Mental Health in 2021: The Year in Review

According to USA Today, a poll that asked Americans to describe 2021 in one word indicated that the year was overwhelmingly bleak for many. The top five most common responses were:

  1. Awful/terrible/bad/sucked (23%)
  2. Chaos/confusing/turmoil (12%)
  3. Challenging/hard/rough (11%)
  4. Disaster/train wreck/catastrophe (6%)
  5. Okay/good (6%)

How were such dismal views reflected in mental health in 2021? Who was impacted the most and why? What helped Americans cope?


This article reviews American mental health in 2021 – a rundown of last year’s notable research findings, statistics, and events.

Mental Health in 2021: Statistics & News

According to a 2021 Mental Health America report, the top-ranking states for overall mental wellbeing (based on rates of mental illness and access to care) are:

  1. 5) Connecticut
  2. 4) Pennsylvania
  3. 3) New Jersey
  4. 2) Vermont
  5. 1) Massachusetts

The lowest ranking states are: Wyoming, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, and Nevada (with Nevada at the bottom).


January 5 Ketamine shows promise as a treatment for chronic PTSD by reducing symptom severity. Click here to read the study abstract. (Source: American Journal of Psychiatry)

April 1 – The Standard reports that 49% of American workers struggled with alcohol and substance use in 2020. Read the full article.

April 6 – Research indicates mental health complications in survivors of COVID-19 persist up to 6 months and beyond post-infection. (Source: Lancet Psychiatry)

April 15 – Psilocybin, the hallucinogenic chemical in ‘magic mushrooms,’ is found to be as effective for treating depression as a common antidepressant. (Source: The New England Journal of Medicine)

April 22 – 3 in 10 healthcare workers consider leaving the profession due to pandemic-related burnout. (Source: The Washington Post)

July 13 – Over half (53%) of United States public health workers report symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or suicidal thoughts since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic according to the CDC.

July 23 – Mental health workers are deployed to provide mental health support to first responders, the search and rescue teams, who worked for weeks to find victims after the condo collapse in Surfside, FL that killed nearly 100 people.

November 1 – Aaron Beck, the father of cognitive therapy, dies at 100. (Source: USA Today)

December 13 – Digital (computer and smartphone-based) treatments for mental illness may effectively reduce symptoms of depression. (Source: American Psychological Association)

December 17 – Rates of depression and anxiety increased globally during the pandemic. (Source: Psychiatry Advisor)

December 21 – The American Psychiatric Association endorses the Well Beings Mental Health Language Guide intended to address stigma around mental illness and provide readers with person-centered language. Read the news release.


Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 in the United States. (CDC)

A 2021 report published by Mental Health America indicates that most American employees are experiencing burnout. Furthermore, employees are not receiving the support they need to manage stress; workplace stress has a significant impact on mental health. Download the full report here.

At the end of 2020, 1 in 5 adolescents as well as 1 in 5 adults reported that the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health. (Source: 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health)

Addiction & Recovery

The 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that nearly 60% of Americans use drugs and/or alcohol with over 20% of the population reporting illicit drug use.


January 1 – A study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence estimates that the opioid crisis cost the economy over $1 trillion in the United States in 2017.

February 28 – According to a growing body of research, Topamax continues to show promise as a pharmacological treatment for alcohol use disorder. (Source: Neuropsychopharmacology)

June 12 – The anti-inflammatory drug ibudilast shows promise as a treatment for alcohol use disorder. A small study found that it decreased heavy drinking. (Source: Translational Psychiatry)

June 25 – Research suggests that life achievements are linked to sustained recovery. (Source: Journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors)

July 5 – A pilot study indicates that high-dose gabapentin therapy may reduce harmful alcohol consumption. (Source: Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research)

July 21 – Wearable devices measure and track stress reactions to help to prevent relapse. Read the article from Washington State University Insider here.

August 3 – Alcohol consumption is linked to nearly 750,000 cancer cases in 2020. (Source: CBS News)

September 27 – Yale researchers predict that graphic photos showing the severe consequences of smoking, which will be printed on all cigarette packages in the U.S. beginning October 2022, will save an estimated 539,000 lives. (Source: Yale News)

November 30 – Researchers explore nutritional ketosis as a treatment for alcohol use disorder. (Source: Frontiers in Psychiatry)

December 5 – TMS therapy reduces cravings and heavy drinking days. (Source: Biological Psychiatry)

December 17 – Researchers predict that a one-year increase in alcohol consumption in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic will cause 8,000 additional deaths from alcohol-related liver disease, 18,700 cases of liver failure, and 1,000 cases of liver cancer by 2040. (Source: Massachusetts General Hospital)

Overdose Statistics & News

In 2019 there were 70,630 primarily opioid-involved drug overdose deaths in the United States. 72.9% of opioid-involved overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids. (Source: CDC)

The states with the highest overdose death rates are:

  • 5) Pennsylvania
  • 4) Maryland
  • 3) Ohio
  • 2) Delaware
  • 1) West Virginia

February 3 – Researchers develop experimental vaccines to block opioid-induced respiratory depression, the primary cause of overdose death. (Source: Scripps Research Institute)

February 17 – Demi Lovato reveals that she suffered from three strokes and a heart attack in 2018 as a result of a drug overdose, leaving her with permanent brain damage. (Source: ABC News)

March 4 – A 75-year old New York doctor who saw patients in a hotel parking lot is charged with murder for 5 opioid deaths after writing massive quantities of prescriptions for opioid drugs. (Source: CSB News)

April 2 – The CDC reports that overdose deaths were at their highest in 2020, a 38.4% increase compared to the previous 12-year period.

September 1 – Purdue Pharma, the maker of the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin, is dissolved in a bankruptcy settlement that requires the company’s owners, members of the Sackler family, to pay billions of dollars to address the impact of the opioid epidemic. (Source: New York Times)

September 9 – Disparities in opioid overdose deaths for Black people continue to worsen. Read the press release. (Source: National Institutes of Health-NIH)

September 22 – An NIH report indicates that methamphetamine-involved overdose deaths nearly tripled between 2015-2019. Read the press release.

October 28 – The American Medical Association commends the Biden-Harris Administration “for responding to the spike in drug overdoses with an evidence-based, humane approach to increasing access to care for patients with a substance use disorder and harm reduction services.”

November 22 – Researchers develop a wearable naloxone injector device to detect and reverse opioid overdose. Read the news release from UW Medicine.

December 1 – Fentanyl strips prevent overdose and save lives. (Source: MSN News)

December 7 – The first safe injection sites in America open in New York in Washington Heights and East Harlem. (Source: Psychiatry Advisor)

December 9 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announces it is dropping the name of the philanthropic Sackler family, whose name is linked to America’s opioid epidemic. (Source: NBC News)

Discrimination & Reform

January 18 – The American Psychiatric Association issues a public apology for their past discriminatory practices. Read the news release here.

