The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris is the book that first introduced me to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. And I had something of a love/hate relationship with it.
It’s interesting to me that if you look at the reviews over at amazon or Good Reads, my response seems to be fairly common. More than a few people seem to struggle with the author’s style of writing, or find the ideas he presents initially annoying and unrealistic. Yet, like me, a good many readers seem to get to the end of the book and find that it makes a real difference in their lives.
The book is very easy to read – which seems to turn some people off – and is written in something of a ‘chatty’ manner. At first, that made it feel a little like a typical self-help book and less like a serious book with solid foundations. As a result I almost dismissed it right at the beginning. However, I persevered and I’m glad I did.
I’d give it 4 our of 5 stars. It aims to present the whole of ACT in as simple a way as possible – and I suspect that’s a mistake. It could more easily have focused simply upon defusion and values and left it at that. However, it has ambitious aims and does not fall as far short as you might think.
I’m not sure this is a book that I would give to someone who had never heard anything else about ACT. It works well, I think, as supporting of someone’s engagement with a therapist, or as the introduction to a deeper exploration of this issues discussed.