2020 has been a year of upheaval in every way. Over the past few months, we’ve seen protests and a surge of resistance against racism and police brutality. In the midst of this cultural shift towards anti-racism there has been a cry to #amplifymelanatedvoices. It’s time that the people most impacted by the systems of racism are heard instead privileged people speaking about what we think it might be like or how we would react in their shoes.
I believe that Black voices have been ignored in conversations about race and pretty much every other topic. This post is a tiny step towards rectifying that imbalance. Every book listed here is written by a Black author. If there is one missing that deserves to be included, please email me directly at Le@1000HillsCounseling.com and I will gladly add it.
In addition to this post, I’ve been reaching out to experts in our field over the past several months about creating booklists for therapists interested in specific therapies, client issues, or diverse populations. If you are interested in a collaboration, please let me know.
Note: You can click on any title to get your own copy of that book. Most links are affiliate links which means we make a small commission without costing you anything extra. You can learn more here.
Books on Racism
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
This is one of those books that you have to read (or listen to) slow. It’s not that it’s hard to understand; it’s just that it challenges beliefs you may have never thought to reconsider. You need time to let it soak in so you can reevaluate and make real changes. This book pushed me to do a lot more inner work than I expected. If you are pursuing anti-racism, it’s a must read.
My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem
Resmaa Menakem is an author and an LCSW who explores the impact of generational trauma. You can learn more about him here. This book comes up in almost every conversation when therapists talk about books on race and racial trauma. It’s a must read.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
This book will move you and bring up every emotion on the spectrum. Bryan Stevenson talks about his own journey and his fight against injustice. He shares the statistics and the stories of racism in the criminal justice system and makes it real. There is a movie version available but the book is magnificent. I really loved hearing the author read it on the Audible version.
Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation through Anger by Lama Rod Owens
(from the publisher) Love and Rage weaves the inimitable wisdom and lived experience of Lama Rod Owens with Buddhist philosophy, practical meditation exercises, mindfulness, tantra, pranayama, ancestor practices, energy work, and classical yoga. The result is a book that serves as both a balm and a blueprint for those seeking justice who can feel overwhelmed with anger–and yet who refuse to relent. It is a necessary text for these times.
How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir by Saeed Jones
How We Fight for Our Lives is a memoir about growing up as black, gay man in the southern US. Jones tells about his journey while exploring themes like race, queerness, and power.
Tap any title now to get your own copy
Books for Therapists
Finding Your Voice as a Beginning Marriage and Family Therapist by Jessica L. ChenFeng and Dana J. Stone
This book was written to help new clinicians enter the field while embracing all of their intersectional identities.
Be Still: Spiritual Self-Care for Mental Health Professionals by Dr. LaRonda Starling
Be Still was written to Christian mental health practitioners who are struggling with burnout. Dr. Starling explains how to identify burnout and how to address it before it spirals out of control.
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
This classic text was completely updated in 2017. The author teaches the importance of conversations about race and teaches the reader to start talking.
Books for Clients
The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help you Deserve by Dr. Rheeda Walker
This is a book for therapists and clients. It is absolutely imperative that we understand the challenges BIPOC clients face and help them navigate the mental health system in the healthiest way possible.
The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity by Nadine Burke Harris M.D.
I recommend this book constantly. It’s similar to The Body Keeps the Score but is less technical and aimed at the average reader. When I have clients who need to understand what trauma does in their bodies or how it continues to impact their children long after the danger has passed, this is my go-to book.
The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu
I talk about the concepts in this book in session constantly and recommend it to clients often. The Tutus describe a healthy path to forgiveness and include experiential pieces in every chapter. It made a big impact on me personally and many of my clients.
Injured Reserve: A Black Man’s Playbook To Handle Being Sidelined By Mental Illness by Rwenshaun Lamar Miller
Injured Reserve is part memoir part resource guide. Rwenshaun Miller tells the story of his struggle with bi-polar disorder and suicidality while teaching the reader about signs of mental health issues. You can read my full review here.
The Ultimate Parent’s Guide to Eliminating Tantrums and You are Not Alone: A Comprehensive Parent Approach to Helping Your Child with ADHD Thrive both by Dr. Ann-Louise Lockhart
Each of these e-books are written to help parents better understand why their child is struggling and what they can do to help. Dr. Lockhart is a pediatric psychologist and you can read more about her practice here.
A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory
This book teaches kids what racism is and how to identify it.
Before “I do”: Complete Pre-Marital Counseling Workbook for Heterosexual, LGBTQ, & Polyamorous Couples by Olivia L Baylor
This workbook goes beyond the typical premarital workbook and encourages discussion about relationship dynamics and family make-up. It’s great for clients seeking resources that honor all types of relationships.
Don’t forget to click on the titles to order your copies of these books or bookmark this page and keep an eye our for them in your local bookstore.
If you know of another book we need to review or an expert willing to share their favorite resources, 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.