Book Reviews

How To Treat Trauma

The Trauma Treatment Handbook
Protocols Across the Spectrum

by
Robin Shapiro

What a great book. Plainly written, packed with information and resources, the author demonstrates an astonishing depth of knowledge, grasp of scores of trauma therapies, along with compassion and warm empathy for trauma survivors. All this underscored with a scientific objectivity and a lively sense of humor.

Not only does Shapiro present the reader with detailed guides to many types of therapy for helping people who've suffered a trauma (ranging from childhood abuse to sexual assault to car crashes to the terror of war) but there's a chapter for therapists ourselves for whom listening to the often heart-wrenching stories from clients is itself traumatic.

A rich choice of techniques for healing trauma provides the reader with clear guides to the familiar (e.g. psychodynamic theories developed from the musings of Freud) to less common or unusual therapies (such as Brainspotting and Dialectical Behavior Therapy).

For those of us not bathed in the holy waters of DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) the author lists dozens of the acronyms that represent labels for many kinds of human distress, and the amazing variety of therapies to combat trauma in particular. (Shapiro ends this exhaustive two-page list with "WTF?: response to so many acronyms!")

The author (who already has two published books on the subject) describes EMDR [Eye Movement and Desensitization] in satisfactory detail and suggests that a better label would have been "reprocessing therapy" because it consists of BLS (bi-lateral stimulation). EMDR also "includes elements of mindfulness, somatic awareness, exposure, and cognitive therapies."

The "energy psychologies" with their ability to cure phobias in a single session, are given their due from the original TFT (Thought-Field Therapy) through EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), to TAT (Tapas Acupressure Technique) and the work of clinical psychologist David Feinstein who is "married to Donna Eden, the maven of energy medicine." (Which reveals my ignorance as I'd never heard of her).

In the chapter on hypnotherapy, Shapiro cleverly incorporates Ericksonian language that offers the reader a brief experience of hypnosis. Several hypnotic techniques for dealing with trauma illustrate the power of this approach. (Only HOC is missing).

This book gives the therapist -- novice or experienced -- a massive choice of approaches to apply to a specific traumatized client. There are also specialized chapters on grief, the military and borderline personality disorders. Within each chapter and at the end of the text, are rich references for further learning.