Trauma Therapy

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Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine

Waking the Tiger offers a new and hopeful vision of trauma. It views the human animal as a unique being, endowed with an instinctual capacity. It asks and answers an intriguing question: why are animals in the wild, though threatened routinely, rarely traumatized? By understanding the dynamics that make wild animals virtually immune to traumatic symptoms, the mystery of human trauma is revealed.
Waking the Tiger normalizes the symptoms of trauma and the steps needed to heal them. People are often traumatized by seemingly ordinary experiences. The reader is taken on a guided tour of the subtle, yet powerful impulses that govern our responses to overwhelming life events. To do this, it employs a series of exercises that help us focus on bodily sensations. Through heightened awareness of these sensations trauma can be healed.


The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation, and Disease by Robert Scaer

 When The Body Bears the Burden made its debut in 2001, it changed the way people thought about trauma, PTSD, and the treatment of chronic stress disorders. Now in its third edition, this revered text offers a fully updated and revised analysis of the relationship between mind, body, and the processing of trauma. Here, clinicians will find detailed, thorough explorations of some of neurobiology’s fundamental tenets, the connections between mind, brain, and body, and the many and varied ways that symptoms of traumatic stress become visible to those who know to look for them.




Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD: Emotional Processing of Traumatic Experiences by Edna B. Foa, Elizabeth A. Hembree, and Barbara Olasov Rothbaum

This guide gives clinicians the information they need to treat clients who exhibit the symptoms of PTSD. It is based on the principles of Prolonged Exposure Therapy, the most scientifically-tested and proven treatment that has been used to effectively treat victims of all types of trauma. Whether your client is a veteran of combat, a victim of a physical or sexual assault, or a casualty of a motor vehicle accident, the techniques and strategies outlined in this book will help.

You can also find the corresponding workbook to use with your clients here.



Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Trauma and Attachment by Pat Ogden Ph.D. and Janina Fisher

Written for therapists and clients to explore together in therapy, this book is a practical guide to the language of the body. It begins with a section that orients therapists and clients to the volume and how to use it, followed by an overview of the role of the brain and the use of mindfulness. The last three sections are organized according to a phase approach to therapy, focusing first on developing personal resources, particularly somatic ones; second on utilizing a bottom-up, somatic approach to memory; and third on exploring the impact of attachment on procedural learning, emotional biases, and cognitive distortions. Each chapter is accompanied by a guide to help therapists apply the chapter’s teachings in clinical practice and by worksheets to help clients integrate the material on a personal level.

Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors integrates a neurobiologically informed understanding of trauma, dissociation, and attachment with a practical approach to treatment, all communicated in straightforward language accessible to both client and therapist. Readers will be exposed to a model that emphasizes “resolution”―a transformation in the relationship to one’s self, replacing shame, self-loathing, and assumptions of guilt with compassionate acceptance. Its unique interventions have been adapted from a number of cutting-edge therapeutic approaches, including Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems, mindfulness-based therapies, and clinical hypnosis. Readers will close the pages of Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors with a solid grasp of therapeutic approaches to traumatic attachment, working with undiagnosed dissociative symptoms and disorders, integrating “right brain-to-right brain” treatment methods, and much more. Most of all, they will come away with tools for helping clients create an internal sense of safety and compassionate connection to even their most dis-owned selves.

Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence–From Domestic Abuse to Political Terrorby Judith L. Herman

When Trauma and Recovery was first published in 1992, it was hailed as a groundbreaking work. In the intervening years, it has become the basic text for understanding trauma survivors. By placing individual experience in a broader political frame, Judith Herman argues that psychological trauma can be understood only in a social context. Drawing on her own research on incest, as well as on a vast literature on combat veterans and victims of political terror, she shows surprising parallels between private horrors like child abuse and public horrors like war. A new epilogue reviews what has changed–and what has not changed–over two decades. Trauma and Recovery is essential reading for anyone who seeks to understand how we heal and are healed.



If you or someone you love has suffered a traumatic event, you know the devastating impact it can have on your life and your spirit. Life-threatening accidents, illnesses, assaults, abusive relationships—or a tragedy like 9/11—all can leave deep emotional wounds that persist long after physical scars have healed. Survivors become “invisible heroes,” courageously struggling to lead normal lives in spite of symptoms so baffling and disturbing that they sometimes doubt their own sanity.

Now there is new hope for the millions affected by posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Drawing on more than thirty years’ experience as a therapist and on the most recent cutting-edge research, Belleruth Naparstek presents a clinically proven program for recovery using the potent tool of guided imagery. She reveals how guided imagery goes straight to the right side of the brain, where it impacts the nonverbal wiring of the nervous system itself, the key to alleviating suffering.


In Trauma Made Simple, trauma expert Dr. Jamie Marich brings her practical style of training to print, using clinical common sense to wade through theory, research, and hype surrounding trauma. Learn about trauma in a way that is relevant to clinical work, including extensive coverage on PTSD and other diagnoses through a bio-psycho-social-spiritual lens. Make clinically informed decisions based on setting, client preparedness, and other contextual variables. Develop strategies for treatment planning based on the best possible treatments in the field today.
Trauma Made Simple addresses a variety of issues that are imperative to trauma competency in clinical work, including how to handle grief and mourning, assessing for and addressing addiction (even if you are not an addiction counselor) and how to manage professional development issues, including self-care.


Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists by Suzette Boon,‎ Kathy Steele, and‎ Onno van der Hart Ph.D.

