I love reading, and there is nothing I love more than a good psychology book.
I developed this reading list based off of some of my favourite books over the past few years.
If you are a psychology student, graduate, qualified psychologist, therapist or simply just interested in the topic of psychology then there will be a book in here for you, or maybe two, or maybe all of them!
Check out my reviews of all 20 books and simply click on the name of the book to be taken straight to a link to purchase it!
Blackbox thinking really came at the right time for me.
I had just started my doctorate in counselling psychology and was struggling to come to terms with a failed assignment.
This book really opened my eyes to the power and true purpose of failure.
Blackbox Thinking looks at different professional industries in our society and tries to teach lessons of industries that refuse to learn from failure, those that do and the differences in those industries as a result.
If you want to gain a better understanding of what failure is all about, the purpose and power of what failure can do for us, then this book is a must read!
Carl Rogers is one of the greatest pioneers of psychotherapy and psychology!
His work created a new age of therapeutic work during times of psychodynamic and behaviourist principles.
With a focus on the client as an individual, in their subjective world, Rogers’ work was revolutionary.
This book really encapsulates his ideology and philosophy better than any other.
What’s more, is that you don’t need to be a therapist to really appreciate and gain benefit from his work and knowledge
A new appreciation of the individual, empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence, an appreciation of the principles in this book and enhance the life of any reader, from any background and profession.
The book, unsurprisingly so, introduces the concept of ‘flow’.
Flow is a state that if reached, it is argued, can enrich the lives of people, and is the key to true happiness.
combination of a number of things such as minimising some of the challenges we catastrophise in life, as well as learning from our failures encapsulates what flow is about, however, it includes so much more.
This book is a bit of a classic in psychology and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.
Backed with real sound empirical principles this book is one for the people looking to introduce a new concept in their lives to experience some more happiness in 2019!
Thinking fast and slow can be a challenging read I will not deny it
However, this is in the GetPsyched Reading List 2019 because of how thought-provoking it is.
If you can get past the challenges you might experience in reading it, this book talks in great detail about the two different parts of our decision making brain, the logic behind them and how it rules everything we do.
How rational we think we are when we are reactive compared to when we are considered and think situations through thoroughly, is very different from reality.
Similar to his other work, Yalom in the Gift of Therapy talks about his personal experiences and process of becoming the establish therapist he is today.
He goes into brutal detail about his trials and successes, something I rarely come across form professional therapists talking about their work.
The lessons he has learned and is willing to relay to the reader are so so valuable.
I really believe this book is not only a must read for therapists and trainees, but for anyone wishing to develop empathic and interpersonal skills with a desire to communicate and relate to others better.
This is one of those books that I just love picking up every now and again.
It’s by no means a self-discovery or intellectual based book but it is so so fun to read and actually gives more detail than I thought it would at first.
If like me you are interested in the basic principles of psychology but have limited time or resources to remind your self of some of the experiments that established these principles…then this is the book for you.
It gives wonderful illustrations and descriptions of the most famous studies in psychologies history.
It’s so easy to read and a really nice break from some of the harder texts I read often.
This book also looks at some of the ethical and legal issues some of these studies raised as well as their findings and how they still influence our lives and understand of psychology today. A really brilliant book!
Very similar to Pavlov’s Dogs and Other Experiments, the Psychology Book is one of those books I love to big up and just have a scan through.
Its nothing heavy and in truth was actually given to me as a bit of a joke.
It’s honestly brilliant though.
It’s a book that makes some of the most challenging and difficult to absorb concepts and principles in psychology easy to digest.
With awesome illustrations and key facts about studies, research, psychologists and experiments, it is everything you need in order to learn the most valuable points of some of the key principles to psychology.
It’s a term that’s used to help people realise and achieve goals and dreams, but what do we mean exactly by visualisation and what impact can it actually have?
Well, fundamentally visualisation is a cognitive tool used to picture exactly what you want to happen.