February 25 – The House passes the Equality Act, which “prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system.”

March 3 – The House passes the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021.

March 10 – The Emmett Till and Will Brown Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2021, a bill that establishes lynching as a federal hate crime, is introduced in the House.

April 8 – The CDC director declares racism a serious public health threat. (Read the media statement here.) The American Medical Association releases a response statement applauding the CDC.

May 1 – A study indicates there are significant increases in anxiety among Black emerging adults from exposure to police violence. (Source: American Psychiatric Association)

June 1 – Research establishes a link between substance misuse and transgender-related discrimination.

July 30 – Research suggests that a 2017 executive order banning foreign nationals from select Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States harmed the health of Muslim Americans. (Source: Yale News)

August 17 – Researchers find persistent racial and ethnic health disparities in the United States. (Source: JAMA)

October 29 – The American Psychological Association issues an apology for its longstanding contributions to systemic racism.

December 1 – A study indicates that youth who face discrimination are at a greater risk for developing a mental disorder and are twice as likely to experience severe psychological distress compared to youth who don’t experience discrimination. (Source: Pediatrics)

Mental Health in 2021 Legislation

In February, the Mental Health Justice Act of 2021 to create a grant program for training and dispatching mental health professionals (instead of law enforcement officers) to respond to psychiatric emergencies is introduced.

The House passes the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2021 in March.

In May, the House passes:

Also in May, the Senate passes the Improving Mental Health Access for Students Act to increase suicide prevention resources for students.

On October 26th, the House passes the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act of 2021 to expand services for victims of domestic violence.

The infrastructure act signed to law by the president in November mandates automakers to install anti-drunk driving technology systems in all new cars.

In 2021, recreational marijuana use is legalized in New York, Virginia, New Mexico, and Connecticut. While marijuana is still federally controlled, it is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia and medically allowed in 36 states. Read more about marijuana legalization in the United States here. (Source: U.S. News)

The States Reform Act to end federal prohibition of cannabis is introduced in November, and a Florida representative submits a legislative proposal to decriminalize all illegal drugs.


Mental Health in 2021: Conclusion

2021 – the second year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic – brought with it more distress, loss, and hardship, with no end in sight as COVID deaths in 2021 surpassed those in 2020. While the year delivered a few legislative victories and promising research findings in mental health in 2021, overall, it wasn’t a great one.

Data suggests that mental health in 2021 suffered, with increased rates of depression, anxiety, and substance use. Healthcare workers experienced severe burnout. Overdose deaths skyrocketed while thousands of lawsuits were filed against opioid makers such as Purdue Pharma who started and sustained the opioid crisis in America, profiting off the suffering and tragedy of addiction. (See the Opioid Settlement Tracker to learn more about opioid settlements and how the money is spent.)

Meanwhile, a wave of civil unrest in America, triggered by the murder of George Floyd in 2020, continued into 2021 with protests, rioting, and violence. While the movement gained strength in 2020, in 2021, many Americans looked away. At the same time, there was a political push for a more “patriotic” retelling of history – to limit what schools could teach about slavery. However, steps in the right direction were taken by both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association when they issued public apologies for the harm they caused.

Although drug overdose deaths increased, there were significant strides taken in 2021 to win the “war on drugs” – by ending it with an awareness that this is not a war; it’s a treatable illness. 2021 saw the establishment of evidence-based, harm-reduction measures as well as legislation to decriminalize and legalize drugs. Meanwhile, medical research in 2021 revealed promising treatments to heal both addiction and mental illness.

To conclude, last year – in general – sucked. Despite this, it wasn’t entirely bad in mental health in 2021. And, 2022 could be the light at the end of the tunnel! In fact, the same poll that suggested 2021 was a “trainwreck” of a year found a majority of Americans are still hopeful for 2022.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

50 Unique Gift Ideas for Therapists

50 fun, creative, and unique gift ideas for therapists and mental health workers!


Disclaimer: Some posts contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.


Gifts Under $5

1. Freud’s After Therapy Mints

In case the Freudian slips leave a bad taste in the mouth!

$4.95 from Amazon

2. “Healing Is Not Linear” Mental Health Poster

Wall art with a message of hope.

$3.46 from Etsy

3. Fuck This Shit: A Motivational Swear Word Coloring Book for Adults

Excellent for relieving stress and for relaxing after work!

$3.99 from Amazon

4. What Emotions Are You Bottling Up?

More wall art!

$3.49 from Etsy

5. Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Cucumber and Green Tea

This light facial mist is especially refreshing after staring at a computer screen all day long.

$5.00 from Amazon


Literary Gift Ideas for Therapists

6. Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-5 (Spiral-Bound)

$18.49 from Amazon

Every counselor needs one of these!

7. Diagnosis Made Easier, Second Edition: Principles and Techniques for Mental Health Clinicians, Second Edition

$33.00 from Amazon

Amazon: “This popular practitioner guide and course text takes the reader step by step through diagnostic decision making in mental health. Acclaimed for both the clarity of his writing and his clinical expertise, James Morrison provides principles and decision trees for evaluating information from multiple sources and constructing a valid, clinically useful working diagnosis. More than 100 vivid vignettes-from the straightforward to the toughest cases-illustrate the practical application of these methods. Essential topics include developing a differential diagnosis and dealing with comorbidity.”

8. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

$12.99 from Amazon

Amazon: “A motivational and inspiring guide to wholehearted living, rather than just the average self-help book, with this groundbreaking work Brené Brown, Ph.D., bolsters the self-esteem and personal development process through her characteristic heartfelt, honest storytelling. With original research and plenty of encouragement, she explores the psychology of releasing our definitions of an ‘imperfect’ life and embracing living authentically. Brown’s ‘ten guideposts’ are benchmarks for authenticity that can help anyone establish a practice for a life of honest beauty—a perfectly imperfect life.”

9. The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients

$10.29 from Amazon

Amazon: “The culmination of master psychiatrist Dr. Irvin D. Yalom’s more than thirty-five years in clinical practice, The Gift of Therapy is a remarkable and essential guidebook that illustrates through real case studies how patients and therapists alike can get the most out of therapy. A book aimed at enriching the therapeutic process for a new generation of patients and counselors, Yalom’s Gift of Therapy is an entertaining, informative, and insightful read for anyone with an interest in the subject.”

10. Letters to a Young Therapist

$14.99 from Amazon

Amazon: “In Letters to a Young Therapist, Dr. Pipher shares what she has learned in thirty years as a therapist, helping warring families, alienated adolescents, and harried professionals restore peace and beauty to their lives. Letters to a Young Therapist gives voice to her practice with an exhilarating mix of storytelling and sharp-eyed observation. And while her letters are addressed to an imagined young therapist, every one of us can take something away from them.”

