David Yarian, Ph.D. Recommends Self Help Books

I'm often asked to recommend self help books; so much so that I have created The Guide to Self Help Books with over 1,000 recommended books in 46 different categories.

Below are the books I find myself recommending most, for specific issues. This is not an exhaustive list. Please consult The Guide to Self Help Books for more options.


The Anxiety and Phobia WorkbookThe Anxiety and Phobia Workbook

Edmund Bourne

Bourne teaches specific self help skills for overcoming problems with panic, anxiety and phobias. There is information on the appropriate use of medications and herbal supplements. This is a practical and highly regarded self help resource on the treatment of anxiety. 2011, New Harbinger

This book has been extensively reviewed by Dr. Yarian. Read Dr. Yarian's Full Book Review

Calming Your Anxious MindCalming Your Anxious Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You From Anxiety, Fear and Panic

Jeffrey Brantley and Jon Kabat-Zinn

This compassionate book teaches the principle of mindfulness to relieve a wide range of stress-related conditions. Mindfulness is receptive, non-judgmental, present- moment awareness, a state of focusing attention only on the here and now. The book teaches skills for calming and relaxing the mind and body. 2007, New Harbinger

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Blended Families

StepcouplingStepcoupling: Creating and Sustaining a Strong Marriage in Today's Blended Family

Susan Wisdom, Jennifer Green

Blending two existing families into one cohesive whole is the challenge facing millions of remarried Americans today. Different parenting styles, finances, relationships with ex-spouses, legal matters -- all can chisel away at your union if you don't always make your marriage a priority. This invaluable remarriage manual can help you make your stepcouple the foundation of a strong, happy, and successful stepfamily. 2002, Three Rivers Press 

StepwivesStepwives: Ten Steps to Help Ex-Wives and Step-Mothers End the Struggle and Put the Kids First

Louise Oxhorn, Lynne Oxhorn-Ringwood, Marjorie Krausz

Once bitter enemies (Louise married Lynne's ex-husband), the authors, with the assistance of psychologist Krausz, created a ten-step program called Co-Mamas to help ex-wives and step-mothers build a healthy relationship that puts children first. The book offers practical suggestions for developing empathy and learning to lessen tension and support the children caught in a divorce. 2002, Fireside

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Peaceful MindPeaceful Mind: Using Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Psychology to Overcome Depression

John McQuaid and Paula Carmona

The authors write, "a life shaken by depression is also a life open to the possibility of deep transformation." This book recommends a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and meditation. CBT teaches you to track your thoughts, observe behaviors, and notice how these affect depression. By changing thoughts and behaviors you learn how to change your emotions and mood. Meditation trains you to observe your life and thoughts. Both approaches help you identify and then change core beliefs that influence depression, thereby resulting in new core beliefs based on your values. 2004, New Harbinger

Undoing DepressionUndoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Medication Can't Give You

Richard O'Connor

In this book psychotherapist Richard O'Connor shows us how to "undo" depression, by replacing depressive patterns of thinking, relating, and behaving with a new and more effective set of skills. His approach is truly holistic, synthesizing the best of the many schools of thought about this painful disease. 2010, Little, Brown and Company

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Family Issues

Going Home without Going CrazyGoing Home without Going Crazy: How to Get Along With Your Parents and Family (Even When They Push Your Buttons

Andra Medea

In this book you'll learn how to use the four-level conflict continuum to understand conflict within your family and work toward resolution. From petty bickering to hurtful remarks to naked aggression, each level of conflict requires a unique approach. Learn to deal with anger and resentment, communicate more effectively, and strengthen relationships with family members.2006, New Harbinger

You Can Go Home AgainThe Genogram Journey: Reconnecting with Your Family

Monica McGoldrick

Those who learn from the past are not condemned to repeat it. In this useful book family therapist McGoldrick explains how the use of genograms (family trees) can bring to light a family's history of estrangement, alliance, divorce, or suicide revealing intergenerational patterns that prove more than coincidental. Genograms of famous families, such as the Kennedys, Hepburns, Beethovens, and Brontes complement discussions of the influence of birth order and sibling rivalry, family myths and secrets, cultural differences, couple relationships, and the pivotal importance of loss. 1991, Bantam

This book has been extensively reviewed by Dr. Yarian. Read Dr. Yarian's Full Book Review »

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Intimate Relationships

Getting the Love You WantGetting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples

Harville Hendrix

This popular book is divided into three sections: the first, “the unconscious marriage” describes how left-over desires and behavior from childhood interfere with the current relationship. The second section “the conscious marriage” describes how a marriage could fulfill childhood needs in a positive manner. The third section is a course in relationship therapy which gives detailed exercises for both partners to follow in order to learn how to replace confrontational criticism with a healing process of mutual growth and support. 2007, Henry Holt & Co; Revised and Updated edition

Journey of the HeartJourney of the Heart: The Path of Conscious Love

John Welwood

This book stands out as a poetically written, wisdom-filled guide to a deeper understanding of the desires and directions of the human heart. The book does not provide easy answers or quick fixes; it gives instead superb suggestions for joining in the most powerful and spiritual union possible. Welwood offers advice for couples on using love’s challenges to grow as individuals and in their relationships. He shows people how the most difficult and confusing areas of relationships can be used to awaken the deepest human strengths and resources. 1996, Perennial

Passionate MarriagePassionate Marriage: Love, Sex and Intimacy in Emotionally Committed Relationships

David Schnarch

Schnarch says that a man is more likely to let a relationship suffer in order to hold on to his sense of self, while a woman is more apt to let her identity suffer to help strengthen a relationship. Schnarch explains how to alter this pattern, encouraging each partner to move towards “differentiation” -- which means holding on to the self while simultaneously remaining in contact with one’s partner. Schnarch teaches how to find inner strength and resilience that can be used to reaffirm a relationship and reignite sex. A classic, highly recommended. 2009, W. W. Norton & Company

Rekindling DesireRekindling Desire: A Step-by-Step Program to Help Low-Sex and No-Sex Marriages

Barry and Emily McCarthy

Sex and marital experts Barry and Emily McCarthy offer a ground-breaking ten-step program to help couples break down the barriers that have developed between them and rebuild closeness and longing. First they show couples how to root out the “poisons” that inhibit sexual desire: shame, guilt, anger, and passivity as well as medical side effects and physical dysfunctions. They then offer techniques and strategies to help couples revitalize desire and integrate intimacy and eroticism. 2003, Brunner-Routledge

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Men's Issues

Awakening from the Deep SleepAwakening From the Deep Sleep: A Powerful Guide for Courageous Men

Robert Pasick

Psychologist Rob Pasick challenges men to wake up from the condition of distance and isolation that results as they are confined to the stereotyped male attitudes and behaviors American society expects of them. He offers pragmatic and helpful ideas to help men identify and trust emotion, to connect comfortably with other men, and to approach sexuality in relationships with women with clearer eyes. 1992, HarperCollins

Finding Our FathersFinding Our Fathers: How a Man's Life Is Shaped by His Relationship with His Father

Samuel Osherson

This book examines the hidden struggle faced by millions of men: how to reconcile their childhood images of their fathers – and of all men – as silent, stoic breadwinners with the life they want to live now: embracing two-career marriages, closer ties with their children, and greater emotional awareness. Harvard psychologist Osherson shows you how your “unfinished business” with your father affects your relationships, your children, friends, and bosses – and how it can lead to a profound sense of loneliness, vulnerability, and rage. Osherson shows how you can resolve the inner conflict of the father-son relationship and develop a new sense of strength and purpose in your family life and career.2001, McGraw Hill

I Don't Want to Talk About ItI Don't Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression

Terrence Real

Many men may hide the reality of their depression from themselves as well as from family and friends. This unacknowledged depression may lead men to hurt the people they love most. Real tells his own story of depression as the son of a depressed father and as a father of young sons. This book teaches men how to acknowledge their pain and restore healthy relationships. 1998, Scribners

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Men's Sexual Health

Coping with Erectile DysfunctionCoping With Erectile Dysfunction: How to Regain Confidence and Enjoy Great Sex

Michael Metz and Barry McCarthy

With a therapeuticaly integrated technique and a unique couple centered approach, two of America's most prominent sex therapists offer men and their partners the most effective solutions available to overcome erectile dysfunction. According to the National Institutes of Health, between 15 and 30 million men experience chronic erectile dysfunction. 2004, New Harbinger

Coping with Premature EjaculationCoping With Premature Ejaculation: How to Overcome PE, Please Your Partner and Have Great Sex

Michael Metz and Barry McCarthy

Metz and McCarthy are leading experts in premature ejaculation. This book explores a multi-dimensional, bio-psychological approach to dealing with this problem and strengthening your sexual relationship. Many myths of male sexual performance and male sexual desire are explained. The authors teach about the different types of premature ejaculation and provide assessment exercises for the reader to determine which type of PE he suffers with. The authors suggest structured symptom-specific treatment strategies based on psychological, relational, and physiological techniques. Designed as a resource for couples, this book is a powerful tool for creating support and positive change in your relationship. 2004, New Harbinger

