5 Books For Healing Family Trauma

Last year I confessed to having experienced a bit of book shame while I was reading Mothers Who Can’t Love: A Healing Guide For Daughters by Susan Forward, PhD. Admitting I needed and wanted to read such a book was tough at first.

Then I realized a couple things that encouraged me to publish a blog post about my book shame. First of all, these books exist for a reason: people need them. 

Second, by being embarrassed of my troubled family history and my unhealthy relationship with my mother, I’m perpetuating the toxic cycle.

Third, when I talk about my traumatic experiences, I heal. And I give others an opportunity to talk about their similar experiences and they heal.

Because Mothers Who Can’t Love was life-changing for me, I did some research and picked up a few more titles I think will help me in the same way.

Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward, PhD with Craig Buck

From GoodreadsSusan Forward pulls no punches when it comes to those whose deficiencies cripple their children emotionally. Her brisk, unreserved guide to overcoming the stultifying agony of parental manipulation–from power trips to guilt trips and all other killers of self worth–will help deal with the pain of childhood and move beyond the frustrating relationship patterns learned at home.


It Didn’t Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are And How To End The Cycle  by Mark Wolynn

From Goodreads: As a pioneer in the field of inherited family trauma, Mark Wolynn has worked with individuals and groups on a therapeutic level for over twenty years. It Didn’t Start with Youoffers a pragmatic and prescriptive guide to his method, the Core Language Approach. Diagnostic self-inventories provide a way to uncover the fears and anxieties conveyed through everyday words, behaviors, and physical symptoms. Techniques for developing a genogram or extended family tree create a map of experiences going back through the generations. And visualization, active imagination, and direct dialogue create pathways to reconnection, integration, and reclaiming life and health. It Didn’t Start With You is a transformative approach to resolving longstanding difficulties that in many cases, traditional therapy, drugs, or other interventions have not had the capacity to touch.


Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood by Wayne Muller

From Goodreads: A gentle, regenerative approach to discovering the spiritual strength that is hidden in the scars of childhood. A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, therapist and minister Wayne Muller brings together the teachings of many different spiritual and religious traditions to create a program of healing that will appeal to readers of THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED and HOMECOMING. 


Letting Go of Shame: Understanding How Shame Affects Your Life by Ronald and Patricia Potter-Efron

While this doesn’t pertain only to family relationships, many of us first experience shame as a child, and think of it as always negative. The point of this book is to remind us that feeling shame is nether good or bad – it’s how we respond to the feeling that affects our lives in a positive or negative way. From Goodreads: As we identify shame and use recovery skills to work through it, Letting Go of Shame: Understanding How Shame Affects Your Like helps to explain the emotion of shame and its impact on our self-image and relationships. The authors offer us a way that we can personalize a plan of action to help build our self-esteem, and they suggest exercises to help us identify our feelings of shame.


I Don’t Have To Make Everything All Better by Gary and Joy Lundberg

Similarly, this one isn’t directed only at family relationships. However, I know I have held my role of “fixer” since a young age. Even though I’m aware of my patterns, it is a tough role to break out of. I’ve been working on it for years and am hoping this book will make a huge difference in my life!

From Goodreads: The Lundbergs address an all too common dilemma that arises when others expect you to solve their problems for them, showing readers how they can shed the no-win role of “fixer” and empower people to solve their own problems through validation–a simple yet profound communication tool that is essential to any healthy relationship. Refreshingly straightforward, this inspiring and entertaining work is poised to become a classic guide for anyone who wishes to improve relationships with their partner, children, colleagues and friends. 

Do any of these books sound interesting to you? Are there any others you’d add to my list?




1 Comment

  1. Sally

    May 15, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    Thank you! Of course all these resonate……

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