11. Man’s Search for Meaning

$8.39 from Amazon

Amazon: “This seminal book, which has been called ‘one of the outstanding contributions to psychological thought’ by Carl Rogers and ‘one of the great books of our time’ by Harold Kushner, has been translated into more than fifty languages and sold over sixteen million copies. ‘An enduring work of survival literature,’ according to the New York Times, Viktor Frankl’s riveting account of his time in the Nazi concentration camps, and his insightful exploration of the human will to find meaning in spite of the worst adversity, has offered solace and guidance to generations of readers since it was first published in 1946. At the heart of Frankl’s theory of logotherapy (from the Greek word for ‘meaning’) is a conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but rather the discovery and pursuit of what the individual finds meaningful. Today, as new generations face new challenges and an ever more complex and uncertain world, Frankl’s classic work continues to inspire us all to find significance in the very act of living, in spite of all obstacles.”

12. On Being a Therapist 

$23.07 on Amazon

Amazon: “For more than thirty years, On Being a Therapist has inspired generations of mental health professionals to explore the most private and sacred aspects of their work helping others. In this thoroughly revised and updated fifth edition, Jeffrey Kottler explores many of the challenges that
therapists face in their practices today, including pressures from increased technology, economic realities, and advances in theory and technique. He also explores the stress factors that are brought on from managed care bureaucracy, conflicts at work, and clients’ own anxiety and depression.”

See 75 Must-Read Books for Therapists for additional book ideas.


Novelty Gifts

13. Freudian Slippers

Funny and comfy!

$29.95 from Amazon

14. Makeup Bag

Can also be used for desk or art accessories.

$11.79 from Etsy

15. Counselor Nutritional Facts Coffee Mug

Cute mug for therapists and counselors.

$17.99 from Amazon

16. “I Have Needs” – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Psychology Stickers

A reminder that we all have basic needs.

$9.00 from Etsy

17. Freudian Slips Sticky Notes Booklet

More Freud! A fun gift.

$7.95 from Amazon

18. Psychopoly Game

“Do not pass go, do not collect $200 in fees, go directly to the asylum!”

$40.00 from Etsy

19. Knock Knock Self-Therapy Checklist Notepad

A great gift for anyone.

$9.24 from Amazon

20. Therapist Description Tote Bag

Every counselor needs a tote like this!

$9.72 from Etsy

21. Porcelain Phrenology Head

Just for fun!

$72.90 from Amazon

22. And How Does That Make You Feel? Stemless Wine Glass

Are you feeling red, white, or bubbles?

$25.94 from Etsy


Therapy Tools & Games

23. Conversation Cubes

This activity is geared towards younger children.

$9.49 from Amazon

24. The Coping Skills Thumball

Fun group activity for both children and adults!

$19.99 from Amazon

25. Jenga Conversation Starter Questions

Icebreaker labels for Jenga blocks (blocks not included).

$3.49 from Etsy

26. Empowering Questions Card Deck

An uplifinting and inspiring group activity.

$14.35 from Amazon

27. RETHiNK Card Deck Mindful Conversation Starters: 56 Questions to Encourage Compassion, Shift Perspective & Build Connection Cards

A great activity for connecting with others.

$16.99 from Amazon

28. The Values Card Deck

Perfect for helping clients to identify and connect with their personal values.

$29.95 from Amazon


Personalized Gift ideas for Therapists

29. Desk Name Plate

Customizable name place.

$23.65 from Amazon

30. Personalized Counselor Stamp

Perfect for a school counselor!

$16.96 from Etsy

31. Personalized Stainless Steel Business Card Case

A thoughtful and meaningful gift, especially for the new therapist.

$8.99 from Amazon

32. Personalized Desk Business Card Holder

A customizable card holder.

$36.08 from Etsy


Office Accessories & Decor

33. BLACK+DECKER BCRK17W Compact Refrigerator Energy Star Single Door Mini Fridge with Freezer

This vintage-looking unit is perfect for storing water, fruit, tea, and other healthy snacks.

$170.10 from Amazon

34. Emotional Support Plant

Requires sunlight and water only!

$19.99 from Etsy

35. Black Metal Tree Coat Rack

A modern and slim coat rack.

$49.75 from Amazon

36. Ergonomic Active Sitting Stool

Helps correct posture throughout the day.

$110.00 from Uncommon Goods

37. Circadian Optics Light Therapy – UV-Free LED Lamp

For seasonal affect depression.

$69.99 from Amazon

38. “In Session” Door Hanger Sign

A polite and stylish upgrade to the typical “Do Not Disturb” sign.

$20.00 from Etsy

39. Himalayan Glow Natural Zen Garden

This little garden lends to the ambiance of any space.

$24.08 from Amazon

40. “Let’s Talk” Pillow

A friendly invitation to all who enter the office.

$21.95 from Etsy

41. Marpac Dohm Classic Original White Noise Machine Featuring Soothing Natural Sound from a Real Fan

This is a must for protecting confidentiality.

$44.99 from Amazon

42. MIND THERAPY Office Art

Wall art that is representative of the therapeutic process.

$6.88 from Etsy

43. Mydethun Moon Lamp, 5.9 inch

The perfect addition to any office.

$32.99 from Amazon


Wellness & Self-Care Gift Ideas for Therapists

44. Bath Bomb Gift Set

Bath bombs are always a fun way to relax!

$26.80 from Amazon

45. Self-Care Counselor Shirt

Every therapist knows how important self-care is!

$26.99 on Etsy

46. Self-Care Spa Box

A thoughtful gift for the essential therapist who has been serving those in need throughout the pandemic.

$42.50 from Etsy

47. Lavender and Sage Candle, 9oz Clear Glass Jar

Lavender has a calming effect.

$20.00 from Amazon

48. Silicone Bead Lanyard

A stylish lanyard for the counselors who work in hospital, government, or school settings.

$6.53 from Etsy

49. Magnetic Poetry – Zen Kit

For creating a zen space.

$12.95 from Amazon

50. Wellbeing Ritual Aromatherapy Mini Tin

This little kit can be used to self-soothe or as a therapy tool with clients!

$36.00 from Uncommon Goods

For more on counselor self-care, see 17 Self-Care Ideas for Mental Health Professionals.


50 MORE Awesome Resources for Therapists

This article contains 50 more awesome resources for therapists and other mental health professionals, including links to free therapy worksheets, handouts, and assessment tools, as well as recommended books and therapy card decks.

I’d like to acknowledge Jennifer Colby for submitting a large majority of these links! Thank you!

For additional resources for therapists, see 60 Awesome Resources for Therapists and 200+ Sites with Free Therapy Worksheets & Handouts.


Disclaimer: Some posts contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.


45 Techniques Every Counselor Should Know

Amazon: “Concise, yet thorough, 45 Techniques Every Counselor Should Know is designed to prepare students to enter their field with sound ideas for applying theory-based techniques to their counseling. Coverage of each technique starts with the presentation of the theoretical origins, then provides a step-by-step guide to implementation, and culminates with opportunities for application. Transcriptions, case examples, multicultural implications, and outcomes-based research demonstrate real-life application of how the techniques can be used in counseling practice. This indispensable resource provides hands-on help for working with clients from all backgrounds to create positive changes in their lives and meet their counseling goals.”


