Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that attempts to identify negative thoughts and behaviors, and create a positive shift in emotional response.
It’s often used in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders, although CBT has proven to be effective in a wide range of cases.
CBT can be used in a clinical setting, although some clients have found success using CBT to treat themselves. In this guide, we’ve rounded up some of the best resources for therapists looking to learn more about CBT.
Below are 9 of the best CBT books for Therapists
Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Basics And Beyond
By Judith S. Beck
Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Basics and Beyond by Judith S. Beck is one of the definitive books on CBT, and a must-read for anyone interested in the approach.
Cognitive Behavior provides a clear, well thought out, and thorough look into the practice of CBT. Although it isn’t a light read, the engaging writing makes this one of the more accessible guides to CBT, particularly for new learners interested in the fundamentals.
Throughout the book, readers follow two case studies: one client with severe depression, and another with depression, anxiety, and BPD.
These cases illustrate how CBT performs in practice, and help illuminate how to effectively implement the treatment. Included throughout the book are tips and advice on using CBT, and engaging with patients.
Combining practical advice with theory and an in-depth look into the foundations of CBT, Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a complete guide with hands-on demonstrations. Containing many useful techniques, you’ll find yourself picking up and referring to this book throughout your practice.
The Comprehensive Clinician’s Guide To Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
By Leslie Sokol & Marci Fox
Written to benefit mental health practitioners, The Comprehensive Clinician’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy by Leslie Sokol and Marci Fox will help you put theory into practice.
Containing various worksheets and activities to bring CBT to your clients, this book is an invaluable resource when you’re ready to move beyond theory.
CBT is a complex and expansive treatment, but The Comprehensive Clinician’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps make it accessible. By breaking CBT into skills and strategies, it’s easier to incorporate the therapy into your practice.
Covering fundamental CBT methods for use across a variety of issues, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD, these tools will help your clients continue their recovery outside your direct influence.
The Comprehensive Clinician’s Guide also includes worksheets, coping cards, and step-by-step plans.
The worksheets alone are an excellent resource, and can be used to teach clients the coping skills they need. Everyone from new students to working psychotherapists can benefit from these easy to use activities, and the practical tools offer an understandable route into CBT.
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
By David D. Burns
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns is an entry level guide to CBT that will appeal to both clinicians and clients. It discussed how CBT can be used as a treatment for anxiety and depression, as well as providing practical tips for incorporating CBT into your life.
Welcoming and engaging, Feeling Good is an excellent starting point to understanding CBT. Although it doesn’t take the same clinical approach as other books on this list, it offers an accessible introduction to the complex world of cognitive behavioral therapy.
Feeling Good outlines techniques that can be used to alleviate “black holes”, and bring a positive outlook to life.
Taking a frank look at emotion, this book can help readers better understand how the methods used in CBT actually work. It provides an opportunity to assess and reassess feelings, by offering techniques to confront thought patterns.
Feeling Good isn’t a book for advancing your practice of CBT, but it’s an excellent choice if you want to understand the basics. It’s also a useful book for any therapist to have on the shelf, as it’s a trusted source to recommend for clients.
Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel By Changing The Way You Think
By Dennis Greenberger & Christine A. Padesky
Breaking CBT into simple steps, Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think by Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky is a guide to the fundamentals.
This book puts recovery into the hands of the client, but the worksheets and action plans offer valuable insights for therapists.
Mind Over Mood is an introductory guide to CBT, aimed primarily at clients and self-learning. However, it draws from scientific experience and the latest developments in CBT to provide a reliable and accessible guide.
For experienced practitioners, Mind Over Matter is likely to lack the level of insight you might prefer.
For beginners, the friendly and positive guidebook can act as a suitable introduction to the fundamentals of CBT. And regardless of your own understanding of CBT, the worksheets and activities are beneficial for establishing a treatment plan.
Mind Over Mood also includes a foreword by Aaron Beck (often referred to as the “father of CBT”), which offers some indication of the level of quality found within. Keep Mind Over Mood on the shelf, for when clients are curious about CBT.
