I need advice. Have you got a book for me?

Self-help books you should read.

30 September 2019

Dear Maddi,

What are your favourite/recommended self-help books?

Sincerely, Bookworm

Good question! There are a lot of books on the market which can be of great help when dealing with personal issues. The following books are what I would recommend for some of the most common concerns that I treat as a psychologist: depression, anxiety and relationship problems.

For low mood or depression, I would recommend Your Depression Map: Find the Source of Your Depression and Chart Your Own Recovery by Randy Paterson. This easy-to-follow workbook uses a cognitive behavioural approach to the treatment of depression, which is an evidence-based type of treatment that focuses on your thoughts and behaviours. The book starts with a quiz to help you identify areas of your behaviour and thinking which may put you at risk for depression. You can then read the sections of the book which are most relevant to your personal risk factors and concerns.

For people struggling with anxiety, I would suggest The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne. This book is a classic and gives a comprehensive look at why anxiety exists and how to best address it. With chapters on relaxation, coping with panic attacks, help for phobias, self-talk (addressing thoughts), asserting yourself, visualization, meditation and health anxiety, this book will give you a very thorough look at anxiety, worry and panic.

For those seeking to connect with a romantic partner, my suggestion is Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment & How it Can Help You Find & Keep Loveby Amir Levine and Rachel Heller. This book uses scientific research to show you how past attachment patterns can affect your current romantic attachment style. It contains a questionnaire to help you determine whether you fall into the secure, anxious or avoidant attachment style, and you can also get clues about your partner's (or potential partner's) style. Once you learn about why attachment style matters in relationships, you can read tips on how to best strengthen the connection between yourself and your partner. You will also learn about which type of partner you might want to avoid!

If you are in a relationship that is making you unhappy you may be trapped in relationship ambivalence, meaning you can't decide whether or not to end it. If you are in this situation, I would recommend the book Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step by Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum. This book uses a series of questions to help you see if your wants and needs can be met from your relationship. As you answer key questions, the author discusses why the issue is important, and then shares her experience as a psychotherapist to outline what can be done and whether it may be healthier to leave or stay.

I hope you enjoy looking into these self-help titles! Don't be afraid to strike out on your own. Simply searching a topic that is important to you on sites like Amazon.ca or Indigo.ca can give you many good suggestions. Don't forget to check out the credentials of the authors, and also to read some customer reviews on any title you are considering! A little research will go a long way in helping you find the self-help book that is right for you. Happy reading!

Written in collaboration with Becky Ponting, University of Alberta Counselling and Clinical Services Psychologist, and edited by Suman Varghese, Counselling and Clinical Services Satellite Psychologist.

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