May 19, 2011

I’ve started a section for books I’ve read along with what they talk about and why you might benefit from them.  I’ll continue adding to it as I get time.  I’ll also try to judge how accessible they are to people who do or don’t have a background in mental health.

What’s on my bookshelf?

I’ve listed on this page some reviews of some books I’ve read and found especially useful.  I’ll try and specify which ones are probably a better read for mental health professionals and which ones are good reads for clients and people who have very little formal mental health training.


How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

by Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish

This is a great book for parents to read.  It doesn’t require any training or experience in the mental health field.  It’s a quick read and is easy to remember and apply in your day to day life.

Their approach sounds targeted towards younger kids but it also translates to teens and they give examples of this in the book.  You might even find some of it applies to the way you interact with everyone in your life, from your spouse to your co-workers.

This approach is similar to the “love and logic” approach but it presents a set of principles that put your relationship with your child first which will serve them for the rest of their lives.  It isn’t just about “tricking” young kids into a certain behavior or response.

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The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness

by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, Jon Kabat-Zinn

This is a great read for anyone trying to understand depression.  It includes some cd’s with guided meditations to help you build a meditation practice.  Even if you aren’t into meditation it is still a great description of how people become depressed and how it gets a grasp on their lives.

You will feel better just having read the book, but to create a lasting change you should commit to doing the mindfulness practice for at least 8 weeks.  If you can do that, you will never want to stop, the benefits are too great.

Also, just because they talk about meditation, this has nothing to do with religion or spirituality.  The authors have taken out the pieces that are proven to work and made them into a practice that anyone can do regardless of their belief system.

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Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves

by Sharon Begley

This is a great little book that is easy to read but gives some great insights into what we’ve learned about how the brain works and how it grows and adapts.  I wouldn’t say it’s a specific training program or a self help book per-se.   It is however uplifting to read it in that it gives us all hope that we can learn “new tricks” and make significant changes in our lives.

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The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert

by John M. Gottman, Nan Silver

This is THE Gottman book for ordinary people.  He has a giant book called “The Marriage Clinic” which has more details on his actual research but this seven principles one is the one that you’ll actually be able to read all the way through.

This book covers the key features he found which predict with very high accuracy how successful a marriage will be.  This book is for people who are about to get married, who are newly married, or who have been married for 20 years.  Everyone’s relationships will be better if they can apply half of what they learn in this book.

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The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being

by Daniel J. Siegel

This is a good book and it has a lot of good information.  I will say it is probably a little chewy for most people.  He talks about different specific parts of the brain and other highly detailed topics.  Those topics lead to good points but it can be a tough read to get to the underlying principles.

He has a ton of specific examples of how mindfulness practices work to integrate people’s brains and nervous systems.  The value of this book is that it takes mindfulness beyond just saying that it must work because people have been doing it for a long time and it shows us in real scientific ways how mindfulness actually affects the brain and benefits us.

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The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook–What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing

by Bruce Perry, Maia Szalavitz

This is a super easy to read book about trauma.  WARNING!! The stories are hard to hear but they are written in a first person narrative and they are entertaining and informative at the same time.  This is one of those books that entertains the whole time and before you know it you’ve learned something too.

Dr. Perry most notably worked with the kids who were rescued from Waco but he has several stories of different kids he worked with who had been traumatized.  You are entertained and touched by the stories of recovery but you also learn about how he treats trauma and how trauma affects us.

This would be a good read for anyone who has a trauma victim in their family or circle of friends, as well as someone who works with trauma victims professionally.  This also would be a good read for someone who is in the stages of recovering from trauma, as long as they aren’t disturbed by the trauma descriptions.

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Kindle 2: Amazon’s New Wireless Reading Device (Latest Generation)

File this under things I wish were on my bookshelf.  This is the e-book reader which everyone says looks just like looking at a piece of paper.  It comes with free wireless access so you can just buy anything anytime and it shows up over the air.  Sweet!

I was looking at what is available for it and it looks like there are a ton of books available in the “Kindle Store”, it isn’t just the popular fiction titles anymore.

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The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate

by Gary Chapman

I cannot tell you how many times I hear about relationships having trouble and it’s because there is no understanding of love languages.  I was so intrigued to hear that my brother in law was even being exposed to this in regards to being a teacher and how to interact with students.

The point of this book is to learn to recognize what types of gestures are important to specific people.  Different people value different types of expressions.  It’s like the husband who takes care of the lawn and takes out the trash etc but all the wife wants to hear every now and then is some heartfelt words of affirmation.

The opposite can also be true, the husband who tells his wife all the time how great she is as a mother and a wife etc but what she really appreciates is some time and labor in the yard.

You can’t reward someone with what is valuable to you, you must reward them with what is important to them.

If you were a client of mine I’d probably have you do some exercises to help identify your love languages, but honestly that material is all in this book.  Just read it, do the work and talk it over with your partner, it will innoculate your marriage for years to come.

And again, this also applies to managing employees, teaching students, and any other type of relationship between people.

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