With so MANY self help books out there, it’s easy to wonder: what are the self help books that therapists recommend most? As in, what are the go-tos, the tried and trues that professionals refer to again and again for their clients? While there is obviously going to be some variation from therapist to therapist, I have discussed each of the self help books I’m going to share with you today with colleagues and clients alike, time and time again. You can’t beat the classics, right? That said, I’d love to know which self help books you’re obsessed with, so feel free to share away in the comments!
I like to think of this self help book as a swift kick in the pants. For reals. But for most of us, isn’t that what we actually need sometimes? Amy Morin not only discusses all the things mentally strong people don’t do (i.e. waste time feeling sorry for themselves, giving away their power, and worrying about pleasing others, just to name a few), she also provides strategies to make actionable changes in these areas. I love this book because it takes a no-nonsense approach, which isn’t typically my approach in the office with my clients, depending on the issue we’re dealing with. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do is a good reminder for me (and for all of us!) that change requires hard work, but it is always so worth it!
I first read this book after I attended a self-care retreat focusing on mindfulness, and was searching for ways to apply the practice of mindfulness to parenting. I ended up getting this book from the library and FLYING through it. Dr. Shefali Tsabary is a world-renowned parenting expert and her approach is unlike any that I had read or heard about prior. This is one of the books I recommend most to my clients, and to the parents of the adolescents I see in particular. Dr. Tsabary teaches that many of the mistakes we make as parents happen as a direct result of us not dealing with our own inner-child and our own wounds from growing up. I was NOT expecting that, and it was, like the last book I mentioned a swift kick in the pants. But after reading tons of amazing parenting books in my day, this one blew me away. Not only that, but applying the techniques with my children (especially my eldest who can be VERY headstrong at times) was LIFE CHANGING. I now walk all of my clients’ parents through the teachings in this book because it would be crazy not to, based on how much it worked for me!
Admittedly, Gabrielle Bernstein can be a little woo-woo at times. However, there are so many gems of truth and tried-and-true techniques in this book, that you can take what works for you and leave the rest. The premise of this book is that when we stand in judgment of others, we create anxiety, distress, and tension in our own lives. Likewise, when we focus our attention on the ways we feel judged by others, we let them have too much power in our lives and feel chaotic and out of control. As humans, we are often tempted to blame others for the difficulties in our lives, but if you’re willing to get super honest and do the work (much of which is from EFT, the Emotional Freedom Technique, an actual modality of therapy), this book has the capacity to change your life for the better and offer you tons of peace.
Another amazing book by Dr. Shefali Tsabary! Again, her work in this book focuses on doing the hard work of looking inside of ourselves and becoming the person we are truly meant to be and allowing our children to benefit from that growth and work in our own lives. So many times, parents come to me wanting me to tell them exactly what to do when their child misbehaves in a certain way (in which case, I highly recommend this book), and yet the work really begins within ourselves. We must first understand why we parent the way we do (especially when we swore up and down we’d never repeat the phrases our parents used on us!) and then enter willingness to change. This book is especially helpful in guiding you to see your child as an individual, completely separate from you, whom you do not have control over, and should not attempt to control. There’s a fine line between control and guidance, and The Conscious Parent brings awareness to this fact in a relatable, enjoyable read.
I’ve talked extensively about this book here and here, so I’ll spare you the long explanation. I’ll just say that learning your love language and your partner’s love language (as well as your children’s!) is so, so, so important. My husband and I read this book (well, I read him excerpts haha!) a few years ago, and it led to some amazing conversations and definitely changed our marriage for the better. I love applying the love languages with my kids and I just love the idea of figuring out how to love someone in a way that is best for THEM, rather than how you think they SHOULD receive love. It’s a very selfless concept, and one that I believe is timeless and applicable to literally every relationship you have.
This book is about something 99% of us struggle with: putting down the phone. I love the way Rachel Macy Stafford speaks the truth in love and shares tangible ways to invite more of what really matters into our lives. Yes, there are actionable steps she suggests to guide you to a greater presence in your own life, but she also communicates that giving ourselves grace and permission to start over again are necessities if we want to live a peaceful, joyful life. Definitely worth a read!
No joke, one of my very favorite self-help books ever! I just recommended this book to a dear friend of mine a couple of months ago. I basically recommend it to anyone and everyone for several reasons. First and foremost, Laurie J. Cameron teaches ways to practice mindfulness from the time you wake up, until the time you go to bed at night. So many people make the mistake of thinking that mindfulness practice begins and ends on the meditation pillow. Nothing could be further from the truth! Whether you’re new to mindfulness practice, or you’re a seasoned pro, there’s something in this amazing book for everyone!
The subtitle of this book is: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder, and I could not love it more. So many of us have grown up believing that we have to be perfect, that we have to please everyone, and that mistakes are a no-no, which means risk should be avoided at all costs. Personally, I believe that real living happens when we dream, dare, and dedicate time to finding out who we really are, what we really love, and what we would do with our time if we stopped caring so much about everyone else’s opinion. Sound like something that resonates with you? This book is (yet again!) a swift kick in the pants that will also have you laughing and crying along the way!
Bessel van der Kolk is arguably the world’s leading expert on trauma. If you or a loved one has experienced any sort of trauma in your childhood or adult life, this book is a must read. So many trauma survivors don’t understand why they feel, think, and act the way they do sometimes, especially if their trauma happened many years ago. Dr. van der Kolk expels this myth, along with many others, and provides a guidebook that educates the effect that trauma has on the mind, body, and spirit. It’s a great read, but it’s a heavy one. It’s very clinical, but SO worth reading if you’ve had any type of trauma in your past. Go read the over 3,000 reviews on Amazon that say this book changed their life and helped them actually start LIVING again after they experienced trauma.
Ok my loves! That’s all I’ve got for now, but I’d love to know if you have read any of these self help books therapists recommend and what you think about them? Is there a particular self help book that you’ve been meaning to read? Any others I should add to the list? I’m all ears!