It’s been encouraging to see the proliferation of fantastic books in recent decades exploring different ways of supporting those wanting to go deeper in their healing. Below, we list many of those we’re aware of and want to recommend as uniquely helpful. In some cases, we provide additional explanation for why we’ve found the book valuable. This list below is a “work in progress” and will continue to be updated as we find additional books that are especially helpful in supporting people on a path to deeper, more sustainable healing from the wide variety of emotional struggles (that can hit us all). If you have comments or suggestions for something you would like to see included, send us a note (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In addition to books focused on these common struggles below, there is a wealth of other texts focused on addressing the various challenges the fuel and feed into these difficulties, including healing from past abuse and trauma, working through grief over major losses, and navigating current strain with spouses or major stress that can come with parenting. For those seeking to support someone struggling with any of this, much more will be coming by way of support; our experience has been as we do our own personal work as caretakers, partners, friends, family, and professional supporters, avenues to invite healing in others become much more apparent and readily available.
Resources for promoting deeper, more lasting healing from depression:
- The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness, by J. Mark G. Williams, John D. Teasdale, Zindel V. Segal, Jon Kabat-Zinn. The absolute best mindfulness resource for those facing depression – highly recommended by Council members! Comes with a helpful CD and some audio practices.
- Your Happiness Toolkit: 16 Strategies for Overcoming Depression, and Building a Joyful, Fulfilling Life by Carrie M. Wrigley. One of our favorites – a simple, easy-to-follow guide to deepening happiness and getting a the roots of depression, written by one of our Council members with many, many years of experience working with many, many people. She knows her stuff! (Click here to read a chapter from the book free). Some review excerpts: If you’re the person who has “tried it all,” this book is for you. If you’re the person who wants solutions that will improve mood within the hour, this book is for you. I don’t know anyone whose life would not be GREATLY enriched by obtaining the information in this book….A hands-on, straightforward approach to lifting ourselves and others out of depression… The most beautiful thing about this book is this: it gives YOU the power to move forward…Uses a concise, step-by-step approach that acknowledges that the healing journey is individual and personal… [Questions] myths like depression is a life sentence. There is Hope! There is Healing!
- Depression, The Way Out, by Dr. Neil Nedley. This book documents the rationale and research connected to his groundbreaking and pioneering recovery class that has placed risk-factor research into practical interventions that make a difference in helping people find longer-term healing. The course connected with this retreat has benefited tens of thousands across the country (click here to review some of the themes from testimonials in the class on which this book is based).
- The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs by Stephen S. Ilardi, PhD. Don’t let the title fool you. This no snake-oil, quick fix miracle cure. Ilardi zeroes in on six lifestyle areas shown in hundreds of studies to make a difference in reducing depression….in combination, they really pack a punch! Check out this review: I had been fighting with SEVERE clinical depression; it robbed me of my life, of enjoying my husband and children. I sought medical, psychological, and psychiatric help for about two years… Several medications, dosage changes, doctors, therapists, etc… Nothing made a dent. And then I read this book. And everything changed. His 6 steps gave me something to focus on, other than “being sick.” Just the change from seeing Life from a Wellness perspective rather than a Sickness perspective changed so much. Knowing the science behind depression, anxiety, and the brain really gave me reason to work on each step… Getting the kids schlepped to the gym with me, practicing light therapy, forcing myself to keep busy hands/mind by coloring in coloring books (you can even get nicer ones for adults, which help), reading novels, listening to audiobooks… Distracting from my illness, stopping my mind from racing and ruminating. Fast forward a year. I have lost 40 pounds as a convenient side effect of the exercise (from a size 16 to a size 4), ran 2 half-marathons, and completely changed my life. Depression is like alcoholism or cancer… Once you have it, you’ll always have it to a certain extent, considering yourself “on the wagon” or “in remission”. But I continue to take my vitamins/supplements and put in the work to make sure I never go back. I keep a list of the 6 steps taped inside my kitchen cupboard so, if I’m feeling a little off, I can check the list and say “ah, I’m not sleeping well. Time to get outside and soak in some sunlight to set my body clock.” Never, in a million years, did I think I could climb out of the hole Depression had buried me in. I was drowning. I PROMISE this book will work if you just read about the steps and start following them. FORCE yourself to get out of bed and do the work EVERY DAY. No matter what. YOU ARE WORTH THE EFFORT.
- Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns. Many outcome studies indicate that this book is effective for two-thirds of patients with moderate to severe depression within four weeks. In a study surveying mental health professional, it was ranked the #1 recommended book on depression recovery, out of 1000 recovery books.
