The most recommended therapy books

Who picked these books? Meet our 13 experts.

13 authors created a book list connected to therapy, and here are their favorite therapy books.
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Book cover of War and the Soul: Healing Our Nation's Veterans from Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder

Ryan Smithson Author Of Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-Year-Old GI

From my list on turning PTSD into post-traumatic growth.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an equipment operator for the Army Corps of Engineers, I didn’t serve in a “combat” role, per se, but the engineers go wherever the military needs things built, so we were often repairing IED damage, hauling supplies outside the wire, or fortifying bases so the infantry, cavalry, etc. could do their job effectively. Coming home, I owe a lot of my successful reintegration to my writing and the many people who encouraged me to share it with the world. Now with my Master of Arts in English, I’ve taught college courses on military culture, and I present for veteran art groups, writing workshops, and high schools and colleges around the country.

Ryan's book list on turning PTSD into post-traumatic growth

Ryan Smithson Why did Ryan love this book?

As a young psychologist during the Vietnam War, Edward Tick served his country not by enlisting himself but through tireless efforts to help those who returned from war traumatized. This was the first book that helped me understand that posttraumatic stress is not just some “disorder” that I’d suffer from forever. Rather, it is simply the human mind’s normal—probably unavoidable—response to combat, and, Tick argues, there is also such a thing as posttraumatic growth. He examines how ancient and modern societies train their warrior classes, noting that the ritualistic civilian-to-soldier process (we’d call it “boot camp” or “basic training”) often lacks a necessary counterpart today: that is, a formal soldier-to-civilian process, and this only compounds the issues of PTSD and the American military-civilian divide.

By Edward Tick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked War and the Soul as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

War and PTSD are on the public's mind as news stories regularly describe insurgency attacks in Iraq and paint grim portraits of the lives of returning soldiers afflicted with PTSD. These vets have recurrent nightmares and problems with intimacy, can’t sustain jobs or relationships, and won’t leave home, imagining “the enemy” is everywhere. Dr. Edward Tick has spent decades developing healing techniques so effective that clinicians, clergy, spiritual leaders, and veterans’ organizations all over the country are studying them. This book, presented here in an audio version, shows that healing depends on our understanding of PTSD not as a mere…


Book cover of Adverse Reactions

David Healy Author Of Shipwreck of the Singular: Healthcare's Castaways

From my list on medical treatments gone wrong.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been researching treatment harms for 3 decades and founded RxISK.org in 2012, now an important site for people to report these harms. They’ve been reporting in their thousands often in personal accounts that feature health service gaslighting. During these years, our treatments have become a leading cause of mortality and morbidity, the time it takes to recognize harms has been getting longer, and our medication burdens heavier. We have a health crisis that parallels the climate crisis. Both Green parties and Greta Thunberg’s generation are turning a blind eye to the health chemicals central to this. We need to understand what is going wrong and turn it around.   

David's book list on medical treatments gone wrong

David Healy Why did David love this book?

Adverse Reactions opens with a grim story about a medical father who has given chloramphenicol, an apparently safe drug, to his son and watches him die a slow and agonizing death. The father's efforts to make sure this cannot happen again are extraordinary. Almost single-handedly he lays the basis for the drug safety systems we now have. At the same time, the drug company that made chloramphenicol invented the playbook which means these safety systems don’t work and prescription drug-induced death may now be the commonest form of death there is.    

By Thomas Maeder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Adverse Reactions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author of Children of Psychiatrists recreates one of the largest and most controversial investigations in medical history, presenting the story behind Cholramphenicol, a widely-used antibiotic that resulted in hundreds of deaths, innumerable lawsuits, and countless FDA actions.


Book cover of Integrative Systemic Therapy: Metaframeworks for Problem Solving With Individuals, Couples, and Families

Peter Fraenkel Author Of Last Chance Couple Therapy: Bringing Relationships Back from the Brink

From my list on how to improve couple and family relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Ph.D. clinical psychologist and tenured associate professor at The City College of New York, where I teach couple and family therapy, multicultural issues in psychotherapy, and research methods. I've conducted research on a couple's distress prevention program. I’ve been a licensed therapist for 30+ years working primarily with “last chance couples” – those on the brink of dissolving their relationship. I attended the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston University, where I received my B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy, and obtained my doctorate at Duke University. I have also been on the faculty of Bellevue Hospital/NYU Medical Center, and the Ackerman Institute for the Family. I lecture internationally.

