10 Best Trauma Books for Healing Your Past

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Hey, everyone. I love to read and learn more about how to treat trauma and PTSD, so I thought I’d share my favorite trauma books to help you heal from trauma and PTSD.

1. Healing Trauma

So here is my favorite PTSD book. It’s Healing Trauma by Peter Levine. Now, I often don’t have a copy of this to show — I just bought this new one — because I’m constantly giving this book to people and then buying another. 

It’s an awesome book. It explains how trauma gets trapped in the body and how you can process through it and heal. It’s also a really short read. It’s got gentle examples and some easy exercises. 

It’s my number one because it’s very accessible, it’s very easy to read, it’s not very triggering, and it comes with a CD, with exercises to help you start healing your relationship with your body. 

2. The Body Keeps the Score

Number two is The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. So Dr. van der Kolk has done just tons of research on effective treatments for PTSD and trauma, and in this dense book he outlines how trauma impacts the brain, the mind, and body. 

Bessel explains what effective treatments are available, and he gives some clear insights into actions that both individuals and society as a whole can do to prevent and treat trauma. His book includes a lot of detailed stories that could be quite triggering. 

This book has spent 74 weeks on Amazon’s top 20 non-fiction books. I’m just happy that there’s a trauma book in the top 20. And there’s a good reason why it has been. It’s just a really good, really comprehensive approach to understanding trauma.

3. The Transformation

Number three: The Transformation by Dr. James Gordon. He’s a compassionate doctor who understands the biological and medical aspect of trauma treatment, but he also understands the importance of dancing and laughing and pets as part of healing. So this book is a really holistic approach to treating the body and mind and heart after trauma. 

4. Moving Beyond Trauma

Number four: Moving Beyond Trauma by Eileen Smith. I like the combination of clinical experience, treating trauma using a somatic experiencing approach, and the personal story of how the author personally used somatic experiencing therapy to heal from trauma and become more resilient. 

I would say this book is not very triggering and includes some really practical exercises that you can use. So it’s another good book that I recommend.

5. Getting Past Your Past

Number five: Getting Past Your Past by Francine Shapiro. She is the founder of EMDR. And this book walks you through the fundamentals of how trauma changes you and how you can get your life back. It includes a lot of personal stories and also a lot of practical exercises. And I would say this book is probably moderately triggering. 

It’s a little bit more of a dense book, so I don’t recommend it as often to my clients, but if you like really diving in, it’s a great book. 

6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

So now I’m going to share some memoirs that I found inspiring because personal stories of working through trauma I think are really powerful. 

So number six is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. My clinical director gave me this book, and I loved it. It really beautifully describes the pain and joy and also healing by the amazing author and poet Maya Angelou. She faces the really painful moments in her childhood head-on, but also with grace. 

It’s definitely triggering if you have a history of sexual abuse, but it’s a wonderful read.

7. Man's Search for Meaning

Number seven: Man’s Search for Meaning. This copy has been around hiking in the desert with me for a long time. I’ve shared it with a lot of kids, a lot of teenagers. And this is a classic. 

Victor Frankel says, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” And this book tells the story of Viktor Frankl’s experience in Auschwitz during the Holocaust. He survived the concentration camps and came out believing in man’s ability to choose their attitude and man’s ability to overcome horrific experiences through a purposeful life. 

8. My Story

Number eight — I don’t have it; I think I gave it away — is My Story by Elizabeth Smart. Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped and sexually abused for months at the age of 13. And in this book — I mean, it’s definitely triggering, but it’s also uplifting — she shares the powerful account of her trauma and healing. So I really like that because she’s very vulnerable but very real.

9. CPTSD: From Surviving to Thriving

I’ve got a couple honorable mentions. These are on my reading list, but I haven’t gotten to them yet. 

So I’ve heard nothing but good about this book by Pete Walker: CPTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. Everyone tells me that this book explains CPTSD better than any other. So CPTSD is when you’ve been chronically abused as a child or experienced ongoing abuse that really affected your development. I just haven’t gotten to this book yet. It’s next up on my reading list. But I’ve heard great things about it. 

10. What Happened to You?

Number 10 is another book that’s on my reading list: What Happened to You? by Oprah. It’s a bestseller. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s another one that comes highly recommended. So Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry share personal stories, interviews, and scientific insight into how trauma impacts you and the healing process. 

I hope this is helpful. Thank you for watching, and take care.

 

For more ways to help with Trauma/PTSD check out my free course below. 

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