JessicaFarrulla.com - Jessica is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) certified in EMDR and is a Gottman Method (Level 2) couples therapist. Jessica has extensive training and experience in treating trauma in clients using EMDR. I highly recommend Jessica for trauma clients who prefer working with a female therapist. Jessica and I are available for intensive couples therapy as well.
Black Belt Husband - Quentin Hafner has written what I consider to be required reading by all men, married or single, younger or older. As I stated earlier, being a man, husband, or boyfriend today requires more skills than most men teach their sons. Relationships are more demanding than ever, but most men have not learned the skills necessary to be successful in them. BBH is an excellent no fluff book about learning how to become well equipped for your current or next relationship. I love Quentin’s approach to helping men. He’s a guy’s guy. I certainly connect with him, and I bet my clients will too. Click on the link or book image to order it today. Your future self thanks you for it.
Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man - When I was 18, my first therapist recommended Sam Keen’s book to me as I struggled to find where I fit into this world. My father was a firefighter, which draws up images in most people’s minds of strength, courage, and masculinity. My father was absent from my life early on, physically and figuratively. Despite him being a solid human being, I did not learn much about becoming a man from him. Reading Sam’s book gave me my start at learning about it. My favorite quote from this book, which I am certain saved me from a tormented life, states, “There are two questions a man must ask himself: The first is 'Where am I going?' and the second is 'Who will go with me?' If you ever get these questions in the wrong order you are in trouble.” I highly recommend this book.
The Traveler’s Gift - Andy Andrews’ wrote one of the best books I have read on how to improve your internal world quickly, and therefore your life. This book is required reading for men and women. Many years ago, I had the luxury of attending a live event where Andy spoke about his Seven Decisions to me for the first time. I bought his book immediately, read it within hours, and started making changes in my life the same day. This book is a high value, low fluff nugget. I read it in one sitting, and I am not a ninja level reader by any means. Easily the biggest bang for the buck in my resource list.
Here is a list of the Seven Decisions:
Harry Truman – The Buck Stops Here. Take responsibility for your life and the situation you are in. All of the decisions you have made have lead you to your current successes or failures. Until you accept responsibility for where you are where you at in this moment, your destiny is not in your control.
King Solomon – I will Seek Wisdom. Choose your friends and mentors wisely. Seek wisdom daily, but be careful from whom you ask for help. Seek out those who have respectfully achieved success in an area you wish to achieve success one day. Also, know the difference between whether it is your right to do something or it is wise to do something.
Joshua Chamberlain – I am a Person of Action. Make decisions quickly and act on them quickly. Chamberlain was responsible for the Union’s victory during the Civil War because he took action decisively during battle at Gettysburg.
Christopher Columbus – I have a Decided Heart. When others doubt your dreams or visions, stand your ground and stay true to your convictions. Do not let the words from others’ mouths deter you from your goals. Great accomplishments aren’t achieved by deflated dreams.
Anne Frank – Today I will Choose to be Happy. Happiness is a choice; the result of the meaning we give to everything in our lives. When we allow our minds to choose to look at everything we see negatively, we miss the positives. There really are positive and negatives meanings we can give to every situation. Choosing to focus on the positives doesn’t mean the negatives aren’t there. We just choose to focus on positives that make us happier.
Abraham Lincoln – I will Greet this Day with a Forgiving Spirit. The secret of dissipating anger and resentment is through forgiveness, even to those who do not ask for it. By the simple act of forgiveness, you release the demons of the past about which you can do nothing about and create a new beginning. Forgiveness is letting go of your hostility, not forcing the offender to acknowledge his/her wrong doings. You do not even have to tell the offender that you have forgiven them in order for you to be free.
Angel Gabriel – I will Persist without Exception. Your greatest power is to exercise choice. Choose to persist on course to your dreams, even in the face of exhaustion, rejection, and uncertainty. Just because things are difficult to do doesn’t mean we cannot do them. In fact, where others usually turn back is your key to success and reward.
The Traveler’s Gift Journal - The perfect companion to The Traveler’s Gift for those who want to improve their minds and lives as soon as possible. If you have read TTG but are not quite sure how to put the Seven Decisions to work in your life, this journal will take all of the guesswork out of it. This is a great resource for those hungry for order and purpose in their lives.
