Resources

I have a lot of favorite books and websites. I also love to share what I know. Where possible, I have included a link to the author’s website.
 
This is very much a work in progress. Some entries just list a title and a link. Others provide descriptions and summaries. If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions, or if you see any typos, please email me at natwalterfisk@protonmail.com
 
So here you go:

Panic / Panic Attacks / Anxiety Attacks

I’m putting panic at the top of the list because sometimes, help with panic is the first thing you need. It’s more of a crisis than the other issues below. The keys are to slow your breathing and control your thoughts.
 
I love the Anxiety, Phobia and Panic Workbook by Dr. Edmund Bourne, and his website, helpforanxiety.com.

I also like Reneau Peurifoy’s book, Anxiety, Phobias & Panic: A Step By Step Guide To Regaining Control of Your Life. This is a link to the book on his website.
Listen, panic is the easiest mental health issue to resolve through therapy. Martin Seligman said that in his book, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life He’s the founder of Positive Psychology and Director of the Positive Psychology Center at U Penn.

Stress Management / Relaxation

Fred Luskin’s book, Forgive for Good

talks about allowing a grudge to take up real estate in your mind and heart. You can read about his 9-step method to forgive and be happy here. Several relaxation methods are also included

It was one of the first self-help books I read before my Master’s program. He taught at Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and he was one of the reasons I chose to get my Master’s there.
He later published Stress Free for Good which outlines 10 stress reduction exercises. He says if a professional helps you practice one of the 10 relaxation exercises for 3 minutes in the office, you are more likely to use it.
He also teaches a Happiness class at Stanford University. Here’s a 2018 YouTube video about it.

Assertiveness / Self-Esteem / Expressing Yourself

The Assertiveness Guide for Women: How to Communicate Your Needs, Set Healthy Boundaries, and Transform Your Relationships by Julie De Azevedo Hanks divides assertiveness into five areas: self-reflection, self-awareness, self-soothing, self-expression and self-expansion.

She shares personal examples and her clients’ experiences with assertiveness. Here’s a link to her webpage about her assertiveness book. She also wrote a book about burnout that I have not read.

The Brain / How to Manage Emotions

In Dr Dan Siegel’s book, Mindsight, he shares his experiences at Harvard Med School, psychiatry residency, work with psychiatry patients, brain research, how to apply it in our daily lives and gives a somewhat novel description of  how to meditate for best results. Great information, great resource.
Dr Russ Harris wrote The Happiness Trap: How To Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT. Here’s a link to the free resources on his webpage.

Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology, a new branch of psychology founded by Martin E P Seligman says that we learn to be helpless, but we can become empowered.  Positive Psychology’s website has a lot of good information. PERMA is a mnemonic for the elements of positive mental health that stands for

Positive Emotion
Engagement
Relationships
Meaning
Achievement

Here’s the same link as above, to his book, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

There’s also another nice website, Pursuit of Happiness that talks about Positive Psychology.

Success / Stick-To-It-Iveness / Persistence

Grit by Angela Duckworth is a great read. I admire her. Grit is her term for the concepts that emerged from her work on persistence and success. You can order her book from her webpage using the preceding link and you can read about her Macarthur Fellowship here. She’s also a U Penn professor.
I liked Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business. The appendix describes how to change habits. I found Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business to be less informative, but useful.
StrengthsFinder and Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton are based on the idea that people have 3 primary strengths. If you know your strengths, you can capitalize on them in any kind of activity. Check out their StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath and their books here. Wikipedia has a handy list of the strengths.
I’m a Maximizer, one who seeks to take people and projects from great to excellent. That’s the strength I use the most as a therapist.

Drugs

Stephanie Wittels Wach wrote Everything Is Horrible and Wonderful: A Tragicomic Memoir of Genius, Heroin, Love and Loss about her brother, Harris Wittels’s death by accidental drug overdose.She does a good job of describing his attitudes about drugs, his attempts at rehab and everyone’s grief at his death.

Suicide

I hate Thirteen Reasons Why , aka Th1irteen R3asons Why. It is so not like life. It glamorizes suicide. It blames others for suicide. She basically says, “This is the peeping Tom who traumatized me. This is the person who bullied me. I didn’t get help when I went to my school counselor. My parents didn’t listen. My friends were mean. I am going to expose them all and make them miserable.

“But first I’m going to kill myself. Then they’ll be sorry.” That’s immature thinking and manipulative suicide. If that girl had put the energy into her life that she put into her death, she would be Amazing!

In a response to the outcry, backlash, and need for teen help, the website has a page, 13 Reasons Why resources for help.

If you’re feeling severely, imminently, suicidal or homicidal, in the US, you should go to a hospital ER and be placed on a 72 hour hold.

If you need someone to talk with, call a crisis line, 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 or go to a Crisis Center.

I volunteered on the San Francisco Crisis Line for two years. I know from experience that it helps to talk to someone who cares.

Aging / Illness / Difficult Conversations About End of Life Decisions

I love Atul Gawande’s books. He started writing in med school. His tone is engaging. His prose is easy to read. He is informative and has great ideas.

Dr Atul Gawande’s webpage about his book, Being Mortal, about elders in America, end of life and medical decision making is a personal narrative about the last few years of his father’s life, an informative book about options for the aging, a professional perspective about the difficulties involved in making medical decisions about terminal conditions, and descriptions of difficult conversations.

I especially liked his passage about Susan Block’s approach. She is a palliative care nurse. She explains that these conversations are a process and doctors generally make a conceptual mistake of thinking that the purpose of the conversation is provide information.

‘A large part of the task is helping people negotiate the overwhelming anxiety–anxiety about death, anxiety about suffering…’ ‘There are many worries and real terrors.’ He notes, “No one conversation can address them all. Arriving at an acceptance of one’s mortality and a clear understanding of the limits and the possibilities of medicine is a process, not an epiphany.”

He shares the rules of having these conversations. Some of them are: “You’re trying to learn what’s most important to them under the circumstances–so that you can provide information and advice on the approach that gives them their best chance of achieving it. This process requires listening… If you’re talking more than half of the time, Block says, you’re talking too much.”

“The words you use matter.” “You should say, ‘I wish things were different.'” And most important, in my opinion, was the question, “‘If time becomes short, what is most important to you?'”

When you’re making New Year’s resolutions, sometimes taking an end-of-life perspective will rearrange your priorities.

I also really liked The Checklist Manifesto, a book that describes the process of getting hospitals to implement surgery checklists and amazing positive outcomes. Back when I was a social case worker, working with Latino youth on probation and their monolingual Spanish speaking parents, I really hoped that Child Protection would implement a checklist to prevent child abuse deaths during and after investigation. I suggested that our department read this book.