Self-Help Book Recommendations by Our Clinicians
As humans, we are constantly looking for ways to better ourselves and help improve our lives. Self-help books can be a powerful tool for seeking the progress you’re looking for in life! The challenging part is deciding where to start. What kind of self-help book speaks to me? Which books would be most beneficial to my life? What am I looking to gain out of reading these books? Well, the good news is we’re here to help! We’ve asked each of our therapists to recommend their top self-help books that we’ve listed below along with a brief summary. We hope one (if not more) of these speaks to you!
“I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t): Making the Journey from “What will People Think?” to “I am Enough” by Brené Brown
Our clinician, Jennifer Higley recommended this incredible book filled with reminders that our flaws are not something we should feel judged by, they are what makes us who we are! Our imperfections are what connects us not only to ourselves, but to each other as well. Everyone in the world experiences imperfections, flaws, shame, judgement and criticism. So why are we constantly trying to hide them from the world? We’re all in this together and you are never alone-it’s time to start being unapologetically you!
As Brené Brown says, “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do”.
“The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love” by Sonya Renee Taylor
This book recommended by clinician Brittany Greene dives into the systems of oppression that thrive off the inability to make peace with differences and injure the relationship we have with our bodies. World renowned activist and poet, Taylor invites us to reconnect with our minds and bodies and celebrate our strength. As humans we are all varied between our beliefs, morals, and our bodies; by practicing radical self-love we can help heal the wounds of our own body shame inflicted by these systems.
“When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self-love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world--for us all.”
“What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing” by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce D. Perry
Do you often find yourself wondering “why did I do that” or get nervous others are questioning “what’s wrong with that person?” When questioning our emotions it is easy to blame ourselves for not upholding this impossible standard of how we “should act”. In this novel, recommended by Kim Dubose, Oprah and world renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Perry encourage us to shift our mindset from “what’s wrong with me?” to “what has happened to me to make me act this way?”. This book focuses on the understanding of people, behavior and ultimately ourselves. Facing trauma and adversity at a young age impacts us and our actions for the rest of our lives, by addressing and understanding the traumas we’ve endured throughout our lives we can open a door to healing and resilience in an extremely powerful way.
“Through this lens we can build a renewed sense of personal self-worth and ultimately recalibrate our responses to circumstances, situations, and relationships. It is, in other words, the key to reshaping our very lives.”—Oprah Winfrey
“Parts Work: An Illustrated Guide to Your Inner Life” by Tom Holmes
Another recommendation by clinician Kim Dubose, this book is a description of our inner psychological world through thought-provoking drawings. As humans we tend to get stuck within problematic habitual patterns, and this book allows us to learn how to disentangle ourselves from these patterns and offers alternative ways to live a fuller life in a positive and healthy way.
“Through practical examples as well as clinical illustrations, the book helps us to understand ourselves and others better.”
“Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone” by Brené Brown
This #1 New York Times Bestseller, recommended by clinician Dianne Rausher, challenges everything we think we know about true belonging. Brown states that true belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves fully. In a society where perfectionism and pleasing is putting so much pressure on us, it is important to show up as our true selves and brave the uncertainty of the wilderness, rather than staying quiet and trying to fit in even where we aren’t comfortable. True belonging is a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts, and although the wilderness may be nerve wracking and unpredictable, it is also beautiful and sacred.
“True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.”-Brené Brown
“Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself” by Nedra Glover Tawwab
In this New York Times Bestseller, recommended by clinician Brittany Greene, Tawwab teaches us about setting healthy boundaries. Have you ever struggled with finding a way to set healthy boundaries? Have you ever wondered what setting healthy boundaries even looks like? In a world that expects constant availability, it can be hard to say “no” or express our true feelings. Throughout this book you will learn simple yet powerful ways to set healthy boundaries in all different aspects of life.
“These techniques help us identify and express our needs clearly and without apology--and unravel a root problem behind codependency, power struggles, anxiety, depression, burnout, and more…”
“No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model” by Dr. Richard Schwartz
Another excellent recommendation by Kim Dubose, Schwartz speaks upon how society has taught us to believe we have one single identity. This leads to us becoming fearful or shameful when we can’t control our inner voices that don’t seem to match this identity of who we “should be”. He challenges this “mono-mind theory” by explaining we all are born with many sub-minds as well. Schwartz’s integrates his Internal Family Systems (IFS) model into this book to teach us that there are no “bad parts” to ourselves. This model has been effective in areas of one’s lives such as trauma recovery, addiction therapy and depression treatments. This model gives us a powerful approach to healing and the realization that we have no bad parts and need to learn to heal and love all parts of ourselves.
“The key to health and happiness is to honor, understand, and love every part.”-Dr. Richard Schwartz
“Inside Out and Outside in: Psychodynamic Clinical Theory and Practice in Contemporary Multicultural Contexts” by Joan Berzoff, Laura Melano Flanagan, and Patricia Hertz
This foundational book for many mental health practitioners, recommended by Kim Dubose, demonstrates how to use knowledge of people’s hardships and backgrounds to create a language of meaning for people’s difficulties. This book allows you to investigate finding the value in understanding people’s pain and resilience regarding their internal dynamic struggles, biological makeup, and social realities.
“It is unique in its focus on the forces that shape people from within and also from their social worlds, with sensitivity to race, gender, sexuality, and class.”
“Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha” by Dr. Tara Brach
Do you ever feel a weight of unworthiness around you? Is it affecting your relationships or your sense of self? Recommended by our clinician Cassandra Wink, Dr. Brach uses her experience of over twenty years with clinical therapy clients and Buddhist students to combine this research and illuminate one’s lives. Brach brings her teachings alive through personal stories and case histories, fresh interpretations of Buddhist tales, and guided meditations. This book helps people heal their inner shame, criticisms and suffering and allows one to re-connect with their true selves.
“When we stop being at war with ourselves, we are free to live fully every precious moment of our lives”
“The Book of Ichigo Ichie: The Art of Making the Most of Every Moment, the Japanese Way” by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles
With this book recommended by clinician Kristin Shulman, you can learn to make every moment a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The phrase ichigo ichie is the idea that every moment in our life happens only once, and if we let it slip away, we will lose it forever. This conveys the idea that each and every moment that makes up our lives is unique and special in its own way-by practicing mindfulness we can give each moment of our lives the attention they deserve. This book teaches you how to use all senses in order to anchor yourself to the present.
“(Ichigo Ichie) urges individuals to simplify their lives by pursuing what sparks joy for them” -Marie Kondo
“My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies” by Resmaa Menakem
This groundbreaking book, recommended by clinician Kim Dubose, is a call to action for our country to realize the damage that has been caused by racism in America. Menakem examines the generational trauma that is embedded in all our bodies. She explains how this anguish of white supremacy affects African Americans and White and Blue (Police) Americans who may suffer their own secondary traumas as well. We need to realize just how far the effects of racism reach, not only affecting the head but our physical bodies as well. Menakem provides a new understanding of white supremacy and offers a step-by-step process based on neuroscience and somatic healing methods. By giving us these tools, we can hopefully learn to grow beyond our entrenched racialized divide.
"My Grandmother's Hands will change the direction of the movement for racial justice."— Robin DiAngelo, New York Times bestselling author of White Fragility
“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl
This incredible memoire, recommended by clinician Brandon Rowsey, chronicles Frankl’s personal experiences as a prisoner of the Nazi concentration camps during WWII. Frankl uses these experiences to create lessons on spiritual survival. He ultimately argues that suffering is a part of life. The important part is how we choose to cope with suffering, that we find meaning behind it and we use that to drive us forward in life with a renewed purpose. You do not need to suffer in order to find meaning in life, but if you have it is important to find the strength within yourself to turn that suffering into something positive.
“Primary human drive is not pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful”
“The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity” by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris
In this book, recommended by clinician Dawn Simmons, Burke Harris writes upon her research into how deeply our bodies can be impacted by adverse childhood experiences. If you’ve faced adversity or lived through a difficult childhood-this may be the book for you! The integration of personal stories along with Burke Harris’ groundbreaking research as a physician and scientist brings to light the prevalence of childhood trauma within our country. What she found is that childhood stress can change our neural systems and worsen our physical health (as well as mental)-and the impacts can last a lifetime. Through the touching personal stories about her patients and their families we can recognize the possibility and hope for change.
“Nadine Burke Harris . . . offers a new set of tools, based in science, that can help each of us heal ourselves, our children, and our world.” — Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed
“The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self” by Alice Miller
This bestseller recommended by clinician Jaclyn Lenz, dives into childhood trauma and the enduring effects of repressed anger and pain. As children many of us are taught at a young age to hide our emotions. By hiding our feelings, needs and memories we are trying to meet the expectations of our parents and win over their love. Through this book Miller helps us reclaim our lives by discovering our own needs and truth.
"When I used the word 'gifted' in the title, I had in mind neither children who receive high grades in school nor children talented in a special way. I simply meant all of us who have survived an abusive childhood thanks to an ability to adapt even to unspeakable cruelty by becoming numb.... Without this 'gift' offered us by nature, we would not have survived."-Alice Miller
“Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” by Dr. John Gottman, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, Doug Abrams and Rachel Carlton Abrams
Do you oftentimes find yourself feeling disconnected to your partner or yearning to get that spark back in your relationship? Maybe you just want to work on strengthening a connection that is already there? This book recommended by our relationship specialist, Alexis Pudlo, could be for you! In this book, love guru’s Dr. Gottman and Dr. Schwartz Gottman invite couples to go on eight easy, uplifting and rewarding dates; each one circling a make-it-or-break-it issue when it comes to relationships. Whether its money, dreams, trust or family these dates will be sure to strengthen the communication between you and your partner. From the four skills you need for intimate conversation to tips on being honest about your needs, while also validating your partner’s emotions, you will discover (or rediscover) your partner like never before!
“Be able to realize your hopes and dreams for the love you desire and deserve.”
“The Book of Mistakes” by Corinna Luyken
Who ever said children couldn’t benefit from self-help books too? In this recommendation made by clinician Dianne Rausher, Luyken illustrates an inspiring picture book that encourages children to embrace the mistakes they make, learn from them, get inspired by them and grow! These creative stories allow children to see the beauty behind making mistakes and let’s their imagination run wild. If your kiddo (or you!) needs a little inspiration, we highly recommend checking this book out!
“Told in minimal, playful text, this story shows readers that even the biggest “mistakes” can be the source of the brightest ideas—and that, at the end of the day, we are all works in progress, too.”