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Developing Resilience: A Cognitive-Behavioural Approach [Paperback]

Michael Neenan
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

8 Jun 2009 041548068X 978-0415480680

Some individuals emerge from grim experiences stronger in mind and spirit than others who suffered the same fate. In this book, Michael Neenan suggests that it is the meanings that we attach to events, and not the events themselves, that determine our reactions to them; this is why different people can react to the same event in a variety of ways.

Developing Resilience shows how people can find constructive ways of dealing with their difficulties by using the techniques of cognitive behaviour therapy as well as listening to the wisdom of those who have prevailed over adversity. This book provides useful guidance and advice on topics including:

  • managing negative emotions
  • distinguishing between what is within and outside of your control
  • learning from past experiences
  • developing self-belief
  • increasing your level of frustration tolerance
  • maintaining a resilient outlook.

This book will be essential for anyone trying to find constructive ways forward in difficult times, as well as counsellors, coaches and therapists looking for guidance in helping their clients.


Frequently Bought Together

Developing Resilience: A Cognitive-Behavioural Approach + The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life's Hurdles + Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life's Greatest Challenges
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (8 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 041548068X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415480680
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 171,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'In this scholarly, yet practical book, Michael Neenan shows how you can develop skills for managing life challenges in a way that strengthens and empowers you. For anyone who wants to find inner strength in the face of adversity, this book is for you.' - Professor Alan Carr, Director of Clinical Psychology Training, University College Dublin, Ireland.

About the Author

Michael Neenan is Associate Director of the Centre for Stress Management, Kent, an accredited cognitive behavioural therapist and author (with Windy Dryden) of Life Coaching: A Cognitive-Behavioural Approach.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly helpful, grounded and practical 22 Mar 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What an incredibly helpful book and what clear, precise prose.

I won't repeat the excellent points made by other reviewers, but will add that this book is
- clear and concise
- addressed to the general reader
- grounded in an academically rigorous approach
- full of a-ha moments

Unusually for me I found myself taking notes which I still refer back to quite regularly.

What I particularly valued about this book was the precise and clear way it pins down the factors that support or undermine resilience.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Developing Resilience using Cognitive Therapy 27 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Resilience potentially exists within all of us. Focus upon resilience factors often means focusing upon our strengths instead of weaknesses in a way that helps us to anticipate problems and cope better with them when they happen. It's a concept currently growing in popularity as it holds promise for the prevention of psychological problems, such as depression, at a collective level. Michael Neenan's new book Developing Resilience: A Cognitive-Behavioural Approach provides a detailed overview and guide to the subject of resilience from an evidence-based perspective.

Neenan and Prof. Windy Dryden have provided a very thorough definition of "resilience", which begins, "Resilience comprises a set of flexible cognitive, behavioural and emotional responses to acute or chronic adversities which can be unusual or commonplace. These responses can be learned and are within the grasp of everyone; resilience is not a rare quality given to a chosen few. While many factors affect the development of resilience, the most important one is the attitude you adopt to deal with adversity. Therefore attitude (meaning) is the heart of resilience."

This is a very enjoyable and easy book to read. It's erudite, academically-informed, and draws upon a wealth of research-based knowledge and clinical experience but is written and laid out in a very accessible "self-help" style. It manages to be one of those books that will appeal both to therapists and their clients and I will no doubt be recommending it to psychotherapy clients, for whom "Developing Resilience" is often a very attractive concept. It's also well-suited for coaching work, where, rather than psychopathology, the focus is mainly on strengths and coping with "everyday hassles.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
In 2007 I was attending the London conference of ISMA, The International Stress Management Association, where I listened to a session on resilience given by Michael Neenan. It struck me as a very important subject in that resilience and bulding it, is the flip side of dealing with stress after things happen. That's why I'm very glad to finally see and read the book by Michael Neenan on this subject Developing Resilience

Why should you buy and read this book? Because...

* It's well structured, hence easy to locate the areas you need to read; the subject index and chapters headings are helpful.

* The text is readable and accessible to both professionals working in coaching or therapy, and also the general lay reader.

* Contains the fruits and reflections of over 20 years practise in stress management and resilience building with clients. To my mind there's an interesting parallel here with the classic Dale Carnegie book How To Win Friends And Influence People in that like Carnegie, Neenan has obviously read widely on the subject, see the references section, to distill the insights and wisdom of others into this book. Given that the world is full of books, and we can't possibly read them all, this is a good aspect.

* Case studies, dialog with clients suitably anonymised, are included. While these may not fit exactly the readers issues and situations; they are helpful to illustrate the points discussed.

Any detractions?...

