Professor’s book discusses psychological therapies to treat illness

June 21, 2013 | Research, UToday, Medicine and Life Sciences
By Samantha Watson

After becoming ill, people turn to doctors for medicines and treatments — but how often do patients look into therapy for common medical ailments?

Dr. Angele McGrady holds a copy of her new book, “Pathways to Illness, Pathways to Health.”

Dr. Angele McGrady holds a copy of her new book, “Pathways to Illness, Pathways to Health.”

Dr. Angele McGrady, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at The University of Toledo, addresses both sickness and healing in her new book, Pathways to Illness, Pathways to Health.

Co-authored with Dr. Donald Moss, chair of the College of Mind-Body Medicine at Saybrook University in San Francisco, this book looks at what causes illness as well as the physiological and psychosocial paths to health.

Both authors focus on common, chronic illnesses such as diabetes and constant pain, which often can have psychological effects on patients as well as affecting their physical health. They discuss applications of different healing processes for each illness covered in the text.

A model of interventions is proposed, beginning with re-establishing normal rhythms of breathing and sleeping; progressing to teaching skills, such as relaxation; and continuing to more complex interventions combining medication and psychotherapy.

For example, in addition to insulin and oral medications for diabetes, the authors recommend relaxation therapy and biofeedback. This decreases the effects of stress on blood glucose and gives patients a greater sense of control over their illness.

“This book is written as a textbook,” McGrady said. “My hope is that students will get a better idea of how to interact with patients, and practitioners will find new ways to help their patients.”

During the writing process, each author focused on his or her strengths — McGrady wrote the greater part of the chapters on genetics and psychophysiology, while Moss concentrated on the psychosocial aspects. McGrady and Moss shared the writing of the chapters applying the model to specific illnesses.

The authors worked together for years in the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, of which they are both past presidents.

“Having worked together previously allowed us to critique one another as well as encourage each other to stay on task,” McGrady said.

McGrady said her favorite part of writing the book was the creation of cases, where she drew from her work with patients to create fictional situations. This allowed her to look back on what worked well for clients in the past and use it to teach readers how to apply the therapies in examples provided in the text.

“I’m happy with the way this turned out, and I don’t think I could have finished without the support of my colleagues in psychiatry and my many friends who encouraged me throughout the three years of writing the book,” McGrady said.

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