Best Books That Will Help You Heal Your Trauma
Many people went through trauma. It happens to us, our friends, and our families. It’s not just the war veterans and combat soldier that encounter trauma.
There are many types of trauma ranging from childhood trauma to accident, domestic violence to military terror. A person can be traumatized by a series of similar experiences or a one-off event.
Also, one can experience a traumatic experience and not suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). They might experience other illnesses such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, dissociation, and etc that don’t seem to be related to their trauma.
In this post, you will find books that help you heal your trauma regardless of what type you are experiencing. Some of them focus more on a specific type of trauma, while others are more generic.
Pick a book that you resonate with the most.
10 Best Trauma Books for Healing Your Past
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1. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk MD
If you want to have a good understanding of what trauma is and the solutions that are available to help you cope and heal from trauma, this is the book for you.
In the book, the author explores several methods for healing trauma including yoga, EDMR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), and neurofeedback. Instead of identifying the best avenue for trauma survivors, he says that most people he worked with require a combination of the following three ways:
- A top-down approach (i.e. talk-therapy)
- A bottom-up approach (i.e. body-centered therapy)
If you are new to trauma and not sure what help you should seek, this book will give you a good overview of all the possible solutions.
2. Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine
The premise of this book is that trauma is physiological. Talk therapies can help you understand your trauma but it doesn’t necessarily help you heal your symptoms of trauma or PTSD.
Written by the creator of Somatic Experiencing, this book addresses the essential role that our body plays in trauma. By working with your body and self-regulating your bodily sensations, you bypass your thoughts and emotions process. It helps you to work around details of the past that you rather not repeat or talk about.
The author uses analogies from myths and draws references from animals to help you understand your body’s capabilities to heal itself. This book is suitable for people who had tried talk therapies and didn’t get much result from them. It’s also useful for someone who doesn’t wish to talk about their traumatic experiences.
3. Healing Developmental Trauma by Laurence Heller and Aline Lapierre
Developmental trauma is very different from PTSD and shock trauma. This book focuses on healing childhood and relational trauma such as chronic abuse, neglect, and abandonment.
In this book, you will learn about the five adaptive survival styles that one might have developed since young — connection, attunement, trust, autonomy, and love and sexuality.
Even though this book is slightly technical and more suitable for therapists, people who are on a path of self-discovery can also read this book to gain insights on themselves.
If you want to be aware of your own internal roadblocks and understand how your childhood affects your adult life, this book is for you.
4. Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman
Traumatic experiences can permanently scar you. It can destroy your sense of self and affect your ability to respond to threats and feel your emotions.
This book explores the various types of trauma from child abuse to rape, domestic violence to war, in great details. It also explores the effects on trauma survivors and explains the three stages of recovery — safety, remembrance and mourning, and reconnection.
Often, it’s difficult to describe your traumatic experiences to others and that causes traumatized survivors to feel misunderstood. If you want to understand more about trauma or you want to understand your friends and family members who had been traumatized, this is the book to read.
5. Healing from Trauma by Jasmin Lee Cori
Hearing and reading about other people’s trauma might be unsettling and triggering for you. If this is so, this book is suitable for you.
This book is neither too technical nor contains too many anecdotes. The author writes in a way that you will find it easy to understand. There is also no detailed account of traumatic events in this book that will trigger your own trauma and memories.
This book gives you a wide perspective and tools so that you can choose the best approach for yourself. For example, it discusses how to choose the right therapist or helper for you. It also includes spiritual challenges and opportunities that come with trauma.
If you want to understand how to treat your trauma holistically, read this book.
6. The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz
If you are someone who learns better by reading other people’s stories, then this book is for you.
Written by a child psychiatrist and a reporter, this book reveals how trauma affects children and how the mind can recover from. It has a good balance between detailed, individual stories and the teaching of scientific material.
This book is suitable for both parents of traumatized children and adults who had adverse childhood experiences such as abuse and neglect. The former will have a better understanding of their children’s trauma, while the later will gain new insights into how their childhood experiences might have affected their lives.
7. Journey Through Trauma by Gretchen Schmelzer
If you are looking for a book that compliments the treatment and trauma therapy you are receiving, this is the book for you.
This book gives you a map of 5 phrases that guide you through your healing process and allow you to explore your own hero journey. Filled with mountain-climbing analogies, people who enjoy climbing mountains will be able to relate to these analogies greatly.
Just like climbing a mountain, you can’t heal trauma alone. Healing trauma can be challenging at times. It brings up lots of painful feelings and memories. Reading this book is like having a supportive friend who encourages you along the way and gives you hope.
8. Overcoming Trauma through Yoga by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper
Trauma has a deep and long-lasting effect on our body’s physiological systems. Trauma survivors tend to feel disconnected from their body. Some of them even see their body as the source of pain.
This book helps you to cultivate a more loving relationship with your body through trauma-sensitive yoga. Yoga is fundamentally a body-based activity. The modified approach to yoga introduced in this book takes into consideration the perspective and fear of a trauma survivor. It focuses on fostering a sense of safety and choice.
This book is also great for clinicians and yoga instructors. It has one chapter dedicated to each profession, giving the helpers the knowledge to help their clients and students effectively.
9. Trauma Stewardship by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky and Connie Burk
Are you working as a helping profession such as a social worker, a nurse, or a counselor? Or do you have to care for an elderly parent or a young child? If so, this book is for you.
This book is about secondary trauma, also known as compassion fatigue. A constant exposure to other people’s trauma can overwhelm and cause you to experience the same symptoms as the traumatized survivors.
In this book, the authors explore how the stress of dealing with trauma can cause “helpers” to feel hopelessness, burnout, chronic exhaustion, and how to care for yourself. If you are someone who internalizes other people’s struggle and assumes them as our own, read this book.
10. It Didn’t Start with You by Mark Wolynn
What if your trauma isn’t caused by your life experiences? What if it’s inherited?
If you couldn’t find the cause of your suffering, perhaps you want to examine your family history. Traumatic experiences can be passed down through generations. The author suggests that some of us might have inherited our trauma from our parents.
Children can be born with fear and feelings that don’t always belong to them. The author wrote this book so that we can break the cycle and not pass our trauma to our descendants.
This book is more suitable for people who have already done some inner work to establish boundaries from their toxic or abusive parents. As this book advocates forgiveness, people who have suffered prolonged abuse and neglect by their parents might find this book difficult to stomach.
Bonus: My Book on Healing Your Childhood Experiences
Note: The way I look at my books will never be the same as the way I look at other books, so to be fair I rather keep them off the list.
Parent Yourself Again by Yong Kang Chan
If you have a bad childhood or a strained relationship with your parents, then this book is for you.
This book doesn’t necessarily tackle childhood trauma in-depth and help you resolve your trauma. But it helps you to understand your hidden feelings and uncover the protective mechanisms you have in place to cope with your adverse childhood experiences. Some of them might be outdated and need to be removed for your healing to take place.
Reading this book will help you develop compassion for yourself, especially for your inner child. It will also help you acquire the skills to treat yourself kinder and receive the love that you always desire. A skill that we might not have learned in our childhood.
Hey there, I’m Yong Kang, best known as Nerdy Creator. I’m an author of seven books. I write about spirituality, self-compassion, and mindfulness. I love reading books, especially non-fiction. The list above is a combination of what I have read and my research. Each year, I create a Top 10 list of my favorite books.