The Meandering Social Worker

wandering : wondering : learning

Resilience – book review

As social workers we often talk about resilience from the perspective of developing it in others.  This book is not about telling us how to do that.  It’s not an academic social work book.  Because sometimes (frequently), working in the caring professions takes its toll and its worth checking out how we are doing in the resilience stakes for ourselves.

Resilience: How to cope when everything around you keeps changing, by Liggy Webb, 2013, published by Capstone, Chichester, £10.99, ISBN 978-0-857-08387-6

In response to the burgeoning market in self-help books, eight years ago (in 2006) Steve Salerno published S.H.A.M.: How the Self Help Movement Made America Helpless. A lone voice crying in the wilderness. Since then not a lot has changed. Go into any bookstore and you will still find shelf upon shelf dedicated to self-help and personal development books. The problem, as Salerno pointed out, is the books themselves don’t solve our problems. So we keep going back for more. We’ve not got the message and we’re not passing it down the generations, otherwise our perceived need for these books would not keep their writers in production.

A fraction of these books have become classics: with its intriguing title, Robin Sharma’s (1999) The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari; pared to the bone and with its cartoon simplicity, Paul McGee’s (2005) S.U.M.O. – Shut Up, Move On; and, probably one of the best known, Spenser Johnson’s (1998) Who Moved my Cheese?, being among them.

The worst, the ones that drop off the radar after a few months, are often arduous, demanding the reader stick to a laudable but unachievable regime of activities, or lack an inspirational writing style.

So where does Liggy Webb’s Resilience: How to cope when everything around you keeps changing fit in? I’d give it a seven out of ten. It’s not got the punch to be a classic but it is well designed and simply written enough for the layperson to follow. And what professional doesn’t appreciate a bit of easy reading in between the policies, procedures and academia?

There’s nothing new here. It’s all good common sense based on years of scientific learning about what causes stress and how best to deal with it. Or the psychology of how our minds, our experiences, the problems we face, and more, interact and affect our physical and emotional wellbeing. The title could easily be about coping with stress or developing a lifestyle for success. Resilience, self-confidence, dealing with change and conflict, emotional control, turning problems into opportunities, decision making, healthy lifestyles and more are all covered in separate chapters. Each chapter begins with a relevant inspirational quote, ends with practical exercises, and contains anecdotes and stories that might be called case studies in a more academic work. Teachers, social workers and other care professionals will recognise tools such as Mindfulness, Emotional Freedom Therapy (EFT) and SMART goal setting that can be followed up elsewhere. The book ends with easy to reference resilience materials: a 40 point summary of tips to be more resilient and positive, inspiring songs, books and website resources.

This book won’t change your life. Only you can do that. But it does contain lots of good common sense advice and an introduction to a number of useful tools and ideas in an easy to read style that, once bought, you may want to keep on your bookshelf to refer back to when times get a bit tough, or just to check occasionally that you are keeping on top of your game.

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