In doing so we are creating all aspects of the scenario that we to experience or obtain. Now, I mean everything, so that could be sounds, sights, smells, feelings.
The more realistic the visualisation you take part in and the more it stimulates you, the more impact it will have in you realising and moving closer to what you want to achieve.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter gives a fantastic explanation of what visualisation is and its power:
“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more”
So, with this depiction, we can start to understand that visualisation is an opportunity for us to try and control what we are struggling to control.
It is a tool that helps us create what we want to see and achieve.
This all sounds great, ideal, give me some visualisation!
Well, hold on for a second. What is important when thinking about concepts that talk about how they are the key to success, is to look at the research.
What does psychology say about visualisation?
Well, often in psychological services, visualisation boards are used to help illustrate what the client is seeking.
These external tools can help in keeping the client focussed on visualisation.
Visualisation boards are often used for people that want a better future, a healthier lifestyle and even for those attempting to overcome addiction.
In psychological services, concrete objects are often utilised to help with the process of visualisation.
This is often used with patients with depression to visualise a better future and used to great effect.
These concrete objects can include things such as pictures in wallets for example, or mementoes that the individual carries with them.
Visualisation is also used in psychological and therapeutic services for patients with severe anxiety to create mental holidays to retreat to a calmer environment.
This might sound abstract but it has been shown to have incredible effects.
So, it’s clear then that visualisation techniques can be used to incredible effect in therapeutic and psychological contests but where else is visualisation used?
Where else is visualisation used?
Well the easiest one to appreciate perhaps is in the world of sports
Athletes will spend huge amounts of time visualising good performances.
Recent research has in fact inferred that spending time visualising performances and potential different outcomes and responses in sports settings have as much a role to play in how well an athlete performs the practice itself.
I watched the Winter Olympics earlier in the year and saw bob slay team captains pretending to go through the motions of the full course in their minds.
They would turn in ways that they would expect when they go down the track, all to ensure that they fully utilise the power of visualisation.
Visualisation can also be really effectively utilised in a studying context.
For example, you might visualise exams and coursework that you have due. Visualising what questions, you might get asked and best to answer them are all really powerful ways of utilising visualisation in studying.
The trick here, with regards to anything in visualisation, is to go through the entire process.
Don’t just focus on one questions in an exam or one move on the sports field. Visualise the full thing in its entirety.
That means, from waking up that day, to what you have for breakfast, to walking to school or the gym, to entering the room and sitting down and opening the paper…you get the idea.
The important thing is that you go through as many different scenarios in your head in as much detail as possible.
This way, you teach yourself not to expect anything unpredictable. You also reassure yourself of the different outcomes that could happen and how you might react as a result.
How can you use visualisation to great effect in your everyday life?
Well, you might to create your own visualisation board and keep it somewhere that you will see it every day. Whenever you walk past it, take some time to visualise what it is you desire as you look at the pictures.
When I was studying for exams, I used to pin my notes and mind maps around my house and when I went to the fridge for milk, there would be some notes there, I would take my time and read them through and visualise how I might use them in a potential question in an exam.
When I went to go out the front door, there would be another page of notes and I would do the same.
I was utilising visualisation to improve my upcoming performances.
Fundamentally guys, visualisation is seriously powerful, it’s not just a generic term thrown around by people who think they know what they are talking about, it has real psychological backing and is a toll that you can use every day to achieve and progress more in whatever you want to do.
Interested in learning more about visualisation? The check out the recent video I did about the psychology of visualisation on my YouTube channel GetPsyched by clicking the link here.
Part of the reason why I love psychology so much is that it’s not just for professors and academics.
Psychological principles can be used by anyone who has a little understanding to great effect.
I once had a psychology tutor who told me that as psychology students, we were at an extreme advantage with regards to studying for classes, assignments and exams.
We already knew what worked and what didn’t work.
We were learning the very techniques and principles that other fields tried to apply to their study patterns and regimes.
