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Spark Counseling Shana Sutcliffe, MA, LPC, NCC
Counseling & Coaching
Recommended Reading

I am now and have always been a HUGE reader.  Books play an enormous part in my life - from the "brain rot" entertainment stuff, to the things that have changed my perspective on myself, the world, and the people in it.  Here are some of the books I frequently recommend for clients (and anybody else who'll listen!):

The Gift of Imperfection
Brene Brown

If you've known me for more than five minutes, I've probably mentioned this book. Brene Brown is a professor in the social work program at University of Houston (my alma mater) and is widely considered to be brilliant and wonderful in a million ways. Her research focus is shame and resilience. The book talks a lot about being present in your actual life and believing you're not good enough only when you've met XYZ milestones - you're good enough right now, exactly how you are. I'm thinking about starting a book group that would examine her Guideposts over the course of ten weeks.

The Language of Letting Go
Melody Beattie

Melody Beattie is one of the seminal writers in the codependency literature. The Language of Letting Go is a meditational-type book, with a brief encouragement followed by an intent to set for the day. Her message is, essentially, that every day is a new chance to focus on your own healthy self, letting go of the need to fix, change, manage, or support unhealthy others.    

The Total Money Makeover
Dave Ramsey

In counseling and coaching, I frequently help people have difficult conversations with themselves and their partners - and one of the most difficult conversations is about money. There are many, many personal finance books and courses and speakers out there, and I am in no way endorsing Dave Ramsey over anyone else. However, I appreciate the incredibly behavioral way he addresses money. Having purposeful financial behavior is a powerful stress reducer, even if you still have debt. It should be noted, however, that I've recently learned some information about Mr. Ramsey's personal beliefs and the way he runs his businesses that I find problematic. His budgeting tools are great, but maybe leave it there.

The Five Love Languages
Gary Chapman

Couples often feel that their partners don't love them, which is a pretty terrible feeling.  What seems to happen more often than not, though, is that their partners are giving that message in ways they don't recognize.  The Five Love Languages breaks that message into five types - Gifts, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time, and Words of Affirmation.  Learning your love language, and the language your partner finds meaningful, sets a couple up for much more intimate connection.

The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work
John Gottman and Nan Silver

John Gottman and his wife, Julie, are two of the most preeminent researchers and therapists in the couples counseling field.  The Seven Principles includes highly researched data on the efficacy of their program, as well as exercises designed to bring couples into improved intimacy and relationship strength. I often use their exercises in my sessions as homework. I am trained in their Level 1 program, as well as facilitating their Seven Principles in a group setting. 

You Are a Badass / You Are a Badass at Making Money
Jen Sincero

These are two of my favorite mindset books. They give permission to dream of a life you actually want and eliminate those beliefs you've developed that tell you you can't have it. Plus, she's funny and I really appreciate that in a writer. I use her analogies and exercises regularly for myself and my clients.