Top Summer Reading Picks for Therapists

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Whether you’re resting, exploring, adventuring or working hard this summer, here are a few of the best books for therapists I’ve read lately. All of these books are inspiring, practical and super relevant for everyone whose work is about helping other humans to heal.

The Art of Holding Space: A Practice of Love, Liberation, and Leadership

By Heather Plett

You may have read the article by Heather Plett that went viral a few years ago: What it means to ‘hold space’ for people, plus eight tips to do it well. Heather Plett’s new book, The Art of Holding Space is written with compassion, guidance and accountability. It covers the essentials of holding space, authenticity, and the difference between safe spaces and ‘brave spaces’. It looks at refining your container, creating circles of trust, and much more. It’s a beautiful and hope-filled book for times of crisis and instability, when we’re all called on to hold space for each other and for ourselves.

My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

By Resmaa Menakem

Resmaa Menakem is a therapist with a background in social work, specialising in trauma, body-centred psychotherapy and violence prevention. He traces the effects of white supremacy on all of our bodies and psyches, regardless of the colour of our skin. My Grandmother’s Hands takes you on a historical journey, and brings in decades of trauma psychology and research. Very readable and written with warmth and insight, this is a much needed and hopeful book.

What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing

By Dr Bruce D. Perry & Oprah Winfrey

Whether or not you work specifically with trauma, some (many) of your clients will be carrying those experiences in their bodies and minds. Understanding the effects of trauma and the essential elements of healing and recovery will always contribute positively to the space you hold for your clients. What Happened to You? is written by Dr Bruce Perry (neuroscientist and expert in childhood trauma) and Oprah Winfrey, with empathy, clear-sightedness and storytelling. It’s highly recommended for students and practitioners of manual therapies, talking therapies, or any work that helps humans to heal. It asks the question: how does the possibility of healing change when we shift away from questions like ‘What’s wrong with you?’ towards asking ‘What happened to you?’

Burnout: The Secret to Solving the Stress Cycle

By Emily Nagoski & Amelia Nagoski

Stress, burnout and self-care are regular topics of conversation in therapeutic circles. But if we really want to make self-care a priority, then understanding how stress plays out in our bodies and in our culture matters. Emily and Amelia Nagoski explain why it’s important to differentiate between stress (the neurophysiological shift that happens in our bodies) and the stressors that trigger it. Stressors can be external (work, family, money, time, discrimination, cultural norms) or internal (memories, self-criticism, shame, trauma history, thoughts of The Future). Burnout emphasises the importance of completing the stress cycle, and prioritising rest, self-kindness and human connection. This is such a positive and actionable book – perfect for summer reading and a reset before returning to work!

Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience

By Brené Brown

Over many years of research, Brené Brown found that most people could name only three emotions while they were experiencing them: happiness, sadness and anger. Being able to name and understand our emotions, which includes having the language to describe them, goes a long way towards helping us to regulate them. It also helps us to find a sense of groundedness and safety, to connect with others, and to heal. 

In Atlas of the Heart, Brené Brown highlights no less than 87 emotions and experiences that are part of being human, as well as covering helpful distinctions (for example, the difference between anger and disappointment, or between feeling stressed, overwhelmed or anxious). I would count this among the best books for therapists – it’s a wonderful resource, as it’s essentially about creating a depth of connection with others and with ourselves.

I hope this list provides you with inspiration, ideas, information and stories to take into the summer! 

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Hi, I'm Sara.
I'm a therapist & a course creator.

I believe that growing a therapy practice doesn't have to mean following the marketing crowd or compromising on your values. It's about being your authentic self, settling clear goals, and making sure you have right support along the way. We're here to help you do just that...and more.

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