Self help books (bibliotherapy)

List of self-help books (bibliotherapy) from alcohol to worry

This list of self help books may help you in the understanding of different issues. In this time of lockdown, you might decide to do a bit of reading on some of them. Of course therapists like myself are also available on the telephone and via video platforms (like Skype or Face Time etc) in case you would prefer to talk with someone.

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This list is partially taken from one drawn up by a colleague who passed it on to me several years ago. I have updated the editions and inserted some new or freshly discovered books, adding a few comments [in square brackets].

Alcohol

Let’s Drink to Your Health! (A Self Help Guide to Sensible Drinking) by Nick Heather and Ian Robertson (revised edition 1996). [Witty, well written with plenty of factual stuff and to the point].

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray 2017. [A very good read about the author’s journey towards sobriety. Extremely well researched with many facts and citations. This book has eclipsed the one above for me. However the above book was excellent too – and shorter, so if you want the facts alone, try the above book!].

Anger

Overcoming Irritability and Anger (2nd Edition): A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques by Will Davies (2016)

Anger Management: The Complete Guide to Overcome Your Anger and Stress Using the Mindfulness Approach by Simon Grant (2020) [Only 12 reviews on a well-known book seller at time of writing this, but all good so far].

Managing Anger: Simple Steps to Dealing with Frustration and Threat by Gael Lindenfield (2000) [Good rating with a well-known book seller]

Anorexia Nervosa

Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa by Dr Christopher Freeman (2009) [“the first self-help book based on cognitive behavioural therapy to counter this most notorious and widespread of eating disorders.” – well-known bookseller]

Anxiety

Coping with Anxiety and Depression by Shirley Trickett, (1996) [This book is just over 100 pages and is an easy read. The book considers many different causes of anxiety and depression to help you understand where it’s coming from. The author shows how this awareness in turn helps you to learn how to deal with the issues].

Counselling for Anxiety Problems by Diana Sanders & Frank Wills (2003) [It’s not a self-help book really. It is for therapists, but is an excellent book and, if you’re prepared to read through it, it helps you really understand different types of anxiety and offers good strategies for clients wishing to come to terms with this issue.]

Overcoming Anxiety by Helen Kennerley (2014). [This book has good reviews on a well-known book seller site. Here is one quote from the site. “Fully updated edition of the bestselling self-help book, now recommended on the national Books on Prescription scheme.”]

Assertiveness

Woman in Your Own Right by Anne Dickson, (1982 + revised 30th anniversary edition, 2012). [A classic. I have read it and think that anyone who feels a bit put down or lacking in confidence could benefit. (One of highest review ratings I’ve seen on a well-known book seller – 4.8)].

Bereavement

Living with Loss by Liz McNeill Taylor (2009) [Good reviews. In book description from a well-known book seller: “Liz McNeill Taylor’s husband died suddenly at just forty-three. Drawing mainly on her own experience of loss, she deals with the subject of bereavement with a unique honesty and clarity.“]

Binge Eating Disorder and Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating by Peter Cooper (1993). [Described as “highly acclaimed” by a well-known book seller online]

Overcoming Binge Eating by Chris Fairburn (1995) [This book is included as it was winner of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) Self-Help Seal of Merit]

Getting Better Bit(e) by Bit(e) by Ulrike Schmidt and Janet Treasure (1993) [An easy read with many examples]

Confidence

Boost Your Confidence. A step-by-step Guide to a New You: Improving Self-Esteem Step-by-Step by Melanie Fennell (2011). [only slightly more recent than ‘Ultimate Confidence’ (below) but smaller and has more book marks in it so could be good! I’ll have another read. If anyone reads it and likes it, please send me an email and remind me of the good points!]

Emotional Confidence: Simple Steps to Build your Confidence by Gael Lindenfield (2014) [This book describes a range of emotions and how best to deal with them to achieve a happy successful life]

Ultimate Confidence The Secrets to Feeling Great About Yourself Every Day by Marisa Peer (2009). [This is a very good book which comes with free CD. Definitely worth working on].

Depression

Overcoming Depression by Paul Gilbert (2000). [written by Professor P. Gilbert of Derby University, an excellent work for understanding depression, what it is and ways to deal with it. Prof Gilbert is a leading light in the development of Compassion Focused Therapy].

Mind Over Mood by Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky (2015) [I’ve seen C. Padesky in CBT training videos – she’s good! Not yet read this book].

The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns (2000). [This one says on the cover that it has sold over a million copies, but to date has sold over four million. It is a very informative read and also goes into anti-depressants in a fair bit of detail towards the end. I spent a lot of time carrying this book around at one point. Perhaps should re-read].

Gambling

Overcoming Gambling Addiction (2nd edition) by Alex Blazszynski (2017) [One of several books available – sorry, I haven’t read it yet, but was recommended me for clients, by a therapist].

