Letting Go of Self-Destructive Behaviors
A Workbook of Hope and Healing
By Lisa Ferentz
Routledge – 2015 – 274 pages
Routledge – 2015 – 274 pages
Letting Go of Self-Destructive Behaviors offers inspiring, hopeful, creative resources for the millions of male and female adolescents and adults who struggle with eating disorders, addictions, any form of self-mutilation. It is also a workbook for the clinicians who treat them. Using journaling exercises, drawing and collaging prompts, guided imagery, visualizations, and other behavioral techniques, readers will learn how to understand, compassionately work with, and heal from their behaviors rather than distracting from or fighting against them, which can dramatically reduce internal conflict and instill genuine hope. Techniques are provided in easy-to-follow exercises that focus on calming the body, containing overwhelming emotions, managing negative and distorted thoughts, re-grounding from flashbacks, addressing tension and anxiety, decreasing a sense of vulnerability, strengthening assertiveness and communication skills, and accessing inner wisdom.
This workbook can be used in conjunction with Treating Self-Destructive Behaviors in Trauma Survivors, 2nd ed, also by Lisa Ferentz, to allow therapists and their clients to approach the behaviors from the same strengths-based perspective. Workbook exercises can be completed as homework assignments or as part of a therapy session. In either case, the client is given the opportunity to process their work and share their insights with a compassionate witness and trained professional, making the healing journey even safer and more rewarding.
"This is a book for anyone who has had a rocky start in life and is ready to stop turning that neglect and abuse in on themselves. The exercises in Letting Go of Self-Destructive Behaviors will help you and your therapist navigate the rough terrain from self-inflicted pain to healthy self-soothing. Lisa Ferentz provides a manual of exercises for the journey from self-harm to self-care, and it's essential reading. Even if you have experienced a good reason not to trust a therapist, Lisa Ferentz will win you over with her compassionate, non-judging and wise approach to putting you—not your overwhelming feelings or the strategies you use to numb them out—in the driver's seat. After reading about Lisa Ferentz's calm acceptance of her clients' ‘secrets,’ and the ways in which they, in their own words, begin to let go of shame and change their behavior, you will be inspired to work with a therapist who can help you."
—Amy Weintraub is the author of Yoga Skills for Therapists and Yoga for Depression and is the founder of the LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute
"Trauma survivors and their therapists will be grateful to Lisa Ferentz for this rich resource, which helps empower the client and facilitate recovery with concrete exercises that identify triggers, teach new self-soothing strategies, and interrupt the cycle of self-destructive behaviors. Even seasoned therapists can learn new metaphors, breathing exercises, and self-help tools that will enrich their practices. Survivors will especially appreciate the respectful and honest tone, which validates feelings while gently offering concrete alternative behaviors. I have used Lisa Ferentz's Caress model for interrupting self-destructive behavior in my own practice and trainings, and this book will allow this powerful set of tools to be accessible more widely. I highly recommend that trauma therapists and their clients take advantage of this accessible, well-written, and valuable new resource."
—Joyanna Silberg, PhD, is the author of The Child Survivor: Healing Developmental Trauma and Dissociation
"In Letting Go of Self-Destructive Behaviors, Lisa Ferentz has achieved something no other workbook has attempted: addressing the relationship between trauma and a broad spectrum of self-destructive behaviors, covering not only self-harm and suicidality but also addictions and eating disorders. In simple, compassionate language, she guides the reader step by step toward establishing new, healthier patterns of regulating unbearable feelings and memories. This is a book for self-healing, not just behavior management."
—Janina Fisher, PhD, is coauthor of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Trauma and Attachment and Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors
"This workbook is a real treasure trove of tools for healing. I am deeply impressed by the range of exercises Lisa Ferentz has created, offering a path to healing that honors the client’s intelligence and capacity for letting go of toxic beliefs, self-defeating stories, and behaviors that are no longer useful. Building on her extensive clinical experience and her compassionate belief in the client’s capabilities for self-healing, Ferentz has created a workbook that can change the lives of countless women, men, adolescents, and greatly enhance the work of clinicians."
—Dusty Miller is the author of Women Who Hurt Themselves: A Book of Hope and Understanding
"This is an affirming book. When so much of self-harming behavior is cloaked in shame and can stem from a feeling of powerlessness, Ferentz offers wisdom.“[Y]ou have power and you have choice,” she writes. “You can choose to communicate and self-soothe in ways that are destructive or in ways that are truly effective and healing. This is yours to choose and it will always be your choice.”
For therapists, the book offers a rich selection of exercises to use with clients. And for those suffering from self-destructive behaviors themselves, Ferentz can help you develop a better understanding of patterns and move you toward recovery."
—Megan Riddle, Psychcentral.com
Foreword Margaret Grimes I. Tapping into Your Curiosity and Courage 1. Beginning the Journey 2. You Are Not in This Alone 3. The Top 10 Reasons Why a Therapist Can Help 4. Is This Workbook Really Right for Me? II. Connecting Self-Destructive Behaviors to Past and Present Experiences 5. It’s Not Easy Being a Teenager or an Adult! 6. How Trauma Can Lead to Self-Destructive Behaviors 7. Moving Away from the Diagnosis of "I’m Crazy": The Strengths-Based Approach 8. Connecting to Others and Managing Your Emotions 9. What Self-Destructive Behaviors REALLY Mean III. Why "Letting Go: Is Hard to Do: The Cycle of Self-Harm 10. Learning about the "Cycle" of Self-Destructive Behaviors 11. What Sets the Cycle in Motion? 12. Understanding Negative Thoughts and Feelings 13. Experiencing Tension and Anxiety 14. What Happens When You "Zone Out" and Don't Feel Pain 15. Engaging in Acts of Self-Harm 16. Why it Works in the Short-Term 17. Why it Doesn't Work in the Long-Term 18. How Feeling Bad Leads to More Pain IV. Working With and Moving Beyond Self-Destructive Behaviors 19. Working with the Cycle of Self-Destructive Behaviors 20. Treating the Triggers 21. Dealing with Negative Thoughts 22. Managing Negative Feelings 23. Addressing Tension and Anxiety 24. Learning to Stay Present 25. Using CARESS 26. Honoring the Positive Outcomes 27. Finding the Courage to Say This Isn't Working 28. Being Compassionate When You Are Feeling Vulnerable 29. On Your Road to Recovery Glossary Index
Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C, is the president and founder of the Institute for Advanced Psychotherapy Training and Education, which provides continuing education to mental health professionals. She was named "Social Worker of the Year" by the Maryland Society for Clinical Social Work in 2009 and has been in solo private practice specializing in trauma for 30 years.