Jane Topkin b l o g

I write about random things, all that is when life happens.


Yalom, I. (2008). Staring at the sun. Overcoming the terror of death. Jossey-Bass.  Wiley Imprint. This is a deeply personal and self-disclosing book about the fear of death and role of death anxiety in psychotherapy. Yalom illustrates how death and the meaning of life are foundational themes associated with in-depth therapeutic work. The book title seems to refer to looking death bravely and directly in the eye, as he often asks clients: “What is it in particular that most frightens you about death?” We can never look death directly in the eye, similarly directly at the sun, however avoiding full confrontation with the spectre of death can give rise to death anxiety building underneath. Beautiful learnings from this book might be awakening experiences and finding meaning in our mortality and awareness of inescapable death, vital importance of exploring dreams, ideas and strategies to overcome the terror of death, while striving for deeper connections.

Frankl, V. (2011). Man’s search for ultimate meaning. Rider.

Yalom, I. (2012). Love’s Executioner. And other tales of psychotherapy. Basic Books. Love’s Executioner is a beautifully written book, which enchanted me from its very first pages. It’s a bestseller and intended as a psychoeducational material for the psychotherapy field and popular audience. It’s a truly honest and empathic masterpiece of ten fascinating case studies of people Yalom has treated, using existentially orientated psychotherapy. Yalom’s sometimes seemingly cruel and provocative, yet merely bravely honest disclosures, are full of confident vulnerabilities, in which he demonstrates his inner conflicts, learnings and risk-taking. He blends in beautiful scholarly examples and wisdom from other great thinkers and mentors. As a fascinating storyteller, Yalom beautifully muses over life and death through the existential lens: “though the fact of death cannot be altered, one’s attitude toward it can be vastly influenced.” Yalom believes that the fear of death is always greatest in people who feel they have not lived fully. The base of existential approach to counselling is that the awareness of death can offer a different perspective on life and incite us to rearrange priorities.

Yalom, I. (2009). The gift of therapy: an open letter to a new generation of therapists and their patients. Harper Perennial.

Maté, G. (2008). In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. Close Encounters with Addiction. Vintage Canada.

Peck, M. S. (1983). People of the Lie. The Hope for Healing Human Evil. Simon and Schuster.

Robertson I. (2016). The Stress Test. How Pressure Can Make You Stronger and Sharper. Bloomsbury.

Glasser, W. (1998). Choice Theory. A New Psychology of Personal Freedom. HarpelCollins Publishers.

Van Der Kolk, B. (2014). The Body Keeps The Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma. Penguin Books. This book talks about trauma, how it can affect people in different ways and how they can recover from past traumatic events. Dr. Bessel and his colleagues have been researching trauma for almost 50 years. He shows that when a person experiences trauma it will change the wiring in their brain and it will cause a change in how they view their life and everyday situations. Trauma has a negative effect on both the body and mind in a way that will prevent a person affected by trauma from enjoying the present moment. Bessel explains how he treated Vietnam War veterans suffering from trauma experienced in war and their struggle with adjusting when returning home with events repeatedly being replayed in their brains, also feelings of numbness and anger. Bessel is known the first Dr. to diagnose and recognise PTSD.

Glasser, W. and Glasser, C. (1999). The Language of Choice Theory. HarperPerennial. In this book, Glasser outlines some usual ‘external control’ everyday statements with their corresponding ‘choice theory language’, which uses caring habits of relationships. He does this in the following major situations in life, where people often attempt to exert control over others: parent to child, love and marriage, teacher to student, and manager to employee relationships, showing the more creative use of language, where the only person whose behavior each of us can control is ourselves.

Frankl, V. (2004). Man’s search for meaning. The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust. Rider; New Ed edition.

Mearns, D., Thorne, B. (2005). Person-Centred Counselling in Action. Second Edition. SAGE. I found this a great introduction to the Rogerian person-centered approach in counselling. It is a very easy read and goes deep into explaining the Rogerian three core conditions. The book provides a great insight into what it feels like to be the counsellor and the client in a trusting, caring, therapeutic relationship.

Glasser, W. (2001). Counseling With Choice Theory. The New Reality Therapy. HARPER. Brilliant read! Easy to take in, as Glasser brings us into his therapy room while he counsels clients with the use of choice theory. This approach is empowering the individual, and Glasser shows us the use of his therapy with clients who come to him with various issues ranging from obsessing-compulsing to sexual identity issues, suiciding and marital problems and more. Highly recommend this book, as it gives us a different perspective to the world seen through the eyes of external control psychology so widely used.

Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts Of Imperfection. Hazelden.

Harris, R. (2008). The Happiness Trap. ROBINSON.

Zukav, G. (1991). The Seat Of The Soul. RIDER.

Gilbert, P. (2013). The Compassionate Mind. Robinson.

Rath, T. (2007). Strengths Finder 2.0. GALLUP PRESS.

Zukav, G. (2010). Spiritual partnership: the journey to authentic power. 

Ende, M. (1973). Momo. Puffin Books.


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