- The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time by Alex Korb PhD. Quite literally life changing. I owe a lot to this book and am truly grateful for its existence. It’s the most fascinating, insightful look into how your brain works and how it can also sometimes work against you. And if required, it is the most empowering user manual for pulling yourself back into better mental health. Very very highly recommended.
- Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope by Johann Hari. Johann’s book is so powerful it has spread all around the globe, with his message summed up in this TED talk, “This could be why you’re depressed or anxious.” Here are some reviews: “If you have ever been down, or felt lost, this amazing book will change your life. Do yourself a favour–read it now.” ―Elton John / “Wise, probing, and deeply generous Hari has produced a book packed with explosive revelations about our epidemic of despair. I am utterly convinced that the more people read this book, the better off the world will be.” ―Naomi Klein / “This is a bold and inspiring book that will help far more than just those who suffer from depression. As Hari shows, we all have within us the potential to live in ways that are healthier and wiser.” ―Arianna Huffington
Resources for promoting deeper, more lasting healing from anxiety:
Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks by Barry McDonagh. This review touched us: Everyone, I have suffered with anxiety and panic attacks for more than 10 years, I also visited a therapist several times, with only temporary fixes…. I purchased DARE a week ago, because ,I was desperate. I have to say my results are short of amazing, the thought of facing my fears and, defusing the attack and allowing it to happen works wonders. I am a very skeptic person, and honestly say this book is helping me tremendously.
Anxiety Relief for Kids: On-the-Spot Strategies to Help Your Child Overcome Worry, Panic, and Avoidance by Bridget Flynn Walker PhD and Michael A. Tompkins PhD. This book is a terrific resource for parents of anxious kids! Parents want to know what to do and what not to do to help their child with anxiety. Walker explains how trying to comfort your child can actually be feeding their anxiety….she provides a practical road map that parents can follow to help their children become braver and more confident in tackling their fears.
Try Softer: A Fresh Approach to Move Us out of Anxiety, Stress, and Survival Mode–and into a Life of Connection and Joy by Aundi Kolber. This book feels a lot like exhaling. In a world that simultaneously pushes us to hustle and to hide our pain, the author wisely, tenderly, and skillfully offers us a new way forward…For those exhausted from dragging their bodies through life and white-knuckling their way through pain, Aundi Kolber offers wise advice: Try softer. By learning to listen to your body instead of fighting it, you can become more resilient and more self-compassionate. Try Softer is exactly what a stressed-out world needs to hear.
The Anxiety Skills Workbook: Simple CBT and Mindfulness Strategies for Overcoming Anxiety, Fear, and Worry by Stefan G. Hofmann & Judith S. Beck. Tons of tips and tricks for managing your anxiety and worry using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness. Based on the evidence-based treatment model developed at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University—one of the premier anxiety centers in the world
- Full catastrophe living: how to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation by Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn. This best-selling book summarizes the approach to stress reduction and healing advocated in the MBSR classes above – a classic!
Resources for promoting growing and deepening attentiveness over time:
- The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD: An 8-Step Program for Strengthening Attention, Managing Emotions, and Achieving Your Goals by Lidia Zylowska & Daniel Siegel. A superb book, an important book, a book that breaks new ground. Anyone who is interested in the treatment of ADHD in adults must own this. Rigorous in its research, accessible in its style, convincing in its argument, and novel in its premise, this book keeps its promise of offering a reliable mindfulness prescription.
- Mindfulness for Teens with ADHD: A Skill-Building Workbook to Help You Focus and Succeed by Debra Burdick LCSW & Lara Honos-Webb PhD. Mindfulness at its core is about building attention, increasing self-awareness, and creating new choices in responding. This makes a mindfulness-based approach a perfect fit for those who have unique brain functioning and learning styles such as in ADHD. Debra Burdick’s invaluable book provides teens, and those that work with them, with an excellent blueprint for applying curiosity and kindness to one’s ADHD characteristics, weaknesses, and strengths. The book goes to the heart of typical teen struggles such as schoolwork or making friends, and through structured questions and practices guides the teen reader to simultaneously become more self-accepting and more resourceful in dealing with daily challenges.
- Mindfulness for Kids with ADHD: Skills to Help Children Focus, Succeed in School, and Make Friends by Debra Burdick LCSW and Edward M. Hallowell MD. This wonderful, practical book is full of help and heart. Drawing on both sides of the brain, and integrating thinking and feeling, it has tons of specific suggestions and activities for kids and their parents. It’s fun, to the point, encouraging, and hopeful. A real gem.
