Stephen McDonnell, LCSW
view the pdf here
Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW, has written a friendly and simple “User’s Guide” to AEDP therapy, core emotions and defenses, attachment and trauma, and “the gold” of Core State, or as Hilary has nicknamed Core State for a general audience, the Openhearted State. It’s a great book that could be offered to clients who would like an informed supplement to our experiential therapy with them, a book to recommend to others in our lives for whom we might want to plant seeds about trying therapy, or to those who might need some self-help for their emotional regulation (a friend of mine just sent it to her son in college). Also, other clinicians—those new to AEDP as well as well-seasoned AEDP therapists—will find the book useful in learning how another therapist practices AEDP.
The book is user-friendly and simply written, yet it shows the depth of Hilary’s deep inquiry into these subjects—AEDP, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), Internal Family Systems (IFS), Somatic Experiencing (SE) and neuroscience. Simply put, the book contains everything one needs to understand emotions, why they are important for us humans, and what blocks us from being in touch with them.
There are many lists in the book. For example, in the Appendix there is a list of most of the sensations and all the emotion words we use when describing a core emotion. Every chapter has shaded boxes that describe complex concepts simply, such as “Things to Know about Panic Attacks,” and “Shame Is Not Guilt,” and “How to Stay in an Openhearted State in the Face of Life’s Challenges.” Every chapter ends with “Experiments,” as Hilary calls them, akin to AEDP’s interventions to try something new—quizzes and practices to apply the theory, e.g., how to do “Belly Breathing” to slow down, and “Nine Ways to Begin Working with Your Shame.”
The book is structured to cover all the “essential skills” for doing this on one’s own: (a) explaining the importance of core emotions and their release, (b) understanding how our defenses inhibit emotions, (c) identifying both big T and small t trauma, (d) using the “Change Triangle,” as Hilary has nicknamed the Triangle of Experience to name defenses and release core emotions, and finally (e) appreciating the Openhearted State.