* The Author admits early on in the book that this is not a textbook of exercises and tips as such.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and academic 6 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Michael Neenan comes at CBT from the angle of resilience here. While excellent when discussing what true resilience is and giving a broad strokes guide to developing resilience, he comes up a bit short in sharing ground-level, everyday steps to actually achieve it. I came away from the book understanding exactly why I needed to develop better resilience but slightly frustrated that I wasn't quite sure how to do it.

It's perhaps best as a companion piece to other CBT-influenced work, such as Russ Harris' ACT stuff, or Steve Peters' Chimp Paradox.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Developing Resilience using Cognitive Therapy 27 Nov 2010
By Donald Robertson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Resilience potentially exists within all of us. Focus upon resilience factors often means focusing upon our strengths instead of weaknesses in a way that helps us to anticipate problems and cope better with them when they happen. It's a concept currently growing in popularity as it holds promise for the prevention of psychological problems, such as depression, at a collective level. Michael Neenan's new book Developing Resilience: A Cognitive-Behavioural Approach provides an overview and guide to building resilience from an evidence-based perspective.

Neenan and Prof. Windy Dryden have provided a very thorough definition of "resilience", which begins, "Resilience comprises a set of flexible cognitive, behavioural and emotional responses to acute or chronic adversities which can be unusual or commonplace. These responses can be learned and are within the grasp of everyone; resilience is not a rare quality given to a chosen few. While many factors affect the development of resilience, the most important one is the attitude you adopt to deal with adversity. Therefore attitude (meaning) is the heart of resilience."

This is a very enjoyable and easy book to read. It's erudite, academically-informed, and draws upon a wealth of research-based knowledge and clinical experience but is written and laid out in a very accessible "self-help" style. It manages to be one of those books that will appeal both to therapists and their clients and I will no doubt be recommending it to psychotherapy clients, for whom "Developing Resilience" is often a very attractive concept. It's also well-suited for coaching work, where, rather than psychopathology, the focus is mainly on strengths and coping with "everyday hassles."

My own special area is classical philosophy and psychotherapy. According to Neenan "Attitude is the heart of resilience", which accords with classical Greek and Roman Stoicism in its emphasis upon adopting a "philosophical" attitude toward adversity. Epictetus famously told his students, "People are not upset by events but rather their judgements about things", which Neenan calls "the foundation of a resilient outlook." It's the basis of the modern "cognitive model" of emotional disturbance. Neenan tackles the common misconception that Stoicism means "suppression of emotion" at the start of the book and emphasises that the ancient Stoics merely recommended that unhealthy irrational emotions should be replaced by more healthy and adaptive ones.

Neenan also says, "Distinguish between what is within and outside your control", echoing the famous Serenity Prayer. The central principle of Stoicism, with which the famous Handbook (Enchiridion) of Epictetus opens, was precisely the distinction between that which is within our control and that which is not. In the final analysis, Neenan and Epictetus point out, our judgements and intentions (attitudes and behaviour) are within our control more than external events and other people's responses, etc., over which "fortune", i.e., other factors, may intervene.

Neenan provides many real-life examples of resilience, most notably the story of Vice-Admiral James Stockdale, who said to himself "I'm now leaving my world and entering the world of Epictetus!" as he ejected from his crippled fighter plane over enemy territory at the outbreak of the Vietnam War. Stockdale was incarcerated and tortured for seven years by the North Vietnamese, during which time he relied heavily upon the Stoic teachings of Epictetus to cope with the exceptional adversity of his circumstances. He provides the ideal "case study" for cognitive therapists interested in resilience and coping with extreme adversity.

Neenan is mainly inspired by CBT, as the title suggests, and draws upon the Stoicism of Epictetus and the examples of famous individuals like James Stockdale, Victor Frankl, Hellen Keller and Nelson Mandella, etc. He also draws upon Rational-Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), the Positive Psychology of Seligman and others, research on Problem-Solving Therapy (PST), and other therapeutic approaches.

The chapters are entitled,

1. What is resilience?
2. Attitude: the heart of resilience
3. Attitudes that undermine resilience building
4. Making yourself more resilient
5. Strengths underpinning resilience
6. Resilience in the workplace
7. Resilience in relationships
8. Resilience in dealing with difficult people
9. Maintaining resilience
10. An overview of resilience

We could all do with increasing our resilience. Especially with so many people around the world facing tough times financially and in terms of their employment. This happens to be a concept that has recently "come of age" and this book is probably the best place to begin learning what modern psychology and cognitive therapy have to teach us about coping with adversity or just the everyday problems of living that we all face on an ongoing basis. Highly recommended.

Donald Robertson
Author of The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Self-Help Book so Comprehensive That it Could Double as a Textbook .... 25 May 2012
By GirlScoutDad - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
... or perhaps "A Textbook so Succinctly Written That it Could Double as a Self-Help Book" ? My point is that "Developing Resilience" is both relatively brief (at 183 pages, not including references and index), and comprehensive in covering both theory and practical applications.

