Counselling, support and information for all relationships 
Our counsellors share both their personal favourite books and recommended reading for healthy relationships. Whether you're looking for relationship self-help books or a training relationship counsellor or therapist yourself. Get the ultimate list of relationship counselling books here > 
Here at Relate Nottingham, our counsellors are highly trained in specific relationship types or areas of counselling. Qualifying to become a certified relationship counsellor takes a lot of hard work, time and dedication. And of course, a lot of reading! Who better to ask for relationship counselling reading recommendations than our extremely experienced and hugely knowledgeable team of therapists?! Our counselling team were keen to tell us their best books for relationship therapy clients and those seeking relationship help, as well as their must reads for qualified and training counsellors alike. 
 
We’ve split the relationship counselling reading list into these two distinct readers; relationship counselling clients along with those looking for couple’s self-help book recommendations. And qualified or training couple therapists seeking their relationship therapy reading list.  
 
Best Relationship Counselling Books for Clients and Self-Helpers... 
 
The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman 
American author and radio talk show host Gary Chapman describes the idea that romantic partners both experience and express love in five different and specific ways. Referred to, as in the title of the book, as "love languages". Firstly, you are encouraged to identify you and your partners primary and secondary love language through observation and examples. Then you can look to understand and adapt to one other’s preferences in order to achieve a better level of communication. 
 
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and how it can Help you Find - and Keep – Love by Dr Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller 
Levine, an adult, child and young person’s psychiatrist and neuroscientist, Heller holding a BA in Behavioural Sciences and MA in Social-Organisational Psychology, these two experts are well placed to explore the world of adult attachment theory. One of the most advanced relationship sciences to date, understanding this concept can arguably help us both find and maintain love. The book looks to determine attachment styles of those within a relationship before shaping a future which strengthens your romantic bond. 
 
How to do Relationships by Anjula Mutanda 
One of our own and very informative, this book is often recommended to relationship counselling clients. It talks about the foundations of relationships and stresses the importance of discussing significant issues such as finances as these issues can often cause conflict further down the line if they haven’t been addressed. A great one for new couples and those embarking on fresh relationships. 
 
The Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships by Eric Berne 
Selling more than 5 million copies, Berne has captured readers with his discussions around functional and dysfunctional social interactions. He created a theory of transactional analysis, based of Freudian ideas. Can you identify yourself as a player in one of these games? And are they a healthy expression or could they be potentially problematic? 
 
I Love You but I’m not in Love with You by Andrew G Marshall 
A common scenario for one or both people in a relationship is the feeling of love towards but not being in love with their partner. Author Marshall explores this issue in depth and suggests useful exercises for couples to practice in order to address this. He has also written other titles which focus on other frequently experienced relationship problems. 
 
Aspergers in Love by Maxine C. Aston 
Maxine Aston is a qualified counsellor specialising in Asperger Syndrome. She regular conducts workshops with therapists and professionals in order to help them work with and support those with the condition. She explains that people with AS can and do have full, intimate relationships. Helpfully and interestingly presenting both AS and non-AS people and partners viewpoints and opinions, she explores how the diagnosis can complicate romantic relationships. 
 
The State of Affairs by Esther Perel 
One title that came up many times when we asked our counsellors for their relationship self-help book recommendations was this modern classic from Psychotherapist Esther Perel. In the book she explores the conflict that the need for both security and for freedom presents in relationships. A New York Times bestseller, she asks questions such as ‘is there such a thing as an affair-proof marriage?’ and ‘is it possible to love more than one person at once?’ A must read for anyone looking for support and tools to deal with infidelity, adultery or marital affairs. 
 
Not "Just" Friends: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity after Infidelity by Shirley P Glass 
This one off the couple’s therapy reading list covers every aspect possible, emotional and otherwise of the subject of affairs. The comprehensive, ‘Not “Just” Friends’ also contains a practical index of topics. Frequently suggested to clients by our relationship counsellors, this book always receives great feedback where couples have read it together and were able to discuss its content. 
 