General Self Help Books

How to Cope When The Going Gets Tough (Any Time Temptations Series) by Windy Dryden and Jack Gorden (2005)

The Road Less Travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth by Dr M. Scott Peck [I read this a long time ago and found it helpful. I am about to read it again! to quote from the back cover: “This book is a phenomenon. Continuously on the US bestseller list for five years, it will change your life.” Also, from the Washington Post, : “Magnificent… This is not just a book, but a spontaneous act of generosity written by an author who leans towards the reader for the purpose of sharing something larger than himself”].

Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain by Sue Gerhardt (2014). [Deals with the science of love. I really enjoyed this excellent book].

Health Anxiety

Stop Worrying About Your Health! How to Quit Obsessing about Symptoms and Feel Better Now by George Zgourides

Hypnosis

Self Hypnosis: A Self-Help Guide to Improving Your Life by Valerie Austin (2010) [An absorbing beginning as the author describes how her amnesia was cleared up by the help of hypnosis which ended up becoming her profession. Then she guides the reader through the ways you can use it to help yourself].

Bipolarism

Overcoming Mood Swings by Prof Jan Scott (2010) [‘This is an excellent self-help book. It is clear, user-friendly, encouraging and non-condescending. I would recommend my patients to read this book.’ From British Journal of Clinical Psychology].

Obsessions and Compulsions

Understanding Obsessions and Compulsions by Frank Tallis (1992, though there may be a newer edition).

Panic

Overcoming Panic by Derrick Silove (2017) [a CBT approach].

Panic Attacks: What They Are, Why They Happen and What You Can Do About Them by Christine Ingham (2016). [I read this some years ago (an earlier addition) to understand PAs and how to help clients with them. I found it a very helpful book].

PTSD/Trauma

Overcoming Traumatic Stress: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques (2nd Edition) by Claudia Herbert (2017)

Relationships

Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships by Sue Johnson (2008).  [A new approach to relationships, by a couples therapist. Another bestselling author, Barry McCarthy, describes it as ‘The most valuable book for couples published in the twenty-first century’. This book is full of interesting insights into the human condition and draws on attachment theory. Definitely good bibliotherapy].

Self-Esteem

Overcoming Low Self Esteem by Melanie Fennell (2016) [‘A thoroughly enjoyable read, and [I] would recommend trainee therapists read it also, as it will increase your understanding of the treatment of low self-esteem.’ BABCP Magazine -taken from a review online].

Self Esteem for Women (Practical Guide to Love, Intimacy and Success) by Lynda Field (2001)

10 Days to Great Self Esteem by David Burns (2000) [Another good book by this best-selling author, with good reviews online].

Child Sexual Abuse (Adult Survivors)

Breaking Free by Carolyn Ainscough (2000) [Warning: according to a couple of the reviews online, this book can arouse strong feelings. One shared that it was “not recommended by my psychiatrist and therapist”, another that it was traumatic. However, one reviewer claimed that it “changed [their] life”. Other reviewers stated that it is an “essential read” to understand abuse and the positive reviews outweighed the negative. In sum, it sounds like it would be worth reading a few reviews to get a feel of how it might help before actually reading the book – this is anyway my usual advice regarding bibliotherapy.]

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse 20th Anniversary Edition by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis, (2008) [This is a completely revised edition to mark the 20th anniversary of the first].

Social Anxiety/Social Phobia

Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness by Gillian Buttler (2009) [Plenty of real-life examples. Includes worksheets. Good self help book.]

Stress

The Relaxation and Stress-Reduction Workshop by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Eshelman and Matthew McKay (2000) [“This comprehensive workbook deserves to be in the library of every active therapist” R.Reid Wilson, author].

Managing Stress: Teach Yourself by Terry Looker and Olga Gregson (2009) [This work is full of explanations and strategies for how to manage stress].

Worry

How to Stop Worrying by Frank Tallis (2019). [Practical advice including systematic steps to deal with worry].

General Reading Regarding Psychology / Psychotherapy

On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers (1995). [This is a classic by the founder of the person-centred and humanistic psychotherapy movements. He puts the client firmly in central stage and shows enormous insight into what skill sets can help].

Keys to Solution in Brief Therapy by Steve de Shazer (1985). [Steve is one of the founders of what is now called ‘Solution Focused Brief Therapy’ (SFBT). He draws on the work of Milton Erickson and others who focus on finding solutions to problems].

The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert (2009). [Also founder of The Compassionate Mind Foundation. Prof Gilbert shows in this book how compassion can be good especially when directed to oneself. Excellent idea and this is one of the best self help books.]

Novels Written by Psychotherapists Which May Help Readers Gain Insights – a good way of using self-help books

The Celestine Prophesy: An Adventure by James Redfield (1993) [a good read which, according to Wikipedia, “discusses various psychological and spiritual ideas rooted in multiple ancient Eastern traditions and New Age spirituality”. It received a cult following and eventually a film was produced on it. I enjoyed the psychological ideas presented to the reader and read at least one of the several sequels. There was even a workbook (“experiential guide”) for those who want to take some of the ideas further. Over 5 million copies had been sold by 2005, according to Wikipedia].