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Book Recommendations



I've read a lot of books over the past 18 months on relationships, the self and self-improvement. There's a lot of dross out there and, typically, I turn off when I read anything that's too normative or didactic. These are the ones that stood out as useful, inspired me in some way, or otherwise added to my happiness. They might work for you too.


What You Can Change and What You Can't: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement Learning to Accept Who You Are


This author has looked for empirical evidence for the effectiveness of various therapeutic and self-improvement ideas that are common in Western society. His conclusions can help you to understand what is realistically likely to succeed or fail, and so help you choose more wisely. Why waste time, money, hope and effort on an ineffective tactic?


Bizarrely, I found that reading this late at night just before bed was always followed by some pretty complex dreams. Whether or not related,I don't know.


Boundaries and Relationships: Knowing, Protecting and Enjoying the Self


Whitfield introduces some very useful concepts (such as personal boundaries, the inner child, triangulation) that raised my self-awareness, helped me to realise a lot about relationship dynamics, and so has helped me to manage, shape and enjoy adult relationships better. He does reference a deity a lot and his other published work but otherwise, the neutral tone and lack of "do this, do that" instructions appealed to me.


When I Say No, I Feel Guilty


A seminal piece of work that so many have copied. Wonderfully dated, the assertiveness techniques are taught with easy to follow examples. If you've had problems expressing yourself - even to yourself - this book is well worth a read. Having read several other assertiveness training books, I keep referring back to this one. It's the backbone of assertiveness training and can help you deal with partners, salesmen, parents, anyone in fact.


Overcoming Depression: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques


CBT is, in my view, the best talk therapy for depression and other emotional problems. This book talks you through CBT and offers step by step suggestions and examples to help you help yourself out of a depressed state.


Consolations of Philosophy


Sometimes accepting who we are is the most effective change we can make in our lives. This author has collated the ideas of some great philosophers in a very readable and supportive form. It's interesting to consider that the problems we face today part of the human experience for thousands of years. Philosophy is taken back to its core purpose here i.e. to help us live our lives.


The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing


Engel is one of the big names in self-help and her earlier works focused on helping women deal with abusive men. This work is less gender-biased and shows a maturation in her thinking. She recognises men can be abused, especially emotionally and psychologically in straight or gay relationships. This makes for a more balanced book that is (crucially in my opinion) useful for men and women. She does over-complicate this at times, but if you've ever been in a difficult relationship this book can help you to see how you and they contributed to the difficulties and how you can work your way past them.




Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life


This a dialectic behaviour therapy (DBT) workbook, which I enjoyed immensely. DBT is similar to CBT but with other concepts added and, crucially in my experience, presents a way to live with your emotions and explains what they are and how they fit into our lives. If you've ever been a highly reactive person - or someone who bottles up feelings for fear of what will happen if you express them - this is a must-read.




That's it for now. I hope you find something of use in there.

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Some people dismiss self-help books as drivel or a collection of common sense advice that they already know. But there are many books that offer valuable insight into improving one’s life. You just have to know which ones to pick up.


That’s where a psychologist can come in handy.


Below, several couples therapists share their top-rated books on relationships. Regardless of the state of your relationship, you just might find many kernels of wisdom in these resources.

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A good general self-help book I like is Susan Jeffers "Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway." It is a typical self help book at times but I it has really helped me overcome my fears and to start living a life I enjoy and is worth reading.

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