Trauma Self-Help
Books & Workbooks

Recommendations by David Baldwin, PhD

In early May 1996, I requested comments from members of the Traumatic Stress mailing list on published and available self-help books or workbooks that have proved useful in your clinical work with trauma patients -- and I promised a summary for the list.

Here goes...

In all, there were 16 responses to this query, and no specific complaints. Many thanks for all your recommendations and suggestions.

The most frequently mentioned book (4 positive independent suggestions) was: I Can't Get Over It: a handbook for trauma survivors. by Aphrodite Matsakis, PhD (1992; New Harbinger Publications).

[I have this book and like it, but think it too long (at 374 pages) and detailed for many clients to use on their own. Some will like it very much, and relevant excerpts may be useful for others.]

Judith Herman's (1992) Trauma and Recovery book (Basic Books) was favorably mentioned three times.

[This has been a favorite of mine since it came out, but again is more a textbook than a workbook or "self-help" book. Very appropriate for some clients, particularly those approaching the end of therapy work.]

Below, I've broken the remaining responses into two sections: independent reader responses, and responses by authors, vendors or publishers of available books.

Anonymous excerpts from *independent* responses, in no particular order:

"Frankly, I haven't found lots of really helpful stuff out there which addresses adult sexual & physical abuse survivors, the population that I most often treat. However, there was a workbook and audio tape published about 10 years ago (1986) by the Village Family Service Center, Fargo, ND. The author is Mary Ann Donaldson, LCSW and the title of the workbook is Incest, Years After. I found her workbook to be helpful, though now somewhat dated, with certain clients. BTW, she has recently (1995) also co-authored a book published by Sage titled something like Group Therapy with Adult Survivors. "
"I find parts of Aftermath: Survive and Overcome Trauma by Marianne Hybels-Steer (Simon & Schuster 1995) useful. Variety of stressors, simply written. "
"The one I am most familiar with is Dr. Donald Meichenbaum's PTSD Treatment Manual for Adults. It is a 650+ page book that is soft-cover and contains some of the most extensive research I've seen in one place. It is available from Dr. Meichenbaum for $50 by e-mailing him at: "
"I have found that When Disaster Strikes by Beverley Raphael a great reference book for those working in the field - there are specific chapters that may relate to a number of recovery processes - but as a self-help book for victims - it may not be appropriate. The same author produced a handout for our [Australian] Medical Research Council called Traumatic Stress: What it is and what to do and also a small booklet on Disaster Management that could >be used as a self-help document. "
"For children age 6-12: Heegaard, M.(1991). When Something Terrible Happens: Children **can** learn to cope with grief. Woodland Press, 99 Woodland Circle Minneapolis, MN 55424 612-926-2665. Open ended workbook to be illustrated by the child. Authors describe it as covering the following subjects: sudden change and loss-- remembering about life before crisis, learning about disaster and trauma, acknowledging personal trauma, recongizing personal losses; grief--discovering misconceptions, discovering feelings of blame, discussing concepts of criminal justice, learning concepts of grief; learning about feelings--accepting all feelings as OK, recognizing and naming basic feelings, identifying repressed feelings, discovering feeling and behavior relationship; drawing out difficult feelings--identifying angry behavior, learning ways to express difficult feelings, identifying feelings of gult, encouraging communication of concerns; soothing painful memories--identifying fears and guilt feelings, finding power over nightmares, experiencing healthy role reversal, finding words for unspeakable evetns; and growing stronger--gaining confidence and security, identifying support systems , recognizing personal strengths and increasing self esteem. Additional readings are suggested for each section. "
"Best on Incest: Bass, Courage to Heal. Just good. Nice tone. Some well-known overstatements but nurturant for survivors.

For men survivors of incest and sexual abuse: Lew, Victims No Longer. Good, informative, helps to deal with extra shame of male passive victimization.

Best on Ritual Abuse: Oksana, Passage to Healing (or something close to that...).

