13 Books for Newly Practicing Therapists

As a newly practicing therapist, you probably worry about whether you’re doing all you can to care for your clients. You became a therapist so you could make the world a better place by helping individuals improve their lives, but now that you’re out of school and practicing on your own, you’re faced with all kinds of questions and concerns.

Thankfully, you’re not alone in your struggles. Every licensed therapist who came before you experienced the exact same feelings. Many have even written therapy books to help fledgling therapists and mental health professionals find the answers they need to help them grow as mental health practitioners.
Of course, with so many therapists resources available like the best therapy podcast or audiobooks, it can be hard to know where to go for advice. In this article, we’ll help steer you in the right direction by offering you a list of 13 of the best books for therapists.   

1. The Making of a Therapist by Louis Cozolino

In this classic text, veteran therapist and mental health writer Louis Cozolino included everything he wished someone had told him during his first weeks and months as a licensed therapist. Now available in paperback, this book includes guidance about working with your clients like how to handle their direct questions or get them to say more while talking less during your online therapy sessions.

The book also focuses on the inner experience of becoming a therapist such as how it feels when you’re listening to a client, shifting between your heart and head, and acknowledging when you don’t have all the answers. This book balances developing skills for therapeutic success while also taking an inner journey, helping you to become both the person you hope to be professionally and personally. Even after multiple editions, it remains one of those essential clinical references new therapists and mental health professionals should explore.

2. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

This book was written by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk, a world-renowned expert on trauma who has spent decades working with PTSD or trauma survivors. He uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally changes the body, compromising sufferers' capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust by changing aspects of their mindsets. The book explores innovative treatments—such as neurofeedback and meditation—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain's natural plasticity; this work offers hope for those struggling with any mental health issue related to different types of trauma, including childhood trauma. 

3. The Gift of Therapy by Irvin D. Yalom

Irvin D. Yalom is an acclaimed author, psychiatrist and psychotherapist who has been practicing for over thirty years. His book, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation Therapists and Their Patients, provides readers with valuable insights on how the therapeutic process can be more effective by focusing less on ‘fixing’ problems but instead providing patients with new opportunities to grow and develop their own potentials so they may eventually discover peace within themselves. Yalom's insightful tips are based on personal experiences in his practice and show that it is all about finding what works best for each individual person, which he demonstrates through real case studies from therapy sessions throughout the duration of his career.

4. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor Frankl’s account of life in Auschwitz and afterward is one of the great stories in existential therapy. It isn't a great book for therapists who are looking for strategies to implement during their upcoming therapy session; rather, it's a story that delves into the human condition, explores the importance of existential values, and describes how one man survived what many did not.

In particular, his description of how he managed to continue onward after losing his family in Holocaust is highly moving which can help new therapists see hope where there might otherwise be none at all. Rather than just coping with loss, Frankl teaches new therapists how they can aspire to live by continuing forward through hardships.

5. On Being a Therapist by Jeffrey Kottler

For more than three decades, On Being a Therapist has inspired generations of mental health practitioners to consider the most private and revered aspects of their work helping others. In this text Jeffrey Kottler discusses many challenges that therapists face in their practices today, including pressures from increased technology, economic realities, and advances in theory or technique.

He also discusses common types of stress factors of working as a therapist, including managed care bureaucracy, workplace conflicts, and clients' feelings of anxiety or depression. Though it was first published in 1986, a new edition was just released in 2022. This edition includes updated sources, new material on technology and modern therapy practice, plus two additional chapters.

6. The First Kiss by Daryl Chow, Ph.D.

The First Kiss, by Daryl Chow, Pd.D. explores the reasons behind client disengagement and how to prevent it. One of the most important reasons people disengage from counseling is that they are not finding what they need in their first sessions. We have to find ways to engage with clients right from the start, which can be done by focusing less on intake and more on giving.

The First Kiss is a book for therapists who want to challenge themselves—it provides thoughtful approaches that will improve your first session as well as reduce dropouts for better outcomes in therapy. By following concepts presented in this book, you can develop a framework that sustains lifelong personal and professional development plans after completing your training, improving time spent with clients starting at their very first session

7. Letters to a Young Therapist Paperback by Mary Pipher

In this essential text, Dr. Mary Pipher shares what she has learned in her 30 years practicing as a therapist, helping contentious families, disaffected adolescents, and anxious professionals bring peace to their lives through therapy. In this book, the author provides her unique perspective on how therapy can help our patients revitalize their emotional landscape in the increasingly stressful world we now find ourselves living in. The content of the book is presented in the form of letters addressed specifically to an imagined young trained therapist but the lessons are clearly applicable to all readers.  