Peter's book list on how to improve couple and family relationships

Peter Fraenkel Why did Peter love this book?

The field of couple and family therapy started in the 1950s and led to several important, competing clinical theories for helping families and couples. 

However, those of us in the field regarded the introduction of systemic thinking as more than just a new therapeutic modality – we heralded it as a potential revolution in understanding and treating psychological and psychiatric issues. 

In systems theory, an individual’s emotional struggles and problematic behavior are viewed as due not only to “intrapsychic” conflicts, deficits in learning emotional- and behavioral-coping skills, and brain biology, but may affect and be affected by patterns of interaction in their intimate couple and family relationships. 

For instance, a partner’s depression may be in part caused by marital conflict and may serve to keep the other partner in the marriage (because he or she doesn’t want to abandon their depressed partner); likewise, a child’s misbehavior may redirect the parents’…

By William M. Pinsof, Douglas Breunlin, William Russell , Jay L. Lebow , Anthony L. Chambers , Cheryl Rampage

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Integrative Systemic Therapy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Integrative Systemic Therapy (IST) provides a comprehensive and unifying framework for individual, couple, and family therapy. The book guides practitioners to use concepts and strategies from specific models of therapy--behavioral, analytic, emotion focused, and so on--with a set of practical and flexible guidelines for what to do with whom, and when to do it. The book also offers a treasure trove of case examples that illustrate how therapists can use IST to treat a wide variety of challenging problems.


Book cover of DBT Skills Training Manual

Sherman Alexie Author Of You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir

From my list on understanding bipolar disorder.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an enrolled member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians. I grew up in Wellpinit, Washington, on the Spokane Indian Reservation. In 2010, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 Disorder but I now believe that I’ve struggled with the disorder since childhood. I'm a novelist, poet, short fiction writer, and filmmaker. I've won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature and the PEN Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Sherman's book list on understanding bipolar disorder

Sherman Alexie Why did Sherman love this book?

After years of being misdiagnosed and wrongly medicated, and after years of living in denial about my bipolar disorder, I began Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) in 2017. And it saved my life. Linehan has created an evidence-based treatment program that has taught me mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance. Frankly speaking, I think DBT should be taught in elementary and high schools.

By Marsha M. Linehan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked DBT Skills Training Manual as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Marsha M. Linehan--the developer of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)--this comprehensive resource provides vital tools for implementing DBT skills training. The reproducible teaching notes, handouts, and worksheets used for over two decades by hundreds of thousands of practitioners have been significantly revised and expanded to reflect important research and clinical advances. The book gives complete instructions for orienting clients to DBT, plus teaching notes for the full range of mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance skills. Handouts and worksheets are not included in the book; purchasers get access to a Web page where they can download and print…


Book cover of The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis: Its Role in Medicine, Politics, Science, and Culture

Robyn Griggs Lawrence Author Of The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook: Feel-Good Edibles, from Tinctures and Cocktails to Entrées and Desserts

From my list on for people who are curious about cannabis.

Why am I passionate about this?

I discovered cannabis as good medicine in 2009, when my gynecologist recommended it for severe dysmenorrhea. When I couldn’t find a cookbook offering healthy, sophisticated cannabis-infused recipes, I decided to write one. As an amazing group of cannabis chefs taught me how to cook with cannabis and shared their recipes, I fell in love with the plant as well as the open-hearted community that supports it. I followed the Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook, published in 2015, with Pot in Pans: A History of Eating Cannabis, a textbook tracing the plant’s culinary history to ancient Persian and India, in 2019. I’ve learned how to grow my own, and I write regularly about cannabis trends and liberation.

Robyn's book list on for people who are curious about cannabis

Robyn Griggs Lawrence Why did Robyn love this book?

There’s so much to love about this book, a comprehensive guide with information from leading experts like Dr. Lester Grinspoon and Dr. Andrew Weil. Written by a leading psychiatrist, it covers everything from the physiological and psychological effects of cannabis to the politics surrounding its vilification and its re-emergence as medicine. This book was a breakthrough when it was published in 2010—before adult use had been legalized anywhere—and it has become a classic.