- Finally Focused: The Breakthrough Natural Treatment Plan for ADHD That Restores Attention, Minimizes Hyperactivity, and Helps Eliminate Drug Side Effects by James Greenblatt M.D. and Bill Gottlieb CHC. Dr. Daniel Amen wrote, Finally Focused is one of the smartest books on ADHD in many years. It is filled with a clear, effective, science-based program that gives you all the building blocks to treat ADHD naturally and effectively. I highly recommend it.
- Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential by Peg Dawson & Richard Guare. Do you feel stymied by your child’s failure to live up to his or her potential? Have you run out of ideas about how to handle the situation? Look no further–this fascinating and readable book is packed full of useful ideas that will help you understand what the problem is and how you can help. It presents practical and proven techniques based on rigorous scientific research.
Resources for promoting deeper, more lasting freedom from compulsive-addictive patterns:
- The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Whether or not you struggle with alcohol, or even substances, this book will inspire you – no matter what the compulsive pattern in your life. It could be said truly that no book has done more to help more men and women to find lasting freedom from addiction than this one. Period.
- The Gift of Recovery: 52 Mindful Ways to Live Joyfully Beyond Addiction by Rebecca E. Williams PhD & Julie S. Kraft LMFT. A well-crafted, beautiful illustration of the power of mindfulness in healing from addiction…. Short chapters, organized as ‘gifts,’ compel the reader to redefine their view of the recovery process….Highly recommended for all those looking to say goodbye to addiction and hello to serenity.
- Natural Rest for Addiction: A Radical Approach to Recovery Through Mindfulness and Awareness by Scott Kiloby. This author brings his refined practice of present-moment awareness to the healing of addictions and other compulsions, teaching a gentle but deep self-inquiry whose ultimate goal is liberation. Through simple, direct, and flawless instruction, Kiloby shows us how to navigate difficult emotions, obsessive thoughts, and addictive behaviors….I deeply appreciate Kiloby’s wise counsel that shows how lasting healing and true health can unfold, no matter our circumstances, through simply learning to rest in our deeper wholeness.
Resources for promoting deeper, more lasting healing for those who hear voices and have other extraordinary experiences:
- Hearing Voices, Living Fully by Claire Bien. I’ve been hearing voices for a good 5 years now and this book helped me immensely. I could relate to Claire’s experience on so many levels, … I wish I could thank Claire personally for writing this book because it made me feel less alone
- Living with Voices: 50 Stories of Recovery by Marcus Romme, Sandra Escher, et al. This book is a groundbreaking development in modern mental health because it recognizes the importance of the first hand experience and argues that hearing voices is not a sign of madness but a reaction to serious problems in life. Finally found a book that I connect with on a cellular level. My son was diagnosed with schizophrenia 10 years ago. I have repeatedly begged my son’s doctors to delve into his childhood. I have given ALL of his psychiatrists detailed descriptions of his life. None were interested. They all say that it is a physical brain disorder and ply him with drugs that have reduced him to a subdued version of what he used to be. I have always disagreed, but they don’t listen. – This book, written by psychiatrists and health professionals, does a good job of presenting what voice-hearing sufferers experience – and, more importantly, a solution. It is based on the premise that the sufferer has experienced trauma that then results in hearing voices. Identifying the voices, their personalities, tones, words, etc., helps to identify the incident(s)/person(s) that caused the trauma. Recovery occurs when the sufferer learns to identify and connect a voice to a particular time/space/person
- Hearing Voices: A Common Human Experience by John Watkins. This book contains a wealth of information of great practical value to people who hear voices as well as to those who wish to broaden their understanding of this fascinating phenomenon. It includes a detailed description of a wide variety of voice experiences, an overview of theories which attempt to explain why they occur and a comprehensive set of practical strategies for dealing with unwanted or disturbing voices….I was not aware of how frequently people hear voices, people who do not have diagnosable mental illnesses!…A beautiful book which will be very valuable for people hearing voices….One of the most sensitively thought-through pieces of writing on voice hearing.
- Treating Psychosis: A Clinician’s Guide to Integrating Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Compassion-Focused Therapy, and Mindfulness Approaches within the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Tradition by Nicola P. Wright PhD CPsych, Douglas Turkington MD, et al. Treating Psychosis heralds a new phase in the development of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for psychosis. It describes an integrated approach to the application of third-wave therapies―mindfulness; acceptance and commitment therapy; and compassion-focused approaches.