I am a compulsive reader, always have been. So if a problem rears it’s head, my first reaction is “is there a book about this?” Part of it, to be honest, was an attempt to stay in my left brain and intellectualize away from those messy, confusing feelings. I really struggled with the fact that I couldn’t get through the healing process just by understanding it. The Boundary Ninja often said that if it was just about knowing the facts, that when a client came through the door, he would be able to just hand them a book “How to Heal” and say, have a nice life. 🙂 I often found that to be incredibly frustrating. Later, as I came to understand that the real healing in therapy wasn’t about what you knew, but about what you experienced with your therapist, I kept reading to keep my left brain occupied and out of the way (not to mention the fact that I just became fascinated about the brain, human development and psychotherapy). But, as the Boundary Ninja and I once discussed, it wasn’t just about distraction. My ability to understand the process and the necessity of experiencing the feelings helped me to find the courage to actually feel.
Below is a short list of books I found especially helpful along the way, with a short description of why. As for General Theory of Love, I’ve pushed this book so hard I really should consider contacting the publisher and asking for a commission.
A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis et al A wonderful lyrical book that still manages to explain basic neurobiology, and attachment theory and why love is at the center of being human. This book helped me immensely to understand that I could heal and that I needed to be dependent on my therapist for awhile in order to heal. I cannot recommend this enough. The Boundary Ninja actually read this at my recommendation and then said to me “S#$%, that’s another book I don’t get to write.”
The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender This is wonderful book on healing from childhood incest that I read twice while recovering memories. This was especially useful because it provided a model of forgiveness that finally allowed me to understand what forgiveness really was and how I might be able to do it. Very long story behind that I’ll get to telling someday. It is however, written from Christian worldview for those of you who have other beliefs in case that would make you uncomfortable. Although I believe there’s still a lot of valuable stuff in here even if you don’t agree with the beliefs. Dan Allender also wrote “The Healing Path” which I also found helpful.
Boundaries by Drs. Cloud and Townsend This book is a really lucid, clear explanation of healthy boundaries and how they work. I found it indispensable since they had never been modeled for me. This book is also written from a Christian viewpoint but the authors also base the principles on their clinical practices. I would highly recommend this for anyone struggling with understanding boundaries. They have a companion book called Boundaries in Marriage that my husband and I both read and found extremely helpful.
Parenting from the Inside Out by Dan Seigel and Mary Hartzell This is a book the Boundary Ninja recommended when I asked him for a layman’s book on attachment theory. Even though it’s a parenting book (and I wish I had read it much earlier) it’s also an excellent explanation of attachment theory and human development. The best part is that it’s written for laymen but with highlighted, easy to skip sections that go into the science of neurobiology for those interested. Dan Seigel is a leading researcher, practitioner, and author of Interpersonal Neurobiology. He’s written a number of books which address Mindfulness but they’re VERY tough going, I’m still trying to make it through A Mindful Brain. But this book was the one that allowed me to see what I struggled with as development gone awry that could be repaired instead of some innate pathology that made me damaged goods.
Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen Another book recommended by the Boundary Ninja that was life-changing for me. The author is a counselor for patients with cancer, some of whom are terminal. The book is a re-telling of stories, both hers and her patients and is incredibly powerful and moving conveying truths that are so hard to articulate but somehow this book manages to do so. My poor therapist, after I read this book I actually came to a session with a copy of it with like 15 yellow stickies in it.
Attachment in Psychotherapy by David Wallin Read this one because the Boundary Ninja was reading it (one of my favorite things about the man was the ever changing pile of books on his table. Found a lot of good books just by perusing his piles. :D) and I ran across it while looking for more information on attachment. Very heavy going at times because this is a book written for therapists; incredibly valuable though for insight into understanding how attachment injuries affect us and what you need to heal from them. I believe this book should be required reading for every therapist.
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