Book Review: The Stress Response by Christy Matta, MA

The Stress Response, How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Free You from Needless Anxiety, Worry, Anger, and Other Symptoms of Stress is a book by Christy Matta.

The book has 11 chapters:

Understanding Your Stress
Unwinding Your Mind
Using Acceptance Strategies
Using Crisis-Survival Strategies
Improving Relationships
Cultivating Mindfulness Practice
Decreasing Emotional Suffering
Approaching, Not Avoiding
Developing Trust In Yourself
Changing Problematic Coping Behaviors
Staying Motivated, Hopeful, And On Track

The book uses Dialectical Behavior Therapy  (DBT) as one of the main concepts.  The book is almost like a work book, encouraging readers to keep a journal with different exercises at the end of each chapter for you to figure out what is causing your stress and some ways that you can try to prevent it.  Either by figuring out what is triggering it, or realizing when you are stressed and doing exercises to calm yourself down a bit.

Almost every chapter also includes a situation of a real person, which better helps put the information into perspective and make it easier for you to relate it to your own life.  It shows the journal exercises that each person would use as well which I thought was helpful and made the whole thing a lot less confusing.

Some tips included – walking with a mantra such as “heel, toe, heel, toe”, this is something that I’ve used growing up, not to relieve stress, but because of my cerebral palsy.  My feet want to go up on their toes to walk so when I am trying to be careful to walk properly (at the doctor’s office or perhaps in front of people and don’t want to fall) this is something I would often say to mysef.  Knowing that it can help in making me less stressed, it might be a good idea to bring it back because the fear of falling when walking is definitely still there for me, which of course can lead to stress!

There are definitely a lot of strategies in this book that I will consider using, though I am not sure if I am at the point to be keeping a journal yet.  I guess I’ll have to see how working without it goes and decide if I do need the journaling too!

About the Book

Stress affects everyone in different ways. While it can actually help some people become more productive and innovative, extreme stress more often has a paralyzing effect, and can lead to negative coping behaviors like anger, emotional overreactions, anxiety, and alcohol, drug, or food abuse. The Stress Response is the first to offer a dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) program for coping with extreme stress in healthier ways. The four DBT skills can help those prone to overreactions and other negative responses to stress to embrace imperfections, expand their options, and soothe themselves in stressful situations.

The Stress Response invites readers to explore their personal stress reactions and practice these new methods of solving the everyday problems that trigger stress. Readers also learn to accept their most stressed-out emotions and thoughts without judging them, and gradually decrease their vulnerability to stress.

About the Author

Christy Matta M.A. is a trainer, consultant and freelance writer. She has worked in mental health since 1994, is intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy(DBT) and has extensive training in Mindfulness. She is an experienced group leader and trainer in Mindfulness and DBT Skills Groups.

She has provided clinical supervision to DBT residential programs and was a member of the senior administrative team that designed Grove Street Adolescent Residential Program, a winner of the American Psychiatric Association’s Gold Award. She functioned as The Bridge of Central Massachusetts DBT training supervisor for clinicians from the department of counseling psychology of Assumption College and the department of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

I received a free electronic copy of this book from NetGalley and the Publisher in order to write my review. I was not otherwise compensated.

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