As a therapist I’m always keen to install a sense of independence with my clients. My background is in brief solution focused therapy because I believe that most people don’t need to spend 10-years in therapy talking about every minute aspect of their life.

I frequently look for opportunities to suggest further reading to clients, and often these are in the form of self-help books. Self-help books mainly focus on areas of popular psychology and the subject matter is broad. You can find books to help you understand your feelings or teach you how to overcome a behaviour or psychological problems. Self-help books will not work if you believe that reading them will automatically change you. There is no magic wand. In fact many clients come to me because they have read the books, know all the “stuff” but lack the knowhow to apply it.
I think that it is also important to be resonant with the author’s psychological viewpoint or methods. If you can’t understand the language or think the author is talking nonsense then his words aren’t going to have much significance to you and it may be better to find a book from a different author.

Therapy with a therapist is specific, fine-tuned to a client’s individual needs, whereas self-help books are broad and are usually written to encompass the broadest group possible. A therapist can push you forward and motivate you to make changes whereas you tend to be on your own with a book. If you are really motivated to make a change in your life, and are open to being helped in this way, self-help books can get you results as long as you recognise that you need to put in the work to get there. It also pays to suspend disbelief while you are reading a self-help book just to give you an opportunity to surrender to the process and learn new concepts rather than judging everything the author has asked you to do before you’ve even tried it.

Many people, including myself, use self-help books to pick themselves up when they are down or to help solve a problem when they have reached a seemingly unpassable dilemma. Although that is the intention of most self-help material, I find these books most helpful when we are not actually suffering with a problem, but when we are actually psychologically well and trying to improve ourselves beyond our current skills.

Imagine how productive going to a therapist would be if we didn’t just attend in reaction to a big problem, but proactively sought guidance to reach a new goal that would take us higher and farther than ever before. Life could be a much richer experience if we purposely strive to make it that way when we have the power to do so. Self-help books are sometimes referred to as “feel good” books, and what could be more productive for us than moments in our lives when we are actually feeling good? When we feel good we are much more likely to view problems through a positive filter and therefore feel fulfilled in life and able to deal with anything.

If you’ve never indulged in a self-help book before and are prepared to approach the material with an open mind you may be pleasantly surprised. I have included a few suggestions that both I and my clients have found helpful in the past. Clicking on the books image will take you to Amazon. If you decide to purchase any of these books from the links below I will get a little reward from Amazon which helps contribute to the upkeep of this site. I recommend these specific books because they have been genuinely helpful to myself and my clients and not because you need to buy them.

The title may make this book sound like it’s about making money, but it refers to “richness” as general quality of life. It may be ‘dated’ (it was literally released in 1937) but don’t let that put you off the most timeless self-help book written ever!  There are many versions of this book on Amazon, and some are probably a lot cheaper, but this book is the unabridged version (abridged versions are half the size) and is far superior to any other in print, if you can find a seller…this version is quite rare.
If you already have Think & Grow Rich, or are thinking of getting it then you’ll find this companion workbook amazing. The workbook expands on the exercises and suggestions from the original book. You don’t just have to read the words, you can learn how to apply them through activities.
A great book to help you reduce you stress. Full of little activities and thoughts that you can act on immediately to get rid of your worry.
Fear can be paralysing and this book recognises that stuckness and tries to move you forward towards making a decision.  Essentially the essence of the book is in the title so, if you’re a self-motivated person, you can save yourself a few quid and just do what the title says.  Some of my clients do feel that actually reading it is more of an inspiration than they expected.  The choice is yours.  Either way the book has inspired many a client to make significant changes in their lives.
As a therapist I have found this a very useful book. It’s probably a little better when a therapist actually guides you through the processes but you’re still going to get a lot from this even if you read it through on your own.  Don’t read it cover to cover, just read it slowly and think about what has been said.  Try and adopt the thinking strategies from each chapter into your life before ploughing through the whole book.

 

I look forward to your comments and suggestions of further reading. I will try and update the reading list with the most popular suggestions.