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The Tools: Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  1,785 Ratings  ·  254 Reviews
A groundbreaking book about personal growth that presents a uniquely effective set of five tools that bring about dynamic change—as seen onThe Dr. Oz Show

The Tools offers a solution to the biggest complaint patients have about therapy: the interminable wait for change to begin. The traditional therapeutic model sets its sights on the past, but Phil Stutz and Barry Michels
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 29th 2012 by Spiegel & Grau
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Loy Machedo
Oct 15, 2012 Loy Machedo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Let me break down the analysis of this book into 3 parts.
Part 1 – What is this book about.
Part 2 - Outline of the Tools
Part 3 – What I really think about this book.

Part 1 – What is this book about?
By combining 60 years of hands-on working experience using the elements of Jungian psychology with the kind of practical approach found in Ellis' Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, Psychiatrist Phil Stutz and Psychotherapist Barry Michels have designed an innovative approach to help clients sufferi
Aug 22, 2013 Natalie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I was going to give this book 5 or 4 stars, because first 4 techniques are elegant, enjoyable, easy to use and do seem to make a real difference in one's daily life. I encourage everyone to familiarise themselves with the presented techniques.

However, in order to fully enjoy this book, I highly recommend to read chapters 2-5 and stop there. Chapter 6 (the one that presents so called 5th tool) is quite offensive and depressing, and is really more a quintessence of the darkest side of organised re
Laura Jordan
May 31, 2012 Laura Jordan rated it it was ok
Some interesting ideas, but I found the emphasis on the "higher powers" pretty off-putting, particularly during the second half of the book, where the authors seem to go out of their way to denigrate skepticism, the scientific method, and science in general. For those of us who don't buy the idea that the universe has an intelligent consciousness, much of what they have to say is hard to swallow. Some of the techniques they offer seem promising, though, so there must be a way to incorporate the ...more
Morgan Blackledge
Dec 05, 2014 Morgan Blackledge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Guilty (but delicious) pleasure. I have to admit I loved it. I'm a huge Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) fan. And much of the ideas in the book were very inline with the ACT model. But (importantly) delivered in a much more user friendly (quasi new age) package. I'm a stalwart atheist/materialist. Not because I am certain about such things (how can anyone be certain about such things). But because it's the world view that seems to be the least far-fetched and most effective for me.

That b
Jul 03, 2012 Derrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw a review for this book, I think in Time Magazine, and thought it would be a great self help book. The authors are both psychologist that provide tools to deal with life problems in there psychotherapy approach with there patients. This book provides many of those examples.

The tools are
1. The Reversal of Desire - When you need to take action that you have been avoiding. This says we need to welcome trips outside of our Comfort Zone when actions need to be taken. I can say there have been th
Jun 22, 2012 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought it was outstanding! Two psychiatrists accepted that "this just really isn't working" when they realised that encouraging their patients to talk endlessly about their past wasn't giving them any relief in the present day. They found they hadn't been trained to do anything else and so were forced to devise 5 visualisation exercises of their own that anyone can apply and practice for lasting inner change. The tools are simple and they worked for me - and they also have their own philosoph ...more
Sep 01, 2013 Deb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
**There’s a tool for that**


It’s one of those inconvenient givens of life. Although we spend so much energy trying to avoid it, it makes a regular appearance in our daily lives: in our constantly playing thoughts of “things shouldn’t be this way; ” in the insecurities that hold us back from doing what we want to do and being who we want to be; and in the negative thought clouds that can easily black out the bright spots in our lives.

What a pain.

In their book _The Tools_, Phil Stutz and Bar
Sep 13, 2012 Victoria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has been flying off our shelves at work, so I'm going to see what it's all about!
Now that I'm finished, I feel that my rating (5/5) requires a nuanced review...especially given how split the readership seems to be in regards to the ratings. Whether or not I'll achieve the nuance and success in explaining...we'll see.

So, overall this is an excellent book for people who want a real way to take control of the psychological issues that they face in their lives. Out of control emotions,
Melissa Ennis
May 18, 2012 Melissa Ennis rated it it was amazing
Ordinarily, I avoid self-help books the way I avoid DIY root canals.

This one is different. Specific. Practical. Actually helpful. For example, here's a nugget that got me through a recent festering tangle of procrastination/anxiety: "Pain is not absloute. When you move toward it, pain shrinks...the more intense the pain-- the more you move into it-- the more energy you create."

OK-- that sounds like masochism. It's more like muscle-building.

