Top 28 Counseling Books for Practitioners and Beginners

Counseling BooksAre you just starting a career in counseling? Even if you have been in the counseling field for some time, do you want to increase your knowledge?

Whether you are a beginner or experienced practitioner, books are a resource that will always be available, no matter where you are in the world.

In this post, we list our 28 favorite counseling books (including audiobooks) across different disciplines, including marriage and couples, school, career, classroom, children, and grief.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free. These science-based exercises will explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.

Top 3 Counseling Books

While there are many books for counselors, Wake Forest University (n.d.) has come up with a list especially for those looking to enter the field.

Three of them include:

1. Man’s Search for Meaning: The Classic Tribute to Hope From the Holocaust – Viktor E. Frankl

Man's Search For Meaning

Set in the context of a prisoner’s determination to persevere in a Nazi concentration camp, this memoir by the renowned psychiatrist Viktor Frankl offers insight into what drives human life.

Furthermore, it discusses how these drives inform a life of service that can positively affect others and showcases how human beings can overcome tremendous suffering.

Find the book on Amazon.

Viktor Frankl - finding meaning in pain - Josh Brand

2. On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy – Carl Rogers

On Becoming a Person

Carl Rogers, the American psychologist who founded client-centered therapy, wrote this collection of essays over a decade to share his findings with the world.

His findings? That a trusting, affirming relationship between counselor and patient is more sustainable than traditional power hierarchies and other mainstream approaches.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. The Resilient Practitioner: Burnout Prevention and Self-Care Strategies for Counselors, Therapists, Teachers, and Health Professionals – Thomas M. Skovholt

The Resilient Practitioner

While the other books in this list place a greater emphasis on counseling practice, Thomas Skovholt writes about the potential danger if counselors do not engage in self-care.

He identifies the essence of burnout and describes expert-proven methods for helping professionals to stay healthy.

Find the book on Amazon.

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Books on Marriage and Couples Counseling

Counseling organization Relate in the United Kingdom put together a list of relationship books for marriage and couples counselors (Martin, 2020).

Here are some of their recommendations:

1. Adult Attachment and Couple Psychotherapy: The ‘Secure Base’ in Practice and Research – Christopher Clulow

Adult Attachment and Couple Psychotherapy

While Christopher Clulow is the editor of many books that address marriage and couples counseling, this book stands out from the others.

Specifically, it addresses romantic relationships and attachment theory within both secure and insecure partnerships.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. Systemic Therapy and Attachment Narratives: Applications in a Range of Clinical Settings – Rudi Dallos and Arlene Vetere

Systemic Therapy and Attachment Narratives

Rudi Dallos, professor in clinical psychology, and Arlene Vetere, deputy director of clinical psychology at the Institute of Family Therapy in Plymouth, England, are currently active in the field and provide a great deal of knowledge for those looking to make a start in it.

In their book, they outline how to use the three main systems of psychotherapeutic practice through a fresh and integrated approach, with techniques including systemic theory, attachment theory, and narrative theory.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. Attachment Processes in Couple and Family Therapy – Susan M. Johnson and Valerie E. Whiffen

Attachment Process

Editors Susan Johnson and Valerie Whiffen explore attachment theory but in a slightly different context compared to the other books discussed.

They provide insight into adult partner interactions and those between parents and children in what are called “distressed” and “satisfying” contexts.

They describe ways in which attachment-orientated interventions can help resolve family conflicts and struggling marital relationships.

Find the book on Amazon.

3 Valuable School Counseling Books

Teach.com (2017) is a resource for teachers and those in education, including school counselors, to obtain more information to help them along in their careers, including helping school counselors and teachers interact better to help students.

They recommend three books for school counselors:

1. The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively – Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

The 5 Love Languages of Children

The concept of the five love languages is that we each express and feel love differently, and when others express their love in a way we understand, we feel valued and appreciated, which can lead to improved communication.

In their book, Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell use the idea of love languages as a way to motivate children to do their best.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. Lost at School: Why Our Kids With Behavioral Challenges Are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them  – Ross Greene

Lost At School

In his book, Ross Greene outlines a step-by-step process that teachers and counselors can follow when working with students and their parents to decrease negative behaviors.

It attempts to explain why a traditional system of discipline may not work for those who are constantly in trouble and offers alternative solutions.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team With Positive Energy – Jon Gordon

Energy Bus

In this book, Jon Gordon’s primary focus is to develop collaboration between school counselors and teachers, and he offers steps to help achieve this collaborative atmosphere.

These steps aim to facilitate cooperative communication between the two professionals and assist students while they navigate difficulties in what can be a harsh environment.

Find the book on Amazon.

