Great Resources

      These are books, videos, and other resources that I've found invaluable in my exploration of brain science, mental health issues, and the existential crises we all find ourselves in at various points in our lives. Some of the books may now be out-of-print and expensive. It may be easier to borrow them from your library or find used versions on sites like bookfinder.com. I will add to this list based on new discoveries.

Your fellow traveler,

Matt

Resources
for Everyone

  1.  Daring Greatly has shaped the national conversation around vulnerability and shame. Brené Brown, Ph.D., MSW, continues to inspire us with her wisdom and spot-on research. Her original TED Talks on "The Power of Vulnerability" and, a year later, "Listening to Shame" are still videos I recommend clients watch.

  2. Soft Belly Breathing may sound too simple to do you any good when your anxiety is off-the-charts. But it's grounded in science. And it changes lives. Many of the police officers who responded to the U.S. Capitol during the January 6th insurrection are healing because of it. In case you don't make it down the page to the mindfulness section, I wanted to mention here the great work of James Gordon, M.D. He's been a guest on NPR's On Being, where he did a quick demonstration of the soft belly breathing technique. He's also created a video called "Soft Belly Meditation." 

  3. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness is a true life thriller, in my view. One of the world's preeminent authorities on bipolar disorder, which she still prefers to call manic-depressive illness, reveals she has it herself. Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., allows us to feel what it's like to be off one's medication and suffer life-threatening episodes. In the end, the book provides clients with confidence that despite a serious mental health diagnosis one can still ascend to the heights of one's profession. 

  4. Codependent No More has one of the best first chapters of any book I've ever read. If you're a people pleaser who has trouble setting boundaries, perhaps you should read this book.

  5. Understanding the Borderline Mother is a book that often deeply touches the adult child of a mother with borderline personality disorder. They may instantly recognize one or more of the character profiles the author describes.

  6. Keeping the Love You Find by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. & Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D. requires an investment on your part. You really need to do the exercises to learn why you choose the partners you do. While I am not a practitioner of Hendrix and Hunt's Imago Therapy, I firmly believe in their hypothesis: We choose our partners based on an amalgam of what Parent #1 gave us and did not give us (but we needed from them) and what Parent #2 gave us and did not give us (but we needed from them). This book is great for clients who keep dating the same type of person with negative results or who've gone through a divorce and are ready to date again.

 
 

LGBTQ+ Books

  1.  Becoming Nicole tells the story of identical twins in a family with a conservative father and what happens when one of the twins recognizes they're transgender. A Washington Post reporter was embedded with the family for years in order to write this book.

  2. When We Rise: My Life in the Movement by Cleve Jones. Here's a man who knew Harvey Milk and came up with the idea for the AIDS Memorial Quilt. I particularly love reading about what San Francisco was like in the 1970's. 

  3. Carol came to my attention when Cate Blanchett starred in the film version in 2015. Imagine that this novel, about a lesbian affair between a sales clerk and a housewife, was first published in 1952.

  4. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim I enjoy David Sedaris for his humorous lens on family life. Between the lines of his writing is this acknowledgement that if his family was this eccentric then it's ok if our families of origin weren't "normal" either. I love it when he talks about his 30-year relationship with Hugh, too.

  5. Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a book I stumbled upon at an independent bookstore --- which is why I love independent bookstores! Just now, I randomly opened my copy to page 282 where there's practical information about what scrotoplasty is and the approximate cost ($3,000 to $5,000). There is a ton of practical information in this book. But what makes it even more valuable are all of the essays and pictures throughout. On page 118, for instance, is an elementary school teacher who worries about rejection from students. These essays allow us to commune with allies and trailblazers we might never have met otherwise. 

Mindfulness

  1. The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. Experience this book by yourself without the cacophony of online reader opinions. So no link to Goodreads here. When you're in a space where you're open to learning about mindfulness, try this "manual on meditation" and give yourself the time and grace to see if this new way of experiencing the world works for you.

  2. Soft Belly Breathing. (See above.)

  3. Strength to Love by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If we are truly mindful, we must learn how to view our enemies with compassion. Dr. King was writing about this in the early 1960's.

  4. Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn has a preface by Thich Nhat Hanh. This book was introduced to me in graduate school by the veteran therapist who led our mindfulness clinician group. Kabat-Zinn does a great job of showing us the evidence from his hospital of how mindfulness helps patients get better and, therefore, can help us lead healthier lives.

  5. As my clients are well aware (because I remind them so often), I recommend starting one's practice with the free guided meditations at fragrantheart.com. There's a whole menu of meditations to choose from, depending on what you're going through or want to work on.

Books for
Grad Students & Therapists

 
  1. Weekends at Bellevue by Julie Holland, M.D. For anyone wanting to understand America's mental health system and learn what it's like to treat someone with complex mental illness, this book is a great start. I found Dr. Holland's honesty and insights to be what kept me reading. I'm not sure how many of her critics on Goodreads have ever worked or spent a lot of time in hospitals but the gallows humor and raw emotion she captured on each page seemed very authentic to me.

  2. An Unquiet Mind. (See above.)

  3. Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. I have to thank a group of exceptional public school teachers in Cincinnati I did a story on for telling me about this book. Dr. Dweck's writing and research is now why I talk with all of my adolescent clients about whether their hopes and dreams include going to university. Still today, I'm sometimes the first one who's ever asked them.

  4. Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning I'm so glad I read this before grad school. It introduced me to the concept of retrieval practice, which now allows me to introduce the practice to young clients struggling in school. Many kids have never been taught "how to study." Come to think of it, I don't think anyone ever taught me how to study either. In collaboration with the Make it Stick authors, an education website has free downloads for helping students study in this evidence-based way.

  5. Dynamics of Romantic Love: Attachment, Caregiving, and Sex edited by Mario Mikulincer and Gail S. Goodman. If you want to understand the latest research on attachment --- and certainly if you ever want to do couples therapy --- this is a must read book. Each chapter is a revelation. We owe much to John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth for their original insights into attachment.

  6. The Gift of Therapy and any book by Irvin D. Yalom, M.D., whether they're his nonfiction or fictional works. He is the master. This book was my introduction to Yalom. I thank him for showing me and so many others how to integrate existential psychotherapy into the modern therapy room.

  7. In the Mind Fields: Exploring the New Science of Neuropsychoanalysis Author Casey Schwartz takes us with her on a journey around the world for visits with some of the greatest thinkers and researchers of our time. 

  8. Freud and Beyond: A History of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought (Updated 2016 edition). Is Freud relevant at all today? This book says yes because his hypotheses led to what is happening in therapy rooms across the U.S., whether one is seeing an analyst or a CBT therapist. The authors do a wonderful job of tracing those hypotheses through their later, competing iterations and winds-up with a look at what modern psychoanalysis looks like today. I am particularly impressed with the authors' presentation of what they consider today's leading psychoanalytic views on the psychological development and inner experiences of infants and toddlers. That was quite profound for me. In addition, for those who have trouble coming to terms with Freud's oedipal complex, this book may put it into better context for you. 

  9. She has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity Our society has swung so far in its believe that DNA is destiny that author Carl Zimmer takes a step back in this book and looks at what the latest research actually says. Zimmer finds that our culture and environment play big roles when it comes to genes and the lives we will live. The book is filled with great stories, including what happened when his daughter and other young humans were put to the test against their primate relatives.

  10. Psychodynamic Psychiatry This journal is a great way to stay up-to-date on research and the latest thinking regarding psychodynamic therapy.

Great Film/Video

Representations

of Therapy