Category Archives: Books

Katie’s Bookshelf: It Didn’t Start with You by Mark Wolynn

IMG_2685It Didn’t Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle is a book that explores this concept of epigenetics and how we may carry our ancestors stressors and traumas in our genes.  The book does a good job of explaining how this happens and provides some examples.  I thought some of the examples seemed a bit “out of this world” and unimaginable but interesting.  I think this phenomenon plays out more in the not so obvious ways the book provided.  When we start digging deeper in our family history, we are bound to find stressors that play out in our lives as they are our own.  The book uses “core language,” “core complaint,” “core sentence,” and “core trauma” development to help the reader discover their greatest fears and help possibly connect to an ancestor who had a similar experience.

“When entangled, you unconsciously carry the feelings, symptoms, behaviors, or hardships of an earlier member of your family system as if these were your own.”

Many chapters including the “core” ones have writing exercises to help with discovery and ways to process well as release our stressors and traumas.  I believe the writing exercises are beneficial and give the reader ways to work through what they have found.  The author goes into areas that are traumatic that we may overlook including in utero and early childhood attachment issues.

Overall, the book was intriguing for me personally as a therapist as it provides another avenue for self-discovery as well as understanding possible reasons why we struggle with what we struggle with.  I would suggest having the support of a mental health professional while diving into these topics.

Read this book if:

  • You are interested in epigenetics
  • Believe your ancestors may provide more insight into your own struggles
  • A mental health professional and want to help your clients dive deeper into their past

Buy it Here

Katie’s Bookshelf: Yoga for Emotional Balance by Bo Forbes

yogaforemotionalbalanceYoga for Emotional Balance by Bo Forbes is such an incredible book!  This is one of the first books I ever read about the intersection of yoga and mental health and informs so much of what I do as a teacher in the studio and when working with private clients.  Bo Forbes is PsyD as well as a yoga instructor who has an incredible depth of knowledge on the two subject matters.  Even if you don’t have depression or anxiety, this book can be helpful in that she classifies it as either on the one end of “lethargy” and the other end as “energetic.”

“Restorative Yoga helps you develop many of the characteristics of emotional balance, such as the ability to experience emotions without overreacting to them, and the capacity to recover from strong emotions when they occur.  It supports the qualities that psychotherapy seeks to instill: greater resourcefulness, enhanced problem-solving skills, and a deeper connection with your innate wisdom.  It helps you develop the mindfulness, discernment, and reflection that lead to healthier relationships.”

The book starts off by describing anxiety and depression and what gets in the way of healing, how the healing happens as well as finding meaning, and ends with very specific sequences for depression, anxiety, and balancing.  She includes breathwork to use for different purposes as well as very detailed descriptions of the poses and pictures.  I like the connection between poses to increase, decrease, or neutralize the energy in the body.  This book is very accessible for anyone especially someone new to yoga.  Her work is centered around Restorative Yoga which I have found too is the best complement to mental health work.

Read this book if:

  • You are interested in using yoga to help manage your emotions and the energy in the body
  • You are a yoga instructor interested in how yoga can be used for emotional balance

Buy it here.

Katie’s Bookshelf: Yoga for Depression by Amy Weintraub

yogafordepressionYoga for Depression by Amy Weintraub is written by a yoga instructor and trainer for yoga instructors on how she used yoga and yoga techniques to heal her depression as well as manage her ongoing symptoms.  At the end of each chapter, she includes step by step instructors on breathwork, sequences, and meditations.  Weintraub explores styles of yoga, principles, breathwork, and mindfulness to name a few.  She also frequently recommends finding a yoga teacher to help lead and support.  Not only does she address depression, but also trauma and anxiety.

“A body-oriented treatment model speaks the language of these areas of the brain–sensation, perceptual experience and somatic responses.  Cognitive restructuring is, of course, important, but the healing process must also include bodily experience.”

As a practitioner and instructor of yoga, I found this book to go a bit deeper into the subject matter than I would have preferred.  I think it could be quite overwhelming for a newcomer.  I feel it is better suited for someone who has a significant background of yoga and is either interested in using her recommendations to manage the symptoms or the population they work with.  This book isn’t as accessible for a newbie.  By reading this book, you can tell that all of what she recommends comes from an authentic place.

Read this book if:

  • You are interested in using yoga as a complement for mood management
  • You are a yoga instructor who works with this specific population

Buy it here.

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.