Harnessing the Power of Your Therapeutic Toolbox

Harnessing the Power of Your Therapeutic Toolbox

By Kjell Tore Hovik, PsyD, PhD

At the cusp of a hopeful New Year, a book in the Amen Clinics library will help psychiatrists, psychologists, and other clinicians and therapists better organize their therapeutic toolbox into a more powerful weapon against mental illness.

The book is written as a guide to help individuals experiencing life crises get a grip on their situation and turn their life around for the better; but mental health professionals can use the 5 steps in their practice to help their patients identify their struggles and supervise them in their effort to adapt their thought, feeling and behavior patterns in the recovery process. The end goal is improved quality of life.

Experienced therapists who have read the book and tried out the 5-step methodology have written “Drs Love and Hovik give a wonderful framework and roadmap….it really gives a step-by-step process in situations where chaos would otherwise reign”.

The 5 steps have already been piloted in a university research project with individuals and in small groups. The feedback after the courses in 2020 has been impressive. Further research is planned for 2021.

Among the techniques featured in the model are elements reminiscent of techniques used in evidence-based therapeutic traditions ranging from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Illness Management and Recovery (IM) to sports and personality psychology, but key elements represent a fresh angle to behavior change and recovery based on recent advances in neuroscience and clinical neuropsychology. The key overall organizing principle is the idea that a person’s reaction to stress and stressors is a central feature of all mental distress; it can not only trigger a mental vulnerability but will also aggravate an underlying mental condition. Identifying the stressors in one’s life and individual reactions to them is the start; then the work can begin to gain control over them and turn attentional focus to areas that will build self-confidence, a feeling of mastery, and a sense of balance.

An important feature of the model is the 8-session process approach centered around the patient setting his or her own goals and then scaffolding action on their inner motivation to make the needed changes in their daily lives to reach their desired outcome. To start with, there is a focus on what they are able to change on their own to make changes to thought, emotion, and behavior patterns, but then bring in help as needed to help them resolve struggles out of their control (for example, medication for a serious depressive or psychotic condition or EMDR for an intractable trauma condition).

Throughout, the emphasis is maintained on a person-centered care approach, and a focus on supporting the patient in avoiding avoidance and escape strategies that will only complicate their struggle to achieve their desired outcome. Among the mental health topics described in the book with concrete case examples are chronic illness, family crises, loss, trauma, and existential/spiritual crises.

The year ends with the world in the middle of a crisis of confidence, a crisis of trust, and pandemic pandemonium. But there is hope on the horizon. The time is right for When Crisis Strikes – 5 Steps to Heal Your Brain, Body and Life from Chronic Stress, Citadel Press.  

The book is co-authored by Amen Clinics medical doctor Jennifer Love with three board certifications, including psychiatry, and clinical neuropsychologist Kjell Tore Hovik who is an associate professor of psychology with a Ph.D. in neurodevelopmental psychology.

1 Comment »

  1. Look forward to getting the book. Will order. Thank you.

    Comment by Timothy Lee — December 23, 2020 @ 7:43 AM

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