Learning new things is one of those concepts that we all wish we could be better at.
We might here new and interesting information, yet struggle to retain it and access it when we need it most.
Psychology and psychological principles can help with this though. There are numerous ways in which psychology can help us learn new things better.
You can find out so much more information on how psychology can help you learn new things better by checking out a video I did on this subject on my YouTube channel GetPsyched. Check out the video by clicking here.
In this article, I am going to give you a number of psychologically backed principles and interventions you can use to learn new things better.
So, let’s get to it.
STATE DEPENDENT RECALL
This basically means you have a place where you learn stuff.
A secluded and quiet location where you do your most profound thinking and learning.
Use this place often and make it your environment to absorb new information.
For me personally, that would be my back bedroom that has a desk in it, I can sit on my office chair and feel comfortable in that environment to give my full attention to what I am learning.
It’s peaceful, has natural light, and is simplistic and minimalistic enough to the point where I won’t get distracted.
What’s more is that when the door is shut, others know that I’m really busy or invested in a task and don’t want to be disturbed.
Put it this way, you’re not going to learn new stuff best if you keep changing the environment, at a bar or watching TV for example.
THE FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTION ERROR
This sound fancy but it basically means holding yourself accountable for your own learning.
If you think others learn stuff better because they are just smarter than you, then your suffering from the fundamental attribution error.
Holding yourself accountable for your learning and thinking about what you can do to improve it will always assist in learning new things.
Now, this is a technique often used in classrooms by teachers.
It basically means extending the amount of time before trying to recall something you have learned.
By increased the time between recall, you improve our ability to learn the new information
You can try this out yourself pretty easily actually. Learn something new and give yourself 5 minutes to then recall it by memory. If you get it then extend that 5 minutes to 30 minutes, then an hour, 6 hours, a day, 3 days and so on.
To the point where you can recall the information over a large amount of time.
By extending the period of time between recalling new information, we stretch our brain and memory continually to the point where it is forced to keep responding to new and challenging circumstances.
As a result, we not only learn new things better, but we also retain them at an improved rate.
This basically means you should try and learn new things via more than one method.
If you simply read something new and leave it at that, then your limiting yourself and your ability to learn and retain new information.
You could try some of the following examples as learning tools that could be used together. Draw a picture of what you are trying to learn, create a mind map, or speak it out to yourself.
By increasing the number of learning tools and format’s, you learn much faster.
THE METHOD OF LOCI
This sounds a bit weird but it’s a form of mnemonics that help you remember new information better.
Used by the ancient Greeks, you remember new information by the location that you place them in in your mind.
In the modern day, people have been able to memorise thousands of pieces of new information via this method.
They didn’t start out like this, but what they do is actually construct full cities in their head and place each piece of new information in different areas, locations and buildings around this city in order to memorise this new and vastly complex information very quickly and effectively.
There are ways that you can use this tool for yourself. For example, remembering items or pieces of information by storing them in different rooms in a house you have created in your mind has been shown to have incredible effects for learning new things.
This is a technique that you really need to try out for yourself!
UNDERSTAND YOUR WORKING MEMORIES CAPACITY
Your working memory, which is your ability to retain different pieces of useful information, has a limit.
This limit usually is capped at around 7 pieces of new information in most circumstances.
By understanding this better, you can schedule your breaks better that we spoke about earlier and retain more accurate new information more effectively and over longer and more sustained periods of time.
UNDERSTAND YOUR METACOGNITION
Firstly, what is metacognition?
Its fundamentally our ability to assess and understand our own skills and learning capabilities.
By understanding your own metacognition you’ll begin to see that you perhaps aren’t taking enough time to learn new information.
Cognitive psychologists have time and time again found that a lack of understanding of metacognition has led to poor retention of new information.
Basically, you need a level of self-awareness for what your needs are when learning new information and how you learn new information best. That way, things should start to make more sense.
