Early Career

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On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers

The late Carl Rogers, founder of the humanistic psychology movement, revolutionized psychotherapy with his concept of “client-centered therapy.” His influence has spanned decades, but that influence has become so much a part of mainstream psychology that the ingenious nature of his work has almost been forgotten. A new introduction by Peter Kramer sheds light on the significance of Dr. Rogers’s work today. New discoveries in the field of psychopharmacology, especially that of the antidepressant Prozac, have spawned a quick-fix drug revolution that has obscured the psychotherapeutic relationship. As the pendulum slowly swings back toward an appreciation of the therapeutic encounter, Dr. Rogers’s “client-centered therapy” becomes particularly timely and important.


The culmination of master psychiatrist Dr. Irvin D. Yalom’s more than thirty-five years in clinical practice, The Gift of Therapy is a remarkable and essential guidebook that illustrates through real case studies how patients and therapists alike can get the most out of therapy. The bestselling author of Love’s Executioner shares his uniquely fresh approach and the valuable insights he has gained—presented as eighty-five personal and provocative “tips for beginner therapists.”





early career therapist

Mary Pipher’s groundbreaking investigation of America’s “girl-poisoning culture,” Reviving Ophelia, established its author as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on family issues. In Letters to a Young Therapist, Pipher shares what she has learned in thirty years of clinical practice, helping warring families, alienated adolescents, and harried professionals restore peace and beauty to their lives. Through an exhilarating mix of storytelling and sharp-eyed observation, Pipher reveals her refreshingly inventive approach to therapy—fiercely optimistic, free of dogma or psychobabble, and laced with generous warmth and practical common sense. Whether she’s recommending daily swims for a sluggish teenager, encouraging a timid husband to become bolder, or simply bearing witness to a bereaved parent’s sorrow, Pipher’s compassion and insight shine from every page. Newly updated with a preface by the author addressing the changes in therapy over the last decade and the surprising challenges of the digital age, Letters to a Young Therapist is a powerfully engaging guide to living a healthy life.

“Newly minted” therapists aren’t alone in making mistakes, of course; even seasoned professionals can benefit from discovering the 50+ most common errors therapists make, and how to avoid them. Newly revised and updated, this indispensable guide includes more case examples and adds seven ways “to fail” with child patients, too.

How to Fail… details how to avoid errors such as not recognizing limitations, performing incomplete assessments, ignoring science, ruining the client relationship, setting improper boundaries, terminating improperly, therapist burnout, and more.


The Making of a Therapist bLouis Cozolino

Cozolino provides a unique look inside the mind and heart of an experienced therapist. Readers will find an exciting and privileged window into the experience of the therapist who, like themselves, is just starting out. In addition, The Making of a Therapist contains the practical advice, common-sense wisdom, and self-disclosure that practicing professionals have found to be the most helpful during their own training.The first part of the book, ‘Getting Through Your First Sessions,’ takes readers through the often-perilous days and weeks of conducting initial sessions with real clients. Cozolino addresses such basic concerns as: Do I need to be completely healthy myself before I can help others? What do I do if someone comes to me with an issue or problem I can’t handle? What should I do if I have trouble listening to my clients? What if a client scares me?The second section of the book, ‘Getting to Know Your Clients,’ delves into the routine of therapy and the subsequent stages in which you continue to work with clients and help them. In this context, Cozolino presents the notion of the ‘good enough’ therapist, one who can surrender to his or her own imperfections while still guiding the therapeutic relationship to a positive outcome.

On Being a Therapist by Jeffrey Kottler

For more than thirty years, On Being a Therapist has inspired generations of mental health professionals to explore the most private and sacred aspects of their work helping others. In this thoroughly revised and updated fifth edition, Jeffrey Kottler explores many of the challenges that therapists face in their practices today, including pressures from increased technology, economic realities, and advances in theory and technique. He also explores the stress factors that are brought on from managed care bureaucracy, conflicts at work, and clients’ own anxiety and depression. This new edition includes updated sources, new material on technology, new problems that therapists face, and two new chapters: “On Being a Therapeutic Storyteller-and Listener” and “On Being a Client: How to Get the Most from Therapy.” Generations of students and practitioners in counseling, clinical psychology, social work, psychotherapy, marriage and family therapy, and human services have found comfort and confidence in On Being a Therapist, and this Fifth Edition — intended to be the author’s last major update to the seminal work — only builds upon this solid foundation as it continues to educate helping professionals everywhere.


bad therapy psychology graduate students

Bad Therapy: Master Therapists Share Their Worst Failures by Jeffrey A. Kottler and Jon Carlson

Bad Therapy offers a rare glimpse into the hearts and mind’s of the profession’s most famous authors, thinkers, and leaders when things aren’t going so well. Jeffrey Kottler and Jon Carlson, who include their own therapy mishaps, interview twenty of the world’s most famous practitioners who discuss their mistakes, misjudgements, and miscalculations on working with clients. Told through narratives, the failures are related with candor to expose the human side of leading therapists. Each therapist shares with regrets, what they learned from the experience, what others can learn from their mistakes, and the benefits of speaking openly about bad therapy.



what therapists dont talk about and why psychology grad students

What Therapists Don’t Talk about and Why: Understanding Taboos That Hurt Us and Our Clients by Kenneth S Pope,‎ Janet L Sonne, and‎ Dr Beverly A Greene

This book was created to help therapists and therapists-in-training explore the myths and taboo topics that weaken their practice and cause anxiety, discomfort, and confusion. Some of these topics include feeling incompetent; making mistakes; getting caught off guard by fee entanglements; becoming enraged at patients; managing illness; understanding sexual arousal and impulses; praying with patients as part of therapy; feeling ashamed; being fired; and not knowing what to do. The book discusses the damaging myths that therapists seem to hold about themselves that sustain the taboo topics. By offering questions for self-assessment and a series of explorations that can be used to examine taboo topics individually or in groups, the book provides resources for recognizing the myths, challenging the taboos, and speaking honestly and directly with patients and others about topics that have been off-limits.


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. Remember though that books are never a replacement for real human connection 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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