How can I ever Trust You Again? by Andrew G Marshall 
The second from this author in our list. Marshall is an ex-Relate therapist who has written lots of useful books including this one all about the topic of marital affairs, this also includes helpful exercises that couples can do together. 
 
Dragonslippers: This Is What An Abusive Relationship Looks Like by Rosalind B. Penfold 
The true (and so at times, rather graphic) diary of one woman’s time spent in an abusive relationship. Written under a pseudonym, Penfolds story is told from a remarkably honest place; as she describes the break down of her relationship, one that spiralled into violence. Her memoir seeks to offer comfort and support to those who find themselves in an abusive relationship or are experiencing domestic violence in any type of relationship. 
 
Boundaries After A Pathological Relationship by Adelyn Birch 
Pathological relationships have a huge effect on personal boundaries. And whether you are currently in one, have experienced one or just want to prevent a relationship from ever getting to that point – this book gets right to the point. Identifying and setting clear individual boundaries is crucial to becoming more confident and comfortable. A must read for anyone looking to prevent victimisation and improve their relationship. 
 
Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel 
Another great read from the highly respected Esther Perel that has been particularly referred to during the pandemic of 2020 and the unique lockdown situations in which romantic relationships had found themselves in. It examines the sometimes-conflicting paradox between domestic set ups and that of sexual desire. Learn what it takes to bring lust home! 
 
Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski 
An expert in women’s sexual wellbeing across the whole spectrum – from healthy sexual experiences and loving relationships to sexual harassment and violence. Another New York Times bestseller ‘Come As You Are’ is a modern exploration of women’s sexuality backed up by science and ground breaking research. Is your sex life in need of transformation or confidence boost? This ones for you. 
 
Love and Sex in a New Relationship by Cate Campbell 
The first of two books by relationship and psychosexual therapist, Cate Campbell. This one delves into the scenario of leaving a long-term relationship and starting a new one, and all the potential difficulties this may raise. Obstacles in both love and sex may present themselves to people in this situation, Campbell looks at both recognising these and providing the tools to manage them. 
 
The Relate Guide to Sex & Intimacy by Cate Campbell 
The second is written specifically for Relate on sex and intimacy in relationships. Whether sex isn’t happening altogether or isn’t working too well, this book can provide you with the confidence to turn things around. Couple’s attending sex therapy at Relate find this one particularly helpful but can be an interesting read for any couple wanting to keep the spark alive in their relationship. 
 
Understanding and Treating Sex Addiction by Paula Hall 
Another author which came up multiple times on the recommendations from our counsellors was Paula Hall. A UKCP accredited sexual and relationship psychotherapist, she specialises in sex and porn addiction in young people. Devasting the lives of both the sufferers and the people close to them, sex addiction is on the rise, thus the need to raise awareness and understand the behaviours that surround it. Hall presents practical guidance and techniques for dealing with sex and porn addiction, as well as emphasising the need to identify the underlying cause and addressing it in the right way. 
 
Sex Addiction - The Partner's Perspective by Paula Hall 
Continuing our trio of books by Hall, this title was written specifically to help partners of those with sex addiction issues. From the initial shock of discovering their loved one is a sex addict to helping them to make decisions about the future of their relationships and their lives overall. 
 
Sex Addiction - A Guide for Couples and Those That Help Them by Paula Hall 
Finally, this although similar in topic to the previous mentioned ‘The Partner’s Perspective’ this practical book that provides guidance and realistic strategies for couples who want to survive sex and porn addiction - whether that’s together, or apart. This title also widens its horizons to include those people directly around the couple and how they can provide sources of support for both parties. 
 