The Attachment Theory Workbook: Powerful Tools to Promote Understanding, Increase Stability, and Build Lasting Relationships

Amazon: “Attachment theory explores the different ways we develop connections with others. If you’re searching for a way to create stronger, healthier, and more authentic relationships with the people you love, The Attachment Theory Workbook can help. It’s your guide to understanding your own attachment style and exploring actionable exercises to improve honesty, intimacy, and communication with your partner, family, or close friends.”


Beyond the Influence: Understanding and Defeating Alcoholism

Amazon: “Alcoholism is a disease. It’s time we started treating it like one. Science has offered undisputed proof that alcoholism is a disease rather than a weakness of character, yet millions of alcoholics continue to suffer due to inappropriate treatment.  Now the co-author of the modern classic Under the Influence has teamed up with prominent alcoholism experts to provide new answers to this national epidemic. Based on the latest scientific research, Beyond the Influence clearly explains the neurological nature of the disease and reveals why some people drink addictively and others do not. Provocative and eye-opening, compelling and compassionate, Beyond the Influence is not only a message of hope for alcoholics-it is a blueprint for saving lives.”


Motivational Interviewing and CBT: Combining Strategies for Maximum Effectiveness

Amazon: “Providing tools to enhance treatment of any clinical problem, this book shows how integrating motivational interviewing (MI) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can lead to better client outcomes than using either approach on its own. The authors demonstrate that MI strategies are ideally suited to boost client motivation and strengthen the therapeutic relationship, whether used as a pretreatment intervention or throughout the course of CBT. User-friendly features include extensive sample dialogues, learning exercises for practitioners, and 35 reproducible client handouts.”


Rethinking Substance Abuse

Amazon: “While knowledge on substance abuse and addictions is expanding rapidly, clinical practice still lags behind. This book brings together leading experts to describe what treatment and prevention would look like if it were based on the best science available. The volume incorporates developmental, neurobiological, genetic, behavioral, and social–environmental perspectives. Tightly edited chapters summarize current thinking on the nature and causes of alcohol and other drug problems; discuss what works at the individual, family, and societal levels; and offer robust principles for developing more effective treatments and services.”


Treating Self-Injury: A Practical Guide

Amazon: “This trusted practitioner resource is acclaimed for its clear, compassionate, and hopeful approach to working with clients who self-injure. Barent Walsh provides current, evidence-based knowledge about the variety and causes of self-injurious behavior, its relationship to suicidality, and how to assess and treat it effectively. Illustrated with detailed case examples, chapters review a wide range of cognitive-behavioral interventions. Essential guidance is provided on tailoring the intensity of intervention to each client’s unique needs. Walsh is joined by several colleagues who have contributed chapters in their respective areas of expertise.”


Resources for Therapists: Free Worksheets, Handouts, & Tools

Counseling Theories & Techniques

Expressive Art Inspirations: 100 Art Therapy Exercises | A webpage from Shelley Klammer, counseling therapist and expressive arts educator, with creative art exercise ideas.

The Handout Book | A fantastic resource, this is a 189-page PDF packet of handouts from Bill O’Hanlon. The first few sections cover brief solution-based and possibility therapy, Ericksonian therapy and solution-oriented hypnosis, and narrative therapy. The remaining sections cover couples, families, and relationships; sexual abuse; substance use; spirituality; handouts for “the general public”; misc. handouts; and clinical forms.

PSYCHOTHERAPY PROCESS Q-SET CODING MANUAL | A method for evaluating a therapy session.

Skill Evaluation Form: Counseling Skills and Techniques | Although this evaluation form from Kent State University is intended as an educational assessment tool for counseling students, it can easily be used for self-inventory.

TA Tutor | This site focuses on transactional analysis theory and is “a learning tool for transactional analysis with 426 handouts to view and print.” Lewis Quinby, LCSW, is the author. In addition to printable tools, he posted links to video clips and slide shows.

Emotions

Building Our Feelings Vocabulary | A worksheet designed to help children identify their feelings (from Positive Psychology).

Impact of My Anger | A worksheet from Positive Psychology.

Love to Know: Free Anger Worksheets | 7 worksheets for download from the site Love to Know.

Grief & Loss

Kids and Loss: How to Work with the Uniqueness of a Child’s Grief | A 22-page PDF packet from Erica H. Sirrine, Ph.D., LCSW, FT.

Sheri Sinykin’s Place: Loss and Grief Handouts | This site is managed by author Sheri Sinykin, who writes children’s books. The handouts are teacher resources, aimed at children and students.

Trauma & PTSD

Gift from Within | Gift from Within was developed in 1993 “with the intention of giving trauma survivors, their loved ones, and supporters a credible online website that was friendly and supportive.” This resource site provides a wealth of articles, webcasts, links, a recommended reading list, art and poetry, meditations, and more.

Trust-Based Relational Intervention: A Trauma-Informed Approach to Use in Schools | A 29-page PowerPoint presentation from the American School Health Association and the TCU Institute of Child Development.

Relationships & Communication

Beyond Affairs: Read & Listen | A collection of articles on infidelity and marriage recovery.

TherapyHelp | A site managed by Dr. Susan Heitler, clinical psychologist and author, with articles, handouts for couples therapy, and treatment forms. Dr. Heitler specializes in couples counseling and conflict resolution. She also writes for Psychology Today.

Children, Youth, & Families

Autism Research Centre: Downloadable Tests | “The ARC designs tests, evaluates and validates them, and then makes them freely available to the research community or for clinicians. You can download them… provided that they are used for research purposes and not for commercial use, and provided due acknowledgement of ARC as the source is given.”

Child Mind Institute: Parenting Guides | A sizable collection of guides on a variety of topics including anxiety, autism, bedwetting, learning disorders, sleep, trauma, and more.

Favorite Therapeutic Activities for Children, Adolescents, and Families: Practitioners Share Their Most Effective Interventions | A 119-page e-book edited by Liana Lowenstein, MSW.

Free Printable Behavior Charts and Reward Charts for Kids | A variety of downloadable tools. The site was created by Joanne McNulty who has an M.S. in Counseling as well as experience in child therapy.

Kids and Loss: How to Work with the Uniqueness of a Child’s Grief | A 22-page PDF packet from Erica H. Sirrine, Ph.D., LCSW, FT.

Low Intensity CBT Parenting Intervention Workbook | A 27-page PDF workbook.

Parenting Techniques to Increase Family Attachment | Developed by Deborah N. Silverstein, LCSW, a 3-page PDF with parenting techniques to enhance attachment bonds.

Adolescents & Young Adults

TEENS FINDING HOPE, INC. | Downloadable worksheets, guides, e-books, and more.

Emotional Intelligence Activities for Teens Ages 13-18 | A 34-page PDF packet.

