Review: Snap Strategies for Couples, a Quick Read

As a psychologist I often read and sometimes review books about psychology and psychological interventions, so when I saw Snap Strategies For Couples by Lana Staheli and Pepper Schwartz, I was eager to get it. In part I was curious because there had not been any good book by a new author skilled in couples work in recent times. I was provided the Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review of this book, which is currently in pre-release status, and will be available for sale to the public on April 21st, 2015.

The authors have both published before, and this is their first collaboration. Dr. Staheli is a coach, and Dr. Schwartz describes herself as a “relationship coach,”but she is best known as a sexologist and sociologist. Dr. Schwartz writes a column on sexuality for AARP, and a book she wrote earlier made the New York Times bestseller list. In Snap Strategies for Couples neither author give their specific credentials; however from the content of the book it is likely that they are both trained in the coaching area. As a consequence, some might find these ideas a little too simplistic. Yet the 40 brief interventions that the authors describe are consistent with the kinds of emphasis and scope that is often found in the coaching domain. As such, Snap Strategies is a useful and well written collection of simple straightforward things a couple can do to improve their relationship.

Each of the 40 topics is introduced and followed by two clinical anecdotes that illustrate the issue. Each of these brief 5-9 page chapters is then concluded by a prescribed solution offered by Drs. Staheli and Shwartz.  Many of these suggestions seem self-evident, as in the chapter on Snarky Comments. The authors point out that making snarky comments to your spouse can “poison the relationship,” and in the prescription, they say that recipient should first recognize that the snarky comments are hurtful, take them on, and then be specific in describing what is being said that is so hurtful. This is fairly typical of the level at which these discussions are presented. They are always straightforward and  simple, but nonetheless often useful. However, if you expect in depth or scholarly discussions of marital problems and their solutions, tied to research or to the known experts in the field, then the reader may be disappointed. The authors do have a chapter on the Languages of Love that credits and relies upon the 1995 book by Chapman.

I found some of these pithy interventions quite well crafted and helpful. For example, one solution to a tendency of one partner to be too critical is for the critic to focus instead on the good things that they would like to see increased, rather than on trying to  curb purportedly problematic areas.  Where this book is at it’s best, however, is in addressing sexual conflicts and problems. Dr. Schwartz has already made something of a name for herself in this arena, with writing as far back as 1970 in her topic area. Her expertise shines through in these chapters, mostly outlined towards the end of the book.

I give the book Snap Strategies for Couples 4 out if 5 stars, and this quick read, aimed at couples trying to breaks some bad habits and patterns, may help many couples navigate these conflicts and problems more smoothly.

Snap Strategies for Couples

40 Fast Fixes for Everyday Relationship Struggles

by  Lana Staheli and Pepper Schwartz

Seal Press

263 Pages

Release Date: April 21st, 2015

 

 

 

 

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Published in: on January 19, 2015 at 11:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review of See Bride Run by Charlotte Hughes

See Bride Run! is the latest book by Charlotte Hughes, and I enjoyed this book, which was a quick and funny read. It can be read in one sitting (it is 211 pages long) and is really a classical romance.

Charlotte has the ability to paint characters that are both funny and 3 dimensional. She writes great dialogue and keeps the plot moving. In this story she has a prologue in which the protagonist, Annie Hartford, steals the family limousine in order to flee a wedding forced on her by her father. She has lived under her father’s thumb all her life, since he raised her as his only family member.

The car brakes down in Pinckney Georgia, in front of Sam Ballard’s Café.. Sam and Annie go through many of the usual crises/conflicts before the HEA, but the reader has fun along the way.

The book is fun and a quick read, with several quirky characters. I can recommend this book with 4.5 stars.

seebridereunresized

See Bride Run!: (Click here for more)

Published in: on January 2, 2015 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review of Against Her Will by Peter Martin

Against Her Will is a debut novel by the author, and as such introduced me to an author of whom I will keep track. His book is a hybrid and includes a plot that at the beginning and end reads like a suspenseful thriller, with a breathtaking pace and twists, turns and a surprise ending. However the middle part Is not at all like this and focusses instead on a very adroit but much slower psychological profile of a woman dealing with the aftermath of rape.

