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  • Writer's pictureRoxy Humphrey

My 2022 Reading list (in no hierarchical order)

I always love it when I hear about books/ideas/art/poems/music that inform and inspire people, so I thought I would take the time at the end of this year to write out a few of the books that have informed my therapy practice this year along with an explanation of how they have helped and shaped me and my work with people. I hope you enjoy it and perhaps you might consider letting me know some of the books or ideas that have shaped you this year as well.

  1. The Zen of Therapy: Uncovering a Hidden Kindness in Life by Mark Epstein.

I read this book slowly over a number of months as a contemplative practice to ground me before working with clients. I loved it because I learned more about Zen Buddhism and the the way it informs Epsteins' therapy practice. I found that Epstein’s stories would linger in my thoughts all day and helped to both broaden and deepen the therapeutic work I was doing with clients.

2. Trauma and Memory: Brain and Body in a Search for the Living Past

by Peter Levine.

I am still working my way through this book but what I am loving about it is the very practical and hopeful approach to working with people presently suffering from the memories of trauma. It helps ground my practice in a deeper knowledge of neuroscience and how memories are stored in our bodies and how they impact the present moment.

3. Lifespan Integration: Connecting Ego States Through Time by Peggy Pace.

I was sent this book as part of a training I will be participating in later in January and, similar to Levine's book, it offers a hopeful framework to supporting people suffering from PTSD, trauma and childhood neglect. I can’t wait to take this training and begin to work more with this therapeutic approach.

4. The Art of Emotional Healing by Lucia Capacchione

This book has been helpful in offering some very useful exercises to help people work through and process emotions using art. In my counseling practice, I am always struck often by how quickly people can express their emotions more through art/experiential activities than they can using language. This book offers some helpful ways to deepen the processing experience using art.

5. Soul Therapy: The Art and Craft of Caring Conversations - Thomas Moore

This book was full of mini reflections on therapy as a soul making craft. Moore’s reflections were short but often full of insights that, similar to Epstein’s, reverberated around my mind as I engaged in my work with people. One example of an idea that stuck with me is when Moore wrote about the way repetitions of stories can be useful and can add meaning to a person’s overarching story, in a similar way that a repeated chorus of a song adds to and changes the meaning of a song. This book helped me to listen more deeply to clients and to look and search for underlying meaning (soul) in what people present and articulate in therapy and to be curious about repetitions.

6. The Selected Works of Audre Lorde, edited and introduced by Roxane Gay

I have been meaning to read more of Lorde for a long time and it was a good time for me to read her - personally and professionally. One of the essays that stuck the most with me was on her exploration of the uses and validity of Anger. I find myself drawing on her a lot in offering people (usually women) the freedom to feel and express anger/rage as well as to see and value that emotion as valid and useful in the transformation process.

7. The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness - Gregory Boyle

This is the third book of Boyle’s autobiographical memoirs of working with former gang members. What I love about Boyle’s writing is the depth of insight - he often can spot and illuminate the sacred in the ordinary, his humour, and his ability to draw on multiple voices and traditions to express his ideas. In my work as a school counselor, I have a quote from him on the wall, “You are unshakeably good!” I have that on the wall mosty for my own practice, to find and discover the ultimate goodness that lies within each person I work with. I find that, in discovering that goodness and helping people to see and witness it in themselves, it is one of the most transformative and longlasting ways that I can support people.

8. The Unsayable: The Hidden Language of Trauma - Annie Rogers.

The author of this book drew on an older psychanalist's ideas, Jacques Lacan, as a way to make sense of the language of trauma and the subtle ways that it gets communicated. It explained the process by talking about the author's work with one child who was the victim of sexualized violence over a number of years. While the orientation itself I found to be too reliant on language as a primary means to convey information, and it requires the deep insight and literacy of a skilled practitioner to hear the subtleties of language to comprehend, it did offer me a deeper appreciation of the means in which trauma can be communicated and helped me to deepen my practice of listening.

That's it! I love hearing about what others read about and how they shape and form them - please feel free to share with me! :)

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