West’s engaging debut self-help book looks at the highs and lows of caregiving with an expert eye and offers practical advice on coping strategies.
As a caregiver to an elderly mother, a mentally disabled brother, a chronically ill daughter and a developmentally delayed granddaughter, West has ample experience in the role. She’s also a psychology professor at Pleasant Hill, CA-based John F. Kennedy University and facilitates her own groups and workshops, so she has the knowledge to back up her statements and the ability to deliver her message in an engaging, easy-to-digest manner. Her practical advice is supported with real-world examples and ideas from transpersonal psychology. She stresses the importance of caregivers’ setting boundaries for themselves and using intuition and creativity to spiritually replenish their souls in a way that’s less about traditional religion than about personally getting in touch with one’s inner self. (One entire chapter is dedicated to the experiences of specific caregivers and their journeys toward self-awareness.) She organizes the information well, with subchapter headings and bulleted lists that make it accessible for general readers, who may apply the advice in immediate and tangible ways using exercises at the end of each chapter. West also provides questions for self-reflection (“What qualities am I developing as a result of this experience?”), directions for journal keeping (including “stream writing” and “unsent letters”) and other examples to serve as prompts for deeper self-awareness. West writes that she used her own book as a resource during a crucial time in her life, when she was simultaneously caring for an ailing mother and a pregnant daughter in a health crisis; as she tells her personal story, readers will likely be on the edge of their seats wondering what will happen next. Overall, West has an engaging voice, and her book is like spending time with a wise friend.
With an authoritative voice and a personal touch, West provides a handy toolbox for caregivers to nourish body and soul.