The plot follows the protagonist Donna, from a rape she experiences on the way home from work, devolving further and further into a world of pain and isolation. Initially she attempts to stay with her boyfriend, but when that does not work, she moves in with her parents, and eventually to a care home, where recovery seems impossible. However she meets a male from the staff of the institution and moves in with his family. The ending of the film has a surprise twist, and this reviewer won’t give it away.

I am a clinical psychologist and have treated countless men and women who have dealt with the aftermath of trauma, and I can say that for a work of fiction this rings true enough, and the book seems to care deeply about the protagonist, and it gets the morass that Donna finds herself swimming through. While this section is well written, the suspenseful parts elsewhere in the book are better, and they show the promise of this new writer. Despite the problems with pacing, I highly recommend this book and will be eagerly to see what the author next has to offer.

Amazon Best Sellers

Published in: on December 28, 2014 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Maya Angelou has Died

In case you had not heard, Maya Angelou, renowned poet and Medal of Freedom winner, has died according to her agent:

Maya Angelou Dies

While all of us loved her, she has lived a remarkable life. For example few know that she was a calypso singer who recorded an album as such that won her some fame, before he poetry was recognized.

She turned pain into poetry and gave her voice to those who were voiceless. She encouraged girls to grab the world “by the lapels.” Here is Maya reciting “Still Rise” : Still Rise by Maya Angelou on Youtube.

While she may have left her body, she left a body of work that will be eternal

Published in: on May 28, 2014 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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Self-Publishing in the Age of the Kindle

Book publishing has changed. In the past, the idea of publishing a book outside of the Big 6 New York Publishing Houses (especially without an agent) was relegated to vanity publishing. People who had no other recourse spent about $10,000 to make enough copies to fill half their garage, which is where the books congregated. With few exceptions, these endeavors never made any money or came close to paying back the initial cost, not to mention the cost to the author’s brand/reputation.

Today, an author needs to think twice before signing on with a traditional publisher. In order To self-publish the initial costs, in addition to writing the book, are procuring your own cover and hiring a decent editor. Sure you will still have to promote your book but that would be necessary with a print publisher as well (at least if you plan to sell any books).

However the royalties from Amazon if you go with the $2.99-$9.99 price range, are 4-9 times greater than you would get from a traditional print publisher, and you also have the potential to get Amazon to put their marketing muscle behind you, if you are smart or lucky enough to please the Amazon algorithm.

These and related reasons have led me to self publish the book

    Overcoming Anxiety

once I have finished the editing. That means I need to brush up on self publishing and while I do that, I will try to share much of what I learn with my readers.

Published in: on May 26, 2014 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Been a While

Since I posted here so I thought I would ay least throw out a few random thoughts so this site does not develop rigor mortis.

As for politics, America has only one party, the establishment, with left and right wings loosely called democrats and republicans (no capitalization is intended, not worthy of it). Tea Party activists do the bidding of the republican establishment, and progressives carry water for the democratic establishment.

Sheldon Adelson, who supplied Newt Gingrich’s entire bankroll, now is putting all his money and power behind getting government on our backs, controlling the internet by banning things like online poker. Next will be angry birds?

Published in: on February 13, 2014 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Aspergers Syndrome, Can we Save it?

Persons diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome learned recently that the psychiatric community in the USA has determined that this disorder is so much like Autism that it should be diagnosed instead as a mild form of Autism. While there has been some overlap and similarities in Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism, I am one psychologist who would have prefered that the two be more clearly separated, an outcome almost diametrically opposite from the one chosen by American psychiatry in its DSM-5 version (due out later this year).

While there are some advantages for these children to be seen as Autistic (access to research funds, better access to society’s supportive programs), these are outweighed by the negatives. It is less likely that adult and adolescent children with Aspergers will want to be identified as autistic. More important than the greater likelihood of stigmatization, is the prospect that the etiology and treatment of Aspergers will become hopelessly muddled and confused. Understanding of the disorder will be set back decades as will treatment and diagnostic issues. So what can be done?