So, those are my top tips on how to learn new information better. These tips are really effective but they don’t come overnight. What I suggest is that you give them all a try, see what ones, and what combination, works best for you and practice them a lot!
Al the best with learning all that new info brainiac!!!
Deciding to undertake a massive course like the doctorate in counselling psychology is a huge step.
For me, it was a journey I wasn’t sure I would ever get the opportunity to be a part of at one time. Starting the counselling psychology doctorate meant I had to conduct a graduate diploma in psychology and gain enough experience in the therapeutic and psychological field to be considered for the course.
When I was accepted onto the doctorate in 2016 it was an overwhelming sense of relief, excitement and apprehension. I would experience these to even greater degrees as the course began.
I’ve come to realise a number of things after being on the counselling psychology course for a year and a half, that I think are worth sharing. Firstly, it is a fantastic course. Studying a subject that is your passion is exhilarating at times, I feel like I am a working cog in the course and not just a ‘student’ listening to a ‘teacher’.
Although this, in theory, is true, I feel that because I enjoy learning so much about counselling psychology, I feel fully involved in my learning experience.
Secondly, there are a massive amount of opportunities that present themselves during the course and after graduation. Attending annual conferences, presenting workshops at universities, connecting with larger psychology organisation, and developing networking connection are just some of the fantastic opportunities I have realised come with undertaking the doctorate.
My advice here is that these opportunities really only present themselves to people who go out to find them. The extra work is well worth it though.
Thirdly, success on this course is dependent on a number of things rather than just intelligence. The ability to juggle multiple things at once is something you have to get used to very early on and get better at as the course develops.
Class work, reflective work, assignments, placements, personal therapy, and your own external work are just some of the things going on for me right now. Staying organised and accepting that the juggling act is just part of the course is vital.
At times for me, it feels like working on coursework is something I spend less of my time on than everything else. Placement takes up a large amount of time, as do additional reading and reflective practices. I’ve learned not to be worried about this though and have seen the value in investing time in these exercises.
Reflection and learning from practical work are extremely valuable when it comes to writing assignments and feeling more confident in the therapeutic work you facilitate. One key point I have learned so far is that your ‘intelligence’ might get you on the course, but your resourcefulness and determination will keep you on it.
One of the most challenging aspects of training for me has been juggling it with employment. Making enough money per month whilst studying can be stressful and has become a challenge I have had to accept on a monthly basis. I have been fortunate enough to work part-time as a research assistant and seminar tutor, which has allowed me to earn a living whilst studying. However, financial assistance for the course is something I feel needs improving. Especially when compared to our clinical counterparts. This, of course, is an issue externally to my course, my university and my governing bodies, but it is an issue that I feel needs consideration by those about to start the counselling psychology doctorate.
The course has been a pleasure and a real honour to be a part of. Studying my passion has kept me motivated and focussed on progressing further. I have learned that there are huge opportunities in the field of counselling psychology. I have also learned that whilst continual independent reading is vital, the practical experience that we gain in classes and on placement is invaluable. Practically implementing theory and research into actual therapeutic work is exciting to be a part of.
Interested in learning about the day in the life of a psychology doctoral trainee? Then click here.
Why not stay up to date on my YouTube channel ‘GetPsyched’ too. Youll find weekly videos on topics in psychology and study tricks also. Check out the channel by clicking here.
Reading journal articles can be one of the most time consuming and challenging aspects of any form of higher study.
Whether it’s for general reading, preparation for an essay of for a presentation coming up, journal searching and reading is a necessity.
However, its common that journal searching and reading can be really challenging and time-consuming. There are some tips and tricks that I have learned over the years that have with this process, which I’m going to share with you here.
THE BASIC SEARCH
Before anything happens, we need to actually find some good journal articles relating to our field of study and the topic we are looking at.
