The Best Self-Help Books for Women, According to a Mental Health Counselor

Take the first step in your healing journey with these reads

A good self-help book is written with the purpose and intention of offering solutions to personal problems or challenges and to increase healthy self-esteem. For women, the content of the book should speak to the unique challenges and experiences that women face in life. Even though the purpose of a self-help book is to focus on improvements and problem-solving options, the writing should still be well done and entertaining.

A good self-help book should offer a pleasant and engaging reading experience even if the topic is a heavy or difficult one. The author should also be experienced on the topic of the book, either by way of education, life experience, or both. The solutions discussed in the book should be supported by scientific research, such as Cognitive Behavioral techniques rather than just offering the opinions of the author. 

Self-help books have been growing in popularity and can be very helpful, whether you are on a journey of self-improvement, healing, or wish to use books along with your talk therapy journey. Self-help books written for women specifically can offer added insight and guidance during an emotional healing or self-exploration process.

Here, the best self-help books for women, according to a licensed mental health counselor.

Mind Over Mood by Christine A. Padesky & Dennis Greenberger

  • Very informative

  • Effective techniques and guides

  • Well-written

  • Expert authors

  • Requires significant time commitment

Written by two experienced clinical psychologists as a combination of research education and self-help guide, there is a wealth of self-help knowledge between the two covers of this book. The second edition was created to focus on the updated research of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques (CBT), expand on the topic areas of anxiety management, gratitude journals, worksheets, mindfulness, and how to not only set goals but maintain long-term progress.

The guidance and CBT techniques offered here focus on those who struggle with anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders, depression, substance addiction, and even relationships. There is a lot packed into one book with this option, and therefore it will require a significant commitment of time and energy to work through and put into practice.

Designed as a self-help book, it is also a great option to use in conjunction with therapy to allow for further processes and guidance along the journey. 

Price at time of publication: $27

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

  • Well-written and entertaining

  • Expert author and writer

  • Important topic addressed

  • Not individualized

Ph.D. researcher Brené Brown is the modern-day guru and expert of vulnerability and why it is essential to healing, connection, and a happy life. Dr. Brown uses profound storytelling to convey the strength found through vulnerability rather than the myth of it being a display of weakness. Despite logically knowing that vulnerability is essential to connection, strong defense mechanisms from past pain can get in the way of being able to practice it effectively.

This book is an emotional journey of finding yourself through the experiences of others while offering sound advice on how to manage emotional defenses to begin practicing vulnerability, even if it’s in small ways at first. Both inspirational and motivating, this book will help break through emotional defenses that keep people from experiencing love and connection. 

It is helpful to know that this is not a workbook or guidebook. There are no writing prompts or techniques shared. This is a good option for people who want to simply enjoy reading and appreciate the writing style of good storytelling.

Price at time of publication: $17

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

  • Funny, witty writing style

  • Encouraging and motivating

  • Short chapters make for easy reading

  • Not individualized

Need a swift kick in the rear to get you moving? This book is just that kick. Filled with hilarious stories and broken down into 27 bite-sized chapters, you can nose-dive into this book or read for just a few minutes a day to feel inspired, motivated, and ready to overcome any challenge. The author uses humorous stories and the occasional therapeutic swearing to help readers identify negative thought patterns and replace them with confidence and a strong belief in yourself and your abilities.

This is a good option if you don’t like writing or journaling, and scientific statistics are not your favorite learning style. Some personality types benefit more from direct language and humor, which the book expertly displays. 

The humor and charm of this writing style take a lot of the heaviness out of serious topics while still addressing subjects that are difficult and need discussing. Inspiration and increasing motivation are the main goals of this book, rather than education or research.

Price at time of publication: $17

Self-Love Workbook for Women by Megan Logan

  • Expert author

  • Effective techniques

  • Individualized worksheets and prompts

  • Fewer stories and anecdotes

  • Requires time investment

Embracing self-love is a major step in a woman’s journey to healing, confidence, and finding a genuine connection with others. Author Megan Logan is a licensed social worker and therapist who uses the techniques in this workbook to help women identify self-defeating thoughts and replace them with confidence.

The worksheets help individualize the journey and help you focus on improving thought patterns and daily habits that lead to accomplishing goals and feeling empowered in your daily life. Even though CBT techniques work for many types of people, this guidebook is written specifically for women and their unique experiences through life and healing.