Great SexGreat Sex: A Man's Guide to the Secret Principles of Total Body Sex

Michael Castleman

Castleman’s message to men is surprisingly simple: stop imitating the rushed, all- genital sex seen in pornography. Instead, he suggests, cultivate the opposite: leisurely, playful, total body, massage-based love-making that includes the genitals but is not focused on them. This is a well-written book filled with wit and wisdom and state of the art information. It’s the “sex manual” you wish your dad had handed you. 2004, Rodale Press

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Recovery from Childhood Abuse

The Courage to HealThe Courage to Heal

Ellen Bass and Laura Davis

This book is a classic resource for women who were sexually abused as children. Clearly written and filled with writing exercises and self-assessments, it is a reliable guide to the healing process from childhood sexual abuse. Many survivors’ stories are woven into the text. 2008, Harper Paperbacks

The Courage to Heal WorkbookThe Courage to Heal Workbook: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Laura Davis

This is an inspiring book for all women healing from the effects of child sexual abuse. It is in a workbook format, and includes checklists, writing and art projects, open-ended questions and activities which serve to guide the survivor through the healing process. 1990 Harper Paperbacks

The Drama of the Gifted ChildThe Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self

Alice Miller

This well-known and classic book demonstrates how narcissistic parents may use their children to meet their own needs, thus negatively affecting the children's development. By gifted, Miller means sensitive and alert to the needs of others; she believes that the sensitivity and empathy of gifted children predispose them to be used by people with narcissistic needs. This timely book has helped many people reclaim their lost childhood. 1997, Basic Books

This book has been extensively reviewed by Dr. Yarian. Read Dr. Yarian's Full Book Review »

Getting Through the DayGetting Through the Day: Strategies for Adults Hurt as Children

Nancy Napier

Napier presents practical approaches to dealing with the long-lasting consequences of childhood abuse, particularly dissociation, or “checking out”. This survival technique helped many children survive overwhelming childhood experiences, but often poses problems in adult life. The book teaches many effective strategies for meeting the demands of adult living while working through the wounds of childhood. 1994, Norton

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Self Esteem

Self EsteemSelf-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem

Matthew McKay, Patrick Fanning

Since its first publication in 1987, this book has been the first choice of therapists and savvy readers looking for a comprehensive self-care approach to improving self-image, increasing personal power, and defining core values. This book has helped millions of readers feel better about themselves, achieve greater success, and enjoy their lives to the fullest. 2000, New Harbinger, 3rd Edition

Ten Days to Self-EsteemTen Days to Self-Esteem

David Burns

Dr. Burns presents innovative, clear and compassionate methods to help the reader identify the causes of mood slumps and develop a more positive outlook on life. The book emphasizes that negative feelings do not result from the bad things that happen to you but from the way you think about these events. Burns provides a ten-step program to self-esteem; the book is filled with logs, charts and step-by-step guides. 1999, HarperCollins

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Stress Management

The Alchemy of Peace & LoveThe Alchemy of Peace & Love: Magical Meditations to Calm Your Mind and Lift Your Spirit (Audio 2-CD Set)

Sandi Anders and David Yarian

This 2-CD guided meditation set is a delicious combination of evocative words, original music and the soothing voice of Sandi Anders. Learn to deeply and fully relax using the Deep Rest Meditaion, a guided body scan relaxation. This meditation will help you to create the Relaxation Response which combats the ravages of chronic stress.

Full-Catastrophe LivingFull-Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness

Jon Kabat-Zinn

The program of the stress reduction clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center invites the reader to embark upon a journey of self-development, self-discovery, learning and healing. Originally developed to help persons with life-threatening illness, the program has been thoroughly researched and found to be useful in reducing stress and increasing health and wellbeing. 1990, Dell Publishing

The Relaxation and Stress Reduction WorkbookThe Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook

Martha Davis, et.al.

