Personal development self-help books

Change for the Better: Self-help Through Practical Psychotherapy
Author Elizabeth Wilde McCormick, 4th Edition 2012.

'Structured personal exploration based on Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT). Links past with present. Accessible'.

Review: This book is for people who have an appetite for some deeper personal exploration, who want to develop insights into the old patterns that govern their choices and relationships. The book uses the concepts of Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) in the main, and is presented as an easy-to-follow programme. Readers are encouraged to name the patterns of thinking, acting and relating that we usually take for granted. Then readers are helped to write their individual life stories linking early relationships and coping strategies with the self-defeating patterns that have become an everyday reality. Readers then try to recognise these sequences and develop goals for changing them. It supports readers to experience themselves anew and bear the shifts that comes with the changes. Incorporates mindfulness-based experiential exercises.

The Happiness Trap
Author Russ Harris, 2012.

'Based on Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), this book helps the reader to deal with negative emotional patterns'.

Mindfulness approach
This easy to follow book was written by a GP who is a leading authority on stress management. He invites the reader to recognise their own personal 'Happiness Trap' prior to effectively handling painful thoughts and feelings. Using a mindfulness approach, Dr. Harris recommends several exercises which will help you accept your thoughts and feelings, connect with your values and take effective action. Whilst primarily it is not a book on depression, the techniques described here should promote positive mental health. The author has used the catchy title to explain that the more we strive for happiness the more it eludes us. 

Self Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind
Author Kristen Neff, 2011.

'Engaging, comforting and easy to read'. This book considers the nature of self compassion and provides simple exercises to help enhance understanding of self compassion. 

Mindfulness approach
The author uses recent research findings and personal examples to show what self compassion means and how to be more compassionate with yourself and others. This book is deeply human and comforting. At the end of each chapter, the author provides simple exercises designed to question and enhance our own level of self compassion. Some of the exercises are based on psychological therapy while others encourage mindfulness practice. This book may be useful for somebody who wants to be more understanding and compassionate with themselves and others. 

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You Are Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are CD
Author Brené Brown, 2010.

'An engaging exploration of how to live a more wholehearted life through courage, compassion and connection'.

Review: Brene Brown is a leading expert on shame, authenticity and belonging. This CD guides the listener through the process of learning to live and love with your whole heart. The various chapters act as "guideposts" with a central focus on the notions of courage, compassion and connection. This exploration deconstructs many terms such as love that we tend to take for granted. It paves the way towards authentic living through letting go of our strivings for perfection and learning to be kind and accepting of ourselves. The importance of sharing and empathy in reducing experiences of fear and shame is demonstrated as is the value of engaging in meaningful activities and play. The process outlined sets you on the path to creating the kind of life you want, not the one you feel you have to live.