Some people dismiss self-help books as drivel or a collection of common sense advice that they already know. But there are many books that offer valuable insight into improving one’s life. You just have to know which ones to pick up.
That’s where a psychologist can come in handy.
Below, several couples therapists share their top-rated books on relationships. Regardless of the state of your relationship, you just might find many kernels of wisdom in these resources.
1. Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Sue Johnson.
According to clinical psychologist Lisa Blum, “Hold Me Tight is one of the best books I can recommend for couples because it is a powerful antidote to the pain, distress and hopelessness that so many couples feel.”
The book is based on Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), which clinical psychologist and researcher Sue Johnson founded. Blum, who also specializes in EFT, explained that “The book outlines several stages of healing work that couples can do together, in the privacy of their own home and at their own pace—called the ‘seven conversations’—that are truly effective, if both partners allow themselves to fully engage in the process.”
She added that the book “takes some very rich theory and research about how human beings are wired for close connection and attachment with each other, and translates it into easy-to-follow chapters and exercises that have the goal of resolving long-standing hurts between partners and helping them to feel close, safe, and ‘held’ by their most intimate partner.”
You can learn more about Sue Johnson and her work here.
2. Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg.
This is one of clinical psychologist Robert Solley’s top picks (his other pick is Hold Me Tight). Non-Violent Communication teaches readers how to communicate and resolve conflicts peacefully and productively.
He said that “anyone who feels they’re struggling in their relationship —and it only takes one partner feeling this way to count—will find [this] helpful as [a] framework.” As Solley writes on his website, this book is “clear, easy to read, well organized, and describes a great way to minimize judgment and blaming, and get to the underlying feelings and needs that really matter.” He also features a list of recommended resources on his website.
You can learn more about nonviolent communication and Marshall B. Rosenberg here.
3. Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix.
Clinical psychologist Ryan Howes called this book “profoundly insightful and transformative.” As he said, “The old axiom ‘you married your mother’ is just the tip of the iceberg.” (Sounds interesting, right!)
Specifically, in Getting the Love You Want, Harville Hendrix, a couples counselor, introduces Imago Relationship Therapy, which he created based on a variety of disciplines, such as cognitive therapy, Gestalt therapy and depth psychology.
You can learn more about Harville Hendrix and Imago Relationship Therapy here.
4. Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman and Nan Silver.
Howes said that this book, which “examines the science of relationships,” is perfect for people “who value research, reason and practical advice.” John Gottman is a world-renowned marriage researcher and clinical psychologist.
In Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Gottman and co-author Silver dispel common myths about divorce and illuminate what it means to have a happy marriage—information based on Gottman’s years of research. “Many are shocked to find how often science disagrees with conventional wisdom,” Howes said.
You can learn more about John Gottman’s work here.
What are your favorite resources on relationships? If you’ve read any of the above books, what did you think?