The authors of this book, Doctors Leslie Sokol and Marci Fox, are both long-time associates of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research. As the authors explain in their introduction, cognitive therapy is an approach which postulates that how we think influences both how we feel and how we behave. In Think Confident, Be Confident, Sokol and Fox utilize the principles of cognitive therapy to target self-doubt and the detrimental effects that it can have on one's moods, actions, motivation, and ultimately, self-confidence.
The authors use a 4-step approach to conquering doubt. Step 1 is "Label It," which includes differentiating realistic concerns from doubt. Chapter One includes several "Doubt Tests" and other quizzes to assist the reader with this process of self-exploration. In the second chapter, two fictional cases, Jill and Sam, are introduced as a means to help put a name to one's personal doubt label. The second step in the author's model is "Question It." By encouraging readers to "check out" their doubt and to recognize their "doubt distortions," Sokol and Fox are engaging in classic cognitive therapy work first introduced by Aaron Beck in his ground-breaking book Cognitive Therapy of Depression.
Sokol and Fox further build on the cognitive work with their Step 3, Rethink It. Here they talk about learning to re-write the irrational, rigid rules that one's doubt has created over the years in favor of more positive if/then statements. The authors then go on to discuss how to develop "confidence beliefs" based on real, factual information. They continue to use Jill and Sam, the sample characters introduced in Chapter One, but they also weave in various other case examples. Finally, in Step 4, Take Action, Sokol and Fox focus on taking one's new-found confidence into real-life situations. They acknowledge that stress can reactivate doubt, but they also provide some tools for maintaining confidence even under stressful situations.
Overall, this is a useful little book. Although the ideas offered here are clearly not new, Sokol and Fox present their information in a manner that is extremely accessible to the average reader and that is also appropriate to a self-help format. Regarding the latter, this book is likely to appeal to readers of that genre, particularly given that is fairly short, uses simple language, and contains helpful exercises. As a psychologist myself, I believe that challenging negative thinking patterns is an effective strategy for many types of concerns, and thus much of my own work utilizes a cognitive approach. Given this, I would recommend Think Confident, Be Confident to readers who are motivated to work on addressing their dysfunctional thinking patterns on their own.
© 2009 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students