Book Recommendations*



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Anger Management

I have been recommending Asserting Yourself for years to help people learn and substitute new, healthy assertive behaviors for old, self-defeating patterns of aggressive behaviors or passive (nonassertive) behaviors. If you like the look and feel of a workbook, you will like this book because the authors provide lots of exericises. My favorite part of the book is the four-step technique for handling interpersonal conflicts--DESC scripts: Describe the other person’s behavior objectively in concrete terms, Express your feelings calmly about this behavior, Specify the concrete actions you want to see stopped and those you want instead, Consequences--make them explicit--rewards for change, punishments for no change. This four-step process of formatting an assertive response helps you steer a course between the extremes of being aggressive and passive. I highly recommend this book to anyone with assertiveness problems, including those with anger management issues.





Now in its ninth edition, Your Perfect Right is the guide for assertiveness most recommended by therapists. Read the reviews on Amazon and you will see why this book is called the ‘bible” of assertiveness. As the title suggests, we have the perfect right to express what we want and act in our own best interests in family, work, and social situations. And we can do this while respecting the same right that others have to be assertive. I have been recommending this book for years. Some of my clients like this book better than Asserting Yourself. I highly recommend getting both books.









Therapists commonly recommend the The Feeling Good Handbook to their clients. This book is a follow-up to Dr. Burns’ classic, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. I recommend the Handbook because it provides help on a broader range of topics. Dr. Burns gives a clearly written summary of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). He provides written exercises to help you understand the connections between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in stressful situations. He then helps you gain control of the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems, including anger. The signature strength of this book is not that it covers anger in greta detail; it does not. What this book does do is help you understand (a) the general cognitive theory of emotions--that what we feel (including anger) is determined by what we think--and (b) how to feel better by learning and using various techniques to identify and change dysfunctional patterns of thinking. Also useful to those with anger management issues is Part IV. Feeling Good Togethr: How to Strengthen Relationships Through Better Communication.




How To Control Your Anger Before It Controls You by Drs. Albert Ellis (“the grandfather of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and Raymond Chip Tafrate present cognitive-behavioral techniques to help understand that our angry reactions to difficult people in work, home, and social situations are rooted in the way we think about these situations, and that by changing our thoughts, we can change our reactions. I highly recommend this book.










Patricia Evans book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond, is a classic self-help book targeted primarily at woman in abusive relationships with men. Read with an open mind, the book offers insights that also apply to men in verbally abusive relationships with women. When people with anger management issues read this book, it can help them see more clearly the impact of their angry behavior has on other people and motivate them to change.









Children, Adolescents, Families

This book is a must-read for any parent. It is concise and well-written. I personally like the use of cartoons to help parents grasp parenting techniques: A picture sometimes is worth a thousand words. I usually recommend this book to parents in family counseling. I have used the authors' techniques in my home with good results.










From the same authors of the above book, another must-read book for parents of teenagers. I am now recommending this book to parents in family therapy. Now that I have one of these teens myself, I have begun using these techniques in my home.











This is an excellent book on parenting from the well-respected psychologist Dr. John Gottman, his wife, and the author/psychologist Dr. Dan Goleman, who helped popularize the concept of emotional intelligence. The book helps parents identify, evaluate, and modify their parenting styles and become emotional coaches to their children. I highly recommend this book.










This little book provides a four step procedure for stopping backtalk from getting out of control. I often recommend this to parents in family therapy.













Generalized Anxiety, Panic, Phobias, PTSD, Social Anxiety

Therapists commonly recommend the The Feeling Good Handbook to their clients. This book is a follow-up to Dr. Burns’ classic, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. I recommend the Handbook because it provides help on a broader range of topics. Dr. Burns gives a clearly written summary of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). He provides written exercises to help you understand the connections between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in stressful situations. He then helps you gain control of the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems.

I’ve been using this book in therapy with my clients for years with good results. Warning: You can’t just sit back and read this book passively. You absolutely have to do the exercises to benefit from reading this book. And it is best to have the one-on-one guidance of a licensed professional therapist on how to best use this book in your unique set of circumstances. Professional feedback really helps you acquire skill in monitoring and managing your moods.

Another warning: This is not bedtime reading material. I remember one of my clients had terrible insomnia. I asked him about his nightly routine before going to sleep. He told me he had a stack of self-help books on his bed stand and randomly picked one up to read before going to sleep. By doing this every night, he was seeing how many problems he had and what he could and should do to fix these problems. He didn’t know where to start. He felt overwhelmed by all the things he should do and how little he was really doing. He was unwittingly inducing anxiety, guilt, and demoralization on a nightly basis. No wonder he couldn’t get to sleep! I advised him to put his self-help books in a closet and work with me on mastering one skill at a time. His insomnia soon lifted and he recovered from his depression. There is lesson to be learned here for anyone into these “self-hell” books.


Love, Marriage, Divorce

This book is for serious students of love only. My thinking about love and marriage is informed by this edited collection of essays, especially Sternberg's chapter on his Triangular Theory of Love, which I have summarized in one of my blogs ("Model of Love"). This is not a self-help book.











This book is also for serious students of love only. This is not a self-help book.












This book is also for serious and advanced students of love only. The author writes lucidly, concisely, and, at times, a little to dryly. She draws on empirical studies to develop and anchor her theory. The book was published in 1995 so the citations are getting a little stale. I still think many of Dr. Prager's conclusions are timeless. I blogged on one of her insights (An Example of Non-Verbal Intimacy). This is not a self-help book.










