Book Recommendations for Understanding Trauma

two stacked books with black vase holding 2 yellow flowers with 5 books to the right.

Written by Beth Sandlin

December 17, 2020

If there’s one aspect of being a Pilates teacher that’s essential to the practice, it’s never stop learning or exploring. This can be with the movement experience, taking workshops or reading. In addition I’ve found that widening what you learn about can help you find a deeper connection to Pilates and Pilates beyond the studio. 

Below are books I’ve read throughout the years that have been a tremendous help on my Trauma Informed journey. Some I’ve reread a few times and they’ve all made a lasting impression that has shaped how I teach Pilates. I hope you enjoy the books!

The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel Van der Kolk, MD
This book was the key that unlocked it all. While reading this book I knew the value of Pilates in particular when using a Trauma Informed Approach. It was the final catalyst that propelled me into a deeper investigation of a Trauma Informed Pilates Approach(TIPA) and eventually to create the TIPA Course. 

Also I don’t think I’ve met a Trauma Informed professional whether it be a Counselor, Social Worker, Yoga Teacher or School Teacher who hasn’t read this book. So if you had to start somewhere, begin here. 

My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, by Resmaa Menakem
A MUST read book that recounts historical trauma as it pertains to systemic racism and oppression. It brings this into present day both in the individual and groups. It’s a page turner with personal reflections and activities available throughout the book. 

Given the current state of the Pilates Industry as a whole and the United States in particular, this book is valuable personally and professionally. 

Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell 
Communication is a major aspect of effectively teaching Pilates. This book brings together different events that have taken place pertaining to misinterpretation of communication while also referencing current scientific data. Because trauma can make communication even more difficult to read and interpret, this book helps to widen the lens of assumptions with interpersonal communication. 

As a note, all of Malcom Gladwell’s books are thought provoking and offer a fresh perspective. 

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, by Peter Levine
Compared to the other books listed, this one was more challenging to get through as it felt drawn out to get to the point. However there are gems of wisdom in this book and it was a recommendation by a counselor I know. I’m glad I stuck with it as it gave easy to remember information and practical tips as well. 

Additional Book Recommendations

  • Biased, Jennifer Eberhardt 
  • Beneath a Ruthless Sun, Gilbert King
  • Caste, Isabel Wilkerson
  • Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, Phillip Hoose
  • It Didn’t Start with You, Mark Wolynn
  • The Firebrand and the First Lady, Patrica Bell-Scott
  • Anything from Brené Brown, even her podcast (okay so this is more than one book, but SO worth it!)
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