Psychologist's Recommended Reading List
The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris. Dr. Harris has written a number of books that are based around Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness strategies. ACT provides you with the tools to get in touch with your values, engage in committed action aligned with your values, view the world from alternative perspectives, live with awareness rather than automaticity, be present focussed, and practice non-judgmental acceptance. These six core areas are key to living a meaningful life and important to understand if harmonious living is something that you desire and are prepared to make some changes to achieve. Any of the books written by Russ Harris are worthwhile reading although this title has become a standard text we recommend to most of our clients.
The Now Effect by Elisha Goldstein, provides a unique approach to mindfulness that focusses on what Goldstein terms the 'choice point', that moment in time between thinking/feeling and acting. When paying attention to this powerful moment, you have the potential to cease living on automatic pilot. Especially useful if you have struggled in the past with reactivity or changing your behavior. Goldstein also focusses on the significance of values, becoming aware of that which gives your life a sense of meaning.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, outlines an alternive, easy to understand, perspective on living in the present moment and not being ruled by your thoughts and emotions. Eckhart Tolle has written a number of books, any of which are worth reading, however this is probably one of the most popular: many of our clients have read The Power of Now and stated that it was transformational!
Mindsight by Daniel J. Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry who has studied the brain and psychotherapy for many years outlines the essence of how changing what we do can impact on our brain. He also focuses on the importance of relationship and connection with others. Anything written by Siegel is worth reading, particularly if you are interested in understanding brain development, how your childrens brains are developing, and what you can do to maximise brain development and potential.
Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Jon Kabat-Zin was probably the originator for applying mindfulness strategies to health having initially designed a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program for people living with cancer. This book provides insight into the biopsychosocial aspect of stress and outlines a management plan that uses mindfulness, yoga and other similar approaches. Kabat-Zinn has written many beautiful books describing mindfulness practice although this title is still my favourite and is a valuable handbook outlining everything you need to know about recovering your health.
Rewire Your Brain Written by John B Arden, this book utilises the latest neuroscience research to help you to understand what it means to have a 'plastic' brain and how to maximise the potential of your brain.
The Mind & The Brain by Jeffrey M. Schwartz and Sharon Begley, this is one of my all-time favorites as it uses scientific research to demonstrate the power of your mind. These authors teach you how your mind has the potential to shape your brain!
Train Your Mind Change Your Brain by Sharon Begley, a well-written easy to read book outlining the links between mindfulness and neuroplasticity, the content is along similar lines to that of the book listed directly above.
Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, this author talks about the ancient negativity bias that the brain naturally uses to function and how it has the potential to become an automatic way of operating in the world. Thankfully he provides you with tips on how to alter the bias of your brain.
Soft-wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity can Change Your Life by Michael Merzenich, a book that is not always an 'easy' read as there is some terminology involved, it is thoroughly worth it if you can persevere. Merzenich again uses cutting edge neuroscience to teach you how to maximise the potential of your brain.
At East Qld Counselling & Psychology we specialise in marriage and relationship counselling and usually would ask our clients to read the titles listed below:
ACT with Love by Russ Harris, a well written, easy to read book outlining how Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and mindfulness strategies can assist couple’s to improve their relationships. A standard text for our clients accessing relationship counselling.
Love is Never Enough by Aaron T. Beck. Dr. Beck is the pioneer of Cognitive Therapy and this book is aimed at couples who wish to improve their relationships by understanding how perceptions and thought processes can be automatically negative and interfere in your appraisal of your partner. Learning to see each other as members of the same team rather than adversaries is a great starting point!
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman. Dr. Gottman is another author who has written many helpful books on how to improve relationships, any of them are worth reading, this title is another standard text recommended to our couples in marriage counselling.
The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet G. Lerner, Dr Lerner has written a number of books that focus on the dynamics between people which essentially originate in your early family experiences. Here Lerner explains how we can heal ourselves and manage these dynamics differently, anything written by her is worth reading.
The Mindful Way through Depression by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, & Jon Kabat-Zinn, this unique book takes you through a program which combines both mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy to help you to learn how to manage depression. Highly recomended and if you purchase the paperback edition it comes with a brilliant CD containing guided meditations spoken by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate, a holistic and insightful look at addiction, lots of personal stories throughout highlighting Mate's experience working alongside people struggling with addiction.
While this title is the only one we have listed which specifically focuses on stress many of the other books listed above under 'Mindfulness' will provide you with the tools to manage stress.
Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames by Thich Nhat Hanh, a beautiful unusual book that teaches you how to handle your anger, to take care of it rather than letting it take care of you. Written from a Buddhist perspective the book has pearls of wisdom sprinkled across it's pages.
Living Beyond Your Pain by Joanne Dahl & Tobias Lundgren, there is a well known saying "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional", this book teaches you how to reduce the suffering that frequently accompanies chronic pain or injury. This book will provide you with a step by step program to assist you to break the cycle of pain.
Mindfulness for Health by Vidyamala Burch & Danny Penman, each of these authors has experienced their own journey through pain. This book is a beautifully written guide providing you with practices that you can apply in your daily life to ease the suffering and cope with chronic pain and injury.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:
Change Your Thinking by Sarah Edelman. Dr. Edelman is an Australian author and her book is a one-stop handbook if you are new to CBT and want to understand the basics or if you have been using CBT in a specific area of your life and would like to learn how to apply the techniques more generally. Another title that is often recommended to our clients.
Maintain Your Brain Dr Michael J Valenzuela, a terrific book well worth reading if you have an interest in remaining dementia free! Valenzuela was involved in the Brainy App, an app that you can download onto your mobile app or tablet device to encourage you to practice brain sustaining habits. Valenzuela's latest book provides you with an understanding of dementia, why scientists believe it occurs, and what you can personally do to prevent dementia affecting you while improving your mind and body at the same time. Already 50% of us have someone within our family living with dementia and predictions are that this disease will become the leading cause of death in Australia if we don't change our lifestyle habits fast.
Ageing with Grace by David Snowdon, a beautifully researched and well written book about a scientific study of a unique population of 678 Catholic sisters and dementia. Yes, it was written some time ago however it is still well worth reading if you are interested in learning more about Alzheimers disease and just because it is on many levels a heart warming story.
In Search of My Father by Helena Popovic, an australian GP who has written a personal and practical book about her journey with her father who was diagnosed with dementia. A fantastic, easy to read guide if you are caring for a family member or a friend with dementia, she has broken the book down into small, simple sections so that if you are time poor you can dip in anywhere.