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho’s classic book about following your heart to find your dreams in life. A young shepherd, Santiago, wakes up under a tree where he dreamed of finding great treasures at the pyramids in Egypt. He sets out across the desert to walk to the pyramids to find his treasure and finds himself facing many challenges along the way that he was not expecting. Meeting the woman of his dreams, he chooses to continue on his journey to the treasures, telling her he will be back for her. When he finally reaches the pyramids, he learns that his treasure is actually buried below the very same tree he awoke from his dream before he started his journey across the land. The lessons he learns are that fear of suffering is worse than suffering itself, truth will endure, embracing the present moment will bring happiness, you have to risk being outside of your comfort zone in order to achieve a reward, follow your dreams no matter what other say, never give up, take action, and always live your own life. This book is one you will likely read again and again throughout your life, so I consider it required reading.
The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness - Epictetus gifted this world his wisdom planted in Greek stoic philosophy. This staple in my library reminds me that situations do not bother me, it is only the meaning I give to situations that bothers me. I recommend this book and thought process for those who find fault with others and consequently feel angered by them. It is necessary for those who attempt to force life to go their way, only to be repeatedly sobered by the fact that no human can oblige others to serve our needs.
Forgive for Good - Dr. Fred Luskin wrote this excellent book, helping people understand exactly what forgiveness is and how to achieve it. Forgiveness is for the self, not the offender. He points out the important difference between forgiveness and trust. Forgiveness is letting go of hurt inside of you. It does not mean you have to tell the person you have forgiven them. It simply means letting go so that you can move on in your life without feeling like you are hauling 1,000 pounds of bricks on your back. Where forgiveness is about the past, trust is about the future. When you decide to forgive, you do not have to trust the offender. Trust is giving that person the opportunity to wrong you again. No matter what someone has done to you - sexual abuse, physical harm, murdered friends or family member, cost you your job - you can find it within yourself to forgive that person and move forward in life a whole person.
Codependent No More - Melody Beattie’s book on codependency is such an excellent read that you may find yourself reading it and thinking, “Finally, someone gets me!” If you are preoccupied with making sure others are happy, do things you think will prevent them from being upset, feel excessively guilty or shameful when others experience difficult feelings, or find your stomach in knots when you cannot seem to control other people’s moods, then you likely have codependency. Codependent people often excuse their behavior and feelings as empathy for others, but we know this is a fallacy. Melody shows you how to identify codependent thoughts and behaviors and shows you how to adapt into a healthy human being.
It Wasn’t Your Fault - Men and women who survived childhood abuse (sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional) find Beverly Engel’s book especially powerful in their recovery from debilitating shame. You may not realize it but untreated abuse (sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional) in your childhood often leads to adults carrying a lot of shame around. Shame is the belief, “I am bad.” Shame is dropped the laps of abused children who did not deserve it. Often they do not even realize it until later in life when relationships fail repeatedly, they turn to drugs and alcohol, and cannot seem to escape depression, anger, anxiety, or codependency. You would be surprised at how easily as children we inherit shame. It can be as simple as a look of disapproval from a parent. If you feel like something has always just not been quite right with you, I recommend reading this book soon.
Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents - If you have had a pattern of unhealthy, emotionally distant or codependent relationships, or you avoid developing close relationships or friendships with anyone at all, you may want to read this one. Lindsay Gibson shows you how to heal from distant, rejecting, self-involved parents. You will discover how to recognize whether one of your parents was emotionally immature, understand the four types of emotionally immature parents, how different children respond to emotionally immature parents, how to avoid getting hooked by them from now on, and how to identify emotionally mature people so you do not invite them into your life as an adult.
YourPersonality.net - Dr. R. Chris Fraley’s attachment style survey. A relatively short (approx 10 mins) survey that reveals your attachment style to your mother figure, father figure, romantic partner figure, and best friend figure. Invaluable investment of your time for personal and couples therapy. This will give you insight into your attachment health and wounds in relation to the different roles the people in your life play. This can help you understand why you behave the way you do with different people. I highly recommend taking this survey once per year or more if you are undertaking individual or couples therapy. This site shows your attachment style changes over time.
YourMorals.org - Jonathan Haidt’s group of social psychologists put together a ton of resources that help you discover your moral compass and how you relate to others in our society. It requires registration, but is free. There are tons of various types of moral assessments - general and specific moral judgments, political/societal judgments and opinions, emotional reactions, everyday behavior, attitudes toward groups, justice and fairness, happiness and wellbeing, cognitions and beliefs, and general personality measures. The site allows you to retake any of the surveys over time and see if and how your morals have changed. Results are graphically displayed to give excellent context to your results. An excellent existential resource to discover more about yourself. If you are searching for meaning in your life, this site would be of interest to you.