Inherent to human life on earth are inevitable losses and setbacks. By my reckoning, maybe five major adverse events by age 50 for each of us, typically setbacks such as (1) major illness or injury, (2) career or education, (3) relationships and marriage, (4) money and finances, and/or (5) crises of personal meaning or goals. So how and where do we find the strength and renewal to pick ourselves up and go on, hopefully even growing stronger and wiser in the process? The answer lies in the somewhat elusive faculty of "resilience", and Michael Neenan, an expert cognitive-behavioral therapist, speaks with great insight and experience defining and illustrating this complex and multifarious human capability.

In Neenan's system, attitudes that promote adaptation, growth, and overcoming adversity are those that are: (1) somewhat flexible rather than rigid and automatic, (2) mostly realistic rather than unrealistic (especially those that are unrealistically fearful or negative), (3) beliefs and attitudes that are helpful and useful, rather than defeatist and nihilistic, and (4) the kinds of beliefs that you would recommend teaching to others that you care about (i.e., beliefs that you know in your heart would make people better off if they - like you - were to adopt them). At the heart of becoming more resilient, therefore, is examining our own attitudes and trying to bring them into conformity with the above principles of flexible, optimistic, realistic, and teachable to those we love. There is some example or case history to illustrate these principles from Neenan's professional caseload or personal life on almost every page of the book.

A few other aspects of this book I appreciated included an emphasis on "ordinary resilience" or "routine resilience", in contrast to "extraordinary resilience". The latter refers to the amazing (and indeed inspiring) tales of those who heroically overcome incredible tragedy and loss to live epic lives that inspire and awe the rest of us. However, Neenan posits that "routine resilience" is much more common and necessary - i.e., being resilient in the face of life's more mundane stresses and setbacks such as stress at work, problems in relationships, or life's other, ubiquitous challenges. Thus all of us can and should learn how to be more resilient in our everyday lives.

In the face of grappling with such an abstract and complex concept as resilience, the book is refreshingly pragmatic and includes separate chapters on "Resilience in the workplace", "Resilience in relationships", and "Resilience in dealing with difficult people." There is also a chapter that directly addresses the most common attitudes that undermine resilience - attitudes such as "I'll never get over it", "Why Me", "It Shouldn't Have Happened to Me", "I'm a Pessimist by Nature" and other, similarly rigid, negative, unrealistically fatalistic yet perfectly common beliefs.

I would recommend this book as both a self-help guide for the lay person, and a succinct primer textbook for the professional therapist or counselor alike.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book offering real world advice 27 Dec 2012
By E. Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book that offers practical advice that almost anyone can relate to. I searched for and bought this for my wife at her request, and she feels that it was very helpful to her. So much so, in fact, that she recommended that I read it as well.

I generally consider myself a fairly resilient person, but I gained new insights from this book that I really believe that I can apply. The author introduces a cognitive model at the beginning of the book, and then describes how this model can be applied in a variety of circumstances. He develops these applications further by describing examples from his counseling practice (changing names and specifics to protect patient confidentiality, of course).

Some other authors of books in this genre seem to be compelled to reach for drama by exploring what I'd call "extreme resilience" - examples of people who have survived challenges such as terrorist attacks, concentration camps and other unusual events. These examples are certainly inspiring, and I'm sure there is much to learn from these survivors and their attitudes. But let's be honest, most of us face more mundane problems such as difficult co-workers, insecurity in personal relationships or career disappointments.

By focusing on day-to-day examples and relating them to foundational principles, the author has created a book for the vast majority of people. Although I haven't done this yet, I suspect that if I now read one of the "extreme resilience" books, I'll be able to see how these same principles apply to survivors of unusually challenging circumstances.

The book is not a page-turner, but that is more to do with the subject matter than the writing. The explanations are clear and understandable. The author does use repetition to drive the lessons home, so the book can be slow at times, but I think it's all for a reason, so I'm still giving the book 5 stars.

FYI, the author is English, so you'll find English expressions and spellings scattered throughout the book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Content Great, Delivery Poor 26 July 2012
By robomacman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The content of this book is solid and covers many aspects of resiliency that I was looking for. I would give the book five stars for the content. However, reading through the content with all the very long sentences and examples in parenthasis makes it difficult to follow (i.e. he would start a sentence with one thought and end the same sentence three or four lines or more later down the page on another thought). I would give the book two stars for the writing style. There are certainly books that make such an impact that I would reread it. This is not one of those books, not because of the content, but the way it's written. Again, the content is solid, great information, unfortunately the writing style has to be sifted through to get the great information. For What It's Worth: The book was also published in Great Britain so I was unfamiliar some of the terminology and expressions (which has no impact on how I rated the book though).
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. 1 Nov 2013
By Steven - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was very well reviewed and I agree. I am very glad I bought it and recommend it highly.
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