Book Review Hilary Jacobs Hendel: Its Not Always Depression
Vol 3 #5
It’s Not Always Depression– Working The Change Triangle To Listen To The Body, Discover Core Emotions, And Connect To Your Authentic Self
Hilary Jacobs Hendel BA, MSW, DDS, LCSW
Spiegel & Grau New York. Pages 298.
Hilary Jacobs Hendel is a highly accomplished psychotherapist practicing in New York City. You may have seen her articles in the New York Times or benefitted from her input as a consultant to the TV show Mad Men. She came to psychotherapy through a circuitous route: first a degree in biochemistry, then a doctorate in dental surgery from Columbia University New York and a masters degree in social work. She underwent extensive training in psychoanalysis and obtained certification. Subsequently she adopted the approach developed by Diana Fosha which emphasizes the experience and processing of deep emotions ( grief, sadness, fear, anger, guilt, shame, and anxiety) in the psychotherapy sessions.
This type of psychotherapy, known as Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy, has moved beyond more conventional psychodynamic psychotherapies by giving priority to emotion processing rather than interpretations and transference work. The basic dynamic components remain relevant: working with defenses, being cognizant of transference and countertransference and perceptions of self and other. AEDP belongs to a school of experiential dynamic psychotherapies that includes Davanloo’s Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) and Short-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.
These therapies stand in stark contrast to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which places predominant emphasis on the impact of thoughts on behaviour.
What is unique in this book is Hendel’s mission to take these psychotherapeutic tools and to present and rework them in a way that can be used by individuals on their own. This is a little bit like Penn and Teller showing us how a magic trick is really done! But she has a more important goal that is to bring these methods to a wide audience that may have little access to, or may not require, formal psychotherapy.
Hendel reveals herself to be a passionate and effective healer by relevant clear case examples that give a most enlightening portrait of this therapeutic method.
Equally disarmingly she is able to translate difficult techniques into a self-help book. This is accomplished by emotionally intense case examples and exercises that readers can practice using the Change Triangle. The Change Triangle is based on the work of Henry Ezriel, David Malan and others and embodies many complex psychotherapeutic ideas. Hendel has distilled these into an easily understood self-help approach. The genius of this book is the application of formal psychotherapeutic interventions into a self-help toolbox.
It should be emphasized that this book will be of enormous value in educating psychiatry, psychology and social work trainees. Experienced therapists will find lucid examples of the application of emotion focused experiential therapies that they can incorporate into their own practices.