Interesting Books on Career Counseling

Forbes compiled a list of books that can help counselors help those who want to build their careers (Garnett, 2020).

Here are some of them:

1. More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) – Elaine Welteroth

More than enoughIn this inspiring book, author and journalist Elaine Welteroth explains how she has challenged the status quo throughout her career in fashion and media to break down barriers and claim space for herself.

Counselors are sure to enjoy the memoir and find insightful wisdom to pass along to their clients, particularly those just beginning their career.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – Angela Duckworth

GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

According to author Angela Duckworth, in order to feel accomplished in a career, you need grit – the combination of passion and persistence.

In her book, she shares stories from leaders and CEOs in the sports and business worlds, including the National Football League’s Pete Carroll and JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges – Amy Cuddy


Amy Cuddy’s book acknowledges that while navigating a career, anxiety and stress may be ever present.

Her book discusses how you can obtain a powerful presence by tapping into your own personal power and caring more about what you think of yourself than what others do.

According to the Forbes review, this book can be especially helpful for those who are searching for a new job, career, or role.

Find the book on Amazon.

4. Go Put Your Strengths to Work: Six Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance – Marcus Buckingham

Go Put Your Strengths to Work

Identifying your personal strengths can be important and is the topic of this book by Marcus Buckingham.

However, is that enough? Buckingham offers a six-step approach for struggling workers to make these strengths work for them in their jobs.

Find the book on Amazon.

3 Textbooks for Your Class

Not every textbook is a must-read, but some come highly recommended, particularly for use in the classroom, whether teaching or learning.

Counselor Nicole McLean (2018) of Counselor’s Café recommended these three in particular.

1. Learning to Counsel: How to Develop the Skills, Insight and Knowledge to Counsel Others – William Stewart and Jan Sutton

Learning To Counsel

Particularly helpful if teaching students in the classroom, this text from William Stewart and Jan Sutton explains how to become an empathetic counselor, adhere to ethics, and avoid burnout.

This can be useful for both students and new professionals alike.

Find the book on Amazon.



2. Reflective Writing in Counseling and Psychotherapy – Jeannie Wright

Reflective Writing

During your counseling training, you may have been encouraged to keep a reflective journal to help track and process your emotions and personal development.

Jeannie Wright guides counseling trainees and seasoned practitioners on how to start writing in this journal and deal with obstacles. Exercises, case studies, and ideas for self-directed learning are included.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. First Steps in Counselling – Pete Sanders

First Steps In Counseling

When embarking on the journey to become a counselor, it is important to process what you are learning from your training.

This book from Pete Sanders features activities to help students define their learning styles and includes topics such as the importance of self-development, ethics, and what comes after you qualify.

This book is recommended for those at the beginning of their academic careers or those who want to revisit what they learned when starting their career.

Find the book on Amazon.

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Best Picks for Beginners

From textbooks in the classroom to counselors just starting their careers, counseling platform TheraNest (2019) has provided some great recommendations for beginning therapists.

1. Beginning Mindfulness: Learning the Way of Awareness – Andrew Weiss

Beginning Mindfulness

For those therapists interested in mindfulness, this book by Andrew Weiss can be helpful, as it provides an approach to learning basic mindfulness.

This book is designed in a 10-week course format that offers mindfulness exercises that help patients of new therapists identify emotions, control them, or separate body sensations from excitations in the mind.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. A Guide to Possibility Land: Fifty-One Methods for Doing Brief, Respectful Therapy – Bill O’Hanlon and Sandy Beadle

Guide to Possibility Land

This book from Bill O’Hanlon and Sandy Beadle is designed for beginning therapists as an easy-to-learn handbook for enabling clients to find solutions.

It is particularly useful for therapists using solution-focused or short-term work. It may not be as suitable for those engaged in long-term therapy with clients.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ – Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman’s book is one that can be found on many therapists’ shelves. This classic can be especially useful for beginning therapists.

It provides an easy-to-understand description of emotional intelligence and how beginner therapists with less experience can use it to improve their connection with patients and themselves.

Find the book on Amazon.

4. Love’s Executioner: And Other Tales of Psychotherapy – Irvin D. Yalom

Love’s Executioner

This book by Irvin Yalom can be crucial for those just starting to work as therapists.

The message that Yalom says new therapists can benefit from hearing is that pain that causes psychopathology is fundamentally incapable of being remedied. Helping clients to cope with this pain is a central theme.

Find the book on Amazon.

For Counseling Children

The following books are useful when counseling and working with children (Confident Counselors, 2017):

1. The Color Monster: A Pop-Up Book of Feelings – Anna Llenas

Color Monster

Having children describe their feelings can be a challenge. Author Anna Llenas created a pop-up book that depicts a new feeling on each page.

