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Adult Self-Help



Recommended Readings

Adult Self-Help

The Feeling Good Handbook, by David Burns

This book can help people cope with depression and become less depressed.  It is based on cognitive therapy, and is a well researched program.  It focuses on helping people see their lives accurately, rather than negatively.  Chapters focus on self-esteem, anxiety/fear, and relationships.

Reinventing Your Life:  The Breakthrough Program to End Negative Behavior,… and Feeling Great Again, by Jeffery Young

This book helps people who are struggling with relationships.  It uses relaxation training, cognitive restructuring, and other techniques to help people develop self-acceptance, self-soothing, and a sense of self-worth.

Necessary Losses: The Loves, Illusions, Dependencies, and Impossible Expectations that all of us have to Give up in order to Grow, by Judith Viorst

Viorst looks at how loss is necessary for people to form a positive self image and identity.   Using a developmental perspective, she examines how loss promotes growth throughout the lifespan. 

When Things Fall Apart : Heart Advice for Difficult Times, by Pema Chodron

This book gives advice about how Buddhism can help people to cope with fear, despair, rage and the feeling that we are not in control of our lives.  Chodron discusses how effective the Buddhist point of view can be in bringing order into disordered lives.


Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, by John Gottman

This book is based on a study of many families over a number of years.  Gottman has identified 4 skills that parents of emotionally intelligent children have.  He has parenting questionnaires that assess your parenting style and then he tells you specific skills to work on, given your parenting style.   This book also has a great chapter on dads as parents.

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

This is a seminal work in parenting. It is great to help parents begin to take their children’s perspective and learn to listen to their children’s feelings and thoughts. 

Parenting From the Inside Out, by Daniel Siegel & Mary Hartzell

This is an in-depth look at parenting, attachment, and brain development.  It encourages parents to look at how they were raised and to examine how that impacts the way they raise their children.

The Optimistic Child, by Martin Seligman

This book is based on research showing that pessimism is the single strongest predictor of a child developing depression.  The techniques discussed in this book to increase optimism, are like a vaccination, designed to inoculate children against depression.

Parenting with Love and Logic (Series) by Foster W. Cline, Jim Fay

These books give parents tools to provide explanations to their children and to teach them about consequences for behavior.  They teach “natural and logical” consequences, which include ideas like, “if you hit someone, you can hurt their body, so I can’t let you hit anyone,” and “when you say thank you I feel good because I know you appreciate me.”

The Positive Discipline books,  by by Jane Ed.D. Nelsen

These books teach basic behavioral principles, with the aim of getting parents to encourage and validate positive behavior. 

Playful Parenting, by Lawrence J. Cohen

This wonderful book uses attachment theory to promote the use of a playful style of parenting.  It wisely talks about the times when playfulness is not appropriate and has many suggestions for how to take the edge off of difficult situations.

The Blessings of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children, by Wendy Mogel

This book is quite unique.  It is based on numerous Jewish teachings and each chapter talks about a different “blessing.”  For example, the chapter on the blessing of a skinned knee talks about how important it is to not protect our children too much and to let them experience pain so they can learn to confidently manage the challenges of life.


The Developing Mind, by Daniel Siegel

This is an in-depth look how the brain is preprogrammed to promote and elicit attachment.  It is intended for the professional, but is excellent for the parent who wants to see the evidence behind the link between brain development and attachment.

Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love, by Robert Karen

This book recounts and explores the history of attachment theory and research.  I recommend it for the parent who wants a better understanding of attachment theory and how revolutionary attachment theory is.   This book has an excellent chapter on children’s relationships with fathers. 


Lean on Me: The Power of Positive Dependency in Intimate Relationships, by Marion Solomon  

This book talks about and gives many examples of how couples rely on each other.  She de-pathologizes dependency, seeing interdependence- a balance between healthy dependency and autonomy -over independence as the ultimate goal in a relationships.  Dr. Solomon does a particularly nice job showing how a person’s family history can impact romantic relationships.

Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: How You Can Make Yours Last,  by John Gottman

Gottman’s book on marriage is based on the study of over 100 couples in the mid 1980’s.  Gottman concludes that a lasting relationship results from a couple's ability to resolve conflicts through any of the three styles of problem-solving that are found in healthy marriages. Numerous self-quizzes help couples determine the style that best suits a couple.

The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts  by Judith S. Wallerstein, Sandra Blakeslee

This book describes five different types of marriages that “work.”  Within the fascinating case descriptions, you can see the complexities that marriage often presents.  Wallerstein and Blakeslee also look at a marriage developmentally, and identify 9 issues (e.g.; children) that couples usually face as they live together as a married couple.

On Being and Loving by Althea J. Horner

Although written for the layperson, this book is dense reading. Her discussions of adult emotional problems and their roots in early childhood development are incredibly insightful. She focuses on how couples must learn to “be” individuals, but also “love” the other, and thus be dependent. 

Love and Awakening: Discovering the Sacred Path of Intimate Relationship, by John Welwood

Welwood focuses on deepening intimacy in relationships. He introduces ways to dialogue that help clarify issues and bring couples closer.