Your Brain on Porn - YBOP is the best site I have ever seen on understanding the damage pornography does to your brain. Porn provides a short hit of dopamine, much like a hit of cocaine, that wears off quickly and requires subsequent escalating stimulation to achieve the same level of high. If you just don’t see what the big deal is about watching porn, invest your time into watching this video to learn how internet porn is causing a wave of porn induced erectile dysfunction. Yes, you read that right - porn use leads to erectile dysfunction. If you are in your 20s or 30s, prefer masturbating to having sex with a real person, and have to resort to ED drugs to get it up, your porn use is likely the culprit. Click here to learn about starting your no porn reboot.
Gottman Relationship Checkup - A detailed, 480-question assessment of couples’ relationship health. Despite its comprehensiveness, the way they have broken up the sections makes taking this assessment seem to fly by. It’s super easy to complete in about an hour. I provide the required access code once we determine that the couple and I are a good fit for couples therapy or intensive couples therapy. Each partner completes the survey, and the results come directly to me. I use the assessment along with my intake information and clinical conceptualization to help us identify areas that need improvement and plan our therapeutic course of action. This tool greatly reduces the time and expense normally required to get less information and results.
Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love - Drs. John and Julie Gottman are back at it! Here’s their new book, scheduled to be released February 5, 2019, featuring eight fun, gratifying date ideas focusing on critical relationship aspects of trust, conflict, sex, money, family, adventure, spirituality, and dreams. This book helps partners put feelings into words, so it’s great for those looking to improve their communication skills and learn to connect more emotionally intimately.
Table Topics (for Couples) - An excellent date night activity! Almost nothing brings two people closer than cuddling up on the sofa with dinner, a glass of wine, and Table Topics for Couples. Fun, romantically probing questions people often forget to ask their spouse or lover provide a very affordable date night experience ($25 for the set and last many many date nights!) leaving you two laughing, kissing, and magnetically pulled into deeper intimacy. Click on the image to the left to read the sample cards. I recommend a set of these for ALL of my couples clients. Jessica and I use these to reconnect if we feel frazzled in the middle of busy weeks. A few questions later, we are gazing into each other’s eyes and smiling at each other like we did on our first date. (As of 12/13/18, not available on Amazon; available from TableTopics website)
All About Us - Another great resource for couples looking to get to know their partner’s internal world (Love Maps, according to Drs. John and Julie Gottman). A great date night book for snuggling up and getting to know the depths of your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, or significant other.
Our Q&A a Day: A 4-Year Journal for 2 People - This is one my and Jessica’s favorite couples books. Not only are the questions super brief but each page is laid out for you each to answer the same question every year on the same day, every single day of the year. How much fun it will be to complete all three years then look back together at how your responses have changed, if they have. This book will inspire deep thought, deep conversation, and deep understanding of yourself and your partner. Definitely required reading!
Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay - If you are ambivalent about whether to stay in your relationship or leave, Mira Kirshenbaum’s book may be what you are looking for. Ask yourself these 35 questions about your relationship to help identify red flags signaling that you need to end it. My favorite one, right out of the gate, “Thinking about that time when things between you and your partner were at their best. Looking back, would you now say that things were really very good between you then?” I ask my couples clients this question in our first session. Now, imagine how much less ambivalent you could be after reading the next 34 questions. Don’t get me wrong - this book is just as useful for deciding whether you should stay as it is useful for deciding whether you should go.
Luna Bean Keepsake Hands - This is a great way for couples to connect physically, spend quality time together, and have fun! You hold hands (I know I just scared some of you off already!) in the bucket to create the mold then you pour the plaster into the mold. You have your very own custom plaster form of you and your partner’s hands held together. You will not believe the finite detail that comes through in the casting. It’s quite remarkable! Check out this video!
Gottman iOS App - The Gottman iOS app now includes all card decks at no cost! Whether you are working on building Love Maps, building Rituals of Connection, improving your sex life, or managing conflict, these virtual card decks can greatly improve your skill set between therapy sessions. I advise my clients to work on skills in card decks that relate to the work we are currently focusing on in therapy. One of the biggest challenges for couples is finding ways to bring what we work on in couples sessions into their interactions the rest of the week. This app is a great way to enhance our couples work.