Additional Printable Tools

Bristol CBT: Client Resources | Handouts and worksheets, a workbook for overcoming depression, and articles on relationships from Andrew Grimmer, a counseling psychologist.

Hair Pulling and Skin Picking | An informative PowerPoint presentation from ADAA.

PsychEdPro | “Creating and finding the best mental health therapy and educational resources.” A small collection of group activities, therapeutic quotes, and videos.

The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors: Tools & Info | Articles, fact sheets, and downloadable guides for clinicians, family members, and patients.

University of Exeter: IAPT Workbooks and Resources | A small collection of downloadable workbooks for wellbeing.


Resources for Therapists: Therapy Card Decks

The CBT Deck: 101 Practices to Improve Thoughts, Be in the Moment & Take Action in Your Life

The DBT Deck for Clients and Therapists: 101 Mindful Practices to Manage Distress, Regulate Emotions & Build Better Relationships

A New Beginning Recovery Card Game

RETHiNK Card Deck Mindful Conversation Starters: 56 Questions to Encourage Compassion, Shift Perspective & Build Connection

Wellness Reproductions & Publishing 100 Interactive Cards for Mental Health, Substance Abuse Recovery, and Survival Skills


Resources for Therapists: Best Counseling Websites

American Counseling Association | “The American Counseling Association is a not-for-profit, professional and educational organization that is dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession.”

American Psychiatric Association | “The mission of the American Psychiatric Association is to promote universal and equitable access to the highest quality care for all people affected by mental disorders, including substance use disorders; promote psychiatric education and research; advance and represent the profession of psychiatry; and serve the professional needs of its membership.”

Black Dog Institute | “As the only medical research institute in Australia to investigate mental health across the lifespan, our aim is to create a mentally healthier world for everyone.”

Center for Clinical Interventions (CCI) | “CCI has produced resources for consumers and healthcare professionals to assist in providing interventions for mental health problems such as depression, bipolar, social anxiety, panic, self-esteem, procrastination, perfectionism, and eating disorders.”

Get Self-Help UK | “This website provides CBT self-help and therapy resources, including worksheets and information sheets, plus videos and self-help mp3s.”

HelpGuide.org | “HelpGuide is a small independent nonprofit that runs one of the world’s top 10 mental health websites. Over 50 million people from all around the world turn to HelpGuide each year for trustworthy content they can use to improve their mental health and make healthy changes.”

Mind UK | “We provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. We won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.”

NAADAC: The Association for Addiction Professionals | “NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, represents the professional interests of more than 100,000 addiction counselors, educators and other addiction-focused health care professionals in the United States, Canada and abroad.”

National Institute of Mental Health | The NIMH’s mission is “to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.”

PACEs Connection | “PACEs Connection is a social network that recognizes the impact of a wide variety of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in shaping adult behavior and health, and that promotes trauma-informed and resilience-building practices and policies in all families, organizations, systems and communities.”

Positive Psychology | Founded by Seph Fontane Pennock and Hugo Alberts whose aim is “to provide helping professionals with the right knowledge and tools to apply positive psychology in real-life settings and make a difference in the lives of their clients and students.”

Psychiatry Advisor | “PsychiatryAdvisor.com offers psychiatric healthcare professionals a comprehensive knowledge base of practical psychiatry information and resources to assist in making the right decisions for their patients.”

The Recovery Research Institute | Mission: “To enhance the public health impact of addiction recovery science through the summary, synthesis, and dissemination of scientific findings and the conduct of novel research.”

SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration | “SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.”

Social Workers Toolbox | Free social work tools and resources for direct work with children and adults.

Taking the Escalator | Addiction and substance use resources for recovery.

Therapist Aid | “Dedicated to helping mental health professionals improve their craft by providing free evidence-based education and therapy tools.”


If you have a resource recommendation, please submit via the contact form.

20 Powerful TED Talks on Relationships & Communication

20 powerful TED Talks on relationships, communication, and related topics for mental health professionals and counseling students to use as psychoeducational tools (or for self-help).

For more recommended TED Talks, see 10 Most Popular TEDx Talks (a playlist from the TED website), 3 Powerful TED Talks on Grief, 10 Powerful TED Talks on Emotions, 10 Powerful TED Talks on Resilience, Empathy, & Compassion, and 18 Best TED Talks for Addiction & Recovery.

For additional psychoeducational videos, see 50 Helpful YouTube Videos for Psychoeducation.


20 Powerful TED Talks on Relationships & Communication

1. Four Habits of ALL Successful Relationships | Dr. Andrea & Jonathan Taylor-Cummings (2019)

All relationships take work. Dr. Andrea & Jon Taylor-Cummings share their observations of the four fundamental habits of healthy relationships: BE CURIOUS, not critical; BE CAREFUL, not crushing; ASK, don’t assume; and CONNECT, before you correct.


2. Ten Ways to Have a Better Conversation | Celeste Headlee (2016)

Journalist, author, and public speaker Celeste Headlee reveals the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity, and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 rules for having better conversations.


3. The Brain in Love | Helen Fisher (2008)

Helen Fisher – anthropologist, human behavior researcher, and self-help author – talks about romantic love in this video clip. She shares what neuroscience tells us about the brain in love.


Bonus video: The Science of Love with Dr. Helen Fisher


4. Do You Have Post Betrayal Syndrome? | Debi Silber (2020)

Dr. Debi Silber – psychologist and founder of the PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute – talks about being blindsided by betrayal. She explains how we heal (physically, mentally, and emotionally) from betrayal by turning trauma into transformation.

Take a free quiz to find out if you have post betrayal syndrome.


5. The Dreaded Drama Triangle | Lucy Barnes (2018)

There are three roles we take on in unhealthy relationships. Are you the victim, the rescuer, or the persecutor? Lucy Barnes talks about the dreaded drama triangle in this TED Talk.


6. How to Fix a Broken Heart | Guy Winch (2018)

Psychologist Guy Winch talks about heartbreak and the intense emotional pain it brings. To recover from a broken heart, we must be willing to let the relationship go; hope can be incredibly destructive when we’re heartbroken. In one of the most viewed TED Talks on relationships and breakups, Winch shares practical suggestions for moving on after a relationship ends.


7. How to Speak So That People Want to Listen | Julian Treasure (2014)

According to Julian Treasure, the seven deadly sins of speaking are gossip, judging, negativity, complaining, blaming, lying, and conflating fact with opinion. He talks about the four cornerstones of effective speech as well as tools for speaking so that people want to listen.


Bonus TED-Ed Video: How Miscommunication Happens and How to Avoid It


8. How to Spot a Liar | Pamela Meyer (2011)

We’re all liars, according to Pamela Meyer – and we’re lied to between 10 and 200 times on any given day. In one of the most highly viewed TED Talks on relationships and deception, Meyer talks about how to spot lies by recognizing the telltale signs of a liar.