Here is an example essay question so we have a guide for our journal search – ‘Critically evaluate the theoretical and empirical literature that accounts for the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy on young people under the age of 16 suffering from severe anxiety’
Now, the process of fully understanding your essay question is something I have already covered on my YouTube channel GetPsyched, take a look at the video here.
However, what do we do with a question like this when we need to search for journal articles?
Well, some general background reading will be helpful for the essay answer. We need to obtain some articles on cognitive behavioural therapy (both theoretical and empirical literature) and we need to find literature on severe anxiety in young people under the age of 16.
The first thing to do here is to establish some key search terms you want to look up online and in other resources for relevant articles. Some examples of good search terms based on our example question may be as follows:
‘Effectiveness of CBT’
‘Criticisms of CBT’
‘CBT and young people’
‘Severe anxiety in young people’
‘CBT and severe anxiety’
For me personally, the first thing I do to get my basic background reading is to go to Google Scholar and type in these key terms. See what hits you get and if you find any relevant sources.
What I am attempting to do here is to develop a background reading list. The articles you find here will be useful and will no doubt be referenced in your assignment; however, we will come to the point where we need more specific studies that have researched exactly what we are looking at. However, we’ll come to this.
Now, with Google Scholar it can sometimes be helpful to put ‘PDF’ at the end of your search. That way all the articles that are freely available through Google Scholar relevant to your topic, will come up in your search.
The next step would be to go through the resources available to you at your university. Via journal access or other means, typing in your background reading terms into a search engine from your university can be really helpful.
A few key tips:
You cannot use Wikipedia obviously, but you can Wikipedia what you want to look at and go down to the reference list they have used and access some studies that way. I have found this really helpful in the past.
When reading journals that are relevant t your topic, be sure to see what they have reference and what sources they have used. You can then access them and perhaps use them in your own work.
THE ADVANCED SEARCH
Ok, so by now you have done a bit of basic searching via Google Scholar and have some articles that are relevant to your question.
This is a good position to be in with your search so far. However, we need to step it up a little and begin some more advanced searches to find some sources that will be even more relevant to our question.
We do this via database searches.
Now, accessing databases can be very different for pretty much any university. Hopefully you will have access to your university library online, in which case you should be able to access databases. If you are struggling with this, then my best advice is to go and speak with your library directly and gain access that way.
So, what are databases?
Databases are basically a massive collection of different journals based on subject. It basically stops you having to go through ever journal in your field of study to find relevant sources. By searching in a database, you effectively are searching multiple journals all at ones.
Database searching is one of the most effective ways to find the articles you need.
Now, there are a few databases that I love to use in psychology, the first is PSYARTICLES, the second is PSYCH INFO and the third is Science Direct.
My advice is to start with these as these are pretty user-friendly and go from there.
Now, remember the whole purpose of us using the databases is to find sources that are really specific and relevant to our topic. So, if we go back to the question – ‘Critically evaluate the theoretical and empirical literature that accounts for the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy on young people under the age of 16 suffering from severe anxiety’ – We want to be looking for articles that have to do with the effectiveness of CBT on young people under 16 suffering from severe anxiety. We’ve done our basic search and now want to get to a more advanced level of article searching.
Now, I could write a whole blog on database search, which I might do in the future but for now, I’m just going to give you a few tips and tricks to get the most out of database searching.
Always use the advanced search option.
This was you can be more specific
Use quotation marks in your search.
If you search for something like – severe anxiety – you’ll get thousands of articles that are related to articles that have the word severe in them, and articles that have the word anxiety only. We don’t want this, we want to get sources that are related to both. So, instead what we do is we search for “severe anxiety” in the search bar. The quotation marks group the two together, we get a much smaller search hit total and all the articles we find will be related to severe anxiety as one.
Use multiple search bars at once.
This is a feature you will only find in the advanced search option.
You’ll have the option to add another search bar, and when you do you have the opportunity to add more detail to your search.
So, what we might do here is search for “severe anxiety”, then add another search bar and search for “effectiveness of CBT”.