The CBT Toolbox: 185 Tools To Manage Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Behaviors & Stress
By Jeff Riggenback
Ready to put theory into practice? The CBT Toolbox: 185 Tools To Manage Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Behaviors & Stress by Jeff Riggenbach has everything you need to effectively implement cognitive behavioral therapy.
Based on 20 years of real-life practice, The CBT Toolbox combines theoretically sound ideas with experience and evidence-based exercises. Taking a step-by-step approach, therapists can discover the best ways to use CBT in the treatment of numerous conditions.
Easy to understand, The CBT Toolbox is one of the best guides for taking a psychotherapy theory and putting it into practice.
Containing 185 exercises and activities that translate easily in-session or at home, it provides fresh approaches to negative thought patterns.
When you’re ready to move beyond the theoretical, The CBT Toolbox provides a welcome resource for incorporating CBT into your treatment plans. The usable and reproducible activities will quickly become your go-to resource, and can be offered as at-home learning sheets.
Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Of Borderline Personality Disorder
By Marsha M. Linehan
For many years, clients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) have been considered among the most difficult to treat cases.
Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha M. Linehan covers the practice of DBT, one of the rare therapies which has shown consistent results for those with BPD.
Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is considered an off-shoot of CBT, and developed directly from the practice of cognitive behavioral therapy.
DBT takes a dialectical, somewhat contradictory, approach: both accepting emotions, while trying to change them. It’s often used for the treatment of complex and overlapping problems.
For therapists with some experience in CBT, Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder can help expand your understanding of the treatment. Considered the authoritative presentation on DBT, the book is frequently heavy going, but provides an in-depth understanding of the method.
Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder is an invaluable resource for those interested in the treatment of BPD. While the book does touch on other issues, its primary focus is the often difficult approach toward BPD.
Doing CBT: A Comprehensive Guide To Working With Behaviors, Thoughts, And Emotions
By David F. Tolin
Doing CBT: A Comprehensive Guide To Working With Behaviors, Thoughts and Emotions by David F. Tolin is an excellent resource for discovering the basics of cognitive behavioral therapy.
This thorough guide covers both the theory and the practical, the art and the science, of CBT, and presents it in an accessible style for new readers.
For psychotherapy students, Doing CBT is an engaging resource. As well as explaining the fundamentals of CBT, the book offers practical guidelines for incorporating CBT into your practice.
Examples of real life clients are used throughout the book to illustrate the techniques, and bring CBT to life. Finishing with three chapter-length case studies, you can follow the book from theory, to application, to results.
Learners can greatly benefit from the friendly and straight-talking style of Doing CBT, as well as the target worksheets and quick-reference definitions. Funnier than a textbook but more scientific than a self-help book, Doing CBT acts as an excellent introduction to cognitive behavioral therapy.
CBT For Anxiety: A Step-By-Step Training Manual For The Treatment Of Fear, Panic, Worry And OCD
By Kimberly Morrow & Elizabeth DuPont Spencer
While many of the books we’ve recommended take a more general approach, this choice is a little different.
CBT for Anxiety: A Step-By-Step Training Manual for the Treatment of Fear, Panic, Worry and OCD by Kimberly Morrow and Elizabeth DuPont Spencer is targeted specifically at using CBT to treat anxiety.
Anxiety is one of the most prominent mental illnesses in the US, and CBT can be used as an effective treatment. CBT for Anxiety draws from evidence-based approaches and real life experience to provide a step-by-step method for therapists.
It discusses incorporating CBT into your treatment, as well as the worksheets and exercises with which to do so.
CBT for Anxiety presents the tools you’ll need to use CBT as a treatment for anxiety, including how to deal with potential obstacles. It’s a fantastic resource for working therapists looking to enhance their skills, and tackle new approaches.
Worksheets and exercises included in CBT for Anxiety can be reproduced and shared with clients and their families, adding another benefit to this practical guidebook.
And while the main focus of the book is the treatment of anxiety, many of the skills it discusses can be used in the treatment of other disorders.