By Julie Holland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pot Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Exploring the role of cannabis in medicine, politics, history, and society, The Pot Bookoffers a compendium of the most up-to-date information and scientific research on marijuana from leading experts, including Lester Grinspoon, M.D., Rick Doblin, Ph.D., Allen St. Pierre (NORML), and Raphael Mechoulam. Also included are interviews with Michael Pollan, Andrew Weil, M.D., and Tommy Chong as well as a pot dealer and a farmer who grows for the U.S. Government. Encompassing the broad spectrum of marijuana knowledge from stoner customs to scientific research, this book investigates the top ten myths of marijuana; its physiological and psychological effects; its risks;…


Book cover of Laughter Therapy: How to Laugh About Everything in Your Life That Isn't Really Funny

Allen Klein Author Of The Healing Power of Humor: Techniques for Getting Through Loss, Setbacks, Upsets, Disappointments, Difficulties, Trials, Tribulations, and All That Not-So-Funny Stuff

From my list on therapeutic humor & laughter.

Why am I passionate about this?

Allen Klein is the world’s only “Jollytologist®”. Through his books, workshops, and keynote speeches, for the past 30-plus years, he has been showing audiences worldwide how to use humor and positivity to deal with life’s not-so-funny stuff. He is a pioneer in the therapeutic humor field and a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. Comedian Jerry Lewis has said that Klein is “a noble and vital force watching over the human condition.”

Allen's book list on therapeutic humor & laughter

Allen Klein Why did Allen love this book?

The first part of this book provides a theoretical framework for understanding laughter and why it is cathartic. The second part contains 25 ways to help you laugh or relearn to laugh in order to maximize healing. As the subtitle states, it will show you How to Laugh About Everything in Your Life That Isn't Really Funny.

By Annette Goodheart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Laughter Therapy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Laughter Therapy is a two-part book. Part one is a theoretical framework for understanding laughter and other forms of catharsis. Included are case studies and examples of laughter. Part one and two are liberally sprinkled with appropriate quotes. Part two contains 25 ways to help yourself laugh and how to relearn to laugh without ridicule in order to maximize healing and connection with ourselves, each other and the universe.


Book cover of The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients

Will Meyerhofer Author Of Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

From my list on Irvin Yalom.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychotherapist, with a private practice, and the author of several books. Like me, Yalom is a psychotherapist as well as an author, and the best of his writing takes place in that heightened zone where emotions seem to crackle because two people are sustaining an authentic contact, actually being “there” with one another – like the very best, life-changing moments in psychotherapy. I dreamt last night about Irvin Yalom. So yeah, Yalom can get into your head, in a good way.

Will's book list on Irvin Yalom

Will Meyerhofer Why did Will love this book?

Probably the best place to start with Yalom, this book is a must-read for therapists, and I recommend it regularly to anyone getting started in the business, or even contemplating pursuing a career in psychotherapy. The hardest guide to write about psychotherapy is the book about “technique” - not the highfalutin theory laced with opaque language book, but the hands-on, “this is what you say when someone says this” or “here's what you can do when you run into someone in this sort of situation” book.  This is that book, and only Yalom, with his immense experience and humility, could pull off this slender guide, packed with the wisdom of decades of working, alone, in a room with another human being in pain.  I return to this book regularly and always find something new and useful in his words.

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gift of Therapy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Gift of Therapy is the new book from the bestselling author of Love's Executioner. The culmination of master psychiatrist Dr Irvin Yalom's forty-five years' work as a therapist, this book illustrates through real case studies how patients and therapists alike can get the most out of therapy. Presented as eighty-five 'tips' for 'beginner therapists', Yalom shares his own fresh approach and the insights he has gained while treating his patients. Personal, and sometimes provocative, Yalom includes some unorthodox suggestions: - Let the patient matter to you - Acknowledge your errors - Create a new therapy for each patient -…


Book cover of The Autistic Survival Guide to Therapy

Sarah Hendrickx Author Of Women and Girls on the Autism Spectrum: Understanding Life Experiences from Early Childhood to Old Age

From my list on autistic women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an autistic female myself and have worked in the field of autism for 20 years. I’ve written several books on the subject of autism, have an MA in Autism and delivered many hundreds of conference presentations (several of which can be found on Youtube). Frankly, I know my stuff as I live and breathe the world of autistic women. I have an autistic daughter, all of my female friends are autistic and I have diagnosed hundreds of females as autistic.