There is a realistic prospect that US Psychiatry will change this decision the next time around, if advocacy groups apply pressure, however that prospect would require a wait of several years. A better approach is for the various advocacy groups tied to the disorder to develop a new institutional groundwork- one in which the funding for research, education and all things nonmedical are addressed outside the purview of mental health, and away from the insurance industry. While therapy may still need to rely on the medical establishment, the ICD-10 still can be used, at least for the near future, to capture the correct diagnosis (F-84.5).

Published in: on January 21, 2013 at 6:52 pm  Comments (2)  
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Whistleblowers Can Be An Antidote to Fascism

More than a decade after the twin towers were attacked by foreign forces, the USA becomes more and more willing to curtail our bill of rights. While the initial reaction by the Bush regime was obviously excessive: waterboarding, warrantless wiretaps and other surveillance, the end of habeas corpus, and general forfeiture of our privacy rights, we all hoped that sanity would eventually, if gradually, return.

The election of a Democrat as president did little to change this picture. We may have stopped waterboarding, but there would be no way of being sure, given the lack of transparency. Otherwise the tendency to fascistic methods of top down control by the elite has remained – and in many cases it has grown; this was even more troubling to those few of us who still care about the principles that made the USA a beacon for freedom and human rights.

If you doubt this trend, just look at the 112th congress. Infamous for having a “do nothing” approach in which far less was accomplished and fewer bills passed than any other congress, this congress was nevertheless very productive in curtailing the rights of Americans. Bill after bill passed to end these rights, with large bipartisan support, and many of these bills would not have been thinkable, even under Chaney and the specter of the 911 attack.

Is there any way out of this gradual slide to a state in which individual rights are rare? We, of course, would need a more thoughtful media. This is unlikely to happen with the mainstream media who long ago lost its soul, its curiosity, and its forebrain. The best we can hope for there is a vibrant web and blog universe, although I think it is still an imperative to crack open the cable providers, forcing them to provide dozens of smaller less commercial cable channels with divergent voices.

For me, however, the most pressing need is to make it not only possible for whistleblowers to reveal the excesses, but to insure that they are protected afterwards. There has been a little progress with this project in some spheres, but there is no protection whatsoever for whistleblowers who work for the parts of out government most likely to be abused. Nada. No whistleblowers there. We need to put pressure on our legislators to balance the erosion of our rights by encouraging a voice for those working in the muck who discover the dirty laundry, and would like to air it. Sunshine is still a good antisceptic.

Teachers for Safe Schools

If teacher’s unions would go on strike until the gun control laws have actually passed, we could get some movement towards school safety. Starting, say Feb 1 (getting legislation before that would be impossible) they could go out and not return until schools all have resource officers and assault weapons are banned. We also need to limit ammunition clips and unlimit how we treat and deal with mental illness.

I suspect most other public unions would not cross the picket line, and might even join in. We could call it responsible and responsive government.

Published in: on December 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New Mental Health Procedure Codes- Reimbursement Cuts

The mental health procedure codes used by insurance companies are being revised, and will be reimbursed at a different rate. While some codes stay the same, one of the changes that will lead to a cut in pay for most therapists, and a cut in service for most mental health patients, is the code for outpatient psychotherapy.

The old code of 90806 was used by most therapists and was reimbursed for the typical 50 or 55 minute therapy session. However the way the new codes are set up, if a 50 minute session is preauthorized (and that is the way blue cross and many other insurers do it), then you are expected to round down to 45 minutes, and that session is equivalent to the old 90804, paid at a much lower rate of reimbursement.

This is a hidden pay cut and service cut, for therapists and clients respectively. If therapist usually takes the whole hour (adding time at the end for record keeping), then the new rules will try to force them to do 45 minute session, (or donate the time) seeing three patients over a little over two hours, if they plan to make as much or more money as in the previous system, when they saw two patients in that time.

So far the actual reimbursement rates have yet to be published although they were due in November. Hopefully that will include an increase, but the projection is for a cut in reimbursement, when both are taken into account. I still make less from an insurance company now than I did in the 1980’s, and that is one reason many of my colleagues do not fool with insurance.

 

Published in: on November 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm  Comments (1)  
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