This book is particularly targeted for children between six and eight years old.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. Double-Dip Feelings: Stories to Help Children Understand Emotions – Barbara Cain

Double-Dip Feelings

Author Barbara Cain provides an interesting twist for the counselor and child reading this book.

On each page, the author describes a scenario and then explains two opposing feelings that can happen as a result (e.g., a child can feel both nervous and excited on the first day of school).

This has potential real-world applications for counselors wanting to engage with children who otherwise would have difficulty.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. One – Kathryn Otoshi


Bullying is a difficult subject to discuss, particularly for children.

Author Kathryn Otoshi makes children more aware of what bullying is and when it can occur. It shows how one student can stand up and make a difference in others’ lives.

This book can be useful to foster children’s self-esteem and empowerment.

Find the book on Amazon.

3 Reads for Grief Counseling

Psychologists spoke to New York Magazine (Fariso, 2019) to give their recommendations of books for those struggling with grief.

Here are three of them:

1. How to Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies – Therese A. Rando

How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies

A pioneer in the field of grief counseling, Dr. Therese Rando provides a guide to grief and walks the reader through essential and overlooked aspects of this process while remaining inclusive of different types of losses.

It is recommended because it covers both the practical and emotional steps necessary to recover from a major loss, ranging from managing funeral preparations to learning how to accept help from friends and family.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One – Brook Noel and Pamela Blair

I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye

Noel and Blair write about the assault on the inner and outer life of the mourner who experiences sudden loss.

The book is noteworthy for covering a large range of material from “treating the griever as if he or she was in intensive care” to debunking harmful myths.

Blair also takes the time to address her own experience of sudden loss at the beginning of the book to establish a sense of safety and companionship with the reader.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief – Joanne Cacciatore

Bearing the Unbearable

While this book is described as being general enough to apply to most kinds of loss, Joanne Cacciatore emphasizes the reality that grieving takes time and functions differently for specific people in specific situations.

It also teaches mourners how to eliminate the need to acquire permission or approval from others while redefining life after loss.

Find the book on Amazon.

A Look at Valuable Counseling Audiobooks

If listening to helpful words in your ear is more appealing than reading words on the page, this list has you covered. Audiobook company Audible (n.d.) has created a list of recommended audiobooks that may help counselors addressing anxiety.

1. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy – David Burns

Feeling Good

Psychiatrist David Burns guides listeners in a step-by-step instructional guide to help build self-esteem.

David Burns calls his method the New Mood Therapy and teaches listeners techniques they may not have come across before.

Burns does not narrate the audiobook himself, and recommendations have touted award-winning narrator George Newbern as a calming voice in this audiobook.

Find the audiobook on Amazon.

2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Techniques for Retraining Your Brain – Jason M. Satterfield

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

While the previous book was written for general audiences, this audiobook appears more geared toward counselors.

Created and narrated by professor Jason Satterfield, it encompasses a series of half-hour lectures that teach the basics of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.

This audiobook may be particularly useful for beginning therapists who want additional guidance about topics in CBT that they may have just learned in school.

Find the audiobook on Amazon.

There is not a wealth of research on whether audiobooks are effective at helping beginning therapists or seasoned practitioners develop their careers.

However, there are many to choose from, based on the practitioner’s background and modality of choice, and we hope this list is a helpful jumping off point.

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A Take-Home Message

Reading and listening to audiobooks can make a difference in the way practitioners think, practice, train, and help clients.

The books in this article will provide some knowledge for increasing skills and developing new ones.

The number of books available to practitioners is always growing, and the best way to embrace all the new knowledge is to take time to learn and appreciate what these books have to offer.

It may be helpful for each practitioner to be aware of their interests and visions for how they want to work in the future. Knowing there are books to help and learn more from, whether for continuing education purposes, to learn a new technique to use with clients, or for personal enhancement, you’ll be hard pressed to find an excuse not to pick up the next one that sparks interest.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free.

