Neuropsychological and cognitive rehabilitation is relatively young field with few publications available for educational and application purposes. Existing publications in the area of cognitive rehabilitation have become more prominently focused on evidence-based and manual types of approaches (e.g., Haskins, 2012; Prigatano, 2008; Stuss et al., 2008; Wilson, 2009). However, an additional important approach to neuropsychological rehabilitation, both historically and currently, is holistic neuropsychological rehabilitation for which very few publications exist in terms of educational and application purposes.
This recent publication of Handbook of Holistic Neuropsychological Rehabilitation by Yehuda Ben-Yishay and Leonard Diller fills this gap in the literature and offers the reader a glimpse inside not only to their internationally and nationally renowned program, but also to the holistic approach to neuropsychological rehabilitation of individuals with brain injuries. This is accomplished via an easy to read text, case examples, and five DVDs that allow the reader to view the program as implemented at the NYU-Rusk Institute Day Program. This publication is intended for multiple types of professionals in the rehabilitation field, including administrators, clinicians, instructors, and clinical service evaluators. After reading the text, this group can easily be expanded to include patients and patient families as well.
The text is organized in 12 chapters, the first summarizing a more historical perspective of psychological interventions and neuropsychological rehabilitation, as well as the holistic approach to rehabilitation. In the second chapter, a more specific focus on holistic neuropsychological rehabilitation is presented with easy to read figures to supplement the text. Additionally, implications and recommendations are presented, highlighting the importance of accurate diagnosis and a coordinated treatment approach for optimal outcomes.
In Chapter 3, the authors then introduce us to the elements of the treatment cycle utilized in the holistic day program and begin the supplemental DVD portions which, along with the chapters that follow, provide descriptions and examples of the features of the day program.
Chapters 4 and 5 identify the qualities necessary for both the selection of the professional staff as well as the qualities of the “trainees,” which refers to the individuals who have been neurologically injured, who will be best suited for the program. While it may seem that only a select few would benefit from a program such as this, the authors also present situations in which an individual may not have been the best fit because of resistance to the treatment process, but who demonstrated the ability for increased awareness and acceptance of his/her limitations secondary to the treatment itself. Further potential barriers to the treatment process are addressed later in the text.
Chapter 6 summarizes the start of a treatment cycle, demonstrating how the members become part of the therapeutic community. Chapter 7 also prepares for how to address the “halo” effects that arise from professional visits secondary to the national and international attention their program has received, thus also including visits by some of the finest experts in our field.
Chapters 8 and 9 address ongoing awareness, self-understanding, and compensatory strategies. Those of us who work within the field of neurological rehabilitation can appreciate the gains that many of these trainees have made in their ability to become more aware of the changes in themselves which serves as an important prerequisite for cognitive compensation. The absence of an awareness of changes or deficits following a neurological injury/condition is a significant barrier to cognitive rehabilitation.
Chapter 10 addresses contributions of significant others and the importance of incorporating significant others in the treatment program, particularly with regard to the generalization of the treatment gains to other settings. Chapter 11 addresses possible interferences or barriers including personality variables or attitudes in trainees and family members that may arise, along with supplemental case examples through text and DVD as to how such barriers have been successfully addressed.
In Chapter 12, questions that are frequently asked are presented, which also included some that remained quite prominent in this reader's mind while reviewing the text. Examples of the questions addressed in this chapter are who is best suited as trainees in a holistic program and, the qualities of the professionals best suited for the program. References to research examining the theoretical foundations of holistic neuropsychological rehabilitation, characteristics of individuals who would benefit from holistic treatment, and treatment outcome are provided.
The Handbook of Holistic Neuropsychological Rehabilitation provides an important resource in an area in which there are few recent publications addressing neuropsychological rehabilitation as a whole, and particularly holistic neuropsychological rehabilitation. It challenges the reader to think outside the mainstream literature regarding cognitive rehabilitation and reminds the reader of the holistic approaches that are so important both in terms of development and ongoing application of neuropsychological rehabilitation.
The strengths of this text are numerous and have been listed throughout this review. This text is a well-rounded handbook as it offers an introduction to the field, an in-depth look at the history of the underpinnings of holistic treatment, and detailed information about the direct application of this specific program. As for weaknesses, there are few. One weakness is that while related research is summarized in terms of topics and reference lists, it was not explicitly connected within the text and often it was difficult to fully appreciate the details of who would be best served by this program and the related outcome research. Further, given a such young field, addressing future directions would have been useful in order to continue to promote growth in such an important area.
Additionally, in reading this text, it becomes apparent that there is a considerable overlap between holistic approaches and existing evidence-based approaches, which are often presented as alternatives approaches (Stuss, Winocur, & Robertson, 2008; Hart, 2010). Although outside the scope of this text, continuing efforts to merge these two approaches would likely further contribute to the field of cognitive neurorehabilitation, thus promoting research, education, and treatment of the many victims of such injuries which appear to grow each year.
Overall, the Handbook of Holistic Neuropsychological Rehabilitation is an important resource in the library of the rehabilitation practitioner and for those specifically interested in an in-depth look into one of the more highly recognized treatment programs at a national and international level. Such a view into this program had been previously reserved for those who are able to personally visit the program. Additionally, the text is educational and thought-provoking and is hopefully the beginning of many more texts to come.