Sarah's book list on autistic women

Sarah Hendrickx Why did Sarah love this book?

Steph has a way with words, that will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

Her survival guide to therapy takes us on a journey that I entirely identify with – trying to find therapy for all of our ‘problems’ from therapists who don’t really get it. I learned so much (and know now what to do) and enjoyed myself along the way.

By Steph Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Autistic Survival Guide to Therapy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This is the book that would've saved me nine different therapists, decades of self-analysis, thousands of pounds, twelve different doctors and untold amounts of pain, frustration and trauma - in spending a lifetime looking for the right answers in the wrong places I've become an accidental expert."

In this candid, witty and insightful exploration into therapy, Steph Jones uses her professional and lived experiences as a late diagnosed autistic woman and therapist, as well as consulting therapists from across the world and tapping into the autistic community, to create the ultimate autistic survival guide to therapy.

Steph confronts the statistics,…


Book cover of The Logic of Care: Health and the Problem of Patient Choice

David Healy Author Of Children of the Cure: Missing Data, Lost Lives and Antidepressants

From my list on how medicine should be.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been researching treatment harms for 3 decades and founded RxISK.org in 2012, now an important site for people to report these harms. They’ve been reporting in their thousands often in personal accounts that feature health service gaslighting. During these years, our treatments have become a leading cause of mortality and morbidity, the time it takes to recognize harms has been getting longer, and our medication burdens heavier. We have a health crisis that parallels the climate crisis. Both Green parties and Greta Thunberg’s generation are turning a blind eye to the health chemicals central to this. We need to understand what is going wrong and turn it around.   

David's book list on how medicine should be

David Healy Why did David love this book?

Every book by Annemarie Mol is good but The Logic of Care is simply the best book on what medicine should be. It is short, deceptively simple but leaves no hiding places. Everyone will be able to understand it in the same way from a teenager up through a Professor of Medicine to a Minister for Health but don’t expect any Ministers to admit to reading it any time soon. Mol outlines a relationship-based rather than technology-based medicine. How do we ensure medical techniques help us to live the lives we want to live rather than force us to live lives that suit the companies that make the technologies want us to live? How do we care for people rather than service them?

By Annemarie Mol,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Logic of Care as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**Shortlisted for the BSA Sociology of Health and Illness Book Prize 2010**

What is good care? In this innovative and compelling book, Annemarie Mol argues that good care has little to do with 'patient choice' and, therefore, creating more opportunities for patient choice will not improve health care.

Although it is possible to treat people who seek professional help as customers or citizens, Mol argues that this undermines ways of thinking and acting crucial to health care. Illustrating the discussion with examples from diabetes clinics and diabetes self care, the book presents the 'logic of care' in a step by…


Book cover of The New Language of Toys: Teaching Communication Skills to Children with Special Needs, a Guide for Parents and Teachers

Lisa F. Geng Author Of The Late Talker

From my list on for parents who have a child with apraxia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started as a designer, patented inventor, and creator in the fashion, toy, and film industries, but after the early diagnosis of my young children on the spectrum, both “late talkers,” diagnosed with multiple disorders including apraxia, I entered the world of nonprofit, research, and advocacy. I am the founder of the nonprofit Cherab Foundation where I've been outreaching for over twenty years. I've hosted numerous conferences including the first for apraxia overseen by a medical director from NIH who reviewed my protocol – the use of fish oils as a therapeutic intervention, published research on my patented nutritional intervention IQed Smart Nutrition, and co-authored the book The Late Talker to share my proven protocol and help others achieve the best possible results for their communication impaired children.

Lisa's book list on for parents who have a child with apraxia

Lisa F. Geng Why did Lisa love this book?

When you have a child with a severe communication impairment, they probably are in therapy almost every day of their life. Too often, I’ve found parents forget children with special needs are still children.  While appropriate speech therapy is critical for apraxia, children learn through play, and too often the importance of play is underestimated. What I love about The New Language of Toys is it shows us, the parents (as well as therapists) how to take typical toys found around the house to use as fun therapy tools to help bring your child a voice.  

 I used to work in toy design prior to being a parent so being able to use toys as therapy for speech is amazing. In addition, it helps the child’s self-esteem when you can teach them how to play, something that doesn’t always come naturally to a percentage of children with special needs. This…

By Sue Schwartz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The New Language of Toys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.