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Book Recommendations From A Therapist

Book Recommendations from a Therapist

I love self-help and self-improvement books.

The kids are out of school. I’m preparing for my summer vacation. That means it’s time to compile a summer reading list. If self-help books are part of your summer reading list, these are not to be missed!

Below are seven self-help or psychology books that I find myself recommending over and over.


Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller.

You may be familiar with attachment theory, the idea that your behavior in relationships is based on the type of attachment – secure, anxious, or avoidant – that you established with your primary caretaker as a baby. Levine and Heller apply this science to adult romantic relationships resulting in a helpful new way of understanding your marriage or dating relationships. Once you understand your own attachment style and that of your partner, you can learn how to create a stronger relationship. I found this book especially useful to those with an anxious attachment style and those with repeated break-ups or chaotic relationships. The authors provide actionable ideas for improving your relationships given your particular attachment style.


The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman.

This is an obvious choice for couples wanting a deeper connection. But even if you aren’t currently in a relationship, you’ll gain a greater understanding of the ways you want to be loved and how you love others. It is a straightforward and easy read. It does have some Christian references. Chapman has expanded from the original 5 Love Languages to include versions for children, teens, men, and singles.


Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself  by Melody Beattie.

If you are wondering whether you’re codependent or struggling with a loved one’s addiction or mental health problem, this is the book for you. Melody Beattie is one of the foremost experts on codependency, who draws on her own experiences as she explains how to set boundaries and detach with compassion. It’s a book I come back to over and over again for accountability and hope.


The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principals of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor.

I was first introduced to Shawn Achor’s work through his popular Ted Talk.  Achor challenges conventional wisdom about happiness with his research that shows that happiness leads to success not the other way around. The Happiness Advantage will change the way you work (both at the office and at home). It’s an interesting and insightful look into why we think and behave the way we do. It’s also full of practical advice for living a happier and more productive life. I especially like the 20 second rule.


Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff

The concept of self-compassion has become popular largely due to Dr. Neff’s research and book. She shares her own personal stories, struggles, and transformation through self-compassion, making for an authentic read. Self-Compassion also contains numerous exercises that you can use to develop your own practice of  being kind to yourself.


The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are  by Brene Brown

This was the first book by Brene Brown that I read. And I absolutely loved it! Brown has since written several other best selling books that are all fantastic as well. But The Gifts of Imperfection remains one of my favorites. It spoke so honestly to me about our struggles with self-worth and feelings of inadequacy. Brown shows us that we are worthy, even in our imperfection. I immediately started recommending it to clients and friends.


Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life by Judith Orloff

Dr. Orloff takes a holistic approach to releasing negative emotions and building positive ones. The book includes chapters on transforming depression, anxiety, jealousy, and loneliness. But the real strength of Emotional Freedom is in Orloff’s personal experience as a highly empathic and intuitive person. She validates and provides useful strategies to help you guard against all that is toxic and draining, while simultaneously building self-esteem and positive energy.

I hope you’ll make time to read some of these excellent books!


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Photo: mamamia05 / Flickr
©Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved.

Book Recommendations From A Therapist

Sharon Martin, LCSW

Sharon Martin is a licensed psychotherapist and codependency expert practicing in San Jose, CA. She is the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism: Evidence-Based Skills to Help You Let Go of Self-Criticism, Build Self-Esteem, and Find Balance and several ebooks including Navigating the Codependency Maze.  

To learn more, visit Sharon's website. And please sign-up for free access to her resource library HERE (worksheets, tips, meditations, and resources for healing codependency, perfectionism, anxiety and more).

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APA Reference
Martin, S. (2018). Book Recommendations From A Therapist. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 9, 2020, from


Last updated: 7 Jan 2018
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.