A well-written book can spark priceless life-changing insights. I find that reading is an invaluable supplement to counseling. I almost always recommend at least one book to each of my clients as an additional guide along the road of change.
No time to read? Pick up the audio version to listen in your car or while you do laundry! Trust me, these gems are worth it.
I've compiled this list of my favorite books over years of working with clients and hearing their feedback about what has helped them.
7 Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman, Psy D. - All couples should read this book on how to build and maintain a healthy relationship and manage conflict effectively. Don't be daunted by the title - you don't have to be married to gain benefit from this book.
After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful by Janis A. Spring- If you are in a relationship affected by infidelity - physical, emotional, or financial - this book can help with gaining perspective on your partner's thoughts, emotions, and motives. It looks at the affair from both sides. Whether you are staying together or splitting up, I recommend both partners read this when an affair has occurred.
Not "Just Friends": Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity by Shirley P. Glass - I often hear from clients about friendships on social media and other forms of online communication evolving into an unintended relationship. Relationships can snowball into a full-blown affair quickly and without much awareness. This book addresses this all-too-common occurrence, and helps with ideas to prevent it and heal from it.
Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You by Susan Forward, Ph.D. -This is a great read for those dealing with others in their life who continually cross their boundaries. I've seen this book hit home for those with abusive partners, bully bosses, and overbearing parents. This book can open your eyes to the patterns that are happening and help you work to shift from being a victim of manipulation.
Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul Mason, MS - When I suspect that one of my clients is being affected by someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, I almost immediately suggest this book to them. Interacting with someone with this disorder can be an extremely emotional and disorienting experience. This book provides an anchor and guidance for maintaining strong boundaries necessary to navigate this type of relationship.
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find - and Keep - Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller - Clients often voice frustration about repeating patterns in relationships. They find they are constantly meeting men who are distant and unavailable. Or they seem to sabotage relationships that are going well because they get scared. This books makes sense of this behavior. It helps to provide insight into partner's sometimes baffling behaviors.
Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie - So many of us have strong codependent tendencies, but don't realize it. While I hate the negative stigma that comes with the word "codependent," I do think it can be so helpful to define the dysfunction that occurs with it. This book is especially great for partners or addicts to gain insight into how they are participating in their partner's addiction.
Anxiety and Panic
10 Simple Solutions to Panic: How to Overcome Panic Attacks, Calm Physical Symptoms, and Reclaim Your Life by Martin Antony - This is a fast and easy read that is great for anyone experiencing panic attacks. I often hear clients wondering what causes their panic attacks. This book helps to explain that. It looks at what you can do with your thoughts, behaviors, and biology to stop panic in its tracks.
DARE: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks by Barry McDonaugh - This book takes an approach of accepting your anxiety and panic, rather than trying to fight it. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it really does work. The book has a clear, step-by-step guide to dealing with anxiety.
I Don't Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression by Terrence Real - A great read for understanding how different depression looks in men. Many men I meet don't realize they are depressed, and show up with issues related to that depression - such as passionless marriages and alcohol abuse. I recommend this book for women who are living with men who are depressed, or men who are depressed themselves.
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown - Shame effects all of us. It often prevents us from being vulnerable and authentic in relationships. Shame plays a role in addictions, eating disorders, codependency, and more. Any of Brene Brown's books or TED Talks are worthwhile.