8 books on psychotherapy

I am often asked by both counsellors and clients to recommend books which explain the practical applications of psychotherapy. There are literally thousands available to pick from, but if you are interested in reading about the subject, here are some of my recommendations.


Loves Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin Yalom

IBSN 0140128468

Any book by Irvin Yalom is worth reading, his writing is so informative and engaging that you won’t want to put this book down. Yalom details 10 case studies with clients he has worked with over the years. He candidly recalls his own feelings and experiences of the work, including his own mistakes, and reflects on how his actions impacted on the client. This is a great easy-to-read book which provides real insight into the process of psychotherapy.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

IBSN 978911617044

Lori Gottlieb describes a year in the shoes of a therapist. Whilst the material is heavily disguised to protect client confidentiality, the content is based on her real-life experiences. Gottlieb beautifully demonstrates the balance between a therapist's desire to help her clients whilst also recognising that she needs some help as well. The book depicts the changing relationships between therapist, clients and friends, and is both an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.

The Devil You Know by Dr Gwen Adhsead and Eileen Horne

IBSN 9780571357604

Dr Gwen Adhsead is a forensic psychiatrist and this book details a series of case studies taken from her time working with offenders in prison. It offers a fascinating insight into both the work of a therapist and the history and personal lives of the offenders. The book demonstrates a strong link between childhood experiences and the subsequent behaviours of offenders and while it makes no attempt to condone the crimes that have been committed, it does help in trying to understand them.

An Introduction to the Therapeutic Frame by Anne Gray

IBSN 9780415817288

Anne Gray provides an interesting account of the importance of creating a robust therapeutic frame in psychotherapy and provides several interesting case studies which explain this well. The book describes key terms such as ‘transference’ and ‘counter transference’ and Gray demonstrates their application throughout. Whilst this book is predominately aimed at those training to be therapists, Gray is able to portray the therapeutic experience from both the therapist and the client perspective and, therefore, I think clients may find this useful too.

The Emotionally Absent Mother by Jasmin Lee Cori

IBSN 9781615193837

This book highlights the importance of emotional support in childhood and explores the adult experience of growing up without this support. It recognises the deprivation that children without emotional support experience and gives practical suggestions of how this can be overcome as an adult. 

Nurturing Children by Graham Music

ISBN 9781138340602

Graham Music provides a series of case studies taken from his experiences of working with children. Each case study examines a particular issue and Music describes the processes and techniques he used in each individual case. This book is essential reading for those training to be child psychotherapists but will also appeal to both adult psychotherapists and anyone who is interested in child development. 

Dangerous Lunatics by Brett Khar

ISBN 9781913494063

Brett Khar looks at the most serious crimes that have been committed and examines how Freud and the early psychoanalysis movement would have viewed these crimes. Khar evidences a link between severe childhood trauma and criminality later in life and provides a compelling and thought-provoking argument for this. An interesting book if you are interested in understanding crime and deviant behaviour.

Freud – A life for Our Time by Peter Gay

IBSN 0333486382

This is a hefty book of 810 pages but is an important read for anyone who wishes to understand the life of Sigmund Freud. Peter Gay provides a detailed biography of Freud’s life from his birth in 1865 to his death in 1939. The reader is left feeling as if they know Freud, and this background is certainly helpful to anyone who wishes to study his work. A great book for psychotherapy trainees.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG23 8PY
Written by Isobel Brooks, BSc, MSc, MBACP (Accred)
Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG23 8PY

Isobel Brooks is a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist working in private practice in Basingstoke. (www.talkingroots.co.uk). She offers both face to face and online sessions. Isobel also works part-time for Basingstoke Counselling Service.

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