It felt like Christmas morning in the Coalition office yesterday when I was handed a pile of books that I had ordered. I have had a lot of requests for books that would be suitable to recommend to trauma survivors so I had set myself on a quest to meet the need. Here are three books that would be helpful for anyone trying to understand their own trauma responses and how to move forward toward healing.
No Comfort Zone: Notes on Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by Marla Handy, 2010, Mocassa Press, Madison, WI
No Comfort Zone is a personal story told with great insight and honesty. Marla grew up with an abusive father and a mentally ill mother. She suffered childhood abuse and medical trauma. Ms. Handy is able to intertwine important information about PTSD with actual stories of trauma and healing. I do have to warn the reader, though. As in any book that relates stories of interpersonal violence there are descriptions that could be triggering to someone with a trauma history. However, Marla’s ability to educate via her storytelling can provide a sense of comfort to someone who feels that she is alone in her pain. If you recommend this to a trauma survivor please let her know who she can contact for support.
The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A guide to healing, recovery, and growth; 2nd Ed. by Glenn R. Schiraldi, PhD., 2009, McGraw-Hill Books, NY
I would definitely recommend this book to someone who has a lot of questions as to how trauma has impacted his/her life. The explanations of the PTSD basics including memory and anxiety are easy to understand and could be quite useful to an advocate who is looking for more ways to explain how trauma impacts the brain. Dr. Schiraldi also discusses the necessary foundations for healing from trauma – stabilization, safety, balance and taking care of one’s health. There is also an in-depth section on how to manage symptoms (or trauma responses). At the end of the book he talks about transitioning to a life with less impact from the trauma and more intimacy, meaning, spiritual growth.
Dr. Ghiraldi also gives an overview of many treatment modes used by therapists in working with trauma survivors. It is fairly comprehensive in its descriptions of the modalities but I find that he has omitted a number of mind-body therapies. For a more comprehensive listing of treatment modalities I would recommend ----
Healing from Trauma: A survivor’s guide to understanding your symptoms and reclaiming your life by Jasmin Lee Cori, M.S. LPC, 2008, Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA
Jasmin Lee Cori provides most of the information that Dr. Ghiraldi does but in a different format. I love a chapter that is titled “Shit Happens” while still taking very seriously the impact that certain incidents can have in a person’s life. She also does an excellent job of describing the impact of trauma on the body using wonderful examples that may be less triggering that some other books. She also describes the impact of trauma on the body and brain and describes some interventions and tools that can be used to decrease anxiety, flashbacks, and dissociation. She includes interventions such as trigger point therapies, somatic therapies, and hands-on therapies.
I was also impressed that she provided a framework for how to find an appropriate therapist, what is expected, and how to know when a person should change therapists. She also goes more in-depth into spirituality than the above books and provides a good framework for living a healthy life beyond trauma.
I hope this is helpful as you look to make recommendations or are looking for more information for yourself.