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.
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.
Right now you might be thinking what is the point in reading this just now. Perhaps you might be tempted to come back to this 2 weeks before your dissertation is due…STOP, don’t make the mistake of putting your dissertation on the back burner, if you utilise the time now you’ll be well on your way to being successful make the process much easier (or less difficult perhaps).
The word dissertation is one that strikes fear in the hearts of pretty much every psychology student. They whisper about it in the hallways at some point around year 2, these whispers soon become shouts about how difficult the dissertation is, how unfair the tutors are in marking it, how it’s 1,000,000,000 words long and how theoretically everyone should have been working on this from the age of 7 and if you haven’t started yet then you might as well just give up.
Please don’t panic…with enough planning and these top tips you will find the process much less stressful, give yourself a better chance at improving your mark…and dare I say it, perhaps even enjoy it a little?
Let’s get started…
Tip #1 – Start Early:
There is a very good reason for me posting this at the start of the academic year, you need to start work on your dissertation early!
The very last position you want to put yourself in is one where you have totally limited yourself time wise.
Beleive me, this is a horrible position to be in. I’ve seen students drop out of their degree just a month before they finish because they have delayed the process of starting their dissertation.
Remeber, your dissertation isn’t the only thing you have on during your last year. You still have exams from other subjects and assignments.
I’m not trying to scare you here…or maybe I am a little…but whatever it takes to get you to understand that you NEED TO START EARLY!!
Tip #2 – Get The Right Supervisor:
Choosing a supervisor that fits into your topic well is vital.
What I will say here is that you may hear rumours about how good or bad a dissertation supervisor might be. This should be the only piece of advice you listen to from other students during your dissertation. Do a bit of research yourself and find a supervisor who is reliable and suits you and your topic well.
There’s no point in you doing a psychology dissertation on something biopsychological with a supervisor who specialises in social psychology. Make sure your supervisor is the right fit for you.
Tip #3 – Ethics/Ethics Forms:
In your psychology dissertation, there will be parts of it that you think won’t take that long but end up taking forever…it is the eternal rollercoaster of a psychology dissertation.
One of the carts on this rollercoaster is ethics and ethics forms.
This takes up much more time than you could have originally anticipated.
Having your ideas mapped out and your proposal written with the types of participants you want to use and sending it off to ethics is a time consuming and laborious process. the likelihood also is that you will have it returned to you with amendments needed.
I highly advise that this is your first port of call with regards to dissertation tasks after having your topic mapped out and selecting an appropriate supervisor.
Tip #4 – Participants:
Much like ethics, gaining participants will become one of the more challenging aspects of your dissertation.
Whether you are doing a quantitative or qualitative psychological dissertation, you will need participants.
A few issues with this though…it’s highly likely that you won’t be compensating people for their participation, therefore immediately no one will care about your dissertation or how desperate you are for participants…well maybe not no one, but far fewer people will care.
Therefore you might have to use a bit of ingenuity, are you able to use students? If so then you charging around your university, sweating profusely and screaming in the face of first years to take part in your study whilst handing them a torn information sheet and consent form might be an option.
Often universities make it an essential piece of their marking that first years take part in final year students dissertations, so you might get help this way.
Tip #5 – Stay Focused:
There will undoubtedly be students that try and terrify each other more than is necessary when it comes close to dissertation deadline.
This tip might seem self-explanatory, but it is vital that you stay focused on your work and meeting the criteria required for your dissertation and don’t get caught up with the pandemonium that ensues during this time.
This might actually be the most important tip out of all 6.
Tip #6 – Understand That It Probably Will Never Be Finished…But Finish None The Less:
There will come a point when you realise that conceivably, you could work on your dissertation for the rest of time.
First of all…obviously don’t do this.
Second of all, it’s important that you appreciate that with all the work you have put it you will want it to be the best it can be.
Be ok with finishing it up, getting feedback from your supervisor and submitting it.
Tip #7 -Referencing:
Referencing is a mind field if you’re not on top of your game with it.
My advice here is to keep records of your referencing of literature from the start and throughout.
You absolutely do not want to be scraping together all the references in the last week before the deadline.
Hopefully, these tips have been helpful. Conducting a dissertation in psychology can be extremely stressful, but like anything in higher education, the stress can be managed and you can be successful with the appropriate planning and initiatives. Just keep these tips in mind and you will be on your way to making your dissertation a success.
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