Therapy has been shown to improve your relationships, teach you coping mechanisms, and to work through past trauma. But therapy can be a daunting step, especially for people who need to know what they’re getting into before walking into that office for the first time. What is it going to look like, what are the “rules?” What kinds of things might a therapist ask you? What questions should you ask yourself? What are the benefits of different types of therapy? These are all questions many of us have before making that first appointment.
For those of us who read, sometimes a good way to get the inside scoop about what things might look like is to read about them! Luckily for us all, there are many books about the therapy experience that can help us prepare, or even build up the courage, to make that call. Some come directly from therapists, so you can get an idea of what they’re thinking and the experience from the other side of the therapy relationship. Some come from people who went to therapy and saw benefits firsthand. Either way, books like these are great to get a better idea of what to expect before you ever step through the door.
9 Nonfiction Books About Therapy
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
Are you curious about what it’s like, day in and day out, as therapists meet with their patients? What about when a therapist needs a therapist of her own? Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is about exactly that! Lori Gottlieb’s conversational style takes readers through the stories of those who come to her for help, and her journey seeking help herself.
Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life by Christie Tate
Group therapy really does help and Group is proof of that fact. Christie Tate was a top-performing student with total control over her life when suicidal ideation plagues her. Her therapist suggests a psychotherapy group where all she has to do is tell the truth. How hard can that be? In truthful and sometimes funny tales from around the circle, readers get a true sense of therapy and its benefits.
What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo
After a rocky childhood, Stephanie Foo has her life figured out. But, when no one is looking, panic attacks plague her. Soon, she is diagnosed with complex PTSD and Foo sets off on a journey to heal from her past. Through different therapies, trips to her hometown, and numerous interviews, readers following along with Foo as she navigates the world of healing.
What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Bruce D. Perry, M.D. Ph.D and Oprah Winfrey
Through recounting stories from her past, Oprah Winfrey and psychiatrist Bruce Perry explore what it is that makes us act the way we do. With personal insights and glimpses into Perry’s past research and patients, readers will get a sense of both the sciencey and the human side of therapy and learn a thing or two along the way. It’s a great way to learn about what therapy can do for you from the comfort of home.
The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help you Deserve by Rheeda Walker, PhD
Psychologist and African American mental health expert Rheeda Walker sets out to fix the barriers to mental health help Black people face in our society. You will learn signs of mental health issues to look for in yourself and in others, the impact these have on your life and relationships, and get an in-depth guide on how to navigate the overwhelming world of therapy.
In Therapy: The Unfolding Story by Susie Orbach
Therapy doesn’t always have to be about the big things. It can be as simple as wanting someone to help you learn more about yourself! Susie Orbach gives readers a glimpse onto her couch through a series of cast studies from her many years as a psychotherapist. For those curious about the way therapy works from inside the room, this is a great start.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
After 30 years working with survivors of all kinds of trauma, van der Kolk put together The Body Keeps the Score, full of case studies and practical advice on working through trauma. Just sitting down and talking to someone isn’t always the answer. Yoga, sports, meditation, all of it goes according to his research into the ways in which our bodies hold onto trauma in ways we don’t even realize.
The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves by Stephen Grosz
Through stories from Grosz’s career as a psychoanalyst, Grosz’s calm and compassionate writing style is sure to stick with you along with his observations. You’ll realize reading this just how connected we all are when it comes to our hopes and fears, loss and love. With chapters on grief, closure, and confidence, everyone is sure to find something useful in this, a testament to the usefulness of therapy in general.