BOOKS Recommended By Duane:
Mind and Emotions: A Universal Treatment for Emotional Disorders (Matthew McKay, Patrick Fanning, Patricia Zurita Ona, 2011) Currently my most recommended self-help book. I spend a fair amount of time hunting for good resources I can share with people to help them with situational problems and self management issues.
The therapeutic modalities of CBT, (Cognitive behavioral Therapy) ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), and the learning theory of RFT (Relational Frame Theory) feature a lot in my reading. Most of what I read is clinical, technical, and pretty dry. But because I value helping others help themselves finding good self help resources is goal of mine.
A good therapist offers their clients the opportunity to be heard, to acquire new perspectives, to learn skills, and to grow from difficult experiences into being more capable and effective human beings. A great therapist offers all of that PLUS helps their client internalize the skills needed to become their own therapist. This book seems well geared towards doing all of that. It is understandable for the average reader, theoretically sound, and immediately actionable for those needing to solve pressing problems and address troubling thoughts and feelings.
The Happiness Trap (Russ Harris, 2008) A book in the self-help genre that utilizes Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to assist in the development of psychological flexibility. ACT is a “third wave” cognitive/behavioral therapy that incorporates the techniques of mindfulness into helping people live lives more in accord with their values. Paraphrased, ACT believes that fusion with one’s thoughts and feelings and overly strict rules of living (among several other constructs) are significant contributors toward unhappiness. A free first chapter download and useful worksheets and resources can be found here: TheHappinessTrap.com
Get Out Of Your Mind And Into Your Life (Hayes, Smith, 2005) A workbook that isn’t so much about dealing with any particular affliction as it is a learning manual for living. This workbook is useful for discovering the principles for a values-centered life as defined by your values rather than those defined by society or anyone else. Filled with thought-provoking exercises to help you get to a place where you can do just as the book title suggests. Written by one of the original author/researchers that developed the empirically tested Relational Frame Theory (RFT) the theory of language and cognition introduced in 1985 which provides the theoretical base for ACT.
NOTE: About halfway through this workbook is a challenging exercise. On the surface, it looks like it would be easy, but it seems to bog a lot of us down to the point of abandoning the rest of the book. A trick that helps is to “game” the exercise, that is, to play with adding your own conditions – like just for two hours, or 20 minutes; or just notice when I’m avoiding; or just notice when I’m highly engaged; or just noticing when I’m ruminating; or just noticing ___. You can expand an exercise out from whatever minimum level you start getting a hold on. Remember: learning to walk started with baby steps.
F*ck Feelings (Michael Bennett MD, Sarah Bennett 2015) A profanity-filled self-help book that argues that life is rarely what people expect it to be. A very easy read with practical guidance to help you value your actions rather than get trapped by your emotions. (Note that the authors have a very good website as well. fxckfeelings.com)
Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You and Medication Can’t Give You (Richard O’Connor, Ph.D.) Is a 1999 self-help book that comes close to having a prescription for living a better life. Simple, clear, and helpful with tips that are actually doable. From the author’s website UndoingDepression.com
“When I was 15, I came home to find that my mother had committed suicide. Until two years before, she had seemed happy, confident and outgoing. When I look back at the course of my own life, I realize now how much it has been shaped by my need to understand what happened to her. I told myself I was tough and smart, and that her illness need not affect me. But when I left home I had no direction except away, and in my 20s and then again in my 40s I suffered through powerful depressions myself.
“I believe now that depression can never be fully grasped by mental health professionals who have not experienced it. Though I can’t claim to know everything about depression, I have a unique and powerful perspective: as a suicide survivor, as a sufferer myself, as a patient, and as a therapist”
Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice from my Bipolar Life (2018, Ellen Forney) Provides excellent advice from the personal perspective of comic book artist/illustrator Ellen Forney (Author of “Marbles” – A personal memoir that goes a long way towards destigmatizing mood disorders) In Rock Steady Ellen presents her practical wisdom in the form of tips and tricks for dealing with the episodes and issues related to Bipolar.