Below is a reading list of books and articles that I have
found valuable as a parent, therapist/clinical supervisors and administrators.
I added brief comments to some of the readings. I will add additional comments/readings on an ongoing basis.
A good enough parent
(1987) by Bruno Bettelheim
Parenting from the
inside out (2003) by Daniel Siegel
ago, Dr. Bettelheim wrote a parenting book from a psychoanalytic perspective
that proposed that ‘Know thyself’ is the starting point for empathic, attuned parenting.
Two decades later, Dr. Siegel comes to the same conclusion from a
neurobiological perspective, that is, that it is not what happened to you in
the past, including traumatic experiences, that determine how you parent your
child, but how you have made sense of your experience, and integrated that
understanding into your sense of self.
by T. Berry Brazelton
American pediatrician of the last century, T. Berry Brazelton walks you through
the development of a child from the prenatal stage to 6 years of age. The main
purpose of his approach is not to tell you how to deal with your child, but
help you to anticipate predictable developmental challenges and changes in a
child’s journey of growth. This is important because it helps you anticipate
developmental changes, process your emotional reaction and reflect on how you
would like to deal with them before they occur. “Anticipatory guidance,” as Brazelton
calls it, provides the parent with a sense of competence and mastery as he or
she can then be a step ahead and celebrate the child’s new behaviors rather
than be overwhelmed by them.
The emotional life of
the toddler (1993) by Alicia Lieberman
The magic years:
Understanding and handling the problems of early childhood (1959) by Selma
Parenting for a peaceful world (2009) by Robin Grille
The developing mind
(1999) by Daniel Siegel
This is a
must-read for every therapist no matter their orientation. Dr. Siegel, a
pioneer of interpersonal neurobiology, describes how relationships and the
brain interact to shape who we are. Dr. Siegel maintains that meaning-making is
a core drive of the psyche and is central to development. Early attachment experience
is encoded in implicit memory and is not available to conscious awareness. The
mind functions as an “anticipation machine” that attempts to “remember” the
future based on what has occurred in the past. Consequently, making implicit relational
memory explicit and available to conscious awareness is essential to gaining a
sense of control over the way we experience present day reality.
is a leading expert in the field of neurodevelopment and the impact of
traumatic experience. Early childhood experiences shape the structure and
functioning of the neural systems in the brain. Experience is biology so in
order to counter the effects of traumatic memories one must reshape the brain.
Changing the brain, according to Perry, requires predictable, repetitive and
attuned interactions with sensitive, caring adults: essentially the same
interactions that would create a healthy neural system in the first place. In
his Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) Perry points to the expressive
arts therapies including art therapy, movement and music therapy as uniquely conducive
to reprogramming the regulatory systems in the brain, more so than talk therapy.
Regulating the brainstem i.e. the “arousal state” is the starting point of trauma
Traumatic stress: The
effects of overwhelming experience on mind, body and society (1996) edited by
Bessel Van der Kolk et al.
Dr. Van der
Kolk is one of the foremost authority in the field of traumatic stress. This
collection of essays by leading experts in the field of traumatic stress described
by Contemporary Psychology as
“remarkable for including not only [the] scientific and medical viewpoint, but
also the sociopolitical context in which trauma, its study, and its treatment
occur…” is a must-read as the mental health field moves toward Trauma-Informed
Care (TIC). A thought-provoking point made in one of the articles is this:
Verbally processing traumatic experience can be overwhelming therefore helping
a client regulate their arousal state while processing their experience in
their mind i.e. thinking and feeling but not speaking the memory, can be safer
and less overwhelming. This is a important reminder that sometimes words only
get in the way.
disorder in children and adolescents: a relational approach (2001) by
Bleiberg from the Menninger Clinic has developed an approach to treating
personality disorder called Mentalizing-Based Treatment (MBT). Mentalization,
also known as reflective function, is the ability to keep one’s mind and the
other person’s mind in mind during interactions including the ones that involve
strong feelings. Dr. Bleiberg posits that the main problem in psychopathology, including
borderline personality disorder, is the frequent breakdown of “mentalizing”.
Consequently, identifying moments of breakdown and supporting the development
of mentalizing at those moments should be the main focus of therapeutic
The polyvagal theory
(2011) by Stephen Porges
has studied the evolution of the vagal systems i.e. the connections between the
brain and the heart. This system monitors survival strategies of the organism.
While the book is very technical and a challenge to read, one of the main
points is profound, namely: A sense of safety is a prerequisite for social
engagement in general, and successful therapeutic interventions specifically.
