Category Archives: Books

Katie’s Bookshelf: The Heart Speaks by Mimi Guarneri

heart speaksThe Heart Speaks by Mimi Guarneri is written by a cardiologist who lost several family members to heart disease.  She began her career as a cardiologist inserting stents in her patients to aid in blockages.  She began to notice that the same people continue to return for the same issues.  Simultaneously, a few of her patients began utilizing alternative medicine in conjunction with the western medicine she was applying.  Dr. Guarneri was skeptical at first but began to see progress in her patients who were using these methods.  She then founded the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in San Diego where holistic healing methods such as acupuncture, group therapy, biofeedback, and yoga were combined with conventional methods to aid in healing.

The book is divided into 3 parts and the second part was the most appealing to me as it went into the emotions of stress, anger, depression, and grief and how they affect the heart.  Dr. Guarneri noticed that when people began to open up and share themselves as well as what they are carrying around, the healing can truly begin.  Lastly, Guarneri states that “compassion, patience, and empathy” have shifted in the medical field and are desperately needed from doctors to their patients.

This book is fairly quick to read and not geared towards medical professionals so it can benefit the lay person.

Read this book if: 

  • You are interested in more information on the intersection of conventional and complementary medicine with a focus on heart disease
  • You are a practitioner of conventional or complementary medicine
  • You have been diagnosed with any type of heart disease, high blood pressure, or experienced a heart attack

Buy it Here

Guarneri, M. (2006). The Heart Speaks: A Cardiologist Reveals the Secret Language of Healing. New York, NY: Simon & Shuster.

Katie’s Bookshelf: The Therapist in the Real World by Kottler

therapistinrealworldThe Therapist in the Real World by Jeffrey Kottler subtitles “What you never learn in graduate school (but really need to know).”  When purchasing the book, it was the subtitle that caught my eye and solidified my decision.  I’ve been out of graduate school for almost 13 years and feel that I have learned a lot more by doing than I ever did in the classroom.  Kottler recognizes in the book that graduate school is limited in what they can teach and impress upon their students.  He hopes that this book fills the gap.

The book is divided into 3 parts: gaps in graduate programs as well as the direction our field is headed, challenges, and professional as well as personal development for mental health clinicians.  There was some comfort for me in reading about the challenges of this profession as well as the positives.  I enjoyed Kottler’s predictions for the future of our profession, especially the movement towards more mind-body treatment.

Kottler discusses storytelling as a useful tool in therapy or presentations.  This part really resonated with me and has caused me to think more about adding stories in sessions and presentations.

He dedicates a chapter to office environments as well as publishing.  Neither of these chapters resonated with me but I understand the decision to include them in this book.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and sharing tidbits with other clinicians I know!

Read this book if and only if:

  • You are a mental health clinician!

Buy it Here

Kottler, J. A. (2015). The therapist in the real world: what you never learn in graduate school (but really need to know). New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Katie’s Bookshelf: Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga by Emerson & Hopper

overcomingtraumaOvercoming Trauma Through Yoga by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper is a must read for anyone looking to use yoga in the healing process from trauma.  Whether you are a survivor, mental health therapist, or a yoga instructor, this book has such valuable information.  This book is accessible to any of the above groups of people and easy to get through.  Some books on either trauma, yoga, or trauma-sensitive yoga can be quite heavy reads, but not this one.  Emerson has training as a mental health clinician and yoga instructor who works closely with Bessel Van Der Kolk(The Body Keeps the Score) and his research center on developing protocols and research studies.  Emerson has his own center in the Boston area and provides many trainings on his brand of “trauma-sensitive yoga.”

The books chapters are divided up simply into one on traumatic stress, yoga, and trauma-sensitive yoga as well as for survivors, clinicians, and yoga instructors.  This book includes a great sequence for survivors to use as well as a chart on body-based movement paired with therapeutic goals.

Many times, the authors use vignettes to illustrate a point that I find helpful.  I have used this book as a resource for my own trainings in trauma-sensitive yoga.

Read this book if:

  • You are a trauma survivor
  • Mental Health Clinician interested on how to integrate yoga with trauma survivors
  • You are a Yoga Instructor

Buy it here.

Emerson, D., & Hopper, E. K. (2011). Overcoming trauma through yoga: reclaiming your body. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Katie’s Bookshelf: StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

strengthsfinderStrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath is more of an assessment than a book you read cover to cover.  Those interested can take the online assessment then utilize the book to find out more in depth about their strengths.  The mentality behind developing this tool is that we operate better by knowing our strengths than trying to improve our weaknesses.  If we, as the reader, can narrow down our top qualities and focus on fostering them in our lives or work environment, we will be more productive.  If we can understand the strengths of those around us, we can better utilize what they have to offer.

The online tool takes about 45-minutes to complete and is not about answering questions based on opposite ends of the continuum.  The two phrases you have to choose from sometimes have no correlation.  It’s also important to choose quickly.  This assessment was not created for us to over-analyze ourselves, but to choose which statement resonates with who we believe we are by using our instinct.