Now, when we add this other search bar we will have a drop-down menu next to it that gives the option of either AND, OR, NOT.
This speaks for its self. In our case, we want to search for “severe anxiety” AND “effectiveness of CBT”
So, what happens here is we are going to get articles that are relevant to the effectiveness of CBT on severe anxiety.
We might eventually also add ‘young people’ into another search bar to focus the search even more.
Utilise the additional options after you have your search results.
After you have your search results from the database, you have options to condense the year of publication and where the articles come from etc.
Use these options at your own discretion, they can be really helpful to reduce your hit rate and find the most relevant sources. Especially when you get a hit rate in the tens of thousands, which is common.
The bottom line is that journal searching always takes up more time that you first anticipate.
It can be really frustrating too when you can’t get the sources you need. Hopefully, with these tips and with a systematic understanding of how to be successful in your basic search and your advanced search, journal searching challenges will be a thing of the past.
Presenting at a conference of any kind, and in any format, can be a daunting prospect but one full of opportunities. If your presentation is in a poster format then it can be challenging to know how best to present your study and/or findings. Recently I won first place for my poster presentation at the BPS annual counselling psychology conference. As a result, I have come up with my top tips that helped me deliver a poster presentation that was engaging and interesting.
Tip #1 – Ensure the message is clear and concise:
On average an individual only looks at a poster at a conference for anywhere between 40 seconds to 60 seconds.
The last thing they want to do is read scrolls and scrolls of text to get the point.
Make sure to be clear, succinct and to the point with all the relevant information you require.
Tip #2 – Make the poster stand out from the rest:
At any conference, it is easy to get lost in the group of posters presented.
You could be at a conference that has in excess of 50 posters, so it is vital that yours stands out from the crowd.
I have always found that when people anticipate this, they want to add lots of colour and be as bold as possible. This is not always the best idea.
Your poster might stand out more if it has some white space or a white background. Something to think about here as the majority of people will think to add bold colours in order to stand out.
We will get to a few additional point that will help you stand out at your conference later.
Tip #3 – Why use words when you can use diagrams?:
As we have already been saying, people don’t spend long on average looking at posters.
Therefore, why say something with words that can be said in even greater detail, and more manageable, in a diagram or picture?
If you have conceptualised a theory or want to report some interesting findings then charts and graphs could be a good option.
In the poster I won first place for recently, I was sure to have a diagram that stood centre stage of the poster. It was very basic but stood out and got my points across for what I did, why I did it and what I took from what was discovered.
Tip #4 – Include participant and paper information:
One of the key pieces of feedback I received from my poster was that I included the number of papers that were relevant to my study, where I found them and how I reduced my search.
This is something that is apparently overlooked and you really should consider adding this information to your poster.
Likewise, if you had participants etc then the information of number etc should be included at some point.
Beleive me, those judging your poster really do look out for these things!
Tip #5 – Have available handouts:
One of the best tips I learned when working on my poster was to have available handouts for those interested in your work.
This could include a summary of what you have in your poster and perhaps some additional information.
However, one of the best reason for doing this is networking.
You can have your contact details on this for people to get in touch with you. Conferences are a fantastic opportunity to network in psychology. Having something that people can take away with them that has a means of getting in touch with you is a very smart move!
Tip #6 – Make it flow:
There are a number of things to juggle when creating and delivering an effective poster at a conference.
One of the key things often overlooked is how it flows.
The information you provide in your poster will be very brief at points and very direct, therefore its important that your whole poster has a flow to it. It should be easy to read and follow.
One easy way to help with this is to have a title of each section of information you have, this should also be numbered so the reader knows where to look next.
Implications for Practice.
This is very basic but maybe gives you an idea of what is expected regarding the flow of your poster.
Poster presenting, and attending a conference in general, is a really good way to network and develop your own knowledge and skills. With these steps, you will be well on your way to making your poster stand out from the rest and deliver clear and concise information that the reader will enjoy.
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