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  • Writer's picturedrmacintire

Recommended Self-Help Books

Updated: Jan 9, 2021

Sometimes, it helps to have a good resource to talk about with a Psychologist or other professional who may be helping you. I have compiled a list of some self-help books that I recommend. This blog will be updated as I make new recommendations, so check back periodically, if you are interested.

The links to individual books go to "Bookshop," a really cool company who gives 10% to local bookshops for any purchases through the link.

The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT by Dr. Russell Harris M.D.

This is my favorite book to recommend to clients, students, and, well, really anyone who seems to be stuck in anxiety, fear, perfection, depression, or other unpleasant mood-states. The fact is, many of us grow up learning rules for living that end up confining us to various forms of misery. Often, people don't realize the hidden rules that keep us constrained until we slow down and take a good look at how much of our energy is spent on things that we don't want-- or trying to get rid of things we don't want. The Happiness Trap is a relatable, humble, and often humorous journey through the main principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a modern CBT treatment that helps individuals change their relationship to their thoughts and establish renewed vigor for their valued directions. If you struggle or feel stuck, this book is probably for you.

Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Dr. Stephen Hayes, Ph.D.

Dr. Hayes, a psychologist, professor, and prolific researcher and writer, was instrumental in the foundation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). This guide will take you through the basic philosophical tenants of ACT, challenge you to enter the paradox of acceptance, teach you basic awareness skills, and encourage you to move toward your most valued directions in life. Dr. Hayes writes with passion about ACT and shares a refreshing optimistic enthusiasm for your well-being. This step-by-step guide will help you practice ACT outside of your therapy sessions and can serve as a stand-alone reminder of the techniques you may use to get the most out of life!

3 Books by Jon Kabit-Zinn, M.D.

Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment--And Your Life is the first book by Joh Kabit-Zinn, a physician turned mindfulness guru through his work with chronic pain patients in Massachusetts. Mindfulness for beginners is a simple introduction to mindfulness, which isn't all meditation, but the book is accompanied by a guided meditation CD.

Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief: Guided Practices for Reclaiming Your Body and Your Life is another book by Dr. Zinn that focuses specifically on the use of meditation to help with chronic pain. Given that the bulk of his work has been with chronic pain patients, I'd choose this resource if you struggle with chronic pain (e.g., back, migraine, arthritis).

The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness by Dr. Zinn and a few colleagues, is a bite-sized book that can help people who struggle with depression to integrate mindfulness into their recovery. I came across this book in graduate school at the height of my 3rd year burnout. Though I was looking for resources for clients, I found it personally helpful and probably prevented the burnout from growing into a clinical condition. I found it immensely helpful and I really appreciated the gentle tone throughout the book. They also include a resource CD for meditation practice.

Stop Walking on Eggshells by Paul T. Mason, MS and Randi Kreger

Mason and Kreger team up to provide one of my favorite resources for people who have a loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder-- or have a loved one who has some very challenging emotions and behaviors. BPD is a personality disorder that often results in challenging relationship patterns and can exhaust family members, friends, and romantic partners unintentionally. While it's best that your loved one also seeks treatment (with Dialectical Behavior Therapy), sometimes, you just need a guide for how to interact with your loved on in the interim. If you work with, are friends with, have a family member with, or are in love with someone who has symptoms of BPD, this book may help you to gain perspective and help you to set boundaries that will allow for a healthier relationship.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brené Brown

Dr. Brown, a researcher and clinician in Social Work, offers a warm and transparent look at the role of vulnerability in our lives. Her style is humorous and relatable, due to her humility and willingness to be transparent. If you struggle with perfection, Dr. Brown's perspectives may help you cultivate a new style that may allow you to loosen the reins and be more confident in who you are. Her perspectives compliment the mindfulness approach quite nicely, due to the role of acceptance, transparency, and openness.

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