The 7 Books Every Therapist Must Read

After scouring many forums and reading many suggestions, these came up over and over again for therapists must reads. Below you will find 7 insightful, educational, and inspirational books that will change you and your clients perspectives on things. Enjoy!

Psychology is a moving, heartening and stimulating field. At the same time, it’s a demanding profession, one that calls for endless reading and studying in order to become an ever-adapting and empathetic therapist.

These next seven books present some of the most eye-opening and penetrating insights into what it means to be a therapist, with his or her own baggage and desires, and to be in contact with a patient. These narratives, written by legendary psychologists such as Yalom and Frankl,  set out to discuss the intricate nature of the human mind and the themes most intimate to the human experience, such as isolation, anxiety, meaning, spiritual connection, freedom and much more.

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“Letters to a Young Therapist” by Dr. Mary Pipher

Letters to a Young Therapist

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In Letters to a Young Therapist, Dr. Pipher shares what she has learned in thirty years as a therapist, helping warring families, alienated adolescents, and harried professionals restore peace and beauty to their lives. Letters to a Young Therapist gives voice to her practice with an exhilarating mix of storytelling and sharp-eyed observation. And while her letters are addressed to an imagined young therapist, every one of us can take something away from them.

“Love’s Executioner” by Irvin Yalom

Love’s Executioner

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In this engrossing book, Irvin Yalom gives detailed and deeply affecting accounts of his work with these and seven other patients. Deep down, all of them were suffering from the basic human anxieties – isolation, fear of death or freedom, a sense of the meaninglessness of life – that none of us can escape completely. And yet, as the case histories make touchingly clear, it is only by facing such anxieties head on that we can hope to come to terms with them and develop. Throughout, Dr Jalom remains refreshingly frank about his own errors and prejudices; his book provides a rare glimpse into the consulting room of a master therapist.

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“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl

Man’s Search for Meaning

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Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl’s theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”)-holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

“On Training to Be A Therapist: The Long and Winding Road to Qualification” by John Karter

On Training to Be A Therapist: The Long and Winding Road to Qualification

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Having become aware during his own training of the enormous and varied pressures that students of psychotherapy and counselling have to face, the author seeks to explore the professional and personal difficulties engendered by this often destabilizing process from what he terms a ‘student’s eye view’. The fundamental objective of the book is to confront these demands and difficulties and to highlight the fact that therapy training can and should be an enjoyable and fulfilling process in itself. Among the many issues looked at are the ways in which training can change us as people, how it can affect our personal relationships, difficult issues with clients, personal therapy, and many more. On Training to be a Therapist is aimed principally at psychotherapy and counselling students, but will also appeal to qualified practitioners, tutors and supervisors looking for a different perspective.

“The Gift of Therapy” by Dr. Irvin D. Yalom

The Gift of Therapy

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The culmination of master psychiatrist Dr. Irvin D. Yalom’s more than thirty-five years in clinical practice, The Gift of Therapy is a remarkable and essential guidebook that illustrates through real case studies how patients and therapists alike can get the most out of therapy. The author shares his uniquely fresh approach and the valuable insights he has gained—presented as eighty-five personal and provocative “tips for beginner therapists,” including letting the patient matter to you; acknowledging your errors; creating a new therapy for each patient, and many more. A book aimed at enriching the therapeutic process for a new generation of patients and counselors, Yalom’s Gift of Therapy is an entertaining and insightful read for anyone with an interest in the subject.

“The Zen of Helping” by Andrew Bein

The Zen of Helping

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Bring compassion, self-awareness, radical acceptance, practitioner presence, and caring to the relationships you have with you patients by utilizing the advice in The Zen of Helping: Spiritual Principles for Mindful and Open-Hearted Practice. As a mental health professional, you will appreciate the vivid metaphors, case examples, personal anecdotes, quotes and poems in this book and use them as a spiritual foundation for your professional practice. Connect Zen Buddhism with your human service and address issues like dealing with your own responses to your client’s trauma and pain.

“When Psychological Problems Mask Medical Disorders” by James Morrison

When Psychological Problems Mask Medical Disorders

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Widely regarded as a standard clinical resource, this book helps practitioners think outside the mental health box and recognize when a client may need a medical evaluation. Part I provides an accessible overview of symptoms that can be observed in a standard mental status examination and may point to medical illness. Engaging case vignettes and interviewing pointers help readers hone their diagnostic skills. Part II presents concise facts–including basic medical information and physical and mental symptoms–on more than 60 diseases and syndromes. An easy-to-read chart in Part III cross-tabulates all of the disorders and symptoms for quick reference and comparison.

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