Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that has been used for decades to treat a variety of disorders, from depression and anxiety to eating disorders and insomnia.
One of the exciting aspects of CBT is that it can either be used by therapists to treat their clients or by people who want to treat themselves.
These are the 30 best books for teaching yourself CBT, whether you are a clinician or a client, and whether you already know a little bit about what is CBT or know absolutely nothing.
Before you read on, we thought you might like to download our 3 Positive CBT Exercises for free. These science-based exercises will provide you with a detailed insight into Positive CBT and will give you the tools to apply it in your therapy or coaching.
7 Best CBT Books for Learning CBT as a Therapist
These are the best books for learning about CBT as a therapist, for the purposes of treating clients.
1. Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Second Edition: Basics and Beyond – Judith S. Beck and Aaron T. Beck
This book, from CBT expert Judith Beck, the daughter of CBT founder Aaron Beck, is perhaps the best way for therapists to start learning about CBT. The book walks the reader through a CBT program from determining how to treat a client to executing that treatment plan.
The book also includes a thorough case study, so therapists can see what CBT looks like in action. It is a comprehensive manual which is also written to be accessible, so any therapist can start learning regardless of how much they know about CBT before starting the book.
2. A Therapist’s Guide to Brief Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Jeffrey A. Cully
This book, sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs in the United States, was written specifically for the purpose of giving therapists a beginner’s foundation in CBT.
The authors explicitly say this book is not meant for advanced practitioners, meaning absolute beginners can pick this book up and start learning about how to administer CBT.
It is available online for free in PDF form, and can be found here.
3. The CBT Toolbox: A Workbook for Clients and Clinicians – Jeff Riggenbach
As the title suggests, this book is meant for teaching CBT to both therapists and their clients, which means that therapists can even recommend this book to clients for their own use. The author studied CBT at the Beck Institute of Cognitive Therapy and Research, so the lessons contained within are well-informed.
The book recognizes that there is no “one size fits all” approach to therapy, so it contains a few different CBT exercises for different situations. This is an excellent book for therapists to start learning about CBT, no matter what their client’s needs are.
4. CBT Worksheets: CBT Worksheets for CBT therapists in training – Dr James Manning and Dr Nicola Ridgeway
This book is not a comprehensive guide to learning CBT, but a supplemental resource which can help therapists develop specific treatment plans.
It is a collection of CBT worksheets that therapists can give their clients to start working through during or outside of therapy sessions.
Therapists learning about CBT will find this resource helpful for solidifying their understanding by showing how CBT works in practice rather than only learning about it in theory.
5. Let’s Think About Feelings: Tools for Child-Friendly CBT – Marcie Yeager LCSW and Daniel Yeager LCSW
This book is unique on this list because it is not necessarily for learning about CBT, but for learning about using CBT with children. In fact, the authors state that therapists reading this book should already have a foundation in CBT to get the most out of this book.
That said, this is an important book to include because therapists who want to start administering CBT to children might not know where to start, and this book is an excellent introduction. The book also includes several exercises and worksheets to make CBT more accessible and fun for children.
6. CBT for Chronic Pain and Psychological Well-Being; A Skills Training Manual Integrating DBT, ACT, Behavioral Activation and Motivational Interviewing – Mark Carlson
This book is meant to be a manual for teaching therapists about CBT, especially for the purposes of treating chronic pain. The book takes a broad approach to CBT, incorporating lessons from other types of therapies, including Behavioral Activation and Motivational Interviewing.
The author’s goal is to present the therapist with a wealth of information from which the therapist can pick and choose what goes into their client’s personalized treatment plans. This book is an excellent option for anyone who likes having all of the information available to them, even if it is not all strictly necessary.
7. Doing CBT: A Comprehensive Guide to Working with Behaviors, Thoughts, and Emotions – David F. Tolin
This is another introductory CBT book which can be used by both therapists and their clients. The book is meant to be accessible but comprehensive, with every aspect of CBT explained, along with three separate case examples that are discussed at length.
The book also includes worksheets and exercises, so it not only teaches therapists how to administer CBT in theory but also helps therapists develop concrete treatment plans for their clients. Since this book includes three extensive case studies rather than just one, it is a great option for people who like learning by following along with examples.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Books for Treating a Client’s Anxiety
These are the best books for learning about CBT for the purposes of specifically treating anxiety, whether you are a clinician or a client.
1. The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety: A Step-By-Step Program – William J. Knaus and Jon Carlson
This book uses the teachings of CBT along with the teachings of rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) to help people overcome their feelings of anxiety and panic. It is meant to be used by clients either by themselves or with the guidance of a therapist.
