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

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  1,137 ratings  ·  208 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...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 29th 2012 by Spiegel & Grau (first published 2012)
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Loy Machedo
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...more
Laura Jordan
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
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
**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...more
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...more
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...more
Melissa Ennis
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....more
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...more
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,...more
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...more
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.
Paula Hrbacek
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...more
I was sent an Advanced Readers Copy of this book, and I could not have been more excited to have received my first ARC, but just like ice cream on a hot summers day the excitement was short lived. In between the discolored red gradient I was browbeaten with this idea that the tools were the only way to live a successful life and that anyone that does not comply exactly with the rules is a consumer of the modern day culture, and without following their rules then you as a person are doomed to liv...more
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...more
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...more
Kate LaChapelle
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...more
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.

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
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...more
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...more
Susan Davis
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...more
Morgan Blackledge
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...more
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!!
I am working through The Tools: 5 Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity, and Willpower--and Inspire You to Live Life in Forward Motion a second time. Initially, I thought that a lot of what Barry Michels and Phil Stutz teach here seems very New-Agey. After thinking about the Tools, I see that the Tools have cognates in Buddhism (esp. Tibetan Buddhism as it has come to North America). Active Love can easily be related to the practice of Tonglen: giving and receiving. A person first must rece...more
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.
Ann M
Not sure how many stars to give this. Apparently, very popular with show biz types in L.A., so you know it's going to be brief...

I liked the similarity of the Reversal of Desire tool to the Tibetan Buddhist Chod practice. Allowing your anxieties/pain/fears to "eat" you. Here you invite them. The Gratitude tool (which they annoyingly call "Gratefulness") amounts to just thinking about something good instead of something bad. That is another simplification of a Tibetan Buddhist practice, as is se...more
John Lewis
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.
Sherri Sullivan
Great book. Very helpful. Two comments (so I remember them):

re: Reversal of Desire
(Frank Herbert fans: "Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past me I will turn to see fear's path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.")
"Adversity is the only way the universe has to increase our inner strength. To develop a muscle you have to lift pr...more
Jun 01, 2012 Stacey marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I heard Jian Ghomeshi's interview today with Barry Michels (on CBC Q) and I was so fascinated with the discussion about the artist/writer and ego, shadow and flow. I was truly disappointed when the interview had ended because I wanted to learn more.
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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.
More about Phil Stutz...

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“Real change requires you to change your behavior-not just your attitude.” 9 likes
“Nineteenth-century physician, teacher, and author Oliver Wendell Holmes in “The Voiceless” wrote: “Alas for those that never sing, / But die with all their music in them.” 0 likes
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