10 Trauma Books To Help You Understand and Heal Your Past

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As someone who has worked in crisis intervention for many years, I’ve witnessed people going through traumatic events in their lives, as well as heard them recount traumatic experiences in their past that still affect how they feel about themselves today.

Healing from trauma is a process and it is OKAY to be exactly where you are right now in that process. Learning more about trauma and how it can affect you can help in that healing process. Check out these trauma books and see which ones resonate with you and your experiences.

This post could be potentially triggering. If you are feeling triggered and need support, contact Crisis Text Line by texting “Hello” to 741741 or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

What Is Trauma?

First and foremost, trauma is DIFFERENT for everyone. A traumatic experience for one person, may not be a traumatic experience for another. We are all different in how we process and feel about things that we experience. If something is traumatic for you but not for someone else or visa versa, know that that is OKAY.

Even though trauma can look different for everyone, here are a few events or circumstances that could be considered traumatic:

  • Abuse
  • Death of a loved one
  • Being a victim of (or witnessing) a crime
  • Terrorism
  • A break-up or divorce
  • Car crash
  • Sexual assault
  • Natural disaster

Along with having the experience, the trauma of that experience can manifest in our lives in our thoughts, patterns, behaviors, the people that we have relationships with, and more. If you’ve experienced trauma, you may notice some of the following things in your life:

  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Substance use
  • Co-dependency

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Books on Healing From Trauma

The books about trauma on this category are not specific to one type of trauma (though one is). If you’re looking for a general overview of trauma, these may be the books for you.

The Body Keeps the Score

This book is one of the most talked-about and prominent books on understanding and healing from trauma. The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessell van der Kolk is full of information and experiences about trauma from over 30 years of experience in working with people who have survived traumatic experiences. In this book, Dr. van der Kolk will help you understand how trauma has impacted you ANd how to start the healing process.

Healing from Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide

Healing from Trauma is a great book for understanding trauma and the different affects that it can have on mental health. This book (written by licensed professional counselor Jasmin Lee Cori), helps you to create a path forward in your recovery, by providing information on different interventions (such as support groups and medication) as well as exercises within the book.

Here is a an excerpt from the book:

“The kindest response to having gone through something like this is to accept the fact that you experienced a very disorienting blow. You’ve been knocked off your feet, and it is not quite as simple as getting up again.”

Grab Healing from Trauma here

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma

This book is a bit different from the others on this list, as it looks to the animal kingdom to think about trauma differently. It posits and answers the question as to why animals in the wild do not seem to get traumatized.

Waking the Tiger also provides information on impulses that govern our responses to trauma and exercises to begin healing trauma through recognition of bodily sensations. Learn more information about it here.

Making Out Like a Virgin

Making Out Like A Virgin shares the stories of 17 people from around the world who have experienced sexual trauma and how they healed so that they could reclaim their body and sexual desire. This book is less about the science and research on trauma, and more about how these individuals people have survived and thrived.

Books on Healing Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma can manifest in and affect our adult lives. Even though we have “grown up”, it doesn’t mean what happened in our childhood doesn’t matter. It does.

One of the most prominent tests for childhood trauma is the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). This test looks at three areas of trauma (abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction) and provides you with a score and more information about how those experiences could be currently affecting you.

To learn more about ACE and take the quiz, click here. When you’re done, come back and take a look at some of these books about healing childhood trauma.

The Deepest Well

The Deepest Well by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris talks more about adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and how they can affect someone over their lifetime. Dr. Burke Harris explores how ACE can show up later in life as physical ailments such as cancer, stroke, and other diseases.

The Deepest Well is one of the best books about adverse childhood experiences for people who have gone through these experiences and want to understand how it is affecting their present.

The Boy Who Was Raised A Dog

The Boy Who Was Raised A Dog will take you through different stories of children who experienced trauma at a young age AND of how they grew into healthy, happy adults.

Here’s a paragraph from the book:

“Our work brings us into peoples’ lives when they are most desperate, alone, sad, afraid, and wounded, but for the most part the stories you’ll read here are success stories — stories of hope, survival, triumph.”

If this book resonates with you, you can purchase The Boy Who Was Raised A Dog here.

Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving

Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker (a licensed marriage and family therapist) is a “practical guide to recovering from lingering childhood trauma”. This book shares stories from both the author and his clients about their journeys to recovery and leading a full life.

Books on Healing From Intergenerational Trauma

Intergeneration trauma is a fairly new term that has been getting more popular in recent years. Intergenerational trauma is the belief that trauma that started in a previous generation can be passed down to the current generation and can impact them in numerous ways. You can read more about intergenerational trauma here.

From Generation To Generation

From Generation to Generation takes a close look at intergenerational trauma through the lens of the Holocaust, its survivors, and their children. The author, Emily Wanderer Cohen, takes you through her own personal story of intergenerational trauma and equips you with thoughtful prompts to help you piece together your own story of trauma, resilience, and healing.

Pick up your copy of Generation to Generation.

It Didn’t Start With You

It Didn’t Start With You by Mark Wolynn is a phenomenal book about how trauma that has affected our parents, grandparents, and other family members can not only be passed down through their behaviors and circumstances but can actually be passed down through our genes. This book is great for you if your entire family has experienced trauma.

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

“Much of this focuses on identifying inherited family patterns, the fears, feelings, and behavior we’ve unknowingly adopted that keep the cycle of suffering alive from generation to generation….You may learn as I did, that these patterns don’t belong to us.”

Pick up It Didn’t Start With You.

My Grandmother’s Hands

My Grandmother’s Hands is a book about intergenerational trauma that specifically looks at how racialized trauma can impact African-Americans and how racialized trauma can cause secondary trauma in both whites and police. If you experienced racialized trauma and want to start healing OR if you want to understand the impact of it on all of us, look into purchasing My Grandmother’s Hands.


If you’re looking for even more support in healing from trauma, I highly recommend finding a therapist as well as journaling out your feelings. Here are some posts that you may find useful.

Ultimate List of Therapy Directories

Amazing Guided Journals You Should Be Using

What do you think of these books for healing trauma? Have you read any of them? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

If this post helped you, consider buying me a coffee!

Briana Hollis is a licensed social worker and self-care coach. She earned her Master of Science in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University in 2014 and her Master of Education from Tiffin University in 2019. She has spent the last 5 years working in crisis intervention.  Her passion for serving others is the heart of this site. She started Learning To Be Free to assist others in bringing freedom to their lives.

Briana is also the author of The Self-Care Journal for Young Adults.

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  1. Michelle says:

    Thank you for sharing these resources! I can’t wait to read these! Always looking for ways to grow and learn ❤️

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