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Mindful Therapist, The [Hardcover]

Daniel J Siegel

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Book Description

April 27 2010 Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology

Bringing mindfulness techniques to your psychotherapeutic work with clients. An integrated state of mindful awareness is crucial to achieving mental health. Daniel J. Siegel, an internationally recognized expert on mindfulness and therapy, reveals practical techniques that enable readers to harness their energies to promote healthy minds within themselves and their clients. He charts the nine integrative functions that emerge from the profoundly interconnecting circuits of the brain, including bodily regulation, attunement, emotional balance, response flexibility, fear extinction, insight, empathy, morality, and intuition.

A practical, direct-immersion, high-emotion, low-techno-speak book, The Mindful Therapist engages readers in a personal and professional journey into the ideas and process of mindful integration that lie at the heart of health and nurturing relationships.

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Mindful Therapist, The + Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation + Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain
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[T]hose of us interested in mindfulness, both for ourselves and for our clients, will find this book a vault of new discoveries an excellent resource and training manual .Siegel has set up the exercises to benefit both therapists and their clients; this approach gives even more value to the book .[C]ould be used by couples working through problems, professors attempting to better connect with their students, employees wishing to relate to their bosses, or even just everyday people seeking to improve their relationships with those around them. "

About the Author

Daniel J. Siegel, MD, is an internationally acclaimed author and award-winning educator and is currently a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine where he is a co-investigator at the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and is co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
160 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable teacher... May 3 2010
By Laurence Drell - Published on
Although the title is the Mindful Therapist, a clinicians' guide, (and it is a breakthrough book for psychotherapists) this book is also valuable for anyone who is interested in deepening their understanding of how our minds work and how we affect the minds (and brains) of other people.

Dan Siegel is a remarkable teacher and this book is another in his series of books explaining interpersonal neurobiology. He is a gifted writer, often poetic in his explanations and descriptions of fundamental mental processes. He successfully addresses a multitude of crucial topics from exploring the experience of self, to what it means to be in resonance with another person or with oneself.

He introduces the reader to the latest brain science research, explores the nature of mind and neural integration in our brains and increases our depth of understanding of mindfulness and empathy. He opens up new ways of making sense of our inner world (the conscious and the unconscious) and he creates a framework to view what we may have seen and known previously but now with a new depth of knowledge he creates an entirely new level of understanding.

In previous work he had described a valuable human capability: "mindsight". He characterized it as "a type of focused attention that allows us to see the workings of our own minds and allows us to reshape our inner experience, to increase our freedom, as well as to be fully open to another person's inner experience". In this book he goes further in showing the components and workings of this ability and how to increase our capacity to use this in our clinical work and in our lives.

He wrote this book to be read as if the reader and he were having a conversation (and it is). I had to laugh when at one point he expanded a concept explaining how the mind and brain process memory and I was just going over and over this in my mind trying to grasp the full meaning of what he was explaining.

My response at such frustration is usually to close the book and look for something to eat. His next sentence in the book was: "Yes, this appears difficult and you probably want to close the book now.... but you can comprehend this with a little more effort". And it is well worth the effort.

This is part of his gift as a teacher; to know where a student (reader) may be, and to then engage them in a way that takes them to a deeper and more complex level of understanding. He is a unique writer in this respect and was once referred to as the Mr. Wizard of our generation. (Mr. Wizard had a TV show (a million years ago) and he introduced the science of everyday life with wonder and excitement. Dan Siegel does this.

I do not mean to suggest that this is a dry scientific text. On the contrary, this is a uniquely rich, exciting, practical and readable book. Because of his writing style, this quickly becomes a rewarding and exciting conversation with Dan Siegel. It will stretch ones thinking by introducing new areas of scientific research and new ways of seeing the complexity of how our mind works and how the brain is continually evolving.