A friend just called on other line and here are her suggestions: Courtois, Christine, Healing the Incest Wound. Coladzen, Ben, Trauma and Survival, a Self-help Healing Guide, esp. for Vietnam Vets.

"PTSD/BORDERLINES IN THERAPY: Finding the Balance by Jerome Kroll somewhat psychoanalytical but some good points especially in that research appears to question the chicken or egg or connection between trauma response (especially DID) of PTSD and borderline symptomology.Good about boundary setting, how the symtoms of PTSD affect life therapy and PTSD Authors such as those in MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES, MULTIPLE DISORDERS ed. North, Ryall, Ricci and Wetzel have numerous clinicians and researchers discuss the overlaps similarities, disagreements and treatment procedures. THE TRAUMA RESPONSE by Everstine and Everstine is excellent and provides a wide description of responses to various trauma and treatment ideas. Any book by Lenore Terr has been invaluable to me BRIDGING THE SILENCE by Susan Simmonds (Norton) is a more experiental book as is SCREAM LOUDER by Marsha Utain and Oliver (Human Communications Inc.) GROUP TREATMENT FOR ADULT SURVIVORS OF INCEST may also help."

Here are responses by authors and publishers of available books:

"A colleague and I [Phyllis Spinal-Robinson, LCSW] have co-authored and had published a series of workbooks written for therapists/school social workers to use with children who have been sexually abused. The Workbooks are written for age specific groups: Flip Flops, for ages 7-9, Cartwheels, for ages 10-13, and High Tops, for teens or ages 14-17. There are therapists guidelines written for each workbook. The workbooks have been extremely successful, and are currently being sold worldwide at conferences almost daily. I have also received reports from a number of therapists who have used the workbooks with adult sexual abuse survivors who have found them quite helpful. Our publisher is Jalice Publishers, P.O. Box 455. Notre Dame, IN 46556. Or you can call Tom Balthazor, owner of Jalice at 219 232-9534 to inquire or get brochure. "
"I wrote a trauma manual: Reduce Traumatic Stress in Minutes. I sold the first ones at the FSU Conference on PTSD in March to list members and others who were at the conference. Tapas Fleming, Licensed Acupuncturist [ ] 5031 Pacific Coast Hwy., #76 Torrance, CA 90505 fax: (310) 378-2318"
"All [the following books] are well-written, can be used as an adjunct to therapy, but are also well-grounded enough to be safely used unsupervised. NOTE: -- folks can order them from us [Sidran Foundation] and support our charity at the same time:

Coping With Trauma: A guide to Self-Understanding, Jon G. Allen, 1995, hc, $23.95, American Psychiatric.

Back From the Brink: A Family Guide to Overcoming Traumatic Stress, Don Catherall, 1992, hc, $15.00 (out of print, but several hundred copies available from Sidran).

Aftermath: Survive and Overcome Trauma, Mariann Hybels-Steers, 1995, pb, $11.00, Simon and Schuster (?).

How to Survive Trauma: A program for War Veterans and Survivors of Rape, Assault, Abuse, or Environmental Disasters, Benjamin Colodzin, 1993, pb, $9.95, (can't recall publisher).

The following workbooks, published by Sidran, are appropriate for survivors of any type of trauma:

The Way of the Journal: A journal Therapy Workbook for Healing, Kathleen Adams, 1993, pb, $15.95. 'Teaches 10 fundamental journalkeeping skills in a quick and easy method for people with post traumatic and dissociative diagnoses.'

Managing Traumatic Stress Through Art: Drawing from the Center, Barry Cohen, et. al., 1995, $19.95. 'Designed to help survivors manage and contain overwhelming feelings and images through structured art and writing exercises.'"

Please note that the Trauma Pages Bookstore at this site recommends many books on trauma for professionals, students, and clients or survivors -- including newer books that were not published when this listing was assembled. Books listed for sale through the Bookstore page include some in the above recommendations, and you can search for others through the search engine at the bottom of that page.

Again, my thanks to all list members who responded to this query.