9. How Your Brain Falls In Love | Dawn Maslar (2016)

Biologist Dawn Maslar explains the neuroscience of falling in love. Romantic love is associated with chemical and hormonal changes that differ for men and women.


10. Infidelity: To Stay or Go…? | Lucy Beresford (2018)

Psychotherapist and relationship expert Lucy Beresford argues against the assumption that ending a relationship after infidelity is the best course of action. She suggests that it’s more courageous to stay and rebuild. In this TED Talk, Beresford explains how a couple can repair their relationship and rebuild trust after a betrayal.


Bonus TED-Ed Video: A Brief History of Divorce

11. Is Casual Sex Bad for You? | Dr. Zhana Vrangalova (2015)

Renowned sex researcher and psychologist Zhana Vrangalova discusses casual sex, long portrayed as a societal sin. She explains how “hookup” sex satisfies some of our most basic human needs.


12. Is It Lust or Is It Love? | Terri Orbuch (2014)

Dr. Terri Orbuch (aka, The Love Doctor®) is a professor of sociology at Oakland University (Rochester, Michigan) and a research professor at the Institute for Social Research at University of Michigan. In this TED Talk she explains how to differentiate between lust and love by recognizing distinctive features.


13. Overcoming the Fear of Love | Trillion Small (2018)

Dr. Trillion Small, licensed marriage and family therapist, examines why we fear love and how to overcome this in order to have healthy relationships.


14. The Power of Vulnerability | Brené Brown (2011)

Brené Brown shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.


15. Relationships Are Hard, but Why? | Stan Tatkin (2016)

Stan Tatkin – relationship expert, clinician, teacher, and researcher – explores why we fight in relationships from a neuroscience perspective.


16. Rethinking Infidelity… A Talk for Anyone Who Has Ever Loved | Esther Perel (2015)

Relationship therapist Esther Perel discusses adultery and infidelity in this TED Talk. She explains that monogamy has nothing to do with love and talks about the three ways infidelity hurts us differently today.


17. The Science of Love | John Gottman (2018)

Can science help find the magic of love? Relationship expert discusses the science of love and how to make love work.


18. Skills for Healthy Romantic Relationships | Joanne Davila (2015)

Psychologist and researcher Joanne Davila describes how you can create the things that lead to healthy relationships and reduce the things that lead to unhealthy ones using three evidence-based skills – insight, mutuality, and emotion regulation.


19. What a Sex Worker Can Teach Us About Human Connection | Nicole Emma (2018)

Nicole Emma explains that sex is how men feel loved and worthy. She shares what she learned about human connection through sex work. She also touches on the impact of harmful male messages in society.


20. Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave | Leslie Morgan Steiner (2013)

Leslie Morgan Steiner shares what it’s like to be in “crazy love” with an abusive partner. For years she stayed with a man who routinely abused her and threatened her life. In this TED Talk, Steiner explains why domestic violence victims don’t leave abusive relationships; she also corrects common misconceptions about intimate partner violence.


10 Powerful TED Talks on Emotions

A list of 10 powerful TED Talks on emotions, including anger, sadness, fear, etc. (and how to effectively manage them!)

For more recommended TED Talks, see 10 Most Popular TEDx Talks (a playlist on the TED website), 10 Powerful TED Talks on Resilience, Empathy, & Compassion, and 18 Best TED Talks for Addiction & Recovery.

For additional psychoeducational videos, see 50 Helpful YouTube Videos for Psychoeducation.


10 Powerful TED Talks on Emotions

1. Anger Is Your Ally: A Mindful Approach to Anger | Juna Mustad (2019)

You wouldn’t let a young child drive a car, nor would you lock them in the trunk. Treat your anger in the same manner; don’t let it drive you, but don’t be a “stuffer.” Juna Mustad explains how neuroscience and mindfulness can help us to better understand and manage anger.


2. Don’t Neglect Your Emotions. Express Them – Constructively! | Artūrs Miksons (2019)

Medical doctor and psychotherapist Artūrs Miksons talks about how we learn to suppress or reject emotional responses that are deemed unacceptable by society. In reality, emotions should not be labeled as “good” or “bad”; they just are. A better way to manage difficult emotions is to not only recognize and accept them, but to speak them aloud and share with another.


3. Emotional Mastery: The Gifted Wisdom of Unpleasant Feelings | Dr. Joan Rosenberg (2016)

Psychologist Joan Rosenberg explains how poor management of unpleasant feelings blocks us from feeling capable in life and achieving success. She reveals a simple formula (1 choice, 8 feelings, 90 seconds) for navigating these challenging feelings in one of the most popular TED Talks on emotions.


4. Emotions Monsters and the Way We Treat Them | Melissa Gallagher (2020)

Melissa Gallagher – trauma survivor, parent, and mental health advocate – explains that we need to recognize and connect with our “emotions monsters” in order to heal from suffering. Hiding from our pain only makes it worse.


5. Feelings: Handle Them Before They Handle You | Mandy Saligari (2017)

Recovering addict and addictions therapist Mandy Saligari explains that we must handle our emotions or they will handle us. She discusses emotional coping mechanisms for managing feelings and the role of healthy boundaries.


6. The Mood-Boosting Power of Crying | Kathy Mendias (2020)

In this video clip, Kathy Mendias explores the science behind the mood-boosting power of tears (which the average human produces 15-30 gallons of per year!) She explains how crying can improve both physical and mental wellbeing.

Did you know that the chemical composition of emotional tears differs from that of the tears that form in response to an irritant? Click here for a 4-minute bonus video that explains the chemistry of tears and why we cry.


7. The Power of Women’s Anger | Soraya Chemaly (2019)

Author Soraya Chemaly talks about how girls and women across the world are taught that anger, “the moral property of boys and men,” is better left unvoiced. In reality, anger is a powerful signal that warns us of threat, insult, indignity, and harm; feminine rage is justified, healthy, and a potential catalyst for change.


8. Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful | David Steindl-Rast (2013)

Monk and interfaith scholar David Steindl-Rast talks about how gratefulness is the secret to true happiness. He encourages everyone to “live gratefully” by not taking life for granted. Every moment is a gift and we have a new opportunity in every moment.


9. Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead of Your Goals | Tim Ferriss (2017)

In this TED Talks, Tim Ferriss – entrepreneur, investor, author, podcaster, and lifestyle guru – talks about overcoming self-paralysis through “fear-setting.” By envisioning our fears and then focusing on what we have control over (define, prevent, impair), we are better equipped to face them.


10. You Aren’t at the Mercy of Your Emotions – Your Brain Creates Them | Lisa Feldman Barrett (2018)

Neuroscientist and psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett has mapped facial expressions, scanned brains, and analyzed hundreds of physiology studies for the past 25 years to better understand human emotions. Through exhaustive research she discovered how emotions are created in the brain. As one of the top-viewed TED Talks on emotions, this video shows that we have more control over our emotions than we think we do.


