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9 Psychologist-Approved Must-Reads on Mental Health

9 Psychologist-Approved Must-Reads on Mental HealthPsychologists are a discerning bunch when it comes to books. Because of their insider’s view of mental health and psychology, they’re able to sharply judge a book’s accuracy and value. We asked five psychologists what books they’d recommend to readers.

Below, you’ll find books on everything from applying cognitive therapy for anxiety reduction to parenting well to living a meaningful life to supporting a child through eating disorder recovery.

1. The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns

According to psychologist and attention expert Lucy Jo Palladino, Ph.D, this book offers “A clear, useful explanation of the benefits and techniques of cognitive therapy, with self-help instruction for depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, fears, phobias, communication problems and more.” (Feeling Good Handbook on

2. Spark by John Ratey

A second pick of Palladino, this book is “An intelligent presentation of new research on the vital link between brain health and physical movement.” She adds: “Read it first for the valuable information; then reread the parts that renew your motivation to exercise regularly to improve your concentration, mood and resilience to stress.” (Spark on

3. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

This book, Palladino says, helps “busy parents…raise capable, cooperative, emotionally stable children.” Specifically, she says that it’s “based on the brilliant work of Dr. Haim Ginott, and full of helpful cartoons, bulleted summaries, and simple yet effective exercises.” (How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk on

4. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Jeffrey Sumber, M.A., psychotherapist, author and teacher, recommends this book often to “clients confronting their meaning in life.” Siddhartha is about “the journey of a young man on a quest to know himself and charts the sometimes confusing choices he makes in order to find a sense of deep peace.” He says that “…the book provides enough real analogies to our modern lives with enough emotional distance to make it a perfect teaching tool for therapy.” (Siddhartha on

5. Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life by Steve Hayes

According to anxiety specialist Chad LeJeune, Ph.D, this is “a challenging title for a challenging book, but one very much worth the effort. It provides “a revolutionary way to look at [readers’] experience of themselves and of life.”

Specifically, Hayes “talks about how trying to avoid uncomfortable feelings or situations limits our life too much, so by learning to accept and tolerate those discomforts, we can pursue a bigger, more interesting, and more meaningful life,” says ADHD expert Ari Tuckman, Ph.D, who also recommends the book. (Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life on

6. Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder by James Lock and Daniel le Grange.

Elizabeth M. Davis, PsyD, clinical director of child and adolescent services for the Eating Recovery Center, says this book has “been essential in my helping parents and loved ones gain a greater sense of eating disorders and their role in recovery.” Like the book below it, Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder helps to foster “greater awareness of oneself in the treatment process” and educates loved ones on how to best give support. (Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder on

7. Skills-based Learning for Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder by Janet Treasure, Grainne Smith and Anna Crane

Another one of Davis’s essential reads on eating disorders, this book provides practical pointers and evidence-based information for supporting a loved one.

She also says that both books are “helpful for assisting parents in letting go of their guilt and shame during the treatment process, which has little to no room in the road to recovery for these families.” (Skills-based Learning for Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder on

8. Intimacy and Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship by David Schnarch

Tuckman recommends this book to individuals struggling in their relationships. He cautions that “It can be sexually explicit at times, but has lots of great information for people looking to improve both their relationship and their own individual dynamics.” (Intimacy and Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship on

9. The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne

This book is valuable for anyone struggling with anxiety, Tuckman says. It “has tons of good information about causes of anxiety, treatment options, and lots of strategies to address it.” (The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook on

Additional Resources

The above psychologists have also written various valuable books, including:

The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry & Anxiety using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Chad LeJeune

Dreamers, Discoverers, and Dynamos: How to Help the Child Who is Bright, Bored, and Having Problems at School by Lucy Jo Palladino

Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction and Overload by Lucy Jo Palladino

More Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for Adults with ADHD by Ari Tuckman

Photo by John Manoogian III, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.

9 Psychologist-Approved Must-Reads on Mental Health

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor at Psych Central. She blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her own blog, Weightless, and about creativity on her second blog Make a Mess.

APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2016). 9 Psychologist-Approved Must-Reads on Mental Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 17 May 2016
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 17 May 2016
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