Q: Can you recommend any books on cognitive therapy?

A: There are many wonderful books that draw on cognitive-behavioral therapy practices. Because cognitive therapy is so "psycho-educational," books (or web sites!) can be a great place to get started.

One study by Professor Forrest Scogin showed that depressed adults who read a popular cognitive therapy book — and did the practices in the book — experienced significant improvements in mood. In fact, those who read the book and did the self-help practices turned out to have comparable results to a separate group of people attending a series of psychotherapy sessions.

The book that was used in the study, Dr. David Burns's Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, is one of the best introductions to cognitive therapy for depression. Originally written in 1980, Feeling Good is one of the books that psychotherapists most often recommend to their clients. In his book, Dr. Burns covers many cognitive therapy approaches to depression, including the basic idea that our feelings are profoundly influenced by our thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs. He offers many practical strategies for changing these thoughts – and the mood that accompanies them. Amazon.com link: Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy.

Dr. Burns then followed-up Feeling Good (which is focused on depression) with The Feeling Good Handbook. This book expanded the focus of cognitive therapy to include the treatment of phobias, general anxiety, procrastination, perfectionism, communication problems, and many other issues. The book lists many "cognitive distortions," or self-defeating thought patterns that people commonly fall into. There are also many simple exercises for making inner shifts and behavioral changes. Amazon.com link: The Feeling Good Handbook.

Another excellent book is Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think by psychologists Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky. Mind over Mood centers on four fictional people – Ben, a 71-year-old man who is depressed about aging; Marissa, who struggles with a sense of worthlessness and low self-esteem; Linda, who experiences panic attacks; and Vic, a perfectionist. The authors use these four "clients" to illustrate many helpful cognitive-behavioral therapy approaches. Amazon.com link: Mind over Mood.

Other popular books that illustrate cognitive therapy principles include Edmund Bourne's The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, Albert Ellis's A Guide to Rational Living, and David Burns's When Panic Attacks.

In addition to these, there are many other books that focus on using cognitive therapy for specific issues.

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