He introduces new ways of understanding "mental illness" (actually any thinking that is either rigid or chaotic). And like a great teacher, he establishes the potential roots of these problems, and in stages, expands our knowledge to fully conceptualize a new view. He then suggests how to integrate all this information into the practice of psychotherapy in order to help another person develop more fully.

This is a book that should to be close at hand. Just as having a good friend or colleague available to take a walk with and discuss and explore new ideas with, this book serves the function of opening the reader's mind to see things in a new light.

It is like a fine soup chock full of exciting and interesting flavors and thoughts. Some concepts you may think you have tasted previously but in his recipe he takes them to new levels of understanding, nuance and integration creating a synergy of flavors for a hungry mind.

Each chapter has a section that focuses directly on the more scientific information (Brain Matters) and another section with actual exercises for the reader to do (Mindsight Skills). This approach is quite useful because the concepts presented can be understood on both the intellectual cognitive level and the experiential subjective level as the book is read. In addition these exercises can be practical tools that can be used with clients.
His description and useful visual models of the dimensions of human experience are illuminating. The relationship between the mind and actual changes in neuronal structure explain why old patterns of behavior have a high probability of occurring again and again unless real neuronal change occurs.

He explains clearly and beautifully how our thoughts (often mindless preconceptions) and automatic actions (impulses) continue to effect and reinforce our own brain structure. And he reminds us how unfortunately this inevitably effects the mind and the neuronal wiring of the person we are interacting with.

Throughout the book he explains and suggests the importance of continually improving ones "mindsight" and how to creatively and intentionally develop this in oneself. He illustrates how this will have a direct effect on what can occur in psychotherapy as well as any relationship.

And Dr Siegel, neuroscientist, uses the L word without shame. In fact Dr Siegel clearly describes the importance of "love" neurologically. He separates the various types of love and shows that on a fundamental level of our neurobiology, "love " and empathy help develop our minds which affects neuronal growth and therefore actually shape our brains and the brains of those we interact with.

This book is valuable for therapists and to everyone who wants to maximize their own knowledge of themselves and to learn how to recognize and develop "mindsight" within themselves. Dan Siegel introduces cutting edge brain science and mindfulness practices and integrates all this information making it understandable and useful in the real world of being with ourselves and interacting with others.

Laurence Drell, MD
Washington DC
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource May 21 2010
By Amy Dinoble - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dr. Siegel's latest work, The Mindful Therapist, is an excellent, unique resource for therapists. Throughout my training as a therapist, I have read many books about the various aspects involved in the therapeutic process, however, this is the first book I have found that addresses what therapists can do, and need to do, on a personal level to be most helpful in the therapeutic process. While The Mindful Therapist seems to be written as a guide for clinicians, this information is applicable to anyone who wants to explore themselves and their relationships in greater depth. In this book, Dr. Siegel provides an incredible amount of information that allows the reader to understand the physiological and psychological processes as well as how past experiences contribute to our present relationships. In addition, his elegant, creative style allows for a flowing, engaging read.

Thank you, Dr. Siegel, for this wonderful and incredibly useful resource!
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Winnicott, to Mahler, to Stern, to the Siegels by Way of Linehan, Hayes & Tolle Nov. 2 2011
By Not Moses - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have been enthusiastic about Dan Siegel's work since I read his article on non-verbal maternal influence on the developing infant's brain a decade ago. He'd clearly been influenced by Daniel Stern's work on maternal attunement, which has been one of the two or three most significant influences upon modern psychotherapy since the mid-1980s.

Figure this: the child whose mother is sufficiently relaxed, patient, conscious, empathic, supportive, compassionate and soothing will have the capability to provide the model of emotional attunement through which an infant can learn how to soothe =itself= when it is struck by sudden, need-driven, temporarily overwhelming emotional experiences. The child whose mother is =not= "good enough" (as Donald Winnicott so aptly put it some 60 years ago), is less likely to be able to learn how to modulate its emotions. And therein lies the truly =essential= issue.

