BOOK REVIEW: How To Do The Work by Dr. Nicole LePera ll By Michelle LaBorde, MA, LPCC

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t read this book yet, but want to, you might want to skip this post for now. If you’re a fan of @the.holistic.psychologist on social media then you are going to LOVE her new book How To Do The Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past and Create Yourself. I certainly did, and here’s why. 

LePera has reached beyond traditional approaches to suggest that healing emotional trauma and nervous system dysregulation requires us to come to know ourselves deeply. The underlying theme throughout her book is to help readers stop outsourcing their mental and emotional well-being to something and someone outside themselves.  By focusing on current research in neuroscience and somatic experiencing and acknowledging the interconnectedness of the human mind, body and spirit, LePera has created an all together new therapeutic approach she calls Holistic Psychology. “Holistic psychology is a practical healing philosophy that considers and addresses all the parts of the person (mind, body and soul), encourages the exploration of causes of symptoms rather than suppressing them, and acknowledges the interconnectedness of the universe.” Sounds big, but she does an excellent job of breaking down what each of these elements mean in terms of mental, physical and emotional well-being while continually assuring us that our unique path to healing is an inner game. In fact, chapter 1 is titled “You Are Your Own Best Healer”. 

In How To Do the Work

LePera shares her own personal story, growing up in what would be described as a “normal” household with loving parents, but parents who are human, and struggle with their own emotional limitations. These limitations, she says, were passed on to her in subtle and direct ways that modeled for her detachment, emotional dysregulation and  inappropriate or non-existent boundaries that left her feeling lost, different and like she didn’t matter. Her story is so powerful because it is so relatable. I, too, was born in to a lineage that was emotionally immature and dysregulated, with parents who both experienced childhood abuse and trauma (they are the definition of what it looks like to be trauma bonded). They never healed their trauma, and had no way of knowing how to go about getting help. LePera’s invitation to do the work is crystal clear… we may not be able to heal or change our family dysfunction and pain, but we can heal our own. 

In order to do the work, LePera offers readers a great deal of background information on the nature of the human nervous system, attachment and the role that the vagus nerve plays in engaging our threat response. She also explains how a chronically overwhelmed nervous system influences our behavior. Using this information, she coaches readers on how to reconnect with ourselves and others by first becoming aware of the physical symptoms we might experience when our nervous system has been chronically overwhelmed. She emphasizes the important of basic good health, like eating nutritious food and getting restful sleep. Most importantly, she teaches activities and exercises that readers can adopt instantly to soothe the nervous system, