Transcending Dementia Through the TTAP Method: A New Psychology of Art, Brain and Cognition, by Linda Levine Madori, Ph.D., CRTS, ATR-BC, Health Professions Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 2013. 243 pages, $42.95 paperback.
Transcending Dementia is an amazing resource and a must read for anyone working with older adults. Dr. Madori presents her cutting edge, evidence-based technique, the Therapeutic Thematic Arts Programming Method (TTAP Method) and systematically explains how it can be used in working with clients with Alzheimer’s disease. The book is well organized and, just as the title suggests, discusses how the TTAP Method can genuinely transcend dementia through presenting practical, very feasible activities for practitioners to do with their clients, both individually and in groups.
The strengths-based nature of the TTAP method and the diversity of creative expression Madori presents in how to use the method are both exciting and empowering for social work practitioners. For example, from photographs, painting, sculpting, and drawing, to music and movement, the TTAP method can be used to make significant, measurable positive impacts in the lives of clients.
Although the text was not written specifically for social workers, every aspect of the book parallels social work values, theories, and evidence based practice, as well as our commitment to building on client strengths. The text is very relevant for the social work practitioner, as its interdisciplinary nature is very apparent, and it will likely ignite exciting collaboration among helping professionals working with clients with dementia.
One of the strongest elements of the book is Madori’s presentation of the research on the efficacy of the TTAP method. The data are presented in a way that is exciting to read, and are also very practical, thorough, and relevant to the social work practitioner. In fact, tools and resources are presented in the back of the book for practitioners to implement the technique and track its effectiveness. In reading the book, I felt an invitation to participate in collecting research and be a part of using this method to enhance client well-being.
Another stand-out feature of the book is an extremely well written and comprehensive chapter titled Aging and Human Development Theories: Understanding and Meeting the Needs of Older Adults, Including Those with Dementia. Madori presents several theories in a very succinct way, highlighting the “meat” of the theory, and uses visuals that enhance the reader’s understanding. The theories are not just presented, but tied to application of the TTAP method.
In summary, this book is not just a great read, but a teaching tool for practitioners in gerontology. It teaches you, step by step, about the current research on Alzheimer’s, the TTAP method and how to use it, and how to track its effectiveness with clients.
I recommend this text as a handbook for gerontology social workers and educators. Madori’s work is a great example of innovation, creativity, and research that stemmed from practice experience working with older adults. For me, this book was extremely empowering. Working with clients with a degenerative disease can sometimes feel disempowering, and this book counteracts that and sets the stage for practitioners to be creative in building on client strengths through applying the TTAP method.
Reviewed by Satara M. Crandall, Ph.D., MSW, Associate Professor, Social Work Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, College of Adult and Professional Studies, Indiana Wesleyan University.