Books That Matter To Us
In this post, each of us will share some books that have been helpful to us and some books that we would recommend. We hope you find it interesting and insightful. Please contact us with any questions or feedback. Thanks!
- Julianne Ludlam, Ph.D.
- Lisa Foss, MA
- Kaytie Mero, MA
- Whitney Wall, Ph.D
- Katrina Kuzyszyn-Jones, Phy.D.
Julianne Ludlam, Ph.D.
A Shining Affliction by Annie Rogers
I read this autobiographical book during my early graduate school years, and it offered me a beautiful example of what therapy can be, along with another example of how psychotherapy can be harmful. Powerful and moving.
Constructing the Self, Constructing America by Philip Cushman
My background in history is minimal, unfortunately, but this book opened my eyes to the history of psychotherapy and the importance of considering what it means for us today. As psychologists, I think we owe it to clients to know the roots of theories and treatments, so that we can be critical, thoughtful providers. A philosophical and challenging book.
Trauma and Recovery by Judith Lewis Herman
A book that sparked my interest in trauma. Herman is a giant in the field of trauma, and although disturbing, this book was another eye-opening, amazingly well-researched volume that keeps its focus on survivors.
Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis
Another graduate school textbook, but one I will never forget. Davis’s analysis of women in slavery is gripping, and her writing is clear and convincing. Her call to recognize the burdens, roles, and strengths of black women is so important.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
As a white woman, I can’t imagine what it is to walk in Coates’ shoes, but he led me through the complex struggles of his life as a black man and parent in compelling prose.
Lisa Foss, MA
5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Go to 5lovelanguages.com to take the quiz and check out the Love Nudge app to get relationship reminders. This book is helpful for identifying you and your partner’s love language, how to express it, and how to feel better connected to your partner.
Connected Parenting: How to Raise a Great Kid; and You’re Ruining My Life: Surviving the Teenage Years by Jennifer Kolari
Tools for helping parents enhance closeness with their child, lower anxiety, deal with power struggles, and build resilience in their child(ren). Having empathy and compassion for the child’s experience and support a behavioral change with consistency and limit setting.
Boundaries in Marriage by John Townsend
This book is helpful for learning how to put healthy boundaries around yourself and around your marriage, in order to take ownership of your responsibilities, but not that of your spouse, and to avoid allowing so many outside influences into the relationship that divide a couple. This can prevent resentment from building within the marriage.
Boundaries with Teens; and with Kids
Learn to set age appropriate limits for teens/kids, tackle the difficulty of what to do when they try to manipulate, how to control emotional issues, lack of motivation, envy/ungratefulness, and teach responsibility with the goal of “one day these teens/kids will need to be self-managed, functional adults who can handle relationship, family, work, stress, etc.”
5 Love Languages of Teenagers
Go to 5lovelanguages.com to take quiz
Big Life Journal, Teen Edition
Guided-growth mindset journal for teens. It teaches perseverance, grit, self-belief, positive thinking, and more.
- Younger Kids
5 Love Languages for Kids
Go to 5lovelanguages.com to take quiz
Big Life Journal, Kid Edition
Guided-growth mindset journal for kids. It teaches perseverance, grit, self-belief, positive thinking, and more. Depending on age, parent and child may want to work together.
Invisible String by Patrice Karst
Provides reassurance to young ones that no matter the distance or reason they are connected to those they love. This can be helpful when dealing with grief or separation anxiety; can add in a string craft with string and hearts to help them remember and feel connected when apart.
Breathe Life a Bear by Kira Willey
Mindfulness activities for kids when needing a moment of calm or to focus. Depending on reading level they can do on their own or with a parent.
My Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
This book is a simple explanation of the many emotions we feel and uses colors and animals to express them; and helps kids identify their emotions.
Here is the link for the "Connected Parenting" podcast.
- Ted Talks
Ted Talks are always a good resource. Here is a good talk on "Grit and Resilience."
Kaytie Mero, MA
The Truth about Children and Divorce: Dealing with Emotions so You and Your Children Can Thrive, by Robert E. Emery, Ph.D
This book offers parents a road map to divorce. This book illustrates how our powerful emotions and the way we handle them shape how we divorce and how we can build resiliency in children. I recommend this book because it is helpful for both adults and children going through divorce.
Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive through Divorce by Robert Emery
This book helps parents gain a deeper understanding of what their children are experiencing and not only learn how to reduce conflict with the other parent but also learn effective parenting strategies. I recommend this book because it can provide another perspective to parents for what their children are going through. They can learn how to help themselves and their child(ren) through divorce.
Dinosaurs Divorce: A Guide for Changing Families by Laurene Kransy Brown and Marc Brown
This book helps explain divorce in a friendly and easy to understand manner for children aged 4-7. This book helps children understand the following: divorce words and what they mean, why parents divorce, what about you?, after divorce, living with one parent, visitation, having two homes, celebrating holidays, telling friends, meeting new people, living with stepparents and having step-sibilings.
I don’t want to talk about it by Jeanie Franz Ransom
This storybook explores the range of emotions that children are likely to feel when the subject of divorce is first brought up for children aged 4-8.
My Mom and Dad don’t live together anymore: A drawing book for children of separated or divorced parents by Judith Rubin
This drawing book allows kids to express their feelings through art for children aged 4-8. I recommend this book because it allows children to express themselves through art. Children may not be able to communicate verbally and may feel more comfortable expressing themselves through another avenue. Parents can then gain a deeper understanding about how their child may be feeling.
The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
This book allows for clients to feel a sense of fulfillment and energized in their lives. I recommend this book because it helps clients learn how to believe in themselves and be kind to themselves. This book helps clients feel a sense of control over their life, develop the power to reach their goals, and eliminate worry.
A Year of Positive Thinking: Daily Inspiration, Wisdom, and Courage by Cyndie Spiegel
This book demonstrates how one can their life by changing their thoughts. I recommend this book because it teaches clients the power of positive thinking through quick affirmations. This book provides daily meditations to guide clients towards living their best life.
Practicing Mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health and Find Peace in the Everyday by Matthew Sockolov
This book explains mindfulness more in depth and provides mindfulness exercises. I recommend this book because it helps clients feel grounded and improve overall mental health.
Get out of your mind and into your life by Steven Hayes
This book can be used as a self-help book that is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). This book can help clients choose to live their best life based on what matters to them most. I recommend this book because it allows clients to discover what they value, learn how to commit to a meaningful life, and practice mindfulness skills.
A meditation to help you improve self-confidence and reach peak performance by Belleruth Naparstek
This audiobook helps clients increase feelings of self-esteem and confidence as well as reduce anxiety. I recommend this book for clients who suffer from low self-esteem and confidence. This is also helpful for clients who prefer audio.
The Anxiety and Phobia workbook by Edmund Bourne
This is a helpful workbook for those experiencing anxiety and/or phobia related anxiety. I recommend this workbook because it provides step-by-step treatment and allows clients to be active in their own treatment process and feel a sense of control. This book also provides various coping techniques and strategies.
Whitney Wall, Ph.D.
- Couples Books
Passionate Marriage, David Schnarch
I think this is maybe the most brilliant couple’s book ever written. However, it is VERY long and very dense. It focuses on intimacy and passion in marriage - but deals with so much more. Really explores the role of differentiation and “holding onto ourselves” as a key part of relationships and healthy marriage and sexuality. Delves deep into client examples with explicit sex images- so consider this too when considering reading it.
Mating in Captivity - Esther Perel
The book blows the top off of the common myth that intimacy/closeness = passion/desire/good sex and explores how closeness and intimacy can actually hinder sexual desire. Very normalizing for couples who love each other but are struggling with sex/passion/desire. Helpful for people who have had affairs/been cheated on. Also delves into the concept of differentiation and how maintaining separateness in relationship and can encourage desire. Also touches a bit on open relationships in a positive way (so maybe not for everyone).
8 Dates - John & Julie Gottman
Very easy read that provides a guide to 8 dates to deepen/reignite relationships. Great tool to use in tandem with therapy. Great for new couples working to build solid foundations and established couples who need to repair foundation.
7 Principles for making marriage work - John Gottman
An easy ready for couples that covers some of Gottman’s biggest takeaways, including the 4 Horsemen that lead to ending marriages. Works well in tandem with therapy.
The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
Very easy read/good book for couples who need to improve their expression and receiving of love from their partners - helps tailor their approach.
- Life Changing Books
Some of my favorite "life changing" books that address spirituality, mindfulness, and acceptance of dealing with hard times.
The Power of Now, Eckart Tolle
A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle
Seat of the Soul, Gary Zukav
The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer
Broken Open, Elizabeth Lesser
When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron
Katrina Kuzyszyn-Jones, Psy.D.