This sixth edition self-help classic offers many self-assessment tools and calming techniques to help overcome anxiety and promote physical and emotional wellbeing. It presents a comprehensive look at stress, its physical manifestations and the multiple ways it can be managed. Chapters on breathing, relaxation, meditation, thought stopping, stress management, time management, assertiveness training, and body awareness offer the reader focused approaches to dealing with the many varieties of stress. 2008, New Harbinger

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Learned OptimismLearned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

Martin Seligman

Seligman says that pessimists believe that bad events are their fault, will last a long time and undermine everything. Optimists, on the other hand, believe that defeat is a temporary setback or a challenge. In this book, Seligman teaches the skills of changing from pessimism to optimism which will enable you to take charge, resist depression, feel better and accomplish more. 2006, Vintage

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PeopleThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Stephen Covey

Covey, an internationally respected leadership authority, emphasizes that true success encompasses a balance of personal and professional effectiveness. This book is a manual for performing better in both arenas. Covey lists seven basic habits that are necessary for quality-oriented success: be proactive, be clear about the end goal, put first things first, think win-win, seek first to understand, synergize, and focus on renewal. Personal, family, educational and professional examples are used to illustrate the habits of highly effective people.2004, Free Press, Revised Edition

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The Art of Sexual EcstasyThe Art of Sexual Ecstasy: The Path of Sacred Sexuality for Western Lovers

Margo Anand

This landmark book on human sexuality makes the sacred lovemaking techniques of the East fully comprehensible to western readers. Elegantly illustrated and filled with detailed exercises, it helps the reader acquire new attitudes and broaden his or her range of experience. The book is especially strong on methods for couples to revitalize and strengthen their relationship. 1991, Jeremy P. Tarcher

Tantric QuestTantric Quest: An Encounter with Absolute Love

Daniel Odier

Daniel Odier writes about his search to find a Tantric master. On the verge of giving up, he retreats to a small village in India where he finds a great Tantric master, Devi, in the forest. She agrees to take him on as her student and warns him that his journey will be difficult. As the master-student bond is strengthened, Devi’s teachings become more deep and subtle. The final part of the time spent with Devi involves his initiation into Tantric ritual sexuality, the joining of Shiva and Shakti, which causes the rising of the Kundalini, the sacred spiritual force that purifies the body. Odier also relates the challenges of coming back to the “real world” to use what he learned. 1997, Inner Traditions 

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Women's Issues

Motherless DaughtersMotherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss

Hope Edelman

This book explores the profound pain of mother loss among women. As Edelman shares her own painful story and the stories of other women who lost their mothers, she describes the secondary effects that may occur, including the girl filling the lost mother’s role at home for father and younger siblings. 2014, Da Capo Press

Our Bodies OurselvesOur Bodies Ourselves

Boston Women's Health Book Collective

This major update of the book that helped launch the women’s health movement adds new chapters on online health resources, AIDS and managed care. This empowering book remains true to the spirit of the original edition which was to give women tools to enable them to take charge of their health and their lives. 2011, Touchstone, Revised Edition

Women Who Run with the WolvesWomen Who Run With the Wolves

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Estes, a Jungian analyst, draws on folklore, fairy tales and dream symbols to help restore women’s neglected, intuitive and instinctive abilities. She describes the Wild Woman archetype, a female in touch with her primitive side and able to rely on gut feelings to make choices. An inspiring, compelling, moving and unusual book. 1995, Ballantine Books

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Women's Sexual Health

Becoming OrgasmicBecoming Orgasmic: A Sexual Growth Program for Women

Julia Heiman and Joseph LoPiccolo

This revised and expanded edition of Becoming Orgasmic provides a program designed to help anyone overcome the myriad of obstacles to complete sexual satisfaction. This is a personal and sensitively written book designed to make you feel good about your sexuality and yourself.1987 Fireside

The Heart and Soul of SexThe Heart and Soul of Sex: Making the ISIS Connection

Gina Ogden

Based on a landmark sex survey, researcher and sex therapist Ogden found "the language of spiritual experience comes closest to expressing the fullness of our sexual response, for it is the language of connection and ecstasy." The book guides the reader on a path to her sexual "center" where healing, ecstasy and transformation occur. 2006, Trumpter

This book has been extensively reviewed by Dr. Yarian. Read Dr. Yarian's Full Book Review

The Vulvodynia Survival GuideThe Vulvodynia Survival Guide: How to Overcome Painful Vaginal Symptoms and Enjoy an Active Lifestyle

Howard Glazer and Gae Rodke

This book is a very good source of general information about vulvodynia and the accompanying emotional distress. The book helps readers identify triggers, modify their diets to reduce symptoms, find knowledgeable medical help, learn how to reduce debilitating pain and renew their enjoyment of healthy sexual relations and normal daily activities. 2002, New Harbinger

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