It's cognitive. It's less therapy and more coaching.
Oct 01, 2012 Specialk rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
Wishy washy nonsense. I am not going to visualize a beam of all my love penetrating some one whom I'm angry at's solar plexus. This is ridiculous. Maybe I'm not an extreme enough situation for me to find any of these "tools" necessary or relevant, but it's all wispy washy nonsense. This book belongs in a class with 6 Weeks to OMG and The Secret. If you are spineless and gullible, then awesome - you'll love these! Have a functioning brain? Not so much.
Nov 17, 2012 Jess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I was really interested by the ideas is this book, mostly because they are extensions of a lot of things I've been thinking about lately. The section about consumers vs creators particularly hit home, as lately I've felt especially beat down by the barrage of ads every single place I turn in life and the realization that their sole purpose is to create dissatisfaction.

To be honest, part of me feels stupid revealing that I've read a "self help" book. Mostly, they are just another thing to market
Colleen Wainwright
First of all, if you are not a Believer, you're going to have difficulties with this book and the tools found within. The authors do a kind of sneaky-Pete maneuver, sucking you in via the secular self-help standpoint, shifting into a hard-core spiritual stance about 3/4 of the way in. I wasn't surprised; all five of the tools are variations on principles arrived at by various spiritual traditions for the pursuit of a happy, meaningful, fulfilled life, i.e. one of service and gratitude.

Make that leap, use this book to exponentially improve your life. This book gives you practical ways to conquer some of life's biggest issues! I LOVED this book. In fact, this is one of the most important books I have ever read!

*view problems as "portals to enter the world of untapped potential" and see problems' purpose as primary avenues to growth
* simple--but not necessarily easy--techniques called tools which change not only attitudes, but behaviors as well.

for those--
-If you ever find yours
John Martindale
I didn't expect to find Yoda sharing the secrets for how to tap into the Force. Books like this bring out the skeptic in me, it was hard to get through it. I wonder if how I felt is similar to how the likes of Michael Shermer and Richard Dawkins feel when they read works by Christians--If so I pity them as they research. Phil Stuzz does share some decent "tools" like gratefulness and some other psychological tricks, and I have little doubt that some people trying these tools "feel" something tha ...more
Paula Hrbacek
Jun 28, 2012 Paula Hrbacek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Tools is a self-help book that offers mental methods that can be used to change your attitudes and reactions. It’s not the type of book you read. You read, think about it, let it sink in, and then read some more. As such, it’s a good book to read before bed when you have time to relax and let your mind wander. It will take some time to digest, but offers plenty of food for thought.
Phil Stutz is an atheist who came to believe in higher powers that direct our lives. He insists that the tools u
Jun 15, 2012 Tara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've read self-help or metaphysical stuff before, this is not new. Calling them "tools" may be, and they are presented in a way that's unique to these authors. But imagining myself at the end of my life when considering doing something -- well, I've been doing that for years, especially for big decisions. And pushing through pain by saying I accept it, well, Alanis Morissette told me in song years ago what I already knew, too -- the only way out is through.

If, however, you are new to this t
May 10, 2012 Kasandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent self-help book that addresses the main problem of changing your life, either in therapy or with the use of a book, or both: it's not hard to change thinking and behavior at first, but it is hard to stick with it, and most of us give up, forget, or find temporary relief and then think we can stop being "different". This book advises that the tools within are to be used for the rest of your life, similar to the difference between going on a diet (and then gaining weight back after) an ...more
Mar 25, 2014 Camille rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you've done any real work on yourself either through CBT or 12 Step or really any program for improvement, I don't think any of this is going to be any major revelation for you. That said,I got enough real actionable tools and frank honesty about what it takes to really make progress in life to make it worth the $8 download.

I heard Dr. Stutz on Marc Maron's show and really liked his frankness and tough love attitude, unfortunately I think this is a book mostly by Dr. Michels with Dr. Stutz so
Daniel Selders
In the series of self help books that I have read over the years, this is a great book. The tools are things that we have always been doing in different cultures and religions, and there are recognizable equivalents in Christianity and Buddhism among others.

The thing that really hits home with me is the discussion of consumerism and the false belief that we are or can be exonerated from doing the hard work, and doing it over and over again. One needs to clean the house, do the dishes, balance th
Kate LaChapelle
Jul 10, 2013 Kate LaChapelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where do I even begin with this book. It's psychology and vastly fascinating. The Tools puts forth four, technically five, Tools to use to solve the problems in your life and to connect you to the Source and Higher Powers. I'm naturally pretty skeptical of anything of that nature, but this book lays it out in a way that is really interesting to consider.