  • Audible. (n.d.). The 10 best audiobooks for soothing anxiety. Retrieved April 25, 2021, from https://www.audible.com/blog/playlisted/best-audiobooks-for-anxiety
  • Buckingham, M. (2008). Go put your strengths to work: Six powerful steps to achieve outstanding performance. Simon & Schuster.
  • Burns, D. D. (2017). Feeling good: The new mood therapy. HarperAudio.
  • Cacciatore, J. (2017). Bearing the unbearable: Love, loss, and the heartbreaking path of grief. Wisdom.
  • Cain, B. S. (2001). Double-dip feelings: Stories to help children understand emotions. Magination Press.
  • Chapman, G., & Campbell, R. (2016). The 5 love languages of children: The secret to loving children effectively. Northfield.
  • Clulow, C. (2012). Adult attachment and couple psychotherapy: The ‘secure base’ in practice and research. Routledge.
  • Confident Counselors. (2017, July 24). 15 Must have books for elementary school counselors. Retrieved April 24, 2021, from https://confidentcounselors.com/2017/07/24/15-must-have-books-elementary-school-counselors/
  • Cuddy, A. (2015). Presence: Bringing your boldest self to your biggest challenges. Orion.
  • Dallos, R., & Vetere, A. (2009). Systemic therapy and attachment narratives: Applications in a range of clinical settings. Routledge.
  • Duckworth, A. (2018). Grit: The power of passion and perseverance. Scribner.
  • Fariso, D. (2019, May 22). The 16 best books about dealing with grief, according to psychologists. The Strategist. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-books-grief.html
  • Frankl, V. E. (2013). Man’s search for meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust (New e. ed.). Ebury Digital.
  • Garnett, L. (2020, April 8). 11 Career development books to read now that you’re staying in all day. Forbes. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/lauragarnett/2020/04/08/11-career-development-books-to-read-now-that-youre-staying-home-all-day/
  • Goleman, D. (2005). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Bantam.
  • Gordon, J. (2007). The energy bus: 10 Rules to fuel your life, work, and team. Wiley.
  • Greene, R. W. (2014). Lost at school: Why our kids with behavioral challenges are falling through the cracks and how we can help them. Scribner.
  • Johnson, S. M., & Whiffen, V. E. (Eds.). (2005). Attachment processes in couple and family therapy. Guilford Press.
  • Llenas, A. (2015). The color monster: A pop-up book of feelings. Sterling Children’s Books.
  • Martin, J. (2020, September 4). The best relationship counselling, couples therapy and self-help books to read [Web log]. Relate. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://www.relate-nottingham.org.uk/blog/the-best-relationship-counselling-couples-therapy-and-self-help-books-to-read/
  • McLean, N. (2018, November 10). 6 Must read books every counselling student should read [Web log]. Counselor’s Café. Retrieved April 22, 2021, from https://www.thecounsellorscafe.co.uk/single-post/2018/11/08/6-must-read-books-every-counselling-student-should-read
  • Noel, B., & Blair, P. D. (2008). I wasn’t ready to say goodbye: Surviving, coping and healing after the sudden death of a loved one. Sourcebooks.
  • O’Hanlon, B., & Beadle, S. (1999). A guide to possibility land: Fifty-one methods for doing brief, respectful therapy. W. W. Norton.
  • Otoshi, K. (2008). One. KO Kids Books.
  • Rando, T. A. (1991). How to go on living when someone you love dies. Bantam.
  • Rogers, C. (1995). On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy (2nd ed.). Mariner Books.
  • Sanders, P. (2013). First steps in counselling (4th ed.). PCCS Books.
  • Satterfield, J. M. (2015). Cognitive behavioral therapy: Techniques for retraining your brain. The Great Courses.
  • Skovholt, T. M. (2000). The resilient practitioner: Burnout prevention and self-care strategies for counselors, therapists, teachers, and health professionals. Allyn & Bacon.
  • Stewart, W., & Sutton, J. (2017). Learning to counsel: How to develop the skills, insight and knowledge to counsel others. Robinson.
  • Teach.com. (2017). 3 Must read books for school counselors and teachers for better collaboration. Retrieved April 20, 2021, from https://teach.com/blog/3-must-read-books-for-school-counselors-and-teachers-for-better-collaboration/
  • TheraNest. (2019, February 15). 10 Books every new therapist should read. Retrieved April 22, 2021, from https://theranest.com/blog/books-for-therapists/
  • Wake Forest University. (n.d.). 5 Counseling books to have on your shelf now. Retrieved April 20, 2021, from https://counseling.online.wfu.edu/blog/5-counseling-books-to-have-on-your-shelf-now/
  • Weiss, A. (2004). Beginning mindfulness: Learning the way of awareness. New World Library.
  • Welteroth, E. (2019). More than enough: Claiming space for who you are (No matter what they say). Viking.
  • Wright, J. (2018). Reflective writing in counseling and psychotherapy (2nd ed.). SAGE.
  • Yalom, I. D. (2012). Love’s executioner: And other tales of psychotherapy (2nd ed.). Basic Books.

What our readers think

  1. Raj

    Thank you Sir for giving such nice explanation of books…. So that I chose best book for increment in my knowledge.

    Myself Raj, from INDIA. & I’m so exited to study psychology. I want to guide people for their betterment in Life. Though I dont have any degree in psychology, still I study I hard to get the knowledge of Counseling, so that I could help others.

    Thanks again. 🙂


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