Full Circle Fridays|Week 23: Workbooks

Sara, CTRC-A, IFS
3 min readJun 10, 2022

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Disclaimer: This topic I’m sharing on today is a resource that I haven’t personally used. This episode is based purely from education I’ve received about this, as well as hearing feedback from people I personally know who have tried this.

Self-help workbooks, as they are widely known, can be a helpful tool for some survivors. Sometimes referred to as “therapy workbooks” or “self-therapy”, these are designed for people who are suffering from cognitive and behavioral disorders or tendencies. There is a plethora of these workbooks in the market over the last decade. These are almost always for specified topics: Complex PTSD, OCD, Somatic work, Anxiety, Reconnecting to the Body, and more.

Who are these workbooks good for? My personal understanding is that anyone can try this type of invention. And I suppose there is no harm in trying — with the caveat being that you know the workbook may not be enough for your psychological situation. For some, this may be a good supplement in addition to regular psychiatric care, while some use it as a standalone or while on a long waiting list for a trauma therapist. Still — those who are suicidal need immediate help from people who can stabilize them, and also someone, in my opinion, with relational after effects of trauma need a relationship model — like therapy or coaching.

With that said, some of these workbooks are great for learning lots of coping mechanisms and provenly helpful modalities like CBT, DBT, guides visualizations, IFS, mindfulness, body awareness, self-inquiry, somatic experiencing, and other techniques. To try them would mean to do the reading, and then follow guided exercises as you follow the self-therapy protocol given in each workbook. For some, these have been game changers. Others found it hard to keep themselves accountable to the work or found the self-exercises too difficult to do. I have read that some users find writing answers to tough questions more challenging than talking about your answers, while still others like it better.

The workbooks are designed as a teaching model which exercises used to implement the lessons. Similar to any school workbook, these are almost always done sequentially and are a form of spiral learning as you solidify concepts from week to week. As a supplement to other courses that you are enrolled in or other therapies you are involved with, I would assume you could jump to certain sections of the workbook that reinforce something you’ve been integrating outside the workbook.

For me, the most important thing to keep an eye out for with these workbooks is to do some research on the author. These should be well-accredited, trauma-trained authors. For many workbooks, there is a reading book that started it all. So read the book, perhaps, first, to make sure you agree with the material and that the book itself is full of the education that you need and the insights that your spirit is looking for. Then, the workbook may be more effective. If you aren’t much for reading, just do a little research on the author of the workbook and make sure that your needs align with their methods. For each subject, there will be multiple workbooks, so finding the one that will best work for you could mean the difference between it being useful to you in your specific trauma needs versus having a bad experience or getting frustrated with the process.

The biggest reason I’m interested in this topic is because there are some clients that I think might be good candidates for adding workbooks into our coaching practice; ones that are designed for cognitive reframing and re-training specifically that would give them extra support throughout the week between sessions. So if you have any insights on this topic that you’ve personally used or any recommendations — I’d love to check them out so I can personally vet a few workbooks myself. If you have any questions or need additional trauma-trained resources and support, as always, please reach out to connect with me or schedule a free consult today. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Sara, CTRC-A, IFS

An IFS-informed advanced certified trauma recovery coach at Full Circle Wellspring LLC and an overall trauma survivor advocate.