Best used along with a talk therapy journey to get the most out of both therapy and the concepts discussed in the book. Some topics may uncover deeper issues that are best resolved in therapy rather than by yourself.

Price at time of publication: $16

Untamed by Glendon Doyle

  • Emotional and motivating

  • Meaningful stories and honest style

  • Not individualized

By telling her own story of moving from denial to awareness, best-selling author Glendon Doyle helps other women do the same. We often stay distracted with busyness and a million excuses to keep from looking within ourselves to heal what’s broken. Through fear, struggles, and mistakes, Doyle leads by example on how to acknowledge the truth, set boundaries, and forgive others as well as ourselves.

Even though this book is memoir-styled, the authentic style that the author uses to discuss ways she held her own self back from happiness and healthy living can be helpful to those experiencing similar feelings. Some personality types learn more effectively through storytelling and identifying with similarities in like-minded perceptions and struggles.

This book does a great job of inspiring readers to question their own paths in life and to ask if they are living the way they want to be living. If not, what changes need to be made?

Price at time of publication: $28

Eat, Pray, #FML by Gabrielle Stone

  • Real and honest writing

  • Addresses important topic

  • The humor is good medicine

  • Not individualized

Sometimes life is hard, and sometimes life is just brutal. The anger that results can be difficult to deal with. Humor can be a much-needed relief when we are not yet in a place to think positively or embrace a bright outlook on the future. Author Gabrielle Stone tells her story of total bewilderment at life and the shocking events that she encountered. She took that anger to Europe and fully embraced the swearing rebel until she learned how to love herself.

Stone stresses that this is not a feel-good romp through self-revelation like other memoirs. This is a knock-down, drag-out profanity-laced fight with having to accept painful things beyond our control. Peace and self-love happen, but only after the anger and festival of swear words have their fair share of time.

Sometimes we need a reminder that we don’t have to get through painful things gracefully, we just have to get through them. This book grants that much-needed permission.

Price at time of publication: $18

After the Rain by Alexandra Elle

  • Beautiful design

  • Inspirational

  • Good for a busy schedule

  • Not individualized

This is a book that speaks to multiple senses with its beautiful design and creative layout. Divided into 15 lessons (instead of chapters), author Alexandra Elle focuses on her own stories and anecdotes of inspiration and self-care stemming from her journey from self-doubt to self-love.

The book’s design and layout make it a great gift, coffee table book, office book, and something you can pick up for a quick mood lift when short on time. This is a great option when you only have time for a quick inspirational quote or 15 minutes of quiet time in the morning with coffee.

Price at time of publication: $20

The Gratitude Blueprint by Waleuska Lazo

  • Effective techniques

  • Organized structure

  • Important topic

  • Requires consistent commitment

Practicing consistent gratitude has been shown by research to be one of the most effective strategies in self-improvement and maintaining good emotional and mental health. By focusing on gratitude each day, the reader is escorted through a 28-day journey of improving their ability to practice self-love, practice forgiveness, increase happiness by loving what they already have, and the ability to decrease negative thought patterns. 

The 28-day structure allows readers to immerse themselves in the practice of gratitude and see real and lasting results in their personal and professional lives. The structure of this book not only teaches gratitude but starts a new habitual mental routine focused on gratitude to decrease long-term negative thought patterns and promote a healthier mentality and emotional state over time, not just in the short-term span of 28-days.

Price at time of publication: $19

Black Girl in Love (With Herself) by Trey Anthony

  • Sound advice

  • Well-written for target audience

  • Motivating and inspirational

  • Requires good focus and time

Author, producer, and speaker Trey Anthony found it difficult to relate to personal development gurus as she was building her career due to cultural and racial differences. She wrote this inspirational guidebook as the book she wished she had as a younger person trying to navigate adult life.

Learn how to set boundaries and decipher between who is a real friend and who may be trying to take advantage of you. The advice given helps readers feel confident and motivated to take on career challenges without getting weighed down by confusion and struggle with decision-making.

Price at time of publication: $17

Positive You by Shelah Marie

  • Good writing prompts and space

  • Simple but inspiring layout

  • Good affirmations and quotes

  • Requires time and quiet to be effective

Journaling has been a scientifically supported method of self and mood improvement for years. The Positive You journal was created specifically for women with all the aspects of a good journal that focuses on emotional health, which include writing prompts tailored to boost your mood and effective techniques for soothing stress and improving self-care.

