Bibliotherapy

The use of books as balm goes all the way back to ancient Greek Times. In that culture, books were dubbed “healing places for the soul”.

Being a lover of literature and poetry, I find books to be a poignant adjunct to any psycho-therapeutic treatment. I often recommend and select books for my clients based on their individual cognitive (i.e., reading and learning) styles and where they are at in their particular healing journey.

With that in mind, below please find some books that I have personally read and reviewed in-depth, and am therefore recommending to a broader audience to assist you as you take the next steps towards wellness.

Don’t see your favorite book here? Let me know!

My goal is to expand this library to be a true therapeutic resource. Please contact me if you have any books or articles, including ones you may have written yourself, that you’d like for me to consider including here.

Enjoy! I also look forward to hearing back from you about which books you choose to read and what you think…

I have organized my recommendations by category so that if you have a specific interest you can find what you need with more ease. Also, I’ve selected the books that I currently recommend and use most with clients in my private practice. I offer you a window into the way the book has impacted upon me and the work I do. Is there a particular book you’d like me to review more fully in any of the categories? Reach out to me!

Jennifer Wolkin, PhD

Categories


Book Reviews

Review of Deeper Dating

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  • What you'll get out of this book:

A guidebook for our journey toward deeper dating. It includes client vignettes, micro-meditations, journal exercises, and the author’s own personal experiences as he makes the case for the absolute essentiality of recognizing that the healthy path to dating begins with honoring those parts of ourselves that we’ve learned to admonish, the places inside us which we try to hide for fear that they make us unlovable.

  • This book is best for:

Anyone who wants to transition from relationships based on fear to those deeply rooted in an authentic love based on our unique, individual gifts. The book is geared towards those who are single and seeking love as well as for those seeking to break the pattern of unhealthy relationships.

  • Great quote from the book:

“If our goal is to find love, then we would be wise to start with our connection to the very source of that love inside us. When we come close to that source, we feel the presence of something greater, something with tremendous untapped promise.”

 


 

In Deeper Dating, Ken Page, LCSW, brings an entirely new meaning to the idea that self-love is the foundation for love with another. In his gentle, guiding, and supportive voice, he articulates through client vignettes, and his own lived experience, the absolute essentially of recognizing those things within us that we have grown to be ashamed of, those parts of ourselves we’ve learned to admonish, the places inside us we try to hide for fear that they make us unlovable.

Deeper Dating invites us to hold these vulnerable parts as treasures, or “core gifts”, that are not only intrinsic to our own individuality but are the very things that allow us to shine. In cultivating this kind of self-love, we can learn to see our negative relationship patterns, and ultimately choose healthier options.

This book is more than just a narration, or a theoretical exploration. Ken provides us with an actionable and structured manual, a guide to accompany us in this process, enabling us to literally dive in deeper. In each chapter he provides a Deeper Dating workbook-esque exercise, encouraging us to bring his insights to life, and then a micro-meditation with which to harness the emotions that are being elicited.

I often quote Ken’s work with my own clients. The idea of our individual “core gifts” has particularly resonated with those who are mesmerized by the self-validation and self-compassion that they are filled with when given the opportunity to re-frame the parts of themselves they’ve come to therapy feeling ashamed of. I’m blown away by the impact that this shift has upon someone’s view of who they are, and I’ve seen my clients slowly and steadily transition from relationships based on fear to those deeply rooted in an authentic love for their, and others, truest gifts.

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Review for Full Catastrophe Living:

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  • What you'll get out of this book:

Research and anecdotal evidence strongly supporting the mind-body connection, and the way in which mindfulness taps into this connection, offering us more holistic, long-term wellness.

  • This book is best for:

Anyone interested in mindfulness, either as an introduction, or to deepen his or her mindfulness practices.

  • Great quote from the book:

Page 154: “When you observe things through the lens of mindfulness, whether it be during formal meditation practice or in daily living, you invariably begin to appreciate things in a new way because your very perceptions change. Ordinary experiences may suddenly be seen as extraordinary.”


 

Full Catastrophe Living, written by Jon Kabat-Zinn, is arguably the best introduction to mindfulness in our social consciousness as we know it today.

