Bibliotherapy for depression

'Bibliotherapy' is an important part of cognitive therapy, either to run alongside a course of therapy or as a self-help tool. I often recommend books to my clients, partly because there is only so much time in a session, so it's much more useful for them to read up about their particular issue and for us to discuss their findings next week. But I also find that many people like to understand why they might be having problems and find their own strategies for solving them – another important idea in cognitive therapy, because ultimately I want my CBT clients to be their own therapist.

You can read one or all of these books, depending on which appeal to you. You can also read the whole book or dip in to the chapters that seem most relevant to you.

1. Overcoming Depression: A Self-help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques, by Paul Gilbert. Part of the excellent Overcoming... series, this is written by one of the world's leading experts on depression. It explains perhaps better than any other book I have read on depression exactly why we get depressed, with particular emphasis on the way our brains are wired to make us vulnerable to depression when we are threatened, or suffer major losses in our lives. Warm, compassionate and eminently readable, this book is also full of practical tools and techniques you can use to tackle your own low mood, with or without the help of a CBT therapist.

2. The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness, by Williams et al. This also serves as the perfect introduction to mindfulness meditation, if that interests you – and comes with a CD of guided meditations by Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the leading figures behind the marriage between mindfulness and modern psychology. As well as providing a wealth of information about why we get depressed and what we can do about it, this book is based on the principles of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), an eight-week meditation programme that research shows is highly effective at treating recurrent bouts of depression. Like Gilbert's book, it is warm, wise and kind-hearted, so is a soothing companion when you're feeling down. 

3. Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think, by Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky. This seminal book remains the best introduction to CBT, almost 20 years after it was first published. Although not written specifically about depression (it is just as useful for any of the other issues mentioned above), if you are suffering from low mood it offers a clear, simple, step-by-step guide to modifying the negative thinking that is at the root of depression. Padesky is perhaps the world's foremost CBT therapist (she was taught by and remains very close to CBT's founder, Aaron Beck), so you can rest assured that the techniques and strategies outlined here are to be trusted.

I hope at least one of these proves helpful – if you would like to book a session with me, email

Warm wishes,