22 Psychotherapy Influences and Influential Books

We love our work. There are so many people who’ve influenced us and helped us become the therapists that we are. This list includes key figures and literature that have helped shape us into therapists who can help people sexually connect, work through traumas in their lives, and find life balance. These people and books are strong influences in addictions, relationships, codependence and trauma. This list is not ever complete. We continually are learning from wonderful colleagues all of the time. However, these professionals and their books have especially made an impact on us.

Want to learn more about relationships, mental health, and sexuality? This list is a great place to start.

    1. John and Julie Gottman: John and Julie Gottman are among the most respected in the field. John Gottman’s research has been been extremely important in the field of couples therapy. Their multi-dimensional approach makes couples therapy practical, simple to understand, and implementable for couples at home.
    2. Peter Levine: Somatic experiencing is an important approach to trauma therapy that was developed by Peter Levine. This approach focuses on the sensations and reactions of the body to help resolve past wounds that can still be impacting a person today.
    3. Francine Shapiro: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is one of the most well respected approaches to treating trauma. Francine was the developer of this unique approach, and continues to be an important influence in ongoing research on this topic.
    4. Patrick Carnes: The leading proponent in the field of sex addiction. He is the founder of the International Institute on Trauma Addiction Professionals (IITAP). He is the author of numerous books on sexually compulsive behavior.
    5. Esther Perel: Her work has been groundbreaking on rethinking relationships in a way that fits our modern lives. Her book Mating in Captivity is widely respected by many in the field for bringing up important, although controversial relationship considerations.
    6. Gina Ogden: Gina is a sex therapist supervisor who is well-respected for her work on sexuality. Her focus is engaging clients in an interactive an holistic way.
    7. Neil Cannon: A sex therapist supervisor who is offers training and mentorship to therapists who are wanting to learn more about sexuality. Also highly experienced with sexuality ethics.
    8. Harville Hendrix: Hendrix is the founder of Imago therapy. His contributions to the field of relationships have been extremely influential and well-respected.
    9. Pia Mellody: Some of the most influential work on codependence and love addictions. Her authentic approach to helping clients helps with finding balance in a world of extremes.
    10. Brenè Brown: A leading influence in the field of shame and vulnerability research. Her work helps people build and enhance connections. Her research is also behind the development of The Daring Way™.
    11. Pat Love: A proponent to helping people build healthy, connected relationships.
    12. Sue Johnson: A leading proponent in couples therapy and Emotionally Focused Therapy. Helping couples identify emotional awareness.
    13. Irvin Yalom: An influential figure for existential psychotherapy. His views on challenging mental health stigma have been extremely influential in our field.


    1. Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine: This groundbreaking book discusses instinctual responses, and our instinctual ability to move towards balance after traumatic events.
    2. Facing the Shadow by Patrick Carnes: This workbook is a great tool to begin the process of sex addiction recovery.
    3. Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies by Michael Bader: A great book about sexual arousal and sexual fantasy.
    4. The New Rules of Marriage by Terrence Real: Many marriages fail because they are living by outdated assumptions and rules. This book helps to change that. It lists updated rules for modern marriages to make their relationships work.
    5. The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy: A non-shaming look at open and non-traditional relationships. This book lists important considerations to making these kinds of relationships work.
    6. Facing Codependence by Pia Mellody: Discusses codependence as a developmental immaturity. Helps readers find balance when they get consumed by living life in the extremes.
    7. Erotic Intelligence by Alex Katehakis: For those dealing with sex addictions, rediscovering a solid sexual relationship can be complicated. This wonderful book comes from the perspective of sex addiction and sex therapy.
    8. Transgender Good News by Pat Conover: This brave look at transgender and gender non-conforming life looks at life from a holistic lens. A great book for therapists and clients.
    9. Expanding Sex Therapy by Gina Ogden: A holistic look at sex therapy that is much more complex than only focusing on the physical.
    10. Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel: Another great book about modern relationship dilemmas. Perel challenges our notions about erotic desire and stable relationships.
    11. Facing Love Addiction by Pia Mellody: When is love just love, and when is it mired in out of control fantasy? This book helps to draw this line.
    12. The Daring Way by Brenè Brown: A deep and powerful look at shame and vulnerability, and how to become more resilient to both.
    13. The Velvet Rage by Alan Downs: A look at social and self-esteem issues that many gay men contend with.
    14. Not “Just Friends” by Shirley Glass: This balanced, non-critical look at affairs and cheating is a great book for people who are going through this common relationship problem.
    15. The High Conflict Couple by Alan Fruzzetti: A wonderful book for those couples who struggle to reconnect because of yelling, and high-intensity arguing. Helps with mindfulness exercises, so that couples can slow down enough to hear each other.
    16. Facing Heartbreak by Stephanie Carnes: Exercises for partners of sex addicts who are recovering from betrayal. Discusses boundaries and recovery, while keeping partners in the recovery process.
    17. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz: A book about transforming your life to appreciate it the most.
    18. In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness by Peter Levine: Further discusses trauma and how our bodies have instinctual responses that can help us release it.
    19. Facing Codependence by Pia Mellody: Pia defines Codependence as an emotional immaturity based in child attachment wounds. This book breaks this trauma down and discusses healing from this.
    20. The Gift of Therapy by Irvin Yalom: A real existential look at doing therapy. Focuses on the importance of valuing the entire person, more than just a diagnosis.
    21. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brenè Brown: A look at the guideposts to wholehearted living. Ways to embrace all of who you are, and work through the struggles.
    22. Toxic Parents by Susan Forward: Ways of recovering from growing up in a toxic family system.