As a marriage counselor/couples therapist, I often recommend this book to couples experiencing relationship difficulties. Unlike "Psych Jocks" on TV and radio, Dr. Gottman has devoted his life to researching intimate relationships. He has had thousands of couples in his "love lab," filling out questionnaires, having their interactions videotaped, and even having their physiological stress responses monitored during these interactions. Dr. Gottman has been able to predict with remarkable accuracy which couples stay together and which ones don't. Two criticisms: Unless I'm missing something, I think Gottman lacks an overarching theory of intimate relationships to help couples digest his research findings and guide them through the process of improving their relationships. I also think that he sometimes gets a little too cute and gimmicky with his phrases (e.g.,"four horseman of the apocalypse"). He keeps on publishing more and more relationship self-help books, but for my money this one is just fine. When I use this book in marriage/couples counseling, I ask partners to buy two books because there are questionnaires that need to be completed by each partner.





Another well-written, research-based book that I am recommending to people in marital/couples therapy.












A very practical and readable book that I am recommending to partners in marriage counseling/couples therapy.












I often recommend this book to couples experiencing relationship difficulties. The authors ground their recommendations in years of research and field trials.











This is a must-read for couples affected by infidelity. The book is well-written in non-technical language. I regularly incorporate this book into marriage counseling sessions when infidelity is the issue. I have found that when a spouse refuses to read this book, the prognosis is not good.












Mood Disorders, Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Therapists commonly recommend the The Feeling Good Handbook to their clients. This book is a follow-up to Dr. Burns’ classic, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. I recommend the Handbook because it provides help on a broader range of topics. Dr. Burns gives a clearly written summary of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). He provides written exercises to help you understand the connections between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in stressful situations. He then helps you gain control of the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems.

I’ve been using this book in therapy with my clients for years with good results. Warning: You can’t just sit back and read this book passively. You absolutely have to do the exercises to benefit from reading this book. And it is best to have the one-on-one guidance of a licensed professional therapist on how to best use this book in your unique set of circumstances. Professional feedback really helps you acquire skill in monitoring and managing your moods.

Another warning: This is not bedtime reading material. I remember one of my clients had terrible insomnia. I asked him about his nightly routine before going to sleep. He told me he had a stack of self-help books on his bed stand and randomly picked one up to read before going to sleep. By doing this every night, he was seeing how many problems he had and what he could and should do to fix these problems. He didn’t know where to start. He felt overwhelmed by all the things he should do and how little he was really doing. He was unwittingly inducing anxiety, guilt, and demoralization on a nightly basis. No wonder he couldn’t get to sleep! I advised him to put his self-help books in a closet and work with me on mastering one skill at a time. His insomnia soon lifted and he recovered from his depression. There is lesson to be learned here for anyone into these “self-hell” books.














Sex & Sex Therapy

We used to give copies of this book to male patients in the Sexual Counseling Service at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. This edition is even better than the first. I routinely recommend this book to my clients--female as well as male. The chapter on Myths is alone worth the price of the book. So is the chapter on medications that can have adverse effects on sexual functioning. Bernie Zilbergeld's writing style is very engaging and witty. I highly recommend this book. I will be giving a copy of this to my son in a few years.









This is a classic self-help book written to help with female orgasmic disorder (anorgasmia). More generally, the book is designed to help woman realize their full potential for sexual fulfillment. We used to give copies of this book to female patients in the Sexual Counseling Service at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Men should also read it. This new and expanded edition is better than the first. This book is useful resource for patients receiving sex therapy for orgasmic difficulties, but should not be considered a substitute for sex therapy delivered by a qualified sex therapist.









This is an excellent and much-needed book on the subject of erectile dysfunction. Psychologists Metz and McCarthy are experts in the field of sex therapy and authoritatively yet concisely cover the topic of erectile dysfunction in this 170 page paperback. Along the way, they do a good job of clearing up some myths and misinformation. I highly recommend this book to men (and their partners) as a resource to be used during the course of sex therapy for erectile dysfunction. I have serious reservations about using this book as a substitute for sex therapy provided by a qualified sex therapist.








An authoritative book on the subject of premature ejaculation (or what some sex therapists prefer to call "rapid ejaculation"). As sex therapists, the authors do an excellent job of presenting accurate and useful information on the topic of erectile dysfunction. I highly recommend this book to men (and their partners) as a resource to be used during the course of sex therapy for premature ejaculation. I have serious reservations about using this book as a substitute for sex therapy from a qualified sex therapist.









Edited by Dr. Sandra Leiblum, a well-respected international expert (and one of the professors who first taught me sex therapy), this book is now in its fourth edition. Published in 2007, this book provide relatively up-to-date information and broad coverage on the practice of sex therapy. The chapters are authored by leading experts in the field and are well-organized, well-written, and well-edited with the practitioner of sex therapy in mind. I highly recommend Dr. Leiblum's book to health care professionals and serious students of human sexuality. This is definitely not a self-help book.









*Note: I (Dr. Garamoni) do not agree with everything in these books or the positions on social and political issues taken by some of these authors. People with advanced degrees sometimes think that their doctor of philosophy in psychology qualifies them to philosophize, but it is quite apparent to me that it does not.





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