In my role as a mental health counselor it is common for me to recommend books to my clients, a practice called bibliotherapy. It can be an effective part of a treatment plan, since it continues a client’s participation in the therapeutic process outside of scheduled appointments. I am intentional in what I recommend, e.g. tailoring my recommendations to each individual client’s goals. Here are a few books that I recommend frequently to almost all of my clients who are interested in reading for growth and healing:
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown: Almost everyone has heard of Brene Brown, read her books or seen her Ted Talk. If you haven’t, The Gifts of Imperfection is a great place to start. Many of us struggle with perfectionism and a feeling of not being enough. Brown offers sound advice on how to live wholehearted and authentic lives. Several people have said it has changed their lives.
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz: I read this book every couple of years. The second agreement, don’t take anything personally, is a gem that can truly free a person from the mistaken belief that they are the cause of some negative external event, known in psychology parlance as personalization. This is a quick, easy read with powerful food for thought. Almost anyone can benefit from this little book.
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle: This book is not a psychology book, nor is it a self-help book. Instead it is beautifully written book about a priest’s work with gangs in the inner city of Los Angeles. You don’t have to be a person of faith to benefit from this book, but it is definitely told from a perspective of faith. The themes of shame, compassion and unconditional love are universal, however. This book is rich in teachings on self-compassion and compassion for others. “Sometimes resilience arrives in the moment you discover your own unshakeable goodness…And when that happens, we begin to foster tenderness for our own human predicament. A spacious and undefended heart finds room for everything you are and carves space for everybody else.”
Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton: Melton’s memoir is a funny, insightful book by a woman who is not afraid to be a truth teller. Melton is honest, courageous, and a crusader for being perfectly imperfect. I highly recommend this book for women who struggle with perfectionism and with difficulty letting themselves off the hook.
This is not an exhaustive list. There are too many great books to recommend all in one post. I will periodically blog about my bibliotherapy recommendations. I also suggest to my clients and to anyone who enjoys reading to read for pleasure. Sometimes self-help can come in the form of a fluffy novel or a murder mystery.
What books have been healing or helpful for you?