Reading as an occupation–July reads.

The Body keeps the score by Bessel van der Kolk, MD

Publisher: Penguin Books; (September 8, 2015)

With the focus on trauma-informed care, becoming aware of the impact of trauma on the healing process is a key clinical skill for occupational therapy practice. The body keeps the score presents trauma and the healing process in a way that is part textbook and part prose. The stories presented by Dr. van de Kolk provides the reader with individuals and the impact of their trauma to support the understanding of the trauma process. He presents the science behind that traumatic event and the impact on their healing process for maximum understanding.

Some quotes from one lesson that resonated with me:

“…traumatized people have a tendency to superimpose their trauma on everything around them and have trouble deciphering whatever is going on around them” (p. 17).

“…trauma affects the imagination…without imagination there is no hope, no chance to envision a better future…no goal to reach” (p. 17).

“Trauma results in a fundamental reorganization of the way mind and brain manage perceptions” (p. 17).

A large component of The body keeps the score is the neuroscience behind trauma. Part two: This is your brain on trauma, contains information on brain anatomy from a trauma perspective. This section of the book can also function as a review of neuroanatomy and direct application of neuroscience to trauma. The lengthiest part of this book is the recovery section, with each component supported by client stories, research, and methods of implementation. Recovery includes yoga, neuroscience methods (for example neurofeedback to change the brain’s reaction to triggers), and structural methods to implement changes to the way situations are viewed following trauma.

The body keeps the score is an excellent resource and reference that can serve as the foundation of any occupational therapy practitioner’s trauma-informed care toolkit. The neuroscience section is one that presents the impact of trauma on the brain, which is important to understand when determining the impact of trauma on the success of an intervention. Also, Dr. van der Kolk provides a wealth of research to support interventions that are evidence-based. Overall, this book is highly recommended for any bookshelf and will be a well-used text.

Rating: 4/4 stars

Using The body keeps the score in an occupational therapy curriculum.

  1. What are three limitations to the healing process with clients that have been through trauma?
  2. What is the impact of the neuroanatomy structures on the reaction to trauma and how can an understanding of this reaction impact occupational therapy intervention?
  3. What are three interventions an occupational therapy practitioner can provide to support the recovery process? What is the research that supports each intervention?

Say, Say, Say by Lila Savage

Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (July 9, 2019)

One important component of client-care involves supporting the caregiver. Providing adequate resources to the caregiver involves having a deeper understanding of the daily life of the caregiver with supporting the care recipient. This book provides the reader with keen insight into the daily life of a caregiver, Bryn, providing support to his wife, Ellen, who had a traumatic brain injury that has affected her cognitive function. Another main character of the story is Ella, who is hired by Bryn for assistance with Ellen’s care. The story is told from Ella’s vantage point.

With this story, there are many windows that open into the world of a caregiver that supports a family member that has a traumatic brain injury. Provided are views such as (1) the change in the relationship with a spouse after a disability, (2) the thoughts of the care recipient, (3) the role and thoughts of the hired caregiver, (4) the impact of supporting the care recipient on the caregiver and (5) the life of the care recipient prior to their current disability. There are many touching points in the story that leaves the reader with insight of the impact of cognitive dysfunction on the social and familial system of a care recipient that has a traumatic brain injury.

Rating: 3.5/4 stars

Using Say, Say, Say in an occupational therapy curriculum.

  1. What are three issues that caregivers face when providing care to their care recipient in the home and in the community?
  2. As an occupational therapy practitioner, what are some resources that can be provided to the caregiver for the caregiver to maintain occupational balance?
  3. What are two recommendations for maintaining care recipient safety that can be implemented by the caregiver daily?
  4. When looking at home health, what resources can you provide the caregiver to ensure that the care recipients needs are met daily? When in situations where the care recipient requires more support?

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Publisher: One World; First Edition (September 24, 2019)

I read this book as part of the COTAD Book+ Club and this was easily one of the best books I have read all year. It may possibly be on my top 10 list of books. Coates is a great storyteller that grips you from page one until the end. This is the story of Harim, a young man growing up in the South as a slave or the Tasked as slaves are referred to by Coates.  Whites are referred to as the Quality.

The story follows the intersection of the lives of the Tasked and Quality providing the reader with a story of slavery in the South and freedom in the North. The greatest impact of this book is the ability of Coates to allow the reader to feel the emotions of the Tasked. In other historical fiction books that focus on slavery, facts are presented based on the experience of slaves from historical records. However, Coates is able to make the emotions of the characters tangible. Nothing is better than an author’s ability to make the reader feel what the characters feel, and Coates writing makes the reader feel empathetic towards each character.

There are many layers to each character and Coates presents these layers well without confusing the reader. There is love in this book, but it is not a love story. There is strife in this story, but it is not a book that is solely on hardship. It is a story about a boy named Hiram and his journey. The writing is crisp, which also adds to the story.

Though this book could not be directly applied to an occupational therapy curriculum, it can definitely be part of an outside book club to discuss race relations to have a better understanding of race and the journey of Blacks in America.

4/4 stars

Atomic habits by James Clear

Publisher: Avery; 1st edition (October 16, 2018)

This book is life changing! I came across this book from a recommendation by Cal Newport writer of So good they can’t ignore you, Digital minimalism, and Deep work. Those books are life changing as well. I read Atomic habits in two days! The information Clear provides is applicable in today’s world where time is a scare commodity, but the need to get things done is plentiful.

The basic concept of this book is based on doing a little everyday to impact change. If you think from a concrete standpoint, if you put $1 away everyday for a year, that $1 is not a huge strain on your budget to save. Yet, by the end of the year you have saved $365, which is a decent amount of money, even by today’s standard. The same principle can be applied to your work. If you want to write, take 15-20 minutes per day to write, and by the end of the month, you have put in 450 minutes or 7.5 hours of work.

The best part about this book are the concrete examples provided throughout. Clear provides a plan to follow where you can insert your goals using his plans and voila you have a plan to achieve your goals, break bad habits, and implement good habits. I apply his principles in my work and life daily; and it has worked with everything I do.

Clear also teaches patience in his book. Many times, in this hyperconnected world, there is a focus on getting everything right away. But, formulating small goals and achieving them in manageable bites is more realistic than making lofty goals that are not manageable. In the end, not having the time to put in the amount of work that is needed to achieve the lofty goal, you feel defeated when the goal is not achieved.

Rating: 4/4 stars

Stranger in the lake by Kimberly Belle

Publisher: Park Row; Original edition (June 9, 2020)

It is never good when a review starts with, I wanted to like this book…I wanted to like this book. I believe it was a recommendation from another mystery writer whose work I adore. I felt if she liked it, I would like it as well. This was not the case. The story itself is well-written. Belle uses imagery to explain emotions and scenery like a master. The writing itself is crisp and the character development is well-done. However, the plot fell flat for me. The story had good bones for the plot to really leave a more lasting impact.

This is the story of Charlotte and Paul in a small town in North Carolina. Charlotte marries Paul after his wife dies and the story unfolds. There was quite a bit that did not sit well with me. There were tangents to the story that were not necessary. The characters were likeable, but the ending left something to be desired for all the characters, which is never satisfying for a reader. I do not want to provide spoilers. The reviews on other platforms are quite positive. However, it was not one that I enjoyed.

Rating: 2/4 stars.

Thanks for reading!


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