07 April 2007

Reinventing your Life by Jeffrey E. Young and Janet S. Klosko

By Galia BarHava-Monteith

Ever wondered why you are never happy with anything you do? Why it is you always think you could have done something better? Ever wondered why your bosses always get angry when they don't get what they want, or why they can't accept 'no' for an answer?

Now, I'm not one for self-help books. You're not likely to see me browsing the 'self-help' section at my local book store. Not that I don't see their value. It's more that having studied Psychology for five years I reckon I should be able to work that stuff out for myself...

Self help based on clinical research

reinventing.jpgOn a more serious note, I don't believe in quick fixes and magic seminars that sort out all your life's problems in one weekend. But I'm a great believer in empirically-based and research-driven frameworks to anything, including self-help.

And that's where this book is different. A good friend of mine who is a clinical psychologist put me on to it when I was designing a workshop. It's written by two clinical psychologists and is based on years of research into the underlying causes of personality problems, while drawing on the techniques and principles of cognitive psychology.


Unlike other self-help books, Reinventing Your Life is comprehensive. It doesn't just deal with depression or obsessive compulsive disorders; it deals with a wide range of personality problems.

OK, so now you're thinking, that sounds heavy, a book for real 'nutters'. Well, no. Reinventing Your Life is suitable for all of us. It helps us figure out why we do the same things over and over again even though they're really bad for us (like falling for the wrong man, attracting friends who use and abuse us etc). Reinventing Your Life also helps us figure out why the people around us keep doing what they do, even though their actions and attitudes are bad for them!


The book's main premise is that the behaviours of most people are strongly, but unconsciously, influenced by lifetraps. Lifetraps are patterns that begin in our childhood and continue reverberating within us throughout our lives. When the lifetraps are really serious they result in personality disorders which require formal therapy. But here's the catch, even if they aren't that serious, they can still have a significant impact on our lives without us even knowing it!

A common lifetrap for high achievers is 'Unrelenting Standards' (see takeaway box). My clinical psychologist friend says that often what drives many apparently highly successful people to see her is a serious crisis like a health scare or a breakup. She believes that if these people had become aware of their lifetraps sooner they might have been able to develop some better coping strategies, potentially avoiding the crisis.

Which Lifetrap is Yours?

What I like about this approach is that even though it's based on serious academic work, it's written in a very accessible style. Each chapter is dedicated to one of the eleven lifetraps and begins with a short 'women's mag' type quiz. Don't let that fool you. These quizzes are serious and have rigorous validity and reliability. Each chapter then goes on to describe how the lifetrap presents in its more severe forms - reading this of course made me feel better because I could see even I'm not that bad! It also provides some good strategies for you to work on if this is your lifetrap.

And, if you think you are absolutely lifetrap-free, then read it to figure out why all the people around you are so crazy!

Have you read this book? We would love to hear your thoughts about it. Are there other books you'd like us to review? Please e-mail us your thoughts on feedback@professionelle.co.nz.

Key links

The schema therapy website

The book on Amazon

© Professionelle Ltd 2007

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