The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (And your Children will be glad that you did) by Philippa Perry 
Renowned psychotherapist Philippa Perry writes this on for all the parents (or soon to be parents) out there. There is no definitive guide to raising children, but Perry outlines the points which really matter and what behaviour is important to both practice and avoid. She doesn’t present a 'perfect' plan, but rather offers a more broadened view of the elements that lead to good parent-child relationships. A refreshing take on self-help and education for parents and families. 
 
Best Relationship Counselling Books for Counsellors and the Curious… 
 
The Handbook of Person-Centred Psychotherapy and Counselling edited by Mick Cooper, Maureen O’Hara, Peter F.Schmid and Arthur C.Bohart 
A therapist’s classic, arguably the most in-depth book available on person-centred psychotherapy and counselling. 
 
Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (Practical Therapist): A Therapist’s Guide by Albert Ellis and Catharine MacLaren 
Ellis came up with the rational approach to therapy in the 1950’s which later developed into cognitive behavioural therapy we see today. Now, rational emotive behavioural therapy is the developed and updated approach for the modern and mainstream world of psychotherapy. 
 
Adult Attachment and Couple Psychotherapy edited by Christopher Clulow 
Clulow has published many books and articles which address relationships, couples, marriage and family life. This title looks at these adult romantic relationships and attachment theory within both secure and insecure partnerships. 
 
Systemic Therapy and Attachment Narratives by Rudi Dallos and Arlene Vetere 
Dallos is a Professor in Clinical Psychology and Vetere is a Deputy Director of Clinical Psychology. They provide both practicing and training counsellors the opportunity to learn how to use the three main systems of psychotherapeutic practice through this fresh and integrated approach. Systematic theory, attachment theory and narrative theory amalgamates to form attachment native therapy. 
 
Attachment Processes in Couple and Family Therapy by Susan M. Johnson and Valerie E. Whiffen 
Another recommended read which explores attachment theory, this time in the context of marital relationship and family life. This book provides insight into adult partner interactions as well as those between parents and children in both a distressed and satisfying context. Described are ways in which attachment orientated interventions can help to resolve family conflicts and difficult marital relationships. 
 
The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk 
A specialist psychiatrist of post-traumatic stress disorder, one of the world’s best - van der Kolk discusses the effect of trauma and its ability to devastate the lives of its sufferers, those close to them and future generations. He offers a new look at treatment through his alternative approach which considers the mind, brain and body. 
 
The Counsellor’s Guide to Parks’ Inner Child Therapy (Human Horizons) by Penny Parks 
A survivor of child abuse, Parks developed her Parks’ Inner Child Theory off the back of her own experiences. Jargon-free and easy to use, she covers everything in terms of methods and tools to work confidently in such a specialist field. Clearly defining and describing the effect of and treatment for child abuse with sample case explanations. A must read for trained counsellors and therapists. 
 
Unfolding Self: The Practice of Psychosynthesis by Molly Young Brown 
One for both counsellors and clients, this self-help book addresses individuals and clients; challenging them to explore their internal creative and healing powers. Brown’s guide to Psychosynthesis looks to show individuals the power they hold over their own health, creativity, and happiness. 
 
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb 
One that will particularly resonate with trained counsellors and therapists is this book by Lori Gottlieb. A true account of an American therapist, her clients, her supervisor and her life. An authentic take on the profession with all its highs and lows. The text raises a lot of important issues but in an entertaining and absorbing way. A bestseller and was recently recommended in The Guardian, as well as by one of our counsellors! 
 
So, there we have it! The definitive list of must-read books for both clients and counsellors in the world of relationship issues and relationship therapy. An ultimate reading check list. We will be adding to the list as and when new recommendations come in from our team of highly training and qualified counsellors. We’re also keen to get your thoughts on the list or hear any of your own recommendations for self-help or self-teach reading. Let us know in the comments below. 
 
With thanks to our counsellors Catherine, Lucy, Alice, Hayley, Hannah and Yasmin for their reading recommendations and contributions to this list. 
 
Author - Jacqueline Martin 
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