CBT Worksheets: CBT Worksheets For CBT Therapists In Training
By James Manning
Many of the books we’ve included on this list offer a combination of both worksheet and resource, discussing the theory of CBT alongside practical application. CBT Worksheets: CBT Worksheets For CBT Therapists In Training by James Manning is purely a book of worksheets.
Included alongside these worksheet templates are also examples of completed sheets, and explanations of the exercises.
Diary pages help clinicians to consider the use of each worksheet, while additional handouts can be used to introduce clients to the therapy.
With an impressive range of worksheets on offer, all of them easy to copy and replicate, this is a comprehensive resource for therapists in training.
While you will need an understanding of CBT before you start using the worksheets, they can help you to put the fundamentals into practice, and introduce CBT to your clients.
Buyer’s Guide: CBT Books For Therapists
Cognitive behavior therapy is increasingly recognized as an effective treatment method, even outside clinical spaces. If you’re a working therapist, you shouldn’t be surprised to find clients are interested in learning about CBT.
CBT resources are widely available, and can help you learn the fundamentals, turn theory to practice, and incorporate CBT into your own practice.
Therapist Guide Or Self-Help?
While many self-help books are rooted in the core principles of CBT, they’re rarely ideal for therapists. For those looking to learn the fundamentals of CBT, self-help books can act as a preliminary guide, but should be supplemented by textbooks and clinical resources.
With that said, it’s often worth finding a few valuable self-help books, to offer as resources to clients (and prevent them from turning to less reliable sources).
Specialized Mental Health Issue
CBT can be used to treat a range of conditions, but it isn’t a one-size fits all approach. Many CBT books for therapists take a specialized approach, offering a guide to using CBT to treat a specific issue.
These books are particularly helpful when you feel you understand the fundamentals of CBT, and are ready to move forward.
Worksheets And Activities
Many CBT focused books include worksheets and examples of activities to be used by therapists and clients. These worksheets often complement the theoretical portions of the book, so clinicians can adapt their research into practical teachings.
There are also books dedicated to worksheets, which are better used once you have an understanding of the theory.
CBT is a popular treatment method. The disadvantage of this is that there are many books about CBT by people with no real psychotherapy experience.
Before reading any book, be sure to check the credentials of the author(s). Otherwise, you might waste your time reading bad information.
CBT is a constantly expanding and adapting method of therapy, and variations on CBT are now emerging as effective treatment plans. To further, or supplement, your understanding of CBT, you might wish to read books on these additional psychotherapies.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) evolved directly out of experiments with CBT. Specifically, using CBT as a treatment method for borderline personality disorder.
It takes a dialectical, or opposing approach, encouraging clients to both accept and change their behaviors.
If you’d like to learn about DBT, we highly recommend reading Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha M. Linehan. DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets by Marsha M. Linehan is also a helpful resource.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a behavior-based therapy with some similarities to CBT, but a different approach to thought patterns. ACT focuses on acceptance, while CBT focuses on change.
If you’re interested in learning more about ACT, we recommend reading ACT Made Simple: An Easy-to-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Russ Harris.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is CBT?
CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, is a form of talk therapy often used to treat mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. CBT targets negative thoughts and emotions, using conditioning principles to enact positive change.
CBT is becoming an increasingly popular treatment method, both within a clinical setting, and at home.
Can You Learn CBT From A Book?
Books on CBT can introduce learners to the underlying principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, help put CBT into practice, and adapt a CBT treatment plan to meet specific needs.
However, it’s important to consider your sources when learning about CBT. Some books take a clinical, evidence based approach, while others rely on anecdotal evidence.
What Are The Best CBT Books For Therapists?
Whether you’re looking to expand your knowledge of CBT, or start learning the basics, there are many excellent CBT books for therapists.
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Basics and Beyond by Judith S. Beck
- Doing CBT by David F. Tolin
- The Comprehensive Clinician’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy by Leslie Sokol and Marci Fox
- The CBT Toolbox by Jeff Riggenbach
CBT offers many exciting opportunities for clinicians and clients, as this proven treatment has a wide range of applications. We’ve chosen books that we believe will expand and enhance your knowledge of CBT, and provide practical advice for use in treatment plans.