7 Classic Self-Help Books That Actually Help

Here are some of the books that I regularly recommend…

Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy, by David Burns. The best book out there on what cognitive behavioral therapy is, how it works and how to use it to improve self-esteem and your mood.

The Verbally Abusive Relationship, by Patricia Evans. How to recognize verbal abuse (you might be surprised) and how to respond in a non-defensive, self-respectful manner.

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay, by Mira Kirshenbaum. A clear step-by-step guide to help decide whether to stay in or get out of your relationship.

Controlling People, also by Patricia Evans. How to recognize, understand, and deal with people who try to control you. It’s not about assigning blame, it’s about taking responsibility.

Codependent No More, by Melodie Beattie. How to stop controlling others and start caring for yourself.

Stop Walking On Eggshells, by Paul Mason & Randi Kreger. Taking your life back when someone you care about has Borderline Personality Disorder.

Getting the Love You Want, by Harville Hendrix. A guide for couples to understand why we choose the people we marry and, if you are ready to work at it, how to build a “passionate friendship.”

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, (and it’s all small stuff), by Richard Carlson. A classic little book with a big message.

Do you have a favorite? If it’s not here please share in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of Yuikei L via Flickr


  • Diana

    Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy was a book I found 2 years ago.
    It helped get through and out of bulimia and depression.
    I needed much work on other areas as well, but it set the start and ongoing improvement of my life.

  • Dear Diana, I’m so glad you found Feeling Good at a critical time in your life. I think books, the right books, are a wonderful tool to help work through a rough time, and, as you say, get started toward recovery. In therapy I use them as session ‘extenders,’ to reinforce our work in the office hour.
    Not everyone’s a reader. But when it works most people say one big thing they get out of a good self-help book is the knowledge that they are not alone.

  • Fred

    Richard Carson’s (mentioned above) book TAMING THE GREMLIN is a wonderful classic, too, as a deceptively simple but brilliant way to wrestle and win with the “inner critic” side of our personality.

  • Thank you for sharing this book. I wasn’t familiar with it, but I will correct that as soon as possible. The revised edition, Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way can be found at this link http://bit.ly/8jKv4a.

  • Naya

    “Authentic Happiness” by Dr. Martin Seligman is a book that has influenced me quite a bit. I had some serious misconceptions about what helped folks achieve happiness (e.g., “If I only had more money…”). It was a required reading in a positive psychology class I took as an undergraduate. I can honestly say it was life changing.

  • Dear Naya, Thanks for the suggestion. I’m familiar with Dr. Seligman and his work in developing the study of the psychology of happiness. He’s a pioneer.

  • I’m so glad you mentioned Patricia Evans’ book, it’s one that I recommend all the time. It’s always interesting to see how clients may resonate or not with what is there. Sometimes they see themselves as well, and that is a great thing. Thanks for sharing your list!


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