This training manual for patients who have a trauma-related dissociative disorder includes short educational pieces, homework sheets, and exercises that address ways in which dissociation interferes with essential emotional and life skills, and support inner communication and collaboration with dissociative parts of the personality. Topics include understanding dissociation and PTSD, using inner reflection, emotion regulation, coping with dissociative problems related to triggers and traumatic memories, resolving sleep problems related to dissociation, coping with relational difficulties, and help with many other difficulties with daily life. The manual can be used in individual therapy or structured groups.


Growing Beyond Survival is a self-management workbook, which teaches skills that empower survivors to take control of and de-escalate their most distressing trauma related symptoms. Developed with input from survivor advocates in Maine, New York, and Maryland, and with the support of the Departments of Mental Health in the states of Maine and New York, this self-help toolkit is both comprehensive and flexible. This versatile workbook can be used as an independent self-help program, in the context of individual therapy, or in a group setting. It teaches trauma survivors to recognize, contextualize, and understand distressing dissociative and posttraumatic reactions. It also creates a structure in which to learn and practice skills for self-regulation of the troublesome thoughts, feelings, and impulses related to traumatic experiences. Rather than simply offering “band aid”-type crisis intervention, this self-paced program empowers survivors with an understanding of where the symptoms come from and why. By learning a variety of interventions, skills, and techniques, survivors are able to select and make use of different “tools” for different self-regulation purposes.

Healing the Heart of Trauma and Dissociation with EMDR and Ego State Therapyby Carol Forgash and Margaret Copeley

The powerful benefits of EMDR in treating PTSD have been solidly validated. In this groundbreaking new work nine master clinicians show how complex PTSD involving dissociation and other challenging diagnoses can be treated safely and effectively. They stress the careful preparation of clients for EMDR and the inclusion of ego state therapy to target the dissociated ego states that arise in response to severe and prolonged trauma.





This is the workbook that all mental health professionals wish they had at the beginning of their careers. Containing over 100 approaches to effectively deal with trauma, this workbook pulls together a wide array of treatments into one concise resource. Equally useful in both group and individual settings, these interventions will provide hope and healing for the client, as well as expand and solidify the professional’s expertise.




The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment by Babette Rothschild

While reducing the chasm between scientific theory and clinical practice and bridging the gap between talk therapy and body therapy, Rothschild presents principles and non-touch techniques for giving the body its due. With an eye to its relevance for clinicians, she consolidates current knowledge about the psychobiology of the stress response both in normally challenging situations and during extreme and prolonged trauma. This gives clinicians from all disciplines a foundation for speculating about the origins of their clients’ symptoms and incorporating regard for the body into their practice. The somatic techniques are chosen with an eye to making trauma therapy safer while increasing mind-body integration.

Workbooks for clients with trauma

ptsd workbook
The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms by Mary Beth Williams PhD LCSW CTS and Soili Poijula PhD

In The PTSD Workbook, Third Edition, psychologists and trauma experts Mary Beth Williams and Soili Poijula outline techniques and interventions used by PTSD experts from around the world to conquer distressing trauma-related symptoms. In this fully revised and updated workbook, you’ll learn how to move past the trauma you’ve experienced and manage symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, and flashbacks.

Based in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), this book is extremely accessible and easy to use, offering evidence-based therapy at a low cost. This new edition features chapters focusing on veterans with PTSD, the link between cortisol and adrenaline and its role in PTSD and overall mental health, and the mind-body component of PTSD. Clinicians will also find important updates reflecting the new DSM-V definition of PTSD.

The Posttraumatic Growth Workbook expands the focus on posttraumatic stress and its related difficulties to include the significant potential for positive growth in the aftermath of trauma. With this guide, you’ll learn more about traumatic experiences and their short- and long-term effects, discover where you are in your own process, explore vulnerability as an important aspect of post-traumatic strength, identify and develop other strengths for coping with—and growing beyond—your trauma, and successfully integrate your experience into your personal story.

Navigating the aftereffects of trauma is a difficult journey, but many people report having a new appreciation for life and feeling even more resilient after working through their traumatic event. Using this powerful, PTG-based workbook, you’ll find it’s possible to come out of your trauma even stronger and wiser.

Life After Trauma, Second Edition: A Workbook for Healing by Dena Rosenbloom and‎ Mary Beth Williams

Trauma can turn your world upside down–afterward, nothing may look safe or familiar. This compassionate workbook has already helped tens of thousands of trauma survivors start rebuilding their lives. Full of practical strategies for coping and self-care, the book guides you toward reclaiming a solid sense of safety, self-worth, trust, and control, as well as the capacity to be close to others. The focus is on finding the way forward in your life today, no matter what has happened in the past. The updated second edition has a new section on managing emotions through mindfulness and an appendix on easing the stress of health care visits. Dozens of step-by-step questionnaires and exercises are included; you can download and print additional copies of these tools for repeated use.



If you know of another book that belongs on this list let us know here or tell us about it in the comments. Make sure you’re also following The Therapist’s Bookshelf on Facebook and Instagram.

Many therapists enjoy recommending books to their clients to supplement the work they are doing together. We also use books to help ourselves grow as people and practitioners. We also use books to help ourselves grow as people and practitioners. Remember though that books are never a replacement for real human connection, for supervision and continuing education, or for therapy when it’s needed. If you find yourself needing a therapist, a great place to start is Psychology Today. If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.


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