by Gina M. Biegel
New Harbinger, 2010
Review by Ryan R. Lindsay, LCSW on Oct 7th 2010
For the past 9 years, I have been working as a Clinical Social Worker and specializing in developing my own skills in the application of Dialectical Behavior Therapy to adults with Borderline Personality Disorder and especially to multi-problem, suicidal adolescents and their families. As a result, of this treatment modality, I have been learning and refining my own mindfulness skills and practice. One of the biggest challenges that I have faced in this endeavor is to accept the learning curve that comes along with learning Mindfulness. I have always been an extremely logical and concrete thinker and Mindfulness seems so abstract. It wasn’t until I really spent some time reading, digesting, and practicing Mindfulness on a regular, and intermittently not so regular, basis that I was able to start to grasp the concept of Mindfulness and the skills that make up living a life awake to each moment. Mindfulness is one of those sets of skills that take time, effort, and practice to develop. Life is often careening out of control, with little time to just notice, observe, describe and participate in each moment. The Stress Reduction Workbook for Teens: Mindfulness Skills to Help You Deal with Stress by Gina M. Biegel, MA, LMFT is a self-directed workbook for teens to help develop mindfulness skills to incorporate into their daily living.
Overall, this is a nicely written, organized, and age appropriate workbook for the average teenager. The workbook is organized into short, useful practices that are easy to understand and to implement. Each exercise or practice is structured in such a way that it gives appropriate background information on why a particular practice is meaningful and brings abstract concepts into a concrete description of skills to be practiced. This is one of the vital and most helpful elements of the workbook; bringing the abstract into language and skills that are easy to understand and learn. As one works their way through the workbook, each new piece of knowledge, skill, and practice builds on those learned in previous chapters; yet also is organized in a way that you can open the book to any page and learn something even without having learned anything that was previously covered. This is ideal for the teens of today, and let’s be honest, adults of today. This provides the opportunity for people of all learning and attention styles to either work their way sequentially from start to finish, or pick up any chapter at any given time.
As a reviewer, I only have one major criticism of the workbook. The most salient criticism is that, having worked with many adolescents in the mental health field as well as have had a lot of exposure to teens, I would think that it would be unlikely that many individual teens would utilize this book on their own, without guidance and further didactic provided by an adult or one with knowledge of this concept and skills. However, with a little additional instruction and guidance, this workbook has the potential to significantly help stressed and anxious teens.
As a clinician I felt the workbook is a great adjunct and resource to teaching Mindfulness Skills as a part of clinical practice. Furthermore, the exercise and material lend itself nicely to incorporating into individual and group treatment. Therefore, I would recommend this book for anyone who is working in wellness programs, mental health treatment centers, or even school programs to help increase teens awareness through the acquisition and strengthening of Mindfulness Skills.
© 2010 Ryan Lindsay
Ryan Lindsay is the Clinical Director and co-founder of the St. Louis Center for Family Development, LLC, a mental health and social service agency that provides in-home, trauma-informed, evidenced-based interventions to individuals in the St. Louis, MO community. Currently, Mr. Lindsay is also a consultant to the Missouri Department of Mental Health, providing program development for Adolescent Dialectical Behavior Therapy Programs throughout MO. Prior to his current position, he was the co-founder of the Ann Arbor DBT Center and worked to develop and help lead an Adolescent DBT Program for Washtenaw County Community Support and Treatment Services in Ann Arbor, MI. Ryan works daily to improve the lives of those individuals who suffer from emotional pain as a result of trauma.