The Best Mental Health-Related Nonfiction Books of 2014 According to Therapists

sepia tone stack of booksFrom Amy Poehler’s first memoir to a new Stephen King novel, there were some wonderful new releases in the world of books in 2014. Here at GoodTherapy.org, we’re interested specifically in the titles related to mental health, psychology, and psychotherapy—and there were many published this year! To help us find the best and most beneficial, we solicited the help of our panel of Topic Expert therapists.

Many responded, and we compiled only those titles published in 2014 on topics ranging from self-esteem to trauma to adolescents to sexuality. Our Topic Experts’ recommendations are listed below, many of which are helpful to both professionals and consumers.

If you read any of these titles, let us know what you thought. Or, leave us a comment with your own favorite mental health-related books of 2014.

The Body Keeps the Score

By Bessel van der Kolk, MD: In this book Bessel emphasizes the importance of integrating physical and somatic practices into trauma treatment. He describes trauma in a clear and relatable manner, and explores the impact of progressive treatment methods including EMDR, yoga, and neurofeedback. His writing style makes the material accessible and relatable, and the wisdom of his clinical experience shines through the science and theory he shares. I would highly recommend this book to any trauma therapist, healer, or survivor looking for a grounded and integrative approach to healing. —Lisa Danylchuk, MEd, LMFT, E-RYT

Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain

By Daniel J. Siegel, MD: This book helped me to understand the effects of poor attachment for adults. It gave me tools to help my clients connect to their inner resources and heal wounds left from failed relationships. It helps us to understand how to attain secure attachment, and hence, experience more fulfilling relationships with others—and with oneself. —Mark Loewen, LPC

The Upside of Your Dark Side

By Todd Kashdan, PhD, and Robert Biswas-Diener, PhD: Sometimes people go to therapy and want to get rid of anxiety like it’s a hot potato. Some feel almost guilty for not being happy. This book points out that our dark sides can be incredibly helpful. —Kelley Garry Marschall, MA

Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them

By Tina Gilbertson, MA, LPC: “Wallow better” is the message of this fun-loving book. It’s chock full of examples and exercises to help people learn strategies to accept how the mind works. —Kelley Garry Marschall, MA

Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health

By Andrew Siegel, MD: This book discusses pelvic floor health in men and offers specific suggestions for how men can improve their sexual performance. It also comes with an exercise program that is designed to teach men how to strengthen and gain control of their pelvic floor muscles. For any man who has tried medical interventions such as Viagra or Cialis and still finds it difficult to maintain an erection, this book is a helpful non-medicine-based approach to improving erections. —Angela Lee Skurtu, MEd, LMFT

14 Days of Foreplay

By Monica Lieser, MMFT, LMFT, LPC: I think this is a good book to help couples try to rejuvenate the spark in their relationship. It offers day-by-day tips and is presented in an easy-to-read-and-follow format. —Angela Lee Skurtu, MEd, LMFT

Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves

By Laurel Braitman: Humans aren’t the only beings in the animal kingdom who experience mental health issues. If you’ve ever suspected your dog might be anxious, or that your cat is experiencing grief, you may very well be correct. Animal Madness sheds light on the psychological symptoms that occur in animals, and what we can learn from their experiences and recovery. —Lynn Somerstein, PhD, E-RYT

The Trauma of Everyday Life

By Dr. Mark Epstein: Dr. Epstein brings a very real human face to the various types of trauma, but he doesn’t stop there. Dr. Epstein illuminates the transformative potential of trauma that can allow the traumatized person to be cracked open a little wider, live a little deeper, and engage with a newfound empathy for others who suffer. —Lisa Vallejos, MA, LPC, NCC

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  • Chloe

    Chloe

    December 31st, 2014 at 8:36 AM

    Getting my reading list started off with a bang for the new year!

  • Ivy

    Ivy

    December 31st, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    14 days of foreplay?
    Yep sign me up… I am in!

  • Helena

    Helena

    December 31st, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    I think that I could be considered the queen of constructive wallowing because if there is one thing that I agree with wholeheartedly it is the fact that everyone needs a good cry every now and then. Sometimes you just have to commit to the idea that it is going to feel so much better after you let it all out and have a very ugly cry than it would ever feel to keep it all on the inside./

  • kib

    kib

    January 2nd, 2015 at 5:04 AM

    all of these seem to be nonfiction, but have you heard of any new fiction that could also incorporate the theme of mental health issues? I think that there are a lot of times when these are the books that actually help to make things hit home with a whole lot of readers.

  • Cathy

    Cathy

    January 2nd, 2015 at 11:19 PM

    “The Body Keeps The Score” is an exceptional book on trauma a must read!

  • Jan

    Jan

    January 3rd, 2015 at 9:35 AM

    I am so glad that there is now a book that talks about the retraining of the pelvic floor muscles for men! For how many years now have women been told to do kegel exercises to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles but men are given a pill to take to mimic the strengthening of theirs? I think that this is fabulous!

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