Siegel, and his equally gifted brother, Ronald, seem to have "gotten" Winnicott, Margaret Mahler and Stern (as well as Alan Schore) as well or better than just about anyone publishing these days. Dan S. has knocked out several books that have transformed Stern's and Schore's profound research on emotional regulation -- or lack thereof -- into useful therapeutic technique. This particular book is the perfect complement to Ron's more mass-market-oriented =The Mindfulness Solution=, which for less-experienced and/or less "technical-minded" clinicians might be a better place to start into the whole "attunement" rubric.

The Siegels are both devotees of the mindfulness-based cognitive therapy movement which has taken the best of Albert Ellis, Aaron Beck, Donald Meichenbaum, Martin Selgiman, Richard Wessler, Jeffrey Young and others and married it up to Marsha Linehan, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Eckart Tolle, Thomas Marra, Steven Hayes, Victoria Follette, John Forsyth, Stan & Carolyn Block, John Teasdale and the legions of modern-day, existential-experiental people who themselves seem rooted in Jiddu Krishnamurti, George Gurdjieff, S. N. Goenka, Richard Alpert, Fritz & Laura Perls and others from 50 years ago.

The difference between then and now is far less a matter of essential method than one of understanding "why" at the neurobiological level. Siegel is like EMDR developer Francine Shapiro: He knows the left and right hemispheres need to start communicating with each other the way they did before Julian Jaynes's notion of "consciousness" broke down the naturally bicameral mind about 3,500 years ago owing to direct sociological effects of what Emile Durkheim called "the division of labor in society."

Siegel's also come up with a unique and very useful -- if temporarily difficult to understand -- graphic representation of cognitive-affective organization called "plains, plateaus and peaks." Once grasped (and one will by the time one is about 3/4s of the way through), that graphic is a real breakthrough metaphor for understanding affective, cognitive and behavioral potentials.

For all you Linehan fans out there (and there are surely =many=), Siegel sees the common culture more or less as the great, mid-century cultural anthropologist Jules Henry and all those family systems folks like Gregory Bateson, Paul Watzlawick, Jay Haley, Don Jackson, Virginia Satir and Salvador Minuchin saw it: a relentless stipulator of polar dichotomies rather than gradient dialectics.

If we know one thing today about why so many people run into the psychiatric wall, it's this: They think in black and white, they see the world all one way or all another, they see "all right" or "all wrong" and "all good" or "all bad." Saint Marsha saw through all that in the '80s and changed the face of psychotherapy (hopefully) forever. =This= is more of =that=.

For the world is not as we =think= it is (or represent it in so many... words). The world is simply =as= it is. And the Siegel brothers have joined Linehan, Hayes and the rest of the trail-breaking experientialists in leading the charge towards direct experience of dialectical content in existential context. Yogananda, Goenka, Krishnamurti and Gurdjieff are probably grinning themselves achy-faced somewhere in the cosmos right now.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Daunting but worth the time Nov. 25 2011
By Cynthia L. Wall, LCSW - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dr. Dan Siegal is a genius, and the therapy recommendations in his book are personal, warm, and open. Since I am not a brain physiologist, I finally figured out to stumble quickly through his enthusiastic detailing of how the brain supports/requires different techniques. In this way, I got to the parts I could actually use and share. I've seen him (with Jack Kornfield, PhD) and so love his kindness, humility, and desire to share his knowledge. Thank you, Dan, for the hard work to bring science to us unscientific types, Cynthia
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put it to work! July 12 2010
By Charles Sawyer - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have become a big fan of Daniel Siegel's. Since reading Parenting From The Inside Out, I have read almost all of his books as I am counselor for youth and adults and do a great deal of trauma work as well. I am an EMDR therapist and find this book and his other "Mindsight" to be hugely helpful to giving the necessary resources to my clients. I received my advanced certification for EMDR recently and found many of the work to be centered around the same principles.

While this concept of "Theory of the Mind" or "Reflective function" has been around for years, Seigel does a great job of giving us practical tools to promote wellness and integration. I love this book.

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