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Recommended reading: Self Help books

Self Help Books: a selection of suggested reading

Here is a selection of counselling self help books I regularly recommend to clients to help them address common presenting problem issues. Books can be a great source of information and insight but it can be a challenge to know which ones to read. Some self help books are better than others, what I’ve tried to do here is offer some popular books that you will find useful. There are a range of topics covered – but as many of my clients seek help over relationship difficulties, I shall start here.

The Seven Principles of Successful Marriage

John Gottman has spent many years researching relationships. His work as a couples therapist shows that when couples are able to talk through conflict they have more successful relationships. In this self-help book he offers practical strategies and insights into managing conflict better and exercises to give you the skills to overcome arguments better. If you’ve been seeking couples therapy or counselling for relationships issues this is an important read. Gottman: self help books: how to make marriage work

Mating in Captivity

Ester Perel is a psychotherapist specialising in couples therapy with many years experience of working with relationship issues – particularly intimacy. In this text she draws on those years of experience to help explain the natural patterns of intimacy and distance couples experience through the course of a relationship. The book offers insight to the reasons behind things like loss of passion between a couple, and explores the natural ebb and flow of desire within relationships. The book does offer some strategies to put intimacy back on track for those couples who find they have lost the spark. Self help books on relationships

The Luck Factor

Change how you behave to improve your luck. Wiseman offers fascinating insight into how luck is created and how we can become more successful and more ‘lucly’. It’s a practical self help book which is well written and entertaining. In it he details a series of experiments he undertook to test a theory about whether luck was born in to us or created in our behaviours. The book clearly shows that negative attitudes bring negative luck, and that moving to luck generating behaviours will bring you better luck. It’s worth the read.
Richard Wiseman: the luck factor

Who Moved My Cheese

‘Who Moved My Cheese’ is one of those self help books that is a delight to read. Beautifully written, yet simple analogy makes sense of why people can be reluctant to make necessary changes to their lives and how to overcome the blocks.
Who moved my cheese book

Men are from Mars; Women from Venus

This is one of those books that many people have heard of and few have actually read. And whilst some people believe the idea behind the book too simplistic I suggest you read it for good reason. Boys and girls are socialised differently in western culture. As a result they behave differently leading to common patterns of behaviour which I see time and time again as a couples therapist. So biology aside, it is important to recognise that men and women come to relationships with different expectations and different communications patterns. What this book offers is insight into the common patterns that damage relationships and offers practical strategies to help you get your needs met.
Gender difference in relationships

Overcome Binge Eating

Eating disorders are increasingly common these days. This book is written by one of the leading names in CBT-E (a specialised form of cognitive therapy for eating disorders). The book offers practical self help approaches to recognising and breaking dysfunctional use of food and dyscomfort eating.
overcome binge eating disorder - book

Overcoming Childhood Trauma

Childhood abuse and trauma can leave a toxic legacy but it doesn’t need to hold you prisoner throughout your life. Therapy can help you re-frame what happened and help you move on with your life. This book can be a useful adjunct to therapy to reinforce some of the strategies and help you to start letting go of internal negative messages, finally allowing yourself to move on and live a more productive life.
overcome childhood trauma book

Toxic Parents

Some families are not healthy sadly, and for those of us who grew up in these families the legacy can last well in to adulthood. Children who are raised by toxic parents can end up feeling as if they are unlovable or defective in some way. Often I see adults even in middle age still seeking parental approval despite years of rejection. This self help book about toxic parents is a useful read to help you overcome the legacy of dysfunctional family injunctions so you can start living your own life on your own terms
book about toxic parents

They F*ck You Up

“They F*ck you Up” by Oliver James is an interesting read, and although some of the ideas are outdated, if you ignore the bit about how the author thinks gay identity comes about, the rest of the book has some validity. The author draws on the family histories of famous people from Prince Charles to Paula Yates to suggest how issues in their family of origin affected their adult relationships. From this he offers ways of reflecting on the legacy of your past and how this affects your current relationships. This book does offer hope, since the message is that through insight, change becomes possible.
Oliver James they fuck you up book

Families and How To Survive Them

Written by actor John Cleese and his therapist back in the 1970’s it was a massive best seller in its time. It’s another one of those self help books that is a bit outdated now in places (but as I say, it was written in the 70’s and actually first published in 1983). However, there is still some merit in thinking about how old family rules and survival strategies still injure your adult relationships.


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