Neenan, M. (2009). Developing resilience: A cognitive-behavioural approach. East Essex, UK: Routledge.

Pain, tragedy and sadness happen, how people react and recover from adverse life events can be as varied as the event itself. Why is this? How can two people experience the same incident yet one individual can fall apart and the other can move ahead? The ability to ‘bounce back’ and move forward after a setback is referred to as resiliency and in Developing resilience: A cognitive-behavioural approach, Michael Neenan explores various skills associated with the management of life’s challenges.

Whilst primarily targeted at individuals seeking a deeper understanding of resilience from a cognitive behavioural perspective, this book could be helpful to counselling practitioners to better understand clients. It highlights that resilience is not always an innate or inbuilt failsafe — it is something that we can learn and develop. Neenan comments within the first few pages that no matter how many books he has read on the subject or academic discussions he has engaged in, he is still perplexed by the differences in human kind where one may endure much and remain optimistic whilst another may suffer less yet become bitter and withdrawn.

At only 183 pages, Developing resilience: A cognitive-behavioural approach, is a relatively light weight tome and is written in an easy to digest format. The book has been divided into ten chapters; each exploring a different element of resilience. Chapter one attempts to define resilience and explores the various facets that can help or hinder the explanation. Awareness of attitudes underpins chapters two and three. The former examines how attitudes are at the heart of resilience whilst the later counters with those that may undermine a person’s ability to become resilient. Chapter four considers how individuals can develop resiliency. Brief case studies are offered as an example of skills and techniques. Strengths are looked at in chapter five. Chapters six through eight reflect on resilience in different contexts and provide real world examples to support the theory offered. The book finishes with ‘maintaining resilience’ (chapter nine) and a final chapter providing an overview of resilience and a recap of key points.

This is a solid book for anyone wanting general guidance in regard to understanding resiliency. It provides an entry level understanding and a good platform on which to springboard to more specialised applications of the theory.

Review by Anda Davies

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