Click to access Motivating Yourself: 8 Simple Strategies, a 1-page handout by Dr. Marc Woods, of gmPsychologists


The following recommended books are reviewed by Dr. Myles Genest.

At the bottom of each review, a single click will allow you to purchase the book from

“The Power of Two, Secrets to a Strong & Loving Marriage” by Susan Heitler, Ph.D.

The Power of Two is one of the two best books for couples attempting to improve their relationships (also see Fighting for Your Marriage). Dr. Heitler’s readable book contains sound, practical advice for resolving difficulties. It tackles most of the basic problems that couples experience, and provides stepwise skills to address them. Abundant examples of couples’ dialogues illustrate both common communication problems (e.g., “minimizing feelings”) and positive alternatives (“empathizing with feelings”). The demonstration of both the problems and potential solutions helps readers to apply new ideas and skills to their own situations.

There is also a Workbook, which accompanies this book, which many couples have found helps them to work through some new strategies on their own.

The Power of Two, Secrets to a Strong & Loving Marriage

The book begins with three chapters on “The Basics of Collaborative Dialogue,” including “Secrets to Talking,” “Secrets to Listening,” and “Secrets to Dialogue.” Heitler believes that couples need the means to talk constructively before they are able to fix problems. These first chapters alone are worth the price. They challenge the reader to think not just about what to say, but about how to say it. Among the couples I see for counselling, the health of the relationship is often more affected by how they communicates than it is by whether they disagree over problems such as childrearing or finances. If they cannot talk constructively and without escalation of conflict, they cannot resolve issues–but more importantly, the negative exchanges between them damage their feelings for each other and encourage them to withdraw or to escalate the conflict, or both.

The second part of the book, “Dealing With Differences,” begins with a five-step sequence to discuss and work out minor problems. When a couple is working well together, they use these steps without thinking about them. When talking is more difficult, Heitler’s suggestions provide a useful template that can be applied deliberately. She takes the reader through a problem-solving sequence similar to what might occur in a therapist’s office, and she provides multiple examples. Succeeding chapters deal with difficulties that arise when things don’t go according to the book: how to deal with your own anger, and with your partner’s; how to clean up after upsets; some of the refinements of shared decision making; conflict-resolution strategies; and how to deal with “out-of-bounds and fouls.”

The final part of The Power of Two, titled “Making a Good Relationship Great,” is concerned with providing mutual support, intimacy–both emotional and sexual– and encouraging a loving environment in the home.

Susan Heitler

Heitler doesn’t assume any of this is easy. She encourages forgiveness and patience, cautions against telling your partner what to do, and suggests working on what you can accomplish for yourself. A master therapist herself, Heitler also recognizes that couples can work on improving their relationship on their own, or together, and that sometimes, seeking professional help can greatly assist this work, particularly when they feel trapped in cycles from which there seems no exit.

This is a book that provides insights and help for all relationships-personal, business, formal and informal. I gave the book to both of my 20-something kids as an essential reference.

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“For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality” by Lonnie Garfield Barbach

For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality

First published in 1975, this book by Lonnie Garfield Barbach still offers much helpful information and advice for women struggling with their own sexual responses. Its descriptions of attitudes and approaches to sexuality are rooted in the era in which it was first published and may therefore seem dated to those raised in later generations. Nevertheless, it is a source of solid information and basic recommendations, particularly directed toward women. Men will also find the book helpful in understanding issues concerning women’s sexuality and it will help them become better partners.

Highly recommended for any women with concerns about their own sexuality, this book is particularly targeted at those who have concerns about their sexual responsiveness or those who are seldom or never orgasmic.

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“How to Control Your Anger Before It Controls You” by Albert Ellis, Ph.D. and Raymond Chip Tafrate, Ph.D.

How to Control Your Anger Before It Controls You

Albert Ellis and Raymond Chip Tafrate’s “How to Control Your Anger Before It Controls You (1997, Seacacus, NJ: Birch Lane Press) is vintage Ellis. In recommending this to anyone but a New Yorker, one has to include the admonition to take what is valuable while not being put off by Ellis’s self-aggrandizing and cajoling style. Nonetheless, it is a very practical volume, assisting the reader with concrete strategies that can help to result in not just ways of handling anger constructively, but the means to reduce the experience of chronic anger.

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“The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships” by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.

The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships

Harriet Goldhor Lerner’s The dance of anger (1997, New York: Harper) is an excellent book written primarily for women but also applicable to men and eminently readable. The thesis is that one needs to understand the sources of one’s anger and do something effective in response, rather than just emoting. Lerner devotes a good deal of attention to the pattern of the “nagging” wife and the withdrawing husband. She sees anger as potentially empowering, but also potentially oppressive and controlling. All in all, an excellent book.

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“Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion” by Carol Travis, Ph.D.

Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion

Carol Tavris is one of the primary researchers in anger, and her book, Anger: The misunderstood emotion (1989, New York: Touchstone) summarizes much of the research in a well written, witty and readable self-help format. She debunks many of the myths about anger and argues against “letting it all out,” taking many pop-psychology approaches to task.

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