This journal also gives plenty of room to write, which allows the process to be completely tailored to your situation, emotional needs, and writing style. Journals allow you to keep a record of your progress, which increases motivation to keep growing and improving. It’s inspiring to look back and see the challenges that have been overcome through time, personal growth, and effort.

Price at time of publication: $15

Final Verdict

Our top pick is "Mind Over Mood 2nd Edition" by Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky (view at Amazon) because it offers the most comprehensive collection of up-to-date research, worksheets, guided writing prompts, and informative writing.

Other great picks are the "Self-Love Workbook for Women" by Megan Logan, MSW, LCSW , (view at Amazon) since it targets women and their needs for an effective journey of self-reflection, improvement, and healing; and "The Gratitude Blueprint" by Waleuska Lazo (view at Amazon) because it focuses on creating a new habitual routine of thinking by focusing on a very simple practice.

What to Look for in Self-Help Books for Women

Fits Your Style of Learning

Different people learn and grow in different ways. It’s important to choose a book that fits within your specific learning style. Some like research and statistical styles of writing, while others prefer stories, anecdotes, and a visual style of writing.

If a reader doesn’t emotionally connect with the format and writing of the book, then the reader will be more likely to quit and feel defeated in their self-improvement journey. 

Fits Your Schedule

People are busy. Make sure the book you choose fits within the realistic time and space you can commit, and invest in the journey. Choose a shorter book or a book with shorter, bite-sized chapters if you only have a few minutes each day. Something small is better than nothing or giving up the process altogether due to feelings of overwhelm.

If you have more space and time, or you are choosing a book to coincide with therapy, then choose something more in-depth and informative. 

Science-Supported Techniques

Many authors have strong opinions about techniques that they think work, but the techniques and guidance offered must be backed by science and previous research. Following opinions alone may not lead to desired results and lead to feelings of defeat or frustration. Choose authors that are either experts in the field or are using their personal stories of resilience as inspiration for others. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why do people read self-help books?

    Life throws all sorts of obstacles and challenges our way, and self-help books can offer a range of benefits—from comfort and reassurance to actionable advice for making positive changes. “Self-help books can be great resources for self-improvement and self-discovery,” says licensed mental health counselor GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC. Guarino believes they can help a person expand their perspectives, build a healthier sense of self, learn coping methods, and deal with life stressors. 

  • Do self-help books work?

    One review of scientific literature found that self-help books can be effective in helping people learn new life skills, such as assertiveness and problem-solving. Self-help books can also be useful if you’re looking for ways to be happier and more appreciative of what you have in life. “People should make use of all the help they can get,” says Matt Lundquist, founder and clinical director of Tribeca Therapy. While he points out that a lot of self-help books out there may not be especially useful, it’s wonderful when you find the right self-help book for you. 

Why Trust Verywell Mind?

As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with over 15 years of experience working with clients to improve mental and emotional health, Mary K. Tatum understands the importance of finding quality resources and techniques that work for each person.

Not everyone will have the same kind of healing journey, therefore having lots of options to choose from is vitally important in creating a lifestyle that combats mental illness and promotes health and wellbeing.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sansone RA, Sansone LA. Gratitude and well being: the benefits of appreciationPsychiatry (Edgmont). 2010;7(11):18-22.

  2. Smyth JM, Johnson JA, Auer BJ, Lehman E, Talamo G, Sciamanna CN. Online positive affect journaling in the improvement of mental distress and well-being in general medical patients with elevated anxiety symptoms: a preliminary randomized controlled trialJMIR Ment Health. 2018;5(4):e11290.

  3. Williams C. Use of written cognitive–behavioural therapy self-help materials to treat depression. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment. 2001 May. doi: 10.1192/apt.7.3.233

By Mary K. Tatum, MS, LMHC
Mary is a licensed mental health counselor and psychotherapist with 15 years of experience working in the psychology field. She earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Bluefield College and a Master of Science in Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She began in social work and then moved to drug rehab settings, working as a therapist, group facilitator, and clinical director. She specializes in family dynamic systems, trauma recovery, improving resilience, addiction recovery, and the psychology of successful business management.