Through neuroception, a process
coined by Dr. Porges, the brain decides whether a situation and environment is
safe or threatening. This process occurs outside of awareness (on a
physiological level), but determines whether or not a person can socially engage,
or readies for fight, flight or freeze. In other words, this theory shows that
our physiological states can limit our psychological and behavioral repertoire at
any given moment and concludes that social engagement is not learned, but the
result of the brain’s assessment of safety. For a fascinating interview with
Dr. Porges click here.
Don’t hit my mommy
(2005) by Alicia Lieberman
handbook for Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), this book is small but mighty. It
posits that “ghosts in the nursery,” that is, parents’ unresolved childhood
conflicts can have a profound influence on their children and their ability to
form attachment to the parent. Thus making sense of our own attachment experiences
and integrating them into our sense of self makes it more likely that we will
not repeat the mistakes our own parents made when raising us.
The adolescent psyche:
Jungian and Winnicottian perspectives (1998) by Richard Frankel
reflections (1965) by C. G. Jung
The soul’s code: In
search of character and calling (1996) by James Hillman
We’ve had a hundred
years of psychotherapy and the world is getting worse (1993) by James
The art of the
obvious: Developing insight for psychotherapy and everyday life (1992) by
Bruno Bettelheim & Alvin Rosenfeld
intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ (1995) by Daniel Goleman
Care of the soul: A
guide to cultivating depth and sacredness in everyday life (1992) by Thomas
Moore. Click here for the first chapter.
Affect regulation and
the repair of the self (2003) & Affect
dysregulation and the disorders of the self (2003) by Allan Schore
Coming into mind: The mind-brain relationship; a Jungian
clinical perspective (2006) Margret Wilkinson
(1997) by Sandra Bloom
(2013) by Sandra Bloom
Dr. Bloom developed the “Sanctuary
model” that is endorsed by the American Association of Children’s Residential
Centers (AACRC) as an evidence-based model. Programs that deal with traumatized
clients need to train all staff, including milieu workers and administrators,
in trauma theory and institute support systems for direct care staff to
consistently debrief countertransference feelings to avoid vicarious
traumatization and traumatic reenactments with clients.
(2010) by John Sprinson et al
Sprinson proposes that the main compulsion of youths in residential treatment and
other service programs is to repeat being rejected and abandoned, and that the
counterforce to the repetition of failure is unconditional care. The book
establishes a relationship-based approach grounded in attachment theory and
illustrates how behavioral interventions must address the children’s profound
A home for the heart
(1975) by Bruno Bettelheim
Bettelheim directed the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School, a treatment, training
and research institute at the University of Chicago, for 30 years. During that
time, he and his staff developed an approach to serving some of the most
troubled children via a model that was built entirely around the needs of the
children. Dr. Bettelheim first coined the term “therapeutic milieu” in 1948 and
in this book describes how a planned environment that supports mastery of tasks
of daily living through sensitive, attuned and understanding staff-client
relationships has the potential to heal deep emotional wounds and foster
healthy development. This classic offers much wisdom that could benefit the
current residential treatment facilities.
Punished by rewards
(1993) by Alfie Kohn
challenges the behaviorist paradigm by addressing how the carrot and stick
approach so commonly used in the treatment of emotional disturbance is mostly
counterproductive. He shows how rewards are a form of power and control.
Maltreated children are sensitive to manipulation as they have not had much
control over their worlds. Token economies and level systems that use external
rewards do not foster intrinsic motivation in a person and, particularly when
used with maltreated children, frequently lead to power struggles and a
repetition of a sense of failure and defeat on the part of the child.
Love is not enough
(1950) by Bruno Bettelheim
This is a
classic in the field of residential treatment. It brought attention to the
minute details of a child’s life in an institution and how all events and
interactions with the children in a treatment setting are meaningful and can be
harvested for their therapeutic potential, whether it is waking them up in the
morning, mealtimes or transitions.
stress in children and adolescents: How to foster resiliency through
attachment, self-regulation and competency (2010) by Margaret Blaustein and
book the authors describe their ARC framework (Attachment, Self-regulation and
Competency) for treating traumatic stress. The framework is based on the integration of recent research and
theories about neurodevelopment and trauma. The model consists of 10 “building
blocks”. Nine of them fall within three primary domains of attachment,
self-regulation and competency. The tenth –trauma experience integration- integrates
and builds upon all other skills addressed within the framework. In addition to
the theory, the book provides useful clinical tools that are applicable in a range
of settings, from outpatient treatment settings to residential programs. This
book can support culture change toward Trauma-Informed Care (TIC).