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I love books and read a lot so naturally I tend to recommend them often to my clients. In my opinion, educating yourself about what you are experiencing allows you to understand it better rather than be scared or confused by it. Books also offer numerous strategies for combating symptoms, improving well being and dealing with people and situations.

Below is a list of suggested readings on various topics that come up often in therapy. These are all books I either own, have personally read, or have looked through based on recommendations by colleagues. They are written by psychologists, psychiatrists and/or authors which are considered experts in their relevant fields. The language is accessible and the books are practical and geared towards self-help.

General Self-Help Books

Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy

One of my favourites by psychiatrist David Burns on how to deal with anxiety, guilt, pessimism, procrastination, low self-esteem, and other “black holes”, as well as develop a positive outlook on life.

Reinventing Your Life: The Breakthough Program to End Negative Behavior…and Feel Great Again

Mind Over Mood, Second Edition: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think

Probably one of the most recommended cognitive-behavioural self-help books by therapists, this is well worth a read and putting it in practice.

The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions

“Buck up.” “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.” “Don’t ruin everything.” When you are anxious, sad, angry, or lonely, do you hear this self-critical voice? What would happen if, instead of fighting difficult emotions, we accepted them?

Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem

I love this book that teaches you how to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy self-esteem, how to uncover and analyse negative self-statements, and how to create new, more objective and positive statements to support your self-esteem rather than undermine it.

How to Be an Imperfectionist: The New Way to Self-Acceptance, Fearless Living, and Freedom from Perfectionism

One of my absolute favourite books that I recommend over and over to clients. I think we would all benefit from learning how to let go of unrealistic expectations and focus more on effort, rather than on results.

Books on Anxiety, Panic and OCD

Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic, and Worry

Fear, worry, anxiety, panic, and depression block people from living fully. This book does an excellent job of unraveling the mysteries of the brain and how it causes anxiety, thus allowing you to take control of anxious symptoms and manage life more effectively.

Living With It: A Survivor’s Guide To Panic Attacks

An excellent, fun, fully illustrated and very easy-to-read guide for dealing with panic attacks by Australian Bev Aisbett, herself a survivor of panic disorder. The book has three basic messages: You can beat this; You are not alone; You will recover.

When Panic Attacks: The New, Drug-Free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life

Another great book by Burns on how to deal with all kinds of anxiety and with most other emotional problems.

Stopping the Noise in Your Head: The New Way to Overcome Anxiety and Worry

Reid Wilson, one of the leading world experts on anxiety and OCD, proposes his paradoxical approach to overcoming anxiety, worry, OCD, panic, and phobias by moving away from comfort, confidence, and security and willingly moving toward uncertainty, distress and discomfort. Love it because it works.

Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior

This classic book presents a simple four-step method for overcoming OCD that is effective and used in academic treatment centers throughout the world. It doesn’t rely on medication but teaches you to use cognitive self-therapy and behaviour modification to develop new patterns of response to obsessions.

Stop Obsessing!: How to Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions

Books on Depression

Keys to Unlocking Depression: An Internationally Known Depression Expert Tells You What You Need to Know to Overcome Depression

Michael Yapko is a world renowned psychologist and a leading expert on depression, as well as an excellent trainer that I have seen several times in person. This book is simple, straight-forward and in my opinion, has everything you need to know to deal with depression.

Breaking the Patterns of Depression

One more book by Michael Yapko because it’s that good and there is enough different material from my previous suggestion.

Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions

A good read by investigative journalist Johann Hari who goes on a journey across the world to interview the leading experts about what causes depression and anxiety, and what solves them. He presents scientific evidence for nine different causes of depression and anxiety―and that this knowledge leads to a very different set of solutions than what we are used to hearing.

The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness

Using mindfulness, a simple yet powerful way of paying attention to your most difficult emotions and life experiences, can help you break the cycle of chronic unhappiness.

Books on Trauma and Childhood Emotional Neglect

The Body Remembers

This book is written by one of the world’s leading trauma experts and offers an understanding of the impact of trauma on the body, its physiology, the phenomenon of somatic memory and what to do about its manifestations. 

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

An astonishing amount of information on almost every aspect of trauma experience, research, interventions, and theories is presented in this book. In addition, it investigates the effects of adverse childhood attachment patterns, child abuse, and chronic and long-term abuse.

8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery: Take-Charge Strategies to Empower Your Healing

There are several key principles to trauma recovery that can help make the process safe and effective. The skills to understand and implement successful trauma healing are: mindful identification of what is helpful, recognising survival, having the option to not remember, creating a supportive inner dialogue, forgiving not being able to stop the trauma, understanding and sharing shame, finding your own recovery pace; mobilising your body, and helping others.

Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect

Life After Trauma, Second Edition: A Workbook for Healing

Full of practical strategies for coping and self-care, the book helps readers develop a solid sense of safety, self-worth, trust, and control, as well as the capacity to be close to others. The focus is on finding the way forward in life today, no matter what has happened in the past.

The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole

A practical guide for people who have experienced childhood trauma that includes reflective questions and easy to use exercises that can be implemented immediately.

Books on Abuse in Relationships

Blame Changer

The only Australian book on domestic violence by Australian psychologist Carmel O’Brien who I know personally and greatly respect. It includes practical advice for victims of domestic violence and for those who know someone who may be suffering abuse.

Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

An insightful and revealing look into the minds and motives of perpetrators, this book is written by  Lundy Bancroft who set up the first anger-management programs in the USA over 25 years ago.

The Emotionally Abused Woman: Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself

This book teaches how to recognise abusers, identify the patterns that have kept you emotionally trapped, decide whether to walk away from an abusive relationship or take a stand and stay, heal the damage of abuse by building self-esteem, and open yourself to healthy relationships.

Books on Setting Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life

While this is a Christian book, if that is not your thing you can still get a lot out of it as it is the best I have read on the topic of boundaries. Well worth persisting through some of the Christian passages.

Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin – How to Recognize and Set Healthy Boundaries

The Art Of Saying NO: How To Stand Your Ground, Reclaim Your Time And Energy, And Refuse To Be Taken For Granted (Without Feeling Guilty!)

Books on Relationships

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep

Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict

Feeling Good Together: The Secret to Making Troubled Relationships Work

Excellent book that introduces the EAR concept – this stands for Empathy, Assertiveness, and Respect in how t manage any type of communication successfully.

The Dance of Intimacy: A Woman’s Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships

I love this book which uses family systems theory and goes beyond communication techniques to explain how family dynamics intrude and affect our relationships.

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts

Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence

Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

With more than 5 million copies sold, this is an absolute classic and for good reason.

Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder

This book will help you make sense out of the chaos that a relationship with an unstable partner can bring. It teaches you how to stand up for yourself and assert your needs, defuse conflicts, and protect yourself and others from violent behaviour.

Books on Dealing with Narcissistic Partners or Parents