Buy the book if you want access to all of the strengths and an access code to the online assessment.  You can also simply purchase access to the test without buying the book for $15.  By taking the assessment, you will receive a download that includes your top 5 strengths as well as information about each.  For each strength, the book will provide a brief synopsis, an example of what that strength “sounds like” in someone, ideas for action, and working with someone with that strength.

I recommend this for anyone who is looking to determine and develop their strengths, those who work with a team, or anyone in a leadership position to provide to those people they work with.  Through their website portal, you will have access to ways to analyze a group of people to find out their strengths together.

Read this book if:

  • You are interested in learning more about yourself
  • Engaging in personal development
  • In a leadership position at work or with a group

Buy it here.

Rath, T. (2007). Strengths finder 2.0. New York: Gallup Press.



Katie’s Bookshelf: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

blinkBlink by Malcolm Gladwell uses psychology, neuroscience, and storytelling to help the reader determine better decision making skills.  Gladwell begins with an abundance of information and real-world examples of what he calls “rapid cognition” which is basically using your instinct to make decisions.  He moves on to when this can go horribly wrong in decision making.  Fortunately, he ends the book with when to use our instinct and when to spend more time thinking about a decision.

“We need to respect the fact that it is possible to know without knowing why we know and accept that – sometimes – we’re better off that way.”

In typical Gladwell fashion, he picks a subject that other authors overlook, digs deep with information, and tops it off with real-world examples to drive home the point.  I enjoyed learning more about rapid cognition and agree with the author on how our thinking mind gets in the way of what our unconscious already knows.  I was interested in his information on “unconscious bias” which is when we make have those knee-jerk reactions based on a deep rooted bias of some sort.

This book is hard to put down and as the reader you will walk away feeling more confident about making decisions.

Read this book if:

  • You love Malcolm Gladwell books
  • Interested in learning more about how decisions are made
  • You want to gain confidence in yourself and your decision making abilities
  • Professional in a field who helps others make decisions

Buy it Here

Gladwell, M. (2007). Blink: The power of thinking without thinking. New York: Back Bay Books.

Katie’s Bookshelf: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

manssearchformeaningMan’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is one of those books that everyone needs to read in their lifetime.  Frankl was imprisoned in 4 different concentration camps during the Holocaust.  He survived and not only continued his work on helping people find meaning in their lives but exploded in this area, eventually creating Logotherapy.  He chooses in the book to not recount his time in the camps in graphic detail but rather showcases what helped him survive and find the will to continue living.  The second part of the book goes into more detail of his logotherapy which is comprised of 3 parts; “creating a work or deed, experiencing something or encountering someone; in other words, meaning can be found not only in work but also in love, and lastly even the helpless victim of a hopeless situation, facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may grow beyond himself, and by so doing, change himself.”  Frankl writes that suffering is unavoidable in life and that there is meaning in it.

I found this book very interesting and a good reminder that if Frankl can find meaning in his time in a concentration camp, anybody can find the meaning in what they are going through.  Frankl is also an example of post-traumatic growth which is a term that was coined long after his passing.  Post-traumatic growth is seen in individuals who have been through a traumatic stress and come out on the other side even better than they were before.  It’s as if the trauma created something wonderful and beautiful.  Frankl, a psychiatrist, had begun his work on existentialism before the Holocaust but exploded with it afterwards and could use his own story with others.

I’ve heard from non-therapist readers that Part II is a bit heavy and uninteresting to those not in the field.

Read this book if:

  • You are a human being
  • Going through or have gone through a difficult time
  • Searching for the own meaning in your life

Buy it Here

Frankl, V. E. (1959). Man’s Search For Meaning. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.


Katie’s Bookshelf: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

fouragreementsThe Four Agreements written by Don Miguel Ruiz is a personal-growth book that outlines 4 principals to guide your life by.  This book was written to help the reader pull themselves out of their own limiting beliefs that create suffering.  Oftentimes, we become stuck in our own beliefs about a situation.  The Four Agreements that Ruiz outlines can serve as an inner guidebook to transform our lives.

The Four Agreements(taken from the cover):

Be Impeccable With Your Word – Speak with integrity.  Say only what you mean.  Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.  Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Don’t Take Anything Personally – Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.  When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

Don’t Make Assumptions – Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.  Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.  With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Always Do Your Best – Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.  Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.”

I found this to be a quick but powerful read.  The agreements are helpful to remember in certain situations and above all, “always do your best.”  If the other 3 are difficult to follow, do your best.  I think it’s a nice reminder that others are doing their best as well.

Read this book if:

You are looking for self-improvement

Self-compassion is difficult at times

You have a desire for a simple set of guidelines to live by in challenging times

Buy it here

Ruiz, M. (1997). The four agreements: A practical guide to personal freedom. San Rafael, CA: Amber-Allen Pub.