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Book review: The Body Keeps the Score

I was keen to read this book by Dr Bessel Van Der Kolk, as a number of fellow therapists had recommended it to me. I did personally find it quite hard going at times as it is very rooted in research. I did however, gain a greater understanding of how the brain behaves and changes us if we experience trauma and I enjoyed reading about various modalities and how they can be used to help support clients who experience trauma.

Dr Van Der Kolk explains in great detail his personal/professional journey of discovery working in the field of psychiatry with trauma.  He explains how research studies were set up and how data was collected and interpreted. He shares with us his experience with patients and research which informs his theories.  He provides some descriptions of a number of available modalities used to treat PTSD and Trauma and critiques their successes and failings.

A question I kept asking myself reading the book was whether I felt it was something I would recommend to a client who had experienced something traumatic. I would have to say having now read the book I can conclude that I personally would be cautious about which clients I would feel comfortable to recommend the book.  Dr Van Der Kolk details a number of patient’s experiences with trauma and also a number of experiences of receiving poor treatment within the health profession. Some of the details were graphic which I found upsetting to read. Overall I would say that the book is a thorough account of Dr Van Der Kolk’s professional experience treating patients of trauma.

I would recommend this book if you are a therapist seeing clients diagnosed with PTSD or who have experienced trauma and would like to understand how the brain behaves in those circumstances or if you have a keen interest in neuroscience and its developments then the book is likely to interest you.

Review by Linda Sheppard

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