8. Creativity as Co-Therapist: The Practitioner’s Guide to the Art of Psychotherapy by Lisa Mitchell

Written by an experienced psychotherapist and creativity expert, this book provides mental health professionals with a way to approach their work creatively. It bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge and therapeutic application by teaching psychologists of all backgrounds how to see therapy as their art form. This book will help readers identify areas in which they may get stuck when working with clients, depending on what stage of the creative process they are at. Along the way you'll explore case studies, personal stories, and hands-on art directives that will inspire you to think outside the box and build the creative muscles necessary for interesting, vibrant work.

9. DBT Skills Training Manual by Marsha N. Linehan

The DBT Skills Training Manual was written by Dialectical Behavioral Therapy pioneer Marsha N. Linehan. At the core of DBT is Linehan's emphasis on giving your clients time to collect themselves when they are overwhelmed with emotion so that they can be taught important skills needed for daily living. The focus on mindfulness-based emotional awareness creates one of the most exciting therapeutic modalities possible to help your clients better regulate their feelings. This book offers many worksheets and exercises for clients that work in either an individual or group setting, making it an excellent resource for new therapists.

10. A Guide to Possibility Land by Bill O’Hanlon and Sandy Beadle

Bill O'Hanlon and Sandy Beadle worked together to create a book that provides new therapists with a practical guide that’s filled with easy-to-learn and easy-to execute solutions for their clients. The majority of these solutions are probably things you've heard before, like reframing goals or recruiting social support. Even though the material may be familiar, this book offers straightforward examples on how each technique can be executed with all the detail spelled out immediately afterward. Notably, this book offers adaptable suggestions rather than set rules for novice learners; mental health practitioners will find themselves flipping through these pages long into their careers as the therapy techniques become more like second nature to them.

11.      Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky and Connie Burk

This beloved bestseller has helped caregivers worldwide keep themselves emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and physically healthy in the face of the often overwhelming traumas they confront every day. Written by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, a longtime trauma worker, this self help book offers a profound and empathetic survey of the toll that helping others can take on mental health practitioners.

Laura looks carefully at our reactions and motivations to help us find new sources of energy to combat feelings of exhaustion, numbness, and self-doubt. She offers up many simple practices drawn from modern positive psychology techniques and spiritual traditions that are easy to implement, freeing you up to make a positive impact on your clients and the world.

12. Interpersonal Process in Therapy by Edward Teyber and Faith Teyber

The authors of this book posit that therapy that creates genuine change must involve the authentic participation of the therapist. In this engaging and highly readable book, Edward and Faith Teyber provide practical ways to intervene with your clients while addressing common concerns new therapists often have, such as worrying about making "mistakes."

The book also sets out clear guidelines for effective ways to develop a working alliance with clients, address their resistance, resolve any ruptures in the therapeutic relationship that may develop, and help clients transition from superficial conversation to discussing their key concerns. The latest edition also offers extensive clinical vignettes and sample dialogues that will bring you into the therapist’s office to help illustrate the book’s primary principles.

13. Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom

In his classic, bestselling work, the masterful therapist and writer Irvin D. Yalom describes his sometimes-tragic encounters with patients. With insight and sympathy, he not only gives us a rare glimpse into the personal desires and motivations of ten of his patients but also tells about himself as he struggles to reconcile between how human he is in response to what a psychiatrist should be. He has inspired hundreds of thousands already and promises to inspire future generations too!

Resources to Help with Marketing and Insurance Billing

When you begin your career as a therapist, it’s essential to have a solid knowledge base in place. Though there are many wonderful resources on this list of best books for therapists, none of them are about marketing and insurance—that’s one topic that’s rarely covered by authors in the field of mental health.
If you’re starting a new therapy private practice and need help finding clients and billing for services, consider working with a company like Advekit. Advekit can match you with patients in your area to help keep your schedule full. They’ll also take care of out-of-network insurance billing, which streamlines your business and frees you up to focus on your clients. To get started, all you need to do is navigate to the Advekit website and sign up.