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Books on PTSD

Books > Books on PTSD

These are books you might find helpful in recovering from traumatic events. Some are self help, some are professional, some are spiritual. “Take what you like and leave the rest,” as we say in 12 Step programs.

Growing Beyond Survival: A Self-Help Toolkit for Managing Traumatic Stress, Elizabeth Vermilyea, Sidran Press, Baltimore, 2000. Paperback.

Tools for self regulation, self awareness... A wonderful book aimed at survivors of childhood abuse, but useful to survivors of wars and other traumatic events. The book explains how the things that are troubling you now may have been helpful at the time of the trauma as ways to survive, so instead of feeling crazy because you have these symptoms, you can face them and work with them. The new 2009 second edition is geared to a broader selection of survivors including combat veterans.

You can buy this from Sidran here.

PTSD; A Complete Treatment Guide by Aphrodite Matsakis, Ph D, New Harbinger, 1994

“Hopefully... this book will help teach respect and compassion for trauma survivors and their pain.” The right attitude! Dr Matsakis says, “This book is not a crash course in PTSD Therapy, but rather a preliminary overview...” It is a very thorough overview. She provides an excellent list of further  resources, too. Part I is An Overview of PTSD, and Part II is The Therapeutic Process. There are also 28 extremely useful handouts for therapists to use with PTSD clients. Warning Signs, the first handout, is worth the price of the book. The continual reiteration of the ideas that client safety comes first, that the therapist moves at the client’s pace, and that therapists are teaching clients skills to replace the ones that kept them alive makes this a safe book to recommend. Dr Matsakis talks about reframing symptoms for the client, for example, pointing out that self mutilation can be a way of trying to tell what happened or of showing forbidden feelings. She points out how difficult some of this work is and makes it clear that not everyone can or should do it. I had trouble reading parts of the book, and following her advice in Warning Signs, took a break. I also got some fantastic insights into my own life while reading it. I believe in being an educated consumer of health services, so if I or someone in my family were traumatized, I would read everything I could on the subject. This is a good place to start.

I Can’t Get Over It, Aphrodite Matsakis, New Harbinger,

This book is a workbook for people with PTSD and is full of good ideas and good exercises. Aphrodite Matsakis has the right attitude, a combination of respect and compassion and it shows in everything she writes.

Courage After Fire, Keith Armstrong, Suzanne Best, Paula Domenici, Ulysses Press, 2005, was recommended to me for the new veterans by the PTSD unit at a VA which has a good program.

I haven’t read it yet, but knowing that therapeutic community I feel safe in recommending it.

Courage After Fire offers soldiers and their families a comprehensive guide to dealing with the all-too-common repercussions of combat duty, including posttraumatic stress symptoms, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. It details state-of-the-art treatments for these difficulties and outlines specific ways to improve couple and family relationships. Also offers tips on areas such as rejoining the workforce and reconnecting with children.