Rather than just presenting information about CBT, the book presents a step-by-step program that readers can follow along with to improve their own lives and start getting over anxiety. This is a great option for anyone who feels powerless when they are overcome by their anxiety and is looking for an actionable way out of that feeling.
2. The Worry Workbook for Teens: Effective CBT Strategies to Break the Cycle of Chronic Worry and Anxiety – Jamie A. Micco PhD
This book is aimed at teenagers who want to use CBT to quell the anxiety in their lives. It aims to be a fun read that teenagers can work through to get at the root of their anxiety.
One of the ways the author does this is by conceptualizing anxiety-provoking thoughts as “junk mail”. Like many of the books on this list, it is meant to be used by clients either on their own or with the guidance of their therapists.
This is a great option for teenagers who spend too much of their time worrying about things in their lives like tests and relationships, whether or not they conceptualize those worries as anxiety.
3. CBT Strategies for Anxious and Depressed Children and Adolescents: A Clinician’s Toolkit – Eduardo L. Bunge, Javier Mandil, Andres J. Consoli, Martin Gomar and Bruce F. Chorpita
This book on CBT for anxiety is not only aimed at teenagers but children as young as seven years old as well. While the above book by Micco is aimed at either clinicians or their clients, though, this book is more meant to be used by therapists to treat their seven to 18-year-old clients.
The book includes several worksheets and exercises that therapists can provide their clients with to help the process along. From examples of specific cases to address common problems that can arise during CBT, this book is an excellent option for anyone treating adolescents with anxiety issues.
4. The Anxiety and Worry Workbook: The Cognitive Behavioral Solution – David A. Clark and Aaron T. Beck
This book, co-authored by the founder of CBT, Aaron Beck, is all about using the teachings of CBT to control your levels of anxiety. The teachings within include helping you identify anxiety triggers and how to respond to them, as well as more long-term solutions for reducing your levels of anxiety.
The included exercises and worksheets are meant to help you conquer anxiety on your own pace, one step at a time, whether or not you are being guided by a therapist.
5. Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks: A Workbook for Managing Depression and Anxiety – Sith J. Gillihan PhD
As suggested by the title, this book has a simple aim: to teach you how to use CBT to start treating your depression or anxiety in just seven weeks. The author is a therapist who has condensed his experience as a psychologist in this seven-week course that anybody can start taking.
This seven-week course is meant to teach you all about CBT and how you can use it yourself, and the goal is that by the end of seven weeks you will know enough to use CBT in the future whenever you need it.
This is an excellent choice for anyone who cannot or does not want to necessarily be guided by a therapist, but still wants to follow a concrete treatment plan.
6. The Generalized Anxiety Disorder Workbook: A Comprehensive CBT Guide for Coping with Uncertainty, Worry, and Fear – Melissa Robichaud, Michael J. Dugas and Martin M. Antony
This book is aimed at people with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) who want to use CBT to reduce their anxiety symptoms. This means that it might be more helpful for people who struggle mightily with anxiety rather than those who only occasionally experience anxiety.
The authors are both CBT experts, as Robichaud is the co-founder of the Vancouver CBT Centre, so the lessons within come from respected authorities on CBT. This book is a good option for anyone who struggles with GAD and wants to put an end to their anxiety symptoms, including issues with fatigue and concentration.
7. CBT For Anxiety Disorders: A Practitioner Book – Gregoris Simos and Stefan G. Hofmann
This book on CBT is meant to provide readers with extremely up-to-date information (as of 2013) on CBT, from new approaches to modern research developments. This makes it a good way to learn about CBT as it stands today, whether you know all about CBT or are just starting to learn about it.
It is meant to be for practitioners, whether they are practicing therapists or studying to be therapists, and is an excellent way for anyone who wants to know the state of CBT in the modern world, not just as it was first conceptualized a few decades ago.
8. Starving the Anxiety Gremlin: A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook on Anxiety Management for Young People (Gremlin and Thief CBT Workbooks) – Kate Collins-Donnelly
This book is aimed at young children with anxiety who might not even yet understand the idea of anxiety. It conceptualizes anxiety as a “gremlin” which children can either feed or starve with anxious thoughts, or the lack thereof.
The target audience is children 10 years old or older, and they can either work through the book with a parent or therapist or work through the book by themselves.
This book is an excellent way to teach children about anxiety as well as ways they can manage their anxiety on their own.
