The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
This book fell into my path; well, I don’t know if anything falls into a path, but that is for another blog post. This book was a lighthouse for me at the beginning of my healing journey. At the time, I was beginning a journey of recovery from my religious experiences and just starting to see the true impact of my childhood growing up. It is a “spiritual daybook” using the author’s words, which means there is a quote or piece to consider every day of the year with the actual calendar dates. I appreciate and still appreciate a book like this because it tells me that whatever day, there is a place to go for advice, no matter how much time has passed since my last self-reflection. The book has an emphasis on being present with your emotions, the unknown, and knowing in your heart where to find a path to more wholeness. Sounds a bit like IFS? Heck, yes, and it was years before I stumbled upon IFS therapy. I also liked that it comes from a place of many traditions, practices, and experiences and features honest and beautiful voices. Coming from a highly religious background, this was a breath of fresh air for me.
This book can be used at ANY point along your healing journey. Even if you or your clients are not truly okay with the concept of multiplicity (aka having parts and a Self), the Book of Awakening is an excellent guidebook for some steps toward the life of freedom and wholeness we all desire. Get the book here.
Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself
Long before IFS and parts work was a part of my world; I had started therapy as an Adult Child of an Alcoholic. My mother was an alcoholic my entire childhood and the large majority of my adulthood as well. I soon became aware that being raised in this environment had a significant impact on me and influenced me to develop a FIERCE caretaker part of myself (to use IFS language). In other words, I became codependent. This book was and still is very helpful for me. I never did get very far into the ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) meetings because they didn’t feel intuitive for me, but before I became IFS aware, this book became a path toward healing before I even knew that this caretaking quality in me was a part of my inner Self and not who I was. This book helped me to see that there was another way to live and gave about a million permission slips along the way. As someone who is IFS aware, it is very helpful for me to go through and still absorb the information from a very different perspective. I can continue to help this part of me who had to pick up very extreme behavior as a child and as one of the only forms of coping that was available to me. It is also a helpful book for the beginning of one’s healing journey or at any time along the journey of self-transformation. Get the book here.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
This is the “bible” of trauma recovery. There that’s it, nothing else to say. Well, there is more, but I think the 57K+ 5-star reviews on Amazon speak for itself. It has been on the Amazon best-seller list for a billion years and continues to resonate with clinicians and the general public. That is one of the main reasons why I love this book so much. As a clinician, it became my path to become a leading trauma treatment provider (I went and got trained in 4 of the methods he describes in this book). As a trauma survivor, I have given this book to countless clients who have come back and said almost the exact same thing “so I’m not crazy.” It continues to be one of the most affirmative books in trauma recovery out there. It is definitely not a how-to, but rather ‘he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma can reshape both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust.” The scientific advances are very important to me as I have always respected and followed science when there is so much political and consumeristic BS out there.
This book would be great in the stage of trauma recovery where you acknowledge that maybe something in your childhood is impacting your current functioning. Sometimes that takes decades to get to, but when that door opens to the possibility of the past impacting the present, this is a great first book. Get the book here.
You Are The One You’ve Been Waiting For: Bringing Courageous Love to Intimate Relationships
This book was VERY challenging for me to read. I read it a year after finishing my first Level 1 training. I was already familiar with the concepts of Self and Parts and really was loving how this understanding and lens were bringing significant healing to my life. However, this book hit me right where I needed to go next, which I wasn’t super comfortable with. As I came out of my childhood after growing up with an alcoholic mother, I had developed significant codependency, aka my caretaking part, which ALSO meant I had a huge belief from several different parts that “the love (we) I need is buried treasure hidden in the heart of a special intimate partner. Once we find that partner, the love we crave should flow elixir-like, filling our empathy spaces and healing our pain.” Needless to say, I was enraged, panicked, and confused to read this and hear this is not true. However, this was ultimately a very clear and hopeful experience for me. I was able to find a potential path to true freedom beyond what anyone would ever have been able to give me.
This book would be great for anyone who is IFS aware, struggles with connection in relationships, and is looking for a new way to find the wholeness they are looking for. Get the book here.
No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model
This book just recently came out just over a year ago, and I have found this one to be the most accessible for clients or people in the general public who want to know about multiplicity, IFS, and wholeness from this lens. It is readable and introduces you to IFS and offers some accessible exercises to try on what this means. I have found this book to be very helpful because when first starting with the IFS model, there is often a bit of a learning and skepticism curve when we introduce ourselves to the concept of multiplicity. Clients often will respond with one of two ways “oh this makes SOOOO much sense” or “you think I’m crazy”. So helping clients and the general public understand that we are naturally multiple and that it is a good thing can be a little hard in the context of having to just say “trust me” in a therapy session. Instead, we can say, “you don’t just have to take my word for it; check out this book.” It is a great companion to the beginning of the journey when people are just starting to play around with the concept of parts, self and can also be a real time saver and primer in session when they come to understand the model. Get the book here.
Also, a quick side note, some clients who read and “understand” IFS from this or other books when they come in might need to be on the watch for a Self-like part or an analytical part, or as therapists, “our therapist part,” who “knows the model.” Some clients will only be settled (aka me as a client) if they have an analytical understanding of the lay of the land before they can relax into the experience. If you feel like you or a client would benefit from that, this could be a great place for them to start.