My personal top five : Self-Help books

Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a Counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals, couples, groups and companies. Apart from seeing clients face-to-face, Dr Jenner also runs a thriving online therapy business bringing help to those who are housebound or located in rural locations where therapy is difficult to find. Online Therapy details : Here

I have always been an avid reader and especially of self-help books. I find the positive message they portray encouraging for my work and I often recommend them on to my clients. Even though, I have read many over the years, there are a few that I always go back to and are constant companions. Here is a list of my personal favorites :

Number 1 :  The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

I could have chosen one of Covey’s many other titles but this is for me a ground-breaker. There is nothing original about Covey’s message and he packs established ideas in his own wrapping but manages to come up with a structure, that if followed, can lead to effective change. This is the key to Covey’s work. It is not just advice, it is a whole system, a way of living, looking at the world and interacting with others. It is delivered in a very simple, easy to imagine style and can be adapted for work and interaction with families and loved ones.  It comes from deep understanding and from the willingness to believe and seek the good in everyone and everything. It is a source to start with the man in the mirror and then to go on to build a better world.

Number 2 : The Road Less Travelled by Scott M Peck

Peck was not loved by everyone. His direct writing style brings across the impression that he arrogantly went through life not being able to practice what he wrote about. Despite this, this title is often referred to as “the self-help book that self-help authors read”. It has its weak points, such as Peck’s musings about religion and grace but when he talks about discipline, parent’s responsibilities and the effect of bad parenting styles on children’s development, one can easily identify where he is coming from. The Road Less Traveled is the one book that made M. Scott Peck a household name. The book-divided into sections-has the premise of defining what makes a fulfilled human being. Most of the book is based on what Peck has experienced in life and as a psychiatrist and he passes this knowledge on with great effect.

Number 3 : The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns

As a CBT therapist, I can appreciate most of this book. It distinguishes itself from the others due to its interactive nature. There are self assessment exercises galore and the reader has a chance to practice various behavioral experiments. The one downside is the rather large section on medication which is badly outdated. Having said this, this book is for those who choose to treat their depression, anxiety or panic attacks without the aid of therapy. This excellent how-to manual leads people who are depressed on a journey of  understanding and self-discovery. Beginning with an easy to read and understand overview of the cognitive theory of what causes people to become depressed, it goes on to discuss the multitude of methods and techniques used to help treat depression. This book is on my bookshelf for good reason. It is not only a good read once, but you can pick it up time and time again to reference and refer to items which you may have forgotten.

Number 4 : Strong at Broken Places : Linda T Sandford

Not officially a self-help book but inspirational nonetheless. I came across Linda T Sanford’s Strong in Broken Places some years ago and while many would say there is nothing revolutionary about the content, it struck a chord with me due to its simplicity and ability to potentially help anyone who has been through the hell of child abuse, whether it be of a sexual, physical or emotional nature. One part of the book highlights the research done into the case studies that were used and how this progressed onto the theories created by Sanford. Linda T Sanford studied twenty survivors of child abuse as the basis for her book. They were chosen after sending a “request for volunteers“to over one hundred psychologists using specific criteria as a prerequisite. The survivors were finally chosen to give as much of a cross-section as possible of demographics as well as type of abuse suffered. Her aim was to attempt to dispel commonly held theories and prejudices about abuse victims in that they find it hard to stop the abuse jumping generations and they will be a drain on society’s resources by becoming criminals, drop-outs or abusers themselves. She states many times in her research that most of the twenty survivors had nothing in common with this stereotype and had gone on to become successful parents and business people. A must-read for anyone who has experienced abuse as a child and wishes to understand the consequences.

Number 5 : The Mindful Way through Depression by Jon Kabat-Zinn, et.al

For anyone suffering from depression, the ability to stay focussed on the present is a helpful tool. Mindfulness gives sufferers this opportunity. The authors show us how futile our attempts to “think our way out of” or “work through” depression and anxiety, usually are. The book is an attempt to apply Eastern meditative practices to our stressful Western world. It shows the reader how to cope with the mental habits that lead to despair, rumination and self-blame. The accompanying CD contains various guided meditations and regular practice with these is essential for anyone looking to regain a sense of hope and well-being. Even successful treatments for depression too often stop short of providing you with a way to protect yourself from falling back into the downward spiral. With The Mindful Way Through Depression, you will develop the tools you need to understand the core mental habits and patterns that lead to depression—and learn a proven method for creating genuine change that lasts a lifetime.

  5 comments for “My personal top five : Self-Help books

  1. September 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    I have one of those books.

  2. eatwilmington
    September 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    I was acquainted with Covey, Peck and Burns but not the others. Thank you for sharing!

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