Ultimately a lot of the tools come down to a shift in paradigm, which is no simple task, but the tools certainly help you get on that path. I ap
Sep 21, 2012 Bill rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very hard to read.

I got a copy through the "Giveaway" section of this site some months ago.

And It's been sitting on my desk with the book mark on page 56 for a month now. I can usually work through books that are dry and highly technical, but this is in a different league, The writing style feels like it's been auto-dictated from a classroom lecture or even a pulpit.

Their is no sole or life in the words, which is strange since that's all the book seems to be about, living a full life. The writer
Tim Finley
The Tools discussed in this book, while useful, are not based on a solid foundation. The intent of this book is to give you a method for dealing with difficult situations, while encouraging further understanding of yourself, and to move forward with your life. It is interesting to consider how people who do not choose to believe in Christ handle psychological and social challenges.

Some of the difficulty in reading this book is understanding the extreme effort placed in creating a new vernacular
Laura Thomas
I really liked this, more than I thought I would. Partially I think I liked it because I'd read the New Yorker piece, so I was primed to be open to these guys.

Plus I've used and am still using the tools, although not as often as I did. They do work - especially in my case, because I have a big bugaboo with shrinking in the face of disapproval. I step back from the hard stuff, in other words. So when I can really do the first tool on avoidance - step INTO the pain of what it is - I really find my
Richard Jespers
Nov 09, 2014 Richard Jespers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book helpful, as it dovetails well with my latest therapy experience. And after I memorized the procedures (tools), I believe they work. One I find particularly helpful is the Reversal of Desire. If there is a task you dread doing or social event you dread attending, you repeat the following mantra. “Bring it on! I love pain. Pain sets me free.” (There are also some mental pictures you must employ, like imagining that a “cloud” is spitting you out when you think, Pain sets me free.) ...more
Susan Davis
Jun 15, 2014 Susan Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While there are countless 'self-help' books out there - most seem to reiterate the same things about being positive, etc. But few, really ever provide much in the way of practical advice that is easy to understand and quick to apply. The explanations in this book are clear and concise so that they can be applied by readers with ease. The fact that the exercises offered can also be adopted as a way of life makes it a very worthwhile investment. Reading this book frees up time to do more of what i ...more
James Rye
At the core of this book are some good ideas that most cognitive therapists would be familiar with. The authors have drawn from their many years of therapeutic practice to identify key areas of human difficulty and suggest ways of facing those problems.

The reasons for the low rating are:
1) I felt there was a lot of "padding" in the book to give it more length than it merited. There was a good core, but to me it didn't seem to justify the length.
2) Anybody who seriously expects me to embrace "hig
Jul 31, 2012 Donna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't manage to finish this book before it had to go back to the library, but I read most of it. It was ok, but some of the ideas were worded in a way that made you think that there was some outside spiritual force involved. There isn't when you actually read the chapter itself so this is an unfortunate use of words.
The ideas of the Tools is good, but as with all these type of books, if you are looking for a magic wand to end your problems you won't find it. You do have to put in the work!!
Mar 23, 2014 Alexis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
A book written by two psychotherapists. A person whose opinion I trust recommended this to me, and I found it a bit helpful. It's got some good mental tools that you can use to change some thought patterns, but these tools are surrounded by a lot of mumbo jumbo and woo woo.

I will try using the tools, but I took the rest of the book with a grain of salt. After I read the book, I found out that many celebrities are fans of "The tools" and see these psychotherapists. Do with that what you will.
Bailey Olfert
I was initially encouraged as Phil wrote about his frustration in therapy with not being able to give his clients any actual help; this is how I have felt while in counseling. However, the tools themselves are a bit too new-age psychobabbly for me. I can go along with many of the descriptions of what's gone wrong with us, but the extensive visualization required to use the tools doesn't work for everyone. Jeopardy is the only tool that I expect to hold on to from this book.
John Lewis
Nov 10, 2012 John Lewis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As someone who deals with anxiety on a daily basis, whether in small, or large, amounts, The Tools, by Phil Stuzz, is a breakthrough in the genre of self-help. The book reveals several "tools," which can be used to break free from common mental barriers that can make a person from mighty, to frightful.

Worth every penny, The Tools is a book that not only can influence your day to day life, but it can change your life--it definitely has changed mine.
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Phil Stutz graduated from City College in New York and received his MD from New York University. He worked as a prison psychiatrist on Rikers Island and then in private practice in New York before moving his practice to Los Angeles in 1982.
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“Real change requires you to change your behavior-not just your attitude.” 9 likes
“Outflow is an infinite, spiritual force that gives of itself without restraint.” 0 likes
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