10 Powerful TED Talks on Resilience, Empathy, & Compassion

Powerful TED Talks on resilience, empathy, compassion, and related topics for clinical/educational use or for self-help.

For more recommended TED Talks, see 10 Most Popular TEDx Talks (a playlist on the TED website), 3 Powerful TED Talks on Grief, and 18 Best TED Talks for Addiction & Recovery.

For additional psychoeducational videos, see 50 Helpful YouTube Videos for Psychoeducation.


Powerful TED Talks on Resilience, Empathy, & Compassion

1. Compassion and the True Meaning of Empathy | Joan Halifax (2011)

In this inspiring TED Talk, Joan Halifax shares about what she’s learned about compassion and true empathy. She has a deep insight into the nature of compassion, gained through her work with people in the end stages of their lives.


2. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance | Angela Lee Duckworth (2013)

In this popular TED Talk, psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth explains how grit and determination, not IQ, are the biggest predictors of success.


3. How Do You Define Yourself? | Lizzie Velasquez (2014)

Lizzie Velasquez, once labeled the world’s ugliest woman, explores the ways in which we define ourselves. As one of the most powerful TED Talks on true beauty, this video empowers viewers to challenge society’s definitions of beauty, happiness, and success – and to decide for themselves how they’ll allow themselves to be defined.


4. How to Succeed in Every Moment Even When You’re Failing | Dr. Jill Stoddard (2020)

Dr. Jill Stoddard – clinical psychologist and author – challenges the notion that goal achievement is a measure of success. She explores alternative ways of thinking about failures in life.


5. Listening to Shame | Brené Brown (2012)

Brené Brown – researcher, professor, and author – explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. In this TED Talk she explains how shame is an epidemic and how it plays a major role in “broken” behaviors in our lives.


6. The Magic of Not Giving a F*** | Sarah Knight (2017)

Bestselling author Sarah Knight outlines her method for “not giving a fuck,” thereby putting a stop to spending time she doesn’t have, doing things she doesn’t want to do. One of the most powerful TED Talks on self-determination, Sarah Knight’s speech will leave you rethinking your own priorities (and fucks to give – or not to give) in life.


7. The Price of Shame | Monica Lewinsky (2015)

Monica Lewinsky delivers a compelling talk on public shaming and the “culture of humiliation” that exists today. From a woman who lost her personal reputation on a global scale back in 1998 – and who was able to survive by taking back her narrative – this video clip is one of the most powerful TED Talks out there on countering public humiliation with empathy and compassion.


8. The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong | Amy Morin (2015)

What bad mental habits are holding you up? In this TED Talk, Amy Morin – psychotherapist and author – explains how to become “mentally strong” by challenging our negative beliefs and giving up unhealthy habits. This strategy builds resiliency and allows us to become unstuck in life, thus reaching our full potential.


9. The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion | Kristin Neff (2013)

Kristin Neff – university professor and published author – explores the relationship between self-esteem and self-compassion in this video clip. She asks viewers to be kind to themselves as she discusses what research tells us about self-compassion.


10. The Three Secrets of Resilient People | Lucy Hone (2019)

In this TED Talk, Dr. Lucy Hone – resilience expert, acclaimed researcher, and published author – discusses three strategies for rising up from adversity in the face of suffering. She shares about her personal experience with painful loss – and how she was able to get through an unimaginable tragedy. As one of the most inspiring and powerful TED Talks on resiliency, this video clip provides viewers with not only insight, but hope.


3 Powerful TED Talks on Grief

Three powerful, therapist-recommended TED Talks on grief for clinical use (as psychoeducation for grieving clients or in a treatment setting) or for self-help.

For more recommended TED Talks, see 10 Most Popular TEDx Talks (a playlist on the TED website) and 18 Best TED Talks for Addiction & Recovery. For additional psychoeducational videos, see 50 Helpful YouTube Videos for Psychoeducation.

For additional grief resources, see Grief & Loss: A Comprehensive Resource Guide and Free Grief Workbook (a 100-page PDF download).


TED Talks on Grief

1. Beyond Closure | Nancy Berns (2012)

Nancy Berns, a sociologist at Drake University, discusses grief and closure in this 18-minute TED Talk. She explains that closure is a fabricated concept, and that it is doing us more harm than good. This is one of the best TED Talks on grief and loss for counseling students, use with grieving clients, or for self-help.


2. Getting Cozy with Grief | Stacy Smith (2020)

Stacy Smith is a therapist, college professor, and the founder of Club Forget Me Not, a nonprofit that helps grieving children. In this 10-minute clip, she talks about death, grieving, and “being present in grief.”


3. We Don’t “Move On” from Grief. We Move Forward with It | Nora McInerny (2019)

Nora McInerny, writer and podcaster, talks about life and death in this 15-minute talk. She shares her personal experience with loss, and encourages viewers to rethink our approach to grief. This is one of the most powerful TED Talks on grief.


25 Helpful Examples of Dialectics

This is a list of examples of dialectics: two things that seem opposite – and are at the same time true. A therapy resource for clinicians or counseling students.

For other therapy resources, see 60 Awesome Resources for Therapists and 37 Powerful Therapy Metaphors. Read an article from Psychology Today on the use of dialectics in psychotherapy here.


Examples of Dialectics in Therapy

1. I am strong…yet vulnerable.
2. You can have both fear…and courage at the same time.
3. You feel like you can’t go on…and you still go on.
4. You can be intelligent…and lack self-awareness.
5. I want to change…and I’m afraid to change.
6. You are happy with yourself…and want to improve.
7. I’m doing the best I can…and I need to try harder.
8. I am capable…and I need support.
9. You enjoy the finer things in life…and don’t take the small things for granted.
10. I can love someone…and still hurt them.
11. I love my partner…and I was unfaithful to them.
12. I hate what someone did to me…and I still love them.
13. I am angry with you…and I will treat you with respect.
14. You can care about someone deeply…and still not want them in your life.
15. You feel happy for someone…and are envious of them.
16. I am happy for you…yet sad for myself.
17. You can feel sorry about something…and not regret it.
18. I acknowledge and accept others’ views…and have my own beliefs.
19. You can accept someone…and disagree with them at the same time.
20. I disagree with you…and I understand your perspective.
21. You want to be sober…and you want to get drunk/high.
22. You experience strong cravings…and you don’t want to get drunk/high.
23. I had a bad childhood…and I can live a good life.
24. What happened wasn’t okay…and you can learn from it and move forward.
25. I didn’t cause all my problems…and I need to solve them.

Free Printable PDF for Download:


50 Helpful YouTube Videos for Psychoeducation

A collection of 50+ short videos on mental health topics for psychoeducational use with clients, students, or for self-help.

For additional video resources, see 18 Best TED Talks for Addiction & Recovery.



