Saturday, February 17, 2018

Book Review: 'Bouncing Forward' by Michaela Haas

‘Crisis as a launching pad for growth’ So begins this very important book written by Michaela Haas, PhD who ‘has a history with posttraumatic growth. When she found herself bedridden in her twenties, her search for effective coping strategies became deeply personal. From watching her grandfather build a successful, fulfilled life despite his severe childhood affliction from polio to interviewing torture victims and Auschwitz survivors, she wondered at how some people managed to emerge from their pain wiser. Inspired by these eye-opening encounters, the reporter, television host, author, scholar, and twenty-year student of meditation began to see common threads that proved to help the healing. Through gently connecting cutting-edge research to ancient Buddhist wisdom, she gives the reader a mind-body-spirit context for growth.’ This is shared at the end of her book and quoted here because it needs to be understood to fully appreciate the healing value of this book.

For those of us who work with PTSD sufferers from military exposure in the never-ending wars in which we place our young men and women, Michaela is a deeply admired colleague. Her decision to base her book not only on her own experiences but through interviews with those who have survived the challenges of ‘bad breaks’ makes reading this work accessible and therapeutic.

And example of how she communicates is her interview with Brigadier General Rhonda Cornum, a prisoner from the first Iraq war: ‘Rhonda considers essential in developing resilience, based on cognitive behavioral therapy11 skills: • realistic optimism • effective problem solving • adaptability • positive coping strategies • the ability to self-regulate • close relationships and social support • physical well-being, including exercise and sleep • the ability to remain calm, present, and engaged when under pressure • reduced stress levels, enhanced psychological well-being, and happiness and increased focus and engagement’

Michaela divides her book into sections: Part I – Beyond Resilience (Survive, Grow, Dig Deep, Play), Part II – Embracing Opportunity in Adversity (Accept, Thrive, Pray, Evolve, Breathe), Part III – Making a Difference (Adrenalize, Shine, Forgive, Love). Delving into each of these sections is an act of healing and is particularly helpful to PTSD patients.

Read this book and discover the healing mind of Michaela Hass. It is a journey most rewarding. Grady Harp, January 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.