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6 Must Read Books Every Counselling Student Should Read

Nicole, a Counselling Student and self confessed bookworm shares her 'must read' book list with us.

I always have either a book in my hand or playing through audible, I just love to read. Over the months, my goodreads account has grown massively, full of all genres from novels to fantasy and even more so since I started my Level 2 counselling course.

The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert

This is a monster of a book and admittingly I have not completed all 592 pages however, I have made a solid dent and absolutely love it. The compassionate mind explains the evolutionary and social reasons why our brains react so readily to threat - and reveals how our brains are also hardwired to respond to kindness and compassion. It may well be the most insightful book you will ever read as it helps to develop and understand feelings of compassion and increase your sense of well-being. As a trainee counsellor (beginning level 2) where we explore our values and beliefs, compassion is right up there with congruence. It is a quality we all need.

Learning To Counsel 4th edition by William Stewart & Jan Sutton

This was a recommended read in my student guide (I received on my first day) so I can't take credit in discovering this staple. This book however, has been a life saver for my course so far, as it draws from the authors own personal experiences as counsellor, writers and tutors. From the very first pages (which are now covered in scribbles in highlighter and sticky notes; a sign of a good book) it is full of information, teaching you how to be an empathetic counsellor, adhere to ethics, avoid burnout and the key counselling skills needed to transform yourself into a successful psychotherapist. Even if you are not training to become a counsellor this book would be helpful for all helping relationships.

Reflective Writing in Counselling & Psychotherapy 2nd edition by Jeannie Wright

One of my requirements for my counselling course is to keep a reflective journal and if you have never done this before it is a little alien. A reflective journal is different to a diary as you focus more on your emotions and personal development, rather than specific events. The first edition was so popular 10+ years later the author revamped the book to be up to date with BACP ethical framework and of course the development in counselling over the years. Jeannie guides you through everything from how to start writing, various approaches, dealing with obstacles and how to maintain reflective energy as a professional. Including exercises, case studies and ideas for self-directed learning.

4 Essentials Keys To Effective Communication by Bento C. Leal iii

This is an essential book for anybody not just people studying counselling as it covers all aspects where communication is vital, not just in a therapy room. It is laid out as a how to guide, teaching practical communication skills to help you achieve relationship success. Awareness and listening skills including how to pause, reflect, adjust and act.

The Book Of Human Emotions by Tiffany Watt Smith

If you were asked or you were to ask somebody; How do you feel? would the response be a quick response or a true human emotion? This book, in my opinion, is essential for counselling students from Level 2 up. One thing we learned within our first few weeks was paraphrasing, where you repeat back what your client has told you, in this instance an emotion. "I am so furious", to which the counsellor replies "that made you feel furious?" Hearing you say the emotion back can sometimes make a person re evaluate that emotion. They might well be furious but they might not be truly. There might well be more going on. So this is a great book of knowledge to have on hand.

First Steps In Counselling 4th edition by Pete Sanders

This book has been my go-to for assignment help! The layout is like nothing I have seen before as the author has written notes in the margin. These encourage you to explore what you have just read from your own point of view, activities to help define your learning style and references to more information. It truly is a students companion for counselling all the way up to diploma Level 4. Topics covered include; What is counselling and where do ideas come from, the importance of self-development, ethics and what comes next when you qualify. Highly, highly recommend this one!

Author's Bio


Nicole is a trainee holistic Psychotherapist, passionate well-being and women’s empowerment advocate. She writes about emotional well-being and has said that she is "determined to create a platform built on cultivating and uplifting, empowering a community; A online space to breathe easy."

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