Recently, I’ve been exploring various books that might give new therapists some of what they didn’t get in graduate school – less theory and more insight into what it’s really like to be a practicing therapist.
Below are a few of the books that have been recommended to counsellors and psychotherapists by other therapists in the profession.
The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients by Irvin D. Yalom
This book offers 85 chapters and each consists of no more than a few pages. Based on his 45 years of clinical experience, Yalom addressed many practical issues that all therapists have encountered and struggled with, providing readers with profound insight into the therapeutic process.
On Being a Therapist by Jeffrey A. Kottler
“Kottler talks about situations therapists encounter that I found very relatable” says Samantha Greene, a LCSW in private practice from Plano, TX. Being able to relate to the same situations with clients in her own practice, Samantha feels the book “normalizes the experiences therapists may have while treating clients and really encouraged me to continue my professional and personal growth,” she said.
Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom
Another book by Yalom, Love’s Executioner is an account of real interactions he had with clients (edited for confidentiality of course). Many of the therapists I asked recommended this book, feeling that it speaks to the insights and relational moments that are at the core of our profession.
The Healing Path: How the Hurts in Your Past Can Lead You to a More Abundant Life by Dan B. Allender
Although not written specifically for therapists, Tamara Lynn-Hanna Feightner, LPC, says that it shaped her framework for counselling. The Healing Path “normalized the wounded heart, acknowledged the ramifications of betrayal, and talked about hope as risky, brave, and not a simple Hallmark card with a bow on it” The content in this book “confirmed for me the beauty in the resiliency of the human spirit and grace for being a glorious mess – the goal is the journey, not perfection or destination of having arrived,” she said.
Creativity as Co-Therapist: The Practitioner’s Guide to the Art of Psychotherapy by Lisa Mitchell
Joy Elizabeth recommends this book as she says it “speaks to training your brain to get outside the box and be a more present, effective therapist.” Viewing therapy as an art form, this book helps therapists to become more authentic, flexible and to trust in the therapeutic process.
Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky and Connie Burk
Lauren Gourley, LCSW, believes that Trauma Stewardship should be “mandatory reading” for anyone who has experienced trauma or works with people who have experienced trauma. The author offers readers practical ways to help prevent secondary trauma, paths for healing and discusses the importance of self-care.
The titles listed above are just a starting point. I invite you to explore the many books that are specifically written to normalize and speak to the unique experiences of therapists.
I’d love to hear what your favorite books are in the comments below.
Natasha Minor, MA, CCC, RP provides counselling and psychotherapy in London Ontario where she specializes in helping overwhelmed women find their voice and believe in their worth so they can create a more authentic, satisfying life.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA