Some years ago, I was the foster parent to a teenager whose adolescence had been filled with abuse by various people, including her father, brother, and even the man who played Santa Claus. Finally, some 25+ years after she left our home, she began working with therapists to deal with the consequences of her upbringing. To this day, she still is wandering in the wilderness of therapy, doing a lot of therapist-shopping and -hopping, and I am still fascinated by the possibilities for treatment and the various options available. In the past year she has begun working with a therapist who specializes in DBT. Because of this and because her issues have manifested in behaviors that include out of control eating I was particularly pleased to receive an advance copy of the new book, The DBT Solution for Emotional Eating, from Guilford Publications and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Dr. Debra Safer is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University Medical Center. After she attended medical school at the University of California, San Francisco she had a residency in psychiatry at Stanford where she worked closely with W. Stewart Agras, MD, and his eating disorders research team. In February 2017, her textbook, Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Binge Eating and Bulimia was released. She wrote this along with three other professionals. This new book, which is scheduled for release in January 2018, was written in conjunction with two other doctors and clearly designed for a general audience.
I admit to having had some confusion between dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). One outstanding thing about this book is the clear way it explains DBT: “This DBT program for binge eating focuses on the relationship between your feelings and your urges to use food…” And that there are “…three modules or categories of DBT skills: mindfulness emotion regulation and distress tolerance…Central to DBT is that individuals turn to food to self-soothe, numb and avoid emotional discomfort because food “works” temporarily…” And the BFD for me:” Dialectical thinking involves holding two seemingly contradictory viewpoints at the same time by recognizing that there is always more than one way to view a situation more than one way to solve a problem…”and most of all “Don’t confuse dialectical thinking with rationalizing a binge.”…accepting yourself does not require that you approve of where you are or like it.”
There were many other things that resonated with me: “…for their whole lives they’ve been told that they’re “too sensitive”…” and “Hedonic eating …involves an increased appetite drive or preoccupation with highly desirable food even without physical hunger…”
Finally, “Another valuable way to use dialectical thinking involves accepting who you are at this moment while at the same time accepting that you want to change….you are accepting yourself exactly as you are in this moment so you can change…what can be changed is the way you react to your distress and difficult emotions.” POWERFUL STUFF !!
I think this book is terrific. It is extremely straightforward well organized, and readable. It includes very specific skills and strategies for managing emotions without turning to food…and it has such a supportive tone reminding the reader constantly that they are where they are and it isn’t the end of the world if they do binge…but there are ways to work on modifying this behavior. Very highly recommended for anyone who knows the struggles with food and weight management and who wants to be healthy, with a healthy approach to food and nutrition. Five enthusiastic stars. And I hope my former “daughter” will benefit from DBT!