr. Amen. Although he has been a controversial figure for some, I have found his books, clinics and information to be consistently solid. On four separate occasions, I have referred clients to his clinics after multiple treatment options for mental health issues have failed. On every occasion, they have been able to get a handle on the issues after visiting the Amen Clinic. The Amen Clinics use SPECT scans of the brain in order to diagnose and treat. Dr. Amen’s books outline how to have good “brain health” and he asserts that what we call “mental health” issues are really “brain health” issues. Personally, I don’t like a lot of his advice (I have to give up bread??? waaah), but I can see that his advice is based on research and solid.

My only complaint about this book is that it has so much information! It literally could be four or five books. Some of my angst about it is probably due to reading an advance reader copy on the Kindle; I suggest buying this book in hard copy, because 1. it would be great to just have handy as a reference and 2. I think it would be easier to manage the information.

This book reminds me of one of my favorite books, called “Taming Your Gremlin” by Rick Carson. Basically, it’s an externalizing technique where Dr. Amen outlines all of the “Dragons” that we might have running around in our heads, either from the past, from our experiences, or from other people. For example, you might have a “should” dragon, or an “angry” dragon. The first two sections of the book outline multiple “Dragons” you might suffer with, along with some suggestions about how you might know if you have this dragon and what you can do about it.

Next he addresses the thoughts that fuel the Dragons, and outlines them as “ANTs” – automatic negative thoughts. These are similar to the cognitive distortions we would find with CBT. It’s nice because he will say you can have an “All or Nothing” ANT, and then he will say which of the Dragons are fueled by this kind of thinking.

Next he discusses “Bad Habit Dragons”, like saying yes too much, or being disorganized. And he warns about forces outside of us that really try to get us into bad habits, like the food industry, or the internet/social media and how to cope with these “pushers”.

Lastly, he gives us a new, modified 12-step program that can help us combat all of these issues – and in this section he gives us lots of specific nutritional and supplement information based on your individual dragons and your brain type. (You can take a quiz about your brain type at www.brainhealthassessment.com). I have always loved Dr. Amen’s books, but he’s really outdone himself this time.

I received this book free from Net Galley. It won’t be out until March 2. 2021, but you can pre-order now at the link below!

Disclaimer: The link above is an Amazon Affiliate link and I receive a small compensation from orders placed with this link. Summaries are NOT intended to replace the purchase of the book, but simply to save you time reading.