Here is a list of books by category that have influenced me over time. Some are fun reading, some are educational, and some are books I regularly recommend to clients; others were recommended to me by clients. I’ve written it somewhat as a biography of my own journey over time, though it’s not completely chronological.
Click to go directly to a category:
- Psychological Disorders
- Women’s Issues
- Leadership and Career
- Divorce or Considering Divorce
I decided to become a psychologist kind-of on a whim. I had a friend in middle school who wanted to be a psychologist, and she was very kind and smart, so that seemed like a good career choice. Yes, I’m serious; that was it. During high school and college, I read a number of books that solidified my fascination in people, human nature, and resilience. I don’t really think I knew what a psychologist was or did, but I declared myself a psychology major when I was an undergraduate without a second thought.
I went through a period of time when I read every book that I could find on Multiple Personality Disorder, which is now called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). What I know now is that these books demonstrated the disruptive power of trauma on the psyche, even if I didn’t fully recognize that then. I later also discovered personality disorders, which shaped my development as a Forensic Psychologist.
My top portrayals of mental illness – several of these were also made into movies:
- 1The Free Faces of Eve by Corbett H. Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley (DID)
- 2Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber (DID)
- 3I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Hannah Green (Schizophrenia)
- 4Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (Borderline Personality Disorder)
- 5Without Conscious by Robert D. Hare (Antisocial Personality Disorder)
As an undergraduate at the University of Washington in Seattle, it was the 90’s; the grunge scene was in full swing, and, it was a time of “enlightenment”. We had one of the first step groups formed by an African American fraternity and sorority in that area (yes, one of each for the campus). Ellen DeGeneres came out on her on her television show, which we all sat around in the dorm and watched in celebration. And, I became a Women’s Studies minor. Here are a number of books that influenced me then and over time.
- 1The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman (mental illness and women’s issues
- 2The Awakening by Kate Chopin
- 3Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez and Kristin Ohlson
- 4Eat Pray Love by Melissa Gilbert
- 5Tales of a Female Nomad
- 6Becoming by Michelle Obama
Even though I know you all know it’s not true, mental health professionals often feel like we have to have impervious relationships. Some of these are books that I’ve read for help in my own life, and, some are books I highly recommend to clients (or both).
- 1The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman and Nan Silver
- 2And Baby Makes Three by John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman
- 3How to Improve Your Marriage without Talking About It by Patricia Love and Steven Stosny
- 4It Takes One to Tango by Winifred M. Reilly
- 5Getting Past the Affair by Douglas K. Snyder and Donald H. Baucom
- 6After the Affair by Janis A. Spring
- 7Babyproofing Your Marriage by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O’Neill, and Julia Stone
- 8The Marriage-Work Connection by Joel D. Block
Parenting….is…..hard……need I say more?
- 1The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler
- 2Mindful Parenting in a Messy World by Michelle Gale
- 3The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
- 4Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax
- 5Master Minds and Wing Men by Rosalind Weisman
- 6Transforming the Difficult Child by Glasser and Easley
- 7Babyproofing Your Marriage by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O’Neill, and Julia Stone
- 8Raising Biracial Children by Rockquemore and Lasloffy
- 9Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth (this book literally saved my life)
- 1The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal
- 2The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris
- 3Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte
- 4The Mindful Way Through Anxiety by Orsillo Roemer
- 5The Mindfulness Solution by Ronald D. Siegle
- 6ACT on life not on anger by Eifert, McKay and Forsyth
- 7The Mindful Way Workbook by John Teasdale and Mark Williams and Zindel Segal
- 8Transform Your Loss by Ligia Houben
- 9Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
- 10When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
- 11Forgiveness is a Choice by Enright
Leadership and Career
- 1Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Dan and Chip Heath
- 2Sway by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman
- 3The 360 Degree Leader Workbook by John C. Maxwell
- 4The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
- 5Conscious Business by Fred Kofman
- 6Lean In: Women Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
- 7Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois P. Frankel
- 8Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury
Divorce or Considering Divorce
- 1Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay by Mira Kirshenbaum
- 2Divorce Busting by Michelle Weiner-Davis
- 3Should I Stay or Go? by Lee Raffel
- 4Mom’s House, Dad’s House by Isolina Ricci
- 5We’re Still Family by Constance Ahrons
- 6Crazy Time by Abigail Trafford
- 7The Good Divorce by Constance Ahrons