Healing from trauma or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a challenging endeavor. Trauma can impact so many areas of one’s life and it can be difficult to find the right support to start the healing process. One of the most accessible ways to learn more about trauma is through reading books by mental health professionals and survivors. Thankfully, there are many books to choose from!
There also are books that are specific to certain types of trauma such as Complex Trauma (C-PTSD), childhood trauma, sexual trauma, and more. The Modern Intimacy team wanted to share some of their favorite books on trauma that they often recommend to their patients for additional support around healing.
A Note Before Diving Into Books About Trauma Healing
Trauma is a subjective experience meaning no two people will react the same way to a given situation or subsequently heal the same way. As you begin your journey into healing, here are some things to keep in mind.
There is No “Right” or “Wrong” Way to Heal
A lot of emotions will come up when you begin unpacking and healing from trauma. Whatever these emotions are, they are okay and they are valid.
You’ve been through a lot. The trauma you’ve experienced wasn’t your fault. Treat yourself with kindness as you begin to navigate your healing journey.
Celebrate your small wins
Part of healing is noticing and celebrating your growth. However, sometimes it might feel like you are stagnent or even moving backwards. On days you feel like this, you might be extra kind to yourself; enjoy your favorite treat, take a warm bath, watch your favorite feel-good movie. Remember that healing is not linear.
You don’t need to rush yourself through the healing process
You are taking a huge step just by seeking out resources. Working through the healing process can be exhausting, and healing doesn’t happen overnight. It also doesn’t have an end date. Through the healing process you can learn to appreciate yourself for where you are while still striving for more growth.
Modern Intimacy Team’s Favorite Trauma Books
Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship
by Laurence Heller, Ph.D. and Aline LaPierre, Psy.D.
“In this book, the authors take a tender and eye-opening approach to understanding the long-term effects of early childhood trauma on adult lives. They examine how trauma affects identity development, how people learn to regulate their emotions, the body’s language of physiology, and the interpersonal styles of relating that can create relational dissatisfaction in adults. Introducing the NeuroAffective Relational model of healing, the authors take the reader through several mind-body exercises to begin the practice of healthy self-regulation, and safe co-regulation with others. This book is a must, for anyone who struggles to feel safe or stay connected in relationships.” – Dr. Kate Balestrieri, Licensed Psychologist, Certified Sex Therapist, PACT Therapist, Founder | Modern Intimacy
Help Her Heal
by Carol Juergensen
“I recommend this book for couples healing from betrayal trauma after infidelity. It can be utilized for either gender, despite its title. It provides tangible and concrete steps and activities to help couples create containment during the aftermath of betrayal. If applied, this book offers a way forward to building a relationship 2.0. Healing from traumatic events can be painful, and healing from trauma caused by the person you love, creates a unique challenge in terms of co-regulation in coupleships. Help Her Heal can be a tool in your relationship through empathy building and understanding.” – Heather “Lulu” Mazzei, ACSW, Clinical Associate
The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
by Bessel van der Kolk M.D
“The Body Keeps The Score so brilliantly showcases the impacts of trauma on the body. This book is for those curious about the impacts of trauma on the nervous system, or for those who are seeking to understand how somatic therapy heals the body. The research for treatments of trauma illustrated in this book are so impactful for many.” – Rachel Overvoll, Somatic Sex Coach
“Everyone, however they identify, can benefit from reading this book. For example, mental health professionals, trauma survivors, their loved ones, and anyone who seeks solutions to the cycle of trauma and how to recover from it. I would recommend this book because it systematically breaks down trauma, what it is, what it looks like, as well as the science behind it. What I think is a highly significant takeaway from this book, is that it provides a whole section on different paths towards recovery. In other words, to me, it provides hope during a space/time that could be so dark and lonely for someone who is struggling”. – Raquel VanLoon, LPC, CADC, CSAT-C, Clinical Associate
The Purity Myth
by Jessica Valenti
“I recommend this book for anyone who grew up in a high control religion or with an immense amount of importance placed on virginity. Valenti brilliantly describes the trauma caused to generations of women by placing such depths of morality on chastity. The Purity Myth allows all survivors of purity culture to know that we are not alone and validify our experiences of trauma at the hands of this culture.” – Rachel Overvoll, Somatic Sex Coach
by Wendy Maltz
“This book can be helpful for anyone who has struggled with feeling “broken” after trauma, for anyone who has ever felt like there was no hope for a happy and healthy sex life, and for anyone looking for answers with detailed guidelines to a path for healing the mind and body. This is not only a book, but also a workbook!
This is a quote that really stood out to me from the book: “Given how past sexual trauma can affect sexuality, you know that for sex to feel okay, certain guidelines must be followed. Sex must be your choice, an experience you feel in charge of, and an activity with no expectations, pressure, or demands.” You’ve learned new techniques and skills to enhance sexual intimacy. Sexual healing doesn’t have to stop here. Sexual healing involves making lifelong changes for good.” — and, I will add, a continuous and non-judgmental curiosity about yourself” – Raquel VanLoon, LPC, CADC, CSAT-C
It Didn’t Start with You
by Mark Wolynn
“For anyone who is interested in learning more about intergenerational trauma, I highly recommend this book! This book is filled with incredible stories, research, and real life case studies of how people have developed trauma symptoms and reactions based on previous family members’ experiences with trauma. Breaking the cycle of trauma is challenging, but really important and rewarding work when you witness the ways life, relationships with others, and your relationship with yourself can flourish when you have more information about how trauma is not your fault, and it doesn’t start with you.” – Kayla Tricaso, Modern Intimacy’s Office Manager and Intake Specialist
No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model
by Dr. Richard Schwartz
“The main thing I love about this book is that even though it’s about a therapeutic model, Internal Family Systems (IFS), the author does an excellent job at making the information digestible for non-clinicians. If you have experienced trauma during childhood, I think this book paints a really accurate and compassionate picture about how personality, anxieties, and relationship issues can develop in adulthood when we don’t tend to the ‘parts’ of ourselves who need extra love and support they may not have received previously.” – Kayla Tricaso, Modern Intimacy’s Office Manager and Intake Specialist
The Great Sex Rescue: The Lies You’ve Been Taught and How to Recover What God Intended
by Sheila Wray Gregoire, Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach, and Joanna Sawatsky
“I would recommend this book to anyone who has experienced sexual trauma within their marriage due to evangelical teachings, yet still wants to maintain a connection to religion. What’s different about this book is it’s written with a religious basis which can be really helpful for people whose religious faith is an important component of their intimate life. This book helps show women that they are not broken or alone when it comes to their sexual experiences. It helps to shed light onto the sexual reality for many Christian women who have been told sex is something only men should be interested in. It shares women’s stories and provides you with exercises and reflective prompts to help get your sex life to where you want it to be” – Jessie Ripes, Modern Intimacy’s Digital Media Coordinator
Embracing the Healing Journey
It’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s journey healing from traumatic experiences looks different and there will be amazing highs and challenging lows. It can be hard to not compare your healing to others’ but your journey is unique and valid. Healing is not linear and gentleness with yourself can go a long way.
As you move forward, hopefully these books and other trauma-informed resources will help you along the way towards healing. It can be so empowering to have knowledge about your experiences and realize you are not alone in your journey. The Modern Intimacy staff is here for you as well. Feel free to schedule a free 30 minute consultation on our contact page if you’d like to learn how evidence based trauma therapy like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) can help you heal.