YouTube Videos for Psychoeducation

The Brain


Depression, Bipolar Disorder, & Anxiety


Emotions


Grief


Meditation & Mindfulness


Relationships & Communication



Self-Esteem & Self-Compassion


Stress


Substance Use & Addiction


Trauma & PTSD


18 Best TED Talks for Addiction & Recovery

The best TED Talks for addiction and recovery, along with other powerful YouTube videos to play for clients in a treatment setting – or for yourself or for anyone who desires to learn more about substance use.

The following best TED Talks for addiction are entertaining, insightful, and though-provoking.


18 Best TED Talks for Addiction & Recovery

1. The 12 Steps According to Russell Brand (2018)

A 10-minute clip of Russell Brand’s interpretation of the 12 Steps. Humorous and honest.

2. Addiction: A Story of Stigma, A Story of Hope | Scott McFadden (2020)

This 18-minute talk delivered by Scott McFadden is one of the best TED Talks for addiction as it addresses stigma and sends a message of hope.

Excerpt: Scott McFadden is a Licensed Addictions Counselor, who also identifies as a person in long term recovery from heroin and other drugs. He shares a harrowing story of incarceration and a long journey to recovery while explaining the dynamics of addiction and the labels, shame, and stigma which have become the greatest obstacles to turning around the opioid epidemic.

He shows us the need to talk to one another to overcome the secret places where shame resides. This is a story of vulnerability and hope!

5. Addiction Neuroscience 101 (2018)

Approximately 25 minutes, an overview of the neurobiology of addiction.

4. Chris Herren Speaking on His Addiction Recovery Story | PeaceLove (2015)

A 17-minute motivational speech delivered by Chris Herren.

Excerpt: Hear former professional basketball player and motivational speaker Chris Herren speaking about his recovery from drug addiction. Since August of 2008, Herren has been drug-free and alcohol-free, and has refocused his life to put his sobriety and family above all other things.

5. Disconnected Brains: How Isolation Fuels Opioid Addiction | Rachel Wurzman (2018)

This fascinating 19-minute video clip from Rachel Wurzman is one of the best TED Talks for addiction as a biopsychosocial disorder.

Excerpt: Addiction to opioids is now officially a national emergency. But why are addiction rates spiking and what can we do about it? Neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman shares new research about how the brain reacts to opioids, replacing the sense of community and belonging human beings are losing. We are beginning to understand that solving the opioid epidemic will require us to focus on social factors surrounding those addicted.

6. Do You Have More Heart Than Scars? | Zackary Paben (2017)

A 17-minute inspirational talk by Zackary Paben.

Excerpt: How can resilience and interdependence impact the arch of our personal narrative to transcend from victim to hero? Since 1991, Zack has been empowering adolescents and adults as a mental health/recovery professional in a variety of modalities, including wilderness and residential.

As he continues to face his own visible and invisible scars, he innately has to acknowledge the wounds of others and encourage them in their own healing process.

7. Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong | Johann Hari (2015)

A 15-minute video from Johann Hari. This piece is somewhat controversial because it suggests that addiction is a social/environmental issue while failing to address the impact of trauma, genetics, brain chemistry, etc. This clip is an excellent tool for generating discussions and is one of the best TED Talks for addiction.

Excerpt: What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do — and if there might be a better way.

As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world, and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.

8. Great Leaders Do What Drug Addicts Do | Michael Brody-Waite (2018)

An 19-minute talk from Michael Brody-Waite, entrepreneur and addict in recovery.

Excerpt: This is my story from drug addiction and homelessness to founding and leading a company on the Inc 500 list. There are 3 principles that saved me from death and set me apart as a leader. They are small enough to fit in your pocket, yet big enough to change your life. The best part is that anyone can take these principles and immediately implement them after watching this talk.

9. The Harm Reduction Model of Drug Addiction Treatment | Mark Tyndall (2017)

This 17-minute video from Mark Tyndall about harm reduction and recovery is one of the best TED Talks for addiction treatment.

Excerpt: Why do we still think that drug use is a law-enforcement issue? Making drugs illegal does nothing to stop people from using them, says public health expert Mark Tyndall. So, what might work?

Tyndall shares community-based research that shows how harm-reduction strategies, like safe-injection sites, are working to address the drug overdose crisis.

10. How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime | Nadine Burke Harris (2015)

16-minute talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris on the impact of trauma.

Excerpt: Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain.

This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer.

11. Let’s Quit Abusing Drug Users (2015)

19-minute video clip about addiction and recovery reform from Dr. Carl Hart. He discusses drug use in the context of poverty, social injustice, and ignorance. An excellent video for generating discussion and one of the best TED Talks for addiction and policy reform.

Excerpt: Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University, offers a provocative, evidence-based view of addiction and discusses how it should impact drug policy.

12. The Merits of Harm Reduction | Melissa Byers (2019)

14-minute video clip from Melissa Byers about addiction, harm reduction, and recovery.

Excerpt: Melissa shares her family’s personal story of addiction and how harm reduction plays a much more significant role to recovery than people realize.

13. Nuggets (2015)

A 5-minute cartoon clip of a kiwi bird who tastes a golden “nugget.” This simple animation doesn’t require words to send a powerful message about addiction. Hauntingly accurate.

14. The Power of Addiction and The Addiction of Power | Gabor Maté (2012)

This 19-minute speech delivered by Gabor Maté is one of the best TED Talks for addiction.

Excerpt: Canadian physician Gabor Maté is a specialist in terminal illnesses, chemical dependents, and HIV positive patients. Dr. Maté is a renowned author of books and columnist known for his knowledge about attention deficit disorder, stress, chronic illness and parental relations.

15. Recover Out Loud | Tara Conner (2017)

One of the best TED Talks for addiction, this 10-minute video clip from former Miss USA, Tara Conner, is all about her personal experience with substance use.

Excerpt: Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006, shares her life-long struggle with addiction and what she has learned from 10 years of sobriety. Addicts are not bad people that need to get good, but sick people that need to get well.

In this challenging and at times humorous talk, she calls for a different response to the addiction crisis.

16. Revitalize | Living With Addiction | Amber Valletta (2015)

16-minute inspirational talk delivered by Amber Valletta.

Excerpt: Supermodel, actress, and fashion icon Amber Valletta opens up for the first time about her daily struggle of living with addiction.

17. Rewriting the Story of My Addiction | Jo Harvey Weatherford (2015)

10-minute video clip from Jo Harvey Weatherford about her personal recovery journey.

Excerpt: Jo Harvey Weatherford develops and implements drug and alcohol prevention programs on the campus of The University of Nevada. In this candid talk she discusses the importance of the stories we tell ourselves about our behavior, and how she rewrote her own story of addiction to alcohol.

18. The Stigma of Addiction | Tony Hoffman (2018)

This 15-minute video from Tony Hoffman is one of the best TED Talks for addiction. He shares about his substance use and stigma.

Excerpt: There is a stigma which many assign to drug addicts, even long after they have overcome their addiction. Tony discusses how his first time smoking marijuana led to his eventual drug addiction, homelessness, prison, and finally redemption.