Six Books You’ll Love
If you go to the bookstore, or do a search on Amazon.com, for books about mental health, chances are you will get an overwhelming number of results. It can be hard to know where to start; which authors are legitimate, and which books are actually helpful.
As a part of my psychotherapy practice I have a good number of books in the area, everything from self-help books to journals full of research. Over the years I have found myself going back to the same books and authors again and again. I find them extremely helpful, and the feedback from my clients has been very positive. I want to share some of them with you today. I’ll put links to the books below.
For individual guidance and support, I’ll start with a book I think of as a classic – Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns. This little yellow book looks pretty unassuming, but it has a great approach to depression – identifying how distorted thinking patterns bring us down, and how to change that. He later published The Feeling Good Handbook, which is a much broader book, covering a wider range of everyday experiences and challenges. I have all of Dr. Burns’ books, and recommend them all.
I can’t recall where I found Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice by Dr. Robert Firestone and associates, but I am very glad I did. Quite often in my work clients tell me that they feel like they almost have an inner critic inside their heads, putting them down, making them anxious, telling them they are not as worthy as other people, or predicting failure. This book gets at the voice behind the distorted, negative thinking patterns in Dr. Burns’ books. Whether you find yourself plagued by hostile thoughts toward others, or if your critical inner voice interferes with your sense of yourself, this book explains what the authors call Voice Therapy, a way of dealing with how negative thinking creates shame, guilt, and affects nearly every part of our lives.
I have mentioned in other videos that probably the most commonly addressed issue I see in my office is anxiety, or has anxiety attached to it somewhere. This book, The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne, is the gold standard, for me anyway, in helping people learn practical ways to manage anxiety. It was recommended to me by a psychiatrist I work with sometimes, and I was impressed by how much it covered, from relaxation to nutrition to medication to how to meditate. Great book.
Now, onto books about relationships. I was sent Mr. Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, written by Natalie Lue from BaggageReclaim.com, for review. I have written about emotional unavailability before, as it is a big topic in relationship counseling. One of my favorite, user-friendly books, is Maybe He’s Just Not That Into You. As much as I still love that one, I think this takes the topic so much further. One thing I like is that Natalie addresses what makes someone a “Fallback Girl,” vulnerable to connecting with one unavailable guy after another. She rightfully puts some of the responsibility on the shoulders of the pursuer, which is a refreshing addition to an old topic. The book is honest, funny, practical, and it may even sting sometimes. My one wish is that it didn’t address the issue in terms of unavailable men and fallback women – this dynamic can be reversed, and it can also occur in same sex relationships. So maybe in the second edition, the author can expand a bit.
Two relationship classics are next. Hold Me Tight is written by Dr. Sue Johnson , the woman who developed Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, or EFT. EFT has been shown to produce greater results than many other types of therapy, and in this book Dr. Johnson outlines ways couples can re-establish emotional connection. It’s very much about attachment, and sort of redefining that emotional connection as normal and healthy.
Finally, much like my experience with Dr. David Burns, pretty much every book written by Dr. John Gottmann is in my library. A favorite is The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. He is a pioneer in couples therapy, has conducted extensive research on what keeps couples together and functioning at their highest potential – and conversely, what behaviors tear them apart. His approach is very down to earth and I have seen his principles work again and again in my own office. I recommend anything Dr. Gottmann has written.
There you go – I could probably add another dozen or so but this is a start for when you are seeking a self-help book on emotional wellbeing or mental health. Thanks for reading!
Feeling Good by David Burns, M.D.
The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns, M.D.
Conquer Your Inner Critical Voice by Robert W. Firestone
The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne
Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson, Ph.D.
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottmann, Ph.D.