The gorgeous people at The Counsellors Café sent me the book “Outsmarting Worry” by Dawn Huebner PhD and illustrated by Kara McHale. It’s described as an older kid's guide to managing anxiety. A large number of my clients are children and teenagers and it’s a really hard group to write for.
Within this group there are really mature, streetwise young adults alongside emotionally young children, all of who worry however, would access material in a different way. Finding a style that is informative and easy to understand, but not patronising to such a varied audience is hard. Having said that this book does a good job!
“Outsmarting Worry” is aimed at a specific audience of 9-13 year olds and has a good mix of informative text, delivered in a chatty style and broken up with funny images which keep (even adults) engaged.
It was a book I enjoyed reading and could see how it would help reinforce work I had done with some clients, especially those that had taken a more CBT approach. It mixes science with real life examples and a few funny comments exploring the impact of negative thinking, specifically worry and how to challenge it.
As 14 was some time ago for me, I decided to lend this book to an actual young person who I am currently working with. She has a good grasp of the CBT basics and is working actively to feel less anxious. She told me that “Outsmarting Worry” was easy to read and she loved the illustrations.
It was confidence boosting for her to read about techniques she was aware of and useful to see other techniques explained in a different way with different examples, reinforcing her learning. I asked her if she hadn’t had any therapy would she have enjoyed the book in the same way and she quickly answered “No!” in fact she wasn’t sure she would have finished it.
That is the only downfall of this book, I think it is an excellent aid to therapy or for a young person who is already fairly self aware or driven to make change. As a stand alone book, read independently I doubt it would have half as much impact but it could be useful for a parent or carer to work through with a child, and actually likely just as informative and useful for the adult supporting.
I would recommend this as a great book for a counsellor to have on your shelf if you work with young people and a fabulous book to recommend to someone at the end of therapy so they have a bit of learning, literally to hand! It could also be a lovely transitional item or memory aid for years to come.
Helen Gifford is a Counsellor working in both a large inner city secondary school and in private practice supporting young people and families in the North East. Helen also develops tools to help alternative expression of emotion which you can find on her website or get in contact via Twitter