“Hi Everyone! My name is Peter, and I’m the editor at Youth Culture Denmark. I was suffering from severe anxiety when I was a teen in the 90ies, and I would have paid anything to get introduced to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) through a self-help book like this.” Everyone: “Hello Peter” 🙂 (Photo: Peter Henrichsen, Youth Culture Denmark)

by Peter

Title:

‘The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens: CBT Skills to Overcome Fear, Worry, and Panic’ (The Instant Help Solutions Series)

Author:

Jennifer Shannon

Pages:

242

Reading Level:

Advanced Beginner

Published:

August 1st 2015

Publisher, this copy:

New Harbinger Publications

Feelings Thermometer:




Even though CBT took its baby steps during the 1950ies and 60ies, I first saw a CBT self-help book in 2003, and it wasn’t even in a book shop. I had to order it online from a therapist who had written it himself.

Even though I felt this was something that could really work for me, the book was so poorly written, that I gave up on the DIY exercises after a few weeks.

But, wow, have therapists and authors improved since then!

EVERYTHING I have learned about CBT

I was actually stunned most of the time while reading ‘The anxiety survival guide for teens’. Everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – I have learned about CBT visiting therapists and by working in CBT therapy groups with others for more than ten years of my adult life, was written down in this book.

Very good overview

In a calm orderly manner, the book characterizes and gives specific instructions for the different kinds of anxiety: ‘Shyness and social anxiety’, ‘Panic and Agoraphobia’, ‘Specific Phobias’, ‘Generalized Anxiety’ and ‘Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)’.

The tone is just so warm and pleasant, and every teen who suffers from anxiety but doesn’t know what kind yet, can easily recognise himself/herself in the detailed and often funny examples, without being scared to death.

Doesn’t over romanticize like other self-help books

Actually, this is the first self-help book, I’ve ever read, where the narrator doesn’t over romanticize the possibilities to get better soon. What a relief!

Excerpt from ”The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens’, page 76

As you know you cannot simply get rid of your anxiety thoughts. Your monkey mind is a built in safety feature and it is here to stay.

The best way to start is to read the introduction chapters about Justin who gets more than normally scared of dogs after an incident with a loose German Shepherd.

You don’t actually have to be scared of dogs to learn something from this long example. It just explains the principles of CBT by the narrator, by comic strips and by small “diary excerpts” that show you how to work with the many work sheets the book links to (the links didn’t work though in my uncorrected proof, but I’m sure they will when the book is published).

Don’t read it all in two days

When you’ve finished the introduction, you can easily jump to the chapter with the type of anxiety disorder, you think you suffer from, without missing out. So, you don’t have to read about every other kind of anxiety.

Excerpt from ”The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens’, page 93

The truth is, if you are a socially anxious teen, you are an intelligent, sensitive, and responsible person. Your biggest critic is inside you, not outside.

I must admit, when you’re predisposed for anxiety, like I am, you have to be a tough cookie not to feel like you suffer from it all, if you read the book from start to end in two days.

But, don’t worry, anxiety is completely normal and healthy in every mind, so it’s not a bad thing to have a lot of anxious thoughts while reading. (The Author, Jennifer Shannon, would most certainly tell you that it’s a good thing, because then you have a great opportunity to work with your heightened emotions and CBT. 😉 )

But, do you feel overloaded with your own type of anxiety right now, don’t read the book from start to end the first two days. Use it like a learning book in math (You wouldn’t do a math book in just two days, right?) and take baby steps.

Don’t quit if it seems childish in the beginning

Jennifer Shannon’s ‘The anxiety survival guide for teens’ is the best introduction to CBT I have ever seen and read.

Some of the first examples with Justin can seem a bit childish for teens, though, but don’t quit the book because of that. There’s actually a very important purpose with the rehearsals and the detailed explanations; that is to make you remember the principles of CBT, like you have to train your serve over and over and over, if you would like to become a decent tennis player.

And in a self-help book this is even more important, because you havn’t got a teacher to remind you what to do.

Work socially, too

Personally I think it is so important to introduce CBT to kids and teens as soon as possible. Just the word therapy might sound scary to many, but actually CBT’s “just” a way to think realistic thoughts. There’s no Hokus-Pokus, just hard work!

In my opinion, it is a million times better to get to know yourself via CBT, than just to be put on hold with antidepressives, like a lot of doctors did with teens with anxiety only ten years ago.

Finally, if you like the principles and exercises in this book, don’t hesitate to read it together with a good friend, one of your parents or consult a therapist or attend a CBT youth group supervised by a CBT therapist.

I don’t say that so we can make more work for therapists (and I’m not a therapist nor am I married to one 😉 ), but CBT works so much better – and can be quite funny and relieving – if you’re open and socially about it and if you get professional feedback on your written exercises, so you don’t get stuck.

Excerpt from ”The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens’, page 51

Is the life you want to live worth facing your fears?