During my pre-doctoral internship, a colleague suggested I read this book in tandem with a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course at Mount Sinai Medical Center since this is a guidebook based upon Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s original 8-week MBSR program. Now, I often recommend it to my clients.

The book makes the case for cultivating mindfulness in different ways, (including through breathing, the body scan, and yoga) in order to harness our ability to accept uncomfortable physical and emotional experiences with more compassion and less judgment.

It is a guidebook that offers both theory and “how-to” exercises, and also makes a valuable addition to any coping skill toolbox. In fact, I often guide and lead my own clients in many of the mindfulness-based techniques that you will read about in this book.

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  • What you'll get out of this book:

This book offers a structured ten-step approach to learning more about one’s innermost passions and desires, quizzes for quick assessment, and very actionable follow-up ideas for how to begin to achieve greater fulfillment.

  • This book is best for:

Those who feel stuck professionally and even personally, those who want to make a change but are unsure where to start, and those who want to tap into their intrinsic creativity.

  • Great quote from the book:

Page 31: “We are going to learn about what brings you joy because if you are not engaging with Activities of Joy, life is just another task that you have to do instead of an unfinished adventure that you get to do.”


 

Often, my clients come into my office because they feel stuck but they unsure of what that means or what to do about it. In addition to the work we do in our sessions, I always recommend Your Next Big Thing, by Ben Michaelis, PhD.

In this book, Dr. Michaelis gives real-life examples of people who have gone from stuck to a creative space that is in more alignment with who they are. I often integrate exercises from this book into my sessions, or “assign” them as homework. Now you’ve got your reading assignment too!

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  • What you'll get out of this book:

Real Happiness offers an easily internalized introduction to mindfulness meditation with a structured 28-day program about mindfulness practice which includes FAQ’s, takeaways, and reflections for each week.

  • This book is best for:

Those wanting to take the mindfulness theory that they already know and apply it to actionable practices, which they can easily stick with.

  • Great quote from the book:

Page 13: “Mindfulness helps us get better at seeing the difference between what’s happening and the stories we tell ourselves about what’s happening, stories that get in the way of direct experience.”


 

One of my mentors gave me this book after we wrapped up a 2-year long research project in which I was the neuropsychologist on a protocol examining the feasibility of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on those who were diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment.

This book catapulted me to another realm of understanding of the benefit of mindfulness meditation. While reading this book, I truly had the aha! moment of knowing that any mental health treatment I’d engage in as a clinician was going to include guiding my clients through its’ practical practice.

The author, Sharon Salzberg, who I go to see speak whenever I get the opportunity, offers a well-written, detailed, but very relatable and down to earth, book that also comes with an audio CD with guided meditations! Although I’ve read this cover to cover many times, I often go back to review different parts of it when I need renewed inspiration. My clients have also loved this book, and it fits in really well with the theory and practice we explore in our sessions.

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  • What you’ll get out of this book:

Tara walks us through the transformative process of bringing to ourselves the qualities of compassion and kindness, and in doing so, allows us to trade in our negative perceptions for radical acceptance.

  • This book is best for:

Those wishing to break habitual negative and self-defeating patterns in order to live a life with more self-love and self-acceptance.

  • Great quote from the book:

Page 171: “The first step in finding a basic sense of safety is to discover our connectedness with others. As we begin to trust the reality of belonging, the stranglehold of fear loosens its grip.”


 

This book has helped me personally in the formative years of my life, and I use it professionally to help guide my clients through the process of self-acceptance and self-empowerment.

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, PhD, psychotherapist and Buddhist teacher, addresses the idea that so many of us walk around with the false belief that we are broken or flawed in some way. I often see this in the ways in which my clients stay in toxic relationships, or rather, avoid relationships because of feelings of worthlessness.

This book highlights for my clients what is really at stake when we live life in a trance of self-judgment and self-criticism which creates an inordinate amount of suffering instead of a life where one can thrive. Dr. Brach also offers free podcasts on her website: tarabrach.com.

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Other Bibliotherapy Recommendations

Anxiety



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Chronic Pain



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Mind-Body-Brain Wellness



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Mindfulness



Mindful Poetry


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Mood



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Personal and Professional Fulfillment



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Sleep Hygiene



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Stress Reduction



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