9. Change Your Thinking: Overcome Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, and Improve Your Life with CBT – Sara Edelman PhD
This book is focused on teaching the reader ways they can use the teachings of CBT to conquer their feelings of anxiety, along with their feelings of stress or depression.
The author conceptualizes anxiety-, stress-, and depression-causing thoughts as “thinking errors” and teaches you how to recognize and respond to these when they occur.
The idea is that eventually, after learning enough about CBT, you can stop these thoughts before they even come to mind. The book is written for a non-academic audience, but the author is a certified psychologist with decades of experience in the field and with CBT.
10. Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders, Second Edition – Robert Leahy PhD, Stephen J.F. Holland and McGinn, Lata McGinn PhD
This book is a comprehensive approach to using CBT to treat major depressive disorder, along with six anxiety disorders. The authors describe many different ways CBT can be administered and provide evidence to back up their claims.
The book also includes several worksheets and exercises that can be incorporated into a treatment plan. Any therapist who is looking to start administering CBT in their practice can look to this book to help them develop a complete treatment plan for anxiety or depression.
5 Best-Selling CBT Books on Amazon
These are the 5 best Amazon bestsellers about CBT, for people who like books that have already been proven popular and useful by many readers before them.
1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: 7 Ways to Freedom from Anxiety, Depression and Intrusive Thoughts – Lawrence Wallace
This book is aimed at people dealing with anxiety, depression, or other types of negative, intrusive thoughts. It is a written by someone who used the teachings of CBT to get over their own issues with these thoughts and incorporates Buddhist and Stoic teachings along with CBT to deliver a treatment plan to the reader.
This book is not meant for therapists and is not written by a clinician, but it has found success as a self-help manual using the teachings of CBT.
2. Mind Over Mood, Second Edition: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think – Dennis Greenberger, Christine A. Padesky and Aaron T. Beck
The authors of this book claim it has been used by over 1,000,000 people to conquer various issues, from eating disorders to anxiety to addiction. This second edition includes 20 more years of research backing up CBT’s effectiveness.
The book includes several CBT-based strategies and exercises you can use to conquer whatever is blocking your wellbeing, with personalized exercises for issues like depression and guilt.
This is an excellent option for anyone who likes proven commodities, as this has been an influential CBT book for non-clinicians for decades.
3. The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook – Edmund J. Bourne
This book, now in its sixth edition, has been used for decades to help treat a variety of disorders, including GAD, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
It is aimed at people who struggle with these disorders, as well as clinicians who are working with people who struggle with these disorders.
While it is aimed at a variety of disorders, it is best suited for people who deal with anxiety and phobias, as the title suggests. This is a great option for anyone who works best with a program they know they can trust, as this book has been teaching people CBT for thirty years.
4. DBT Skills Training Manual, Second Edition – Marsha M. Linehan
This book is not about CBT, but dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which is a subset of CBT. DBT was originally developed by the author for the treatment of borderline personality disorder (BPD), but it is now used for other purposes such as treating eating disorders and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
This book is a comprehensive resource for any clinician administering DBT, as it includes several exercises and worksheets that clients can work through with or without their clinicians, along with serving as a guide to the therapist administering DBT.
This is a good way for a therapist familiar with CBT or not familiar with CBT to start learning about its subset treatment, DBT.
5. The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation & … (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook) – Matthew McKay, Jeffrey C. and Jeffrey Brantley
This book is also focused on DBT, but it is slightly more oriented for self-help purposes than Linehan’s book. Clinicians can still find the book useful as a way to learn about DBT themselves, however.
The book contains several exercises for the purpose of building up four key skills in DBT: “distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness”.
The authors start with basic skills and then move on to more advanced skills, so people can use this to administer a full DBT treatment plan on themselves.
CBT Audio Books
Finally, these are the best audiobooks about CBT, for people who prefer listening to reading, or who would like to read books but just do not have the time.
1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: A Practical Guide to CBT for Overcoming Anxiety, Depression, Addictions & Other Psychological Conditions [Audiobook] – Jane Aniston, Lesley Ann Fogle and Eddington Publishing
This audiobook aims to be an accessible, “jargon-free” way to learn about CBT so that listeners can quickly start treatment for a number of disorders. It is aimed at absolute beginners, so no matter how little you know about CBT you can start using its teachings in your own life.
The author also highlights the fact that even people who are not necessarily diagnosed with anything can use CBT to improve their levels of wellbeing, making this book an excellent option for anyone who wants more control over their thought patterns.
2. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: Your Route out of Perfectionism, Self-Sabotage and Other Everyday Habits with CBT [Audiobook] – Avy Joseph, Ruth Sillers and Audible Studios
This audiobook, from CBT practitioner Avy Joseph, is meant to show the listener ways they can use CBT to start feeling better about their lives. While the author claims CBT can help all sorts of people improve their wellbeing, the book focuses, especially on anxiety, resilience, and self-belief.
The audiobook walks through several scenarios that the listener might come upon in life and discusses different ways to react to those scenarios.
3. Confidence and Success with CBT [Audiobook] – Avy Joseph, Ruth Sillers and Audible Studios
Co-written by the same author as above (and narrated by the same person from the above book as well), this book focuses on using CBT to increase your levels of confidence for the purpose of finding success in your life.
This audiobook is especially aimed at people who want to increase their levels of wellbeing independent of any disorders. It can also serve as a resource for therapists who want to help their clients use CBT to increase their levels of wellbeing.
Either of these audiobooks by Avy Joseph is a good option for anyone who wants to listen and learn about CBT from the perspective of an expert.
4. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Beginners: How to Use CBT to Overcome Anxieties, Phobias, Addictions, Depression, Negative Thoughts, and Other Problematic Disorders [Audiobook] – Maddison Taylor, Jim D. Johnston and Make Profits Easy LLC
This audiobook serves as a brief introduction to CBT for absolute beginners. The author walks through what CBT is and what it is used for but does not dive too deeply into specific treatment plans or exercises that might constitute a CBT treatment plan.
This is a good option for someone who wants to learn just a little bit about CBT to see if it is right for them, rather than someone looking for a comprehensive book which will help them put together a treatment plan.
5. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: CBT Techniques to Manage Your Anxiety, Depression, Compulsive Behavior, PTSD, Negative Thoughts and Phobias [Audiobook] – Yasmin Bill, Jeannette Lehr and John Leddy
This audiobook is another extremely brief introduction to CBT for absolute beginners, but it relates CBT to mindfulness as well. This makes it a good option for anyone who is already interested in mindfulness who wants to start learning about CBT and how it can benefit their lives.
Like the above audiobook, it will not serve as a comprehensive introduction and will certainly not help you develop a treatment plan, but it can help you decide whether or not CBT is the right option for you. Either this book or the above book are good options for people who prefer to sample ideas before they dive too deeply into them.
6. Mind Body Baby: How to Overcome Stress and Enhance Your Fertility with CBT, Mindfulness and Good Nutrition [Audiobook] – Ann Bracken and Yellow Kite
Finally, this audiobook focuses on CBT as it relates to fertility, making it an attractive choice for anyone who is trying to have a baby. The book is written by a fertility specialist, and includes a chapter on nutrition by a nutritionist, making it an authoritative approach to CBT for the purposes of increasing fertility levels.
The author also incorporates principles of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), so anyone who is already familiar with MBSR will find this audiobook an excellent way to start learning about CBT for fertility.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies (Short review + Summary)
This book discusses CBT for the purposes of using it to treat anxiety, addiction, or several other issues in your own life. Two therapists, Rhena Branch and Rob Wilson, who use CBT in their own practices, wrote it.
As a book in the “for Dummies” series, it is meant to be accessible and easy-to-read, but the extremely-qualified authors ensure that it is still based in evidence-based research.
This is an excellent option for clients who want to learn about CBT, regardless of their knowledge of the subject or knowledge of any psychological subjects.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Teach Yourself (Short review + Summary)
The updated edition of one of the first books on CBT for the masses, this book will first teach you what CBT is, then teach you how to use it for your benefit.
The author is involved with the National Health Service of the United Kingdom’s committee on how to treat depression, but the book discusses the use of CBT for other thought patterns as well.
This book is a good mix of academically-informed and accessible so the information continued within is accurate but easily-digestible.
A Take-Home Message
CBT is an exciting therapy which has a wide range of intended purposes, and it can be used with or without the aid of a therapist. All of these books are good ways to learn about CBT, but some of them have more specific purposes than others (for example, treating anxiety rather than eating disorders).
It should also be noted that some are written by psychologists with years of CBT experience, while others are written by people who have used CBT to improve their own lives, and some readers may have a preference for one type of author over the other. Make sure that you do some research before picking a book on CBT so that you learn about it in a way that can best benefit your specific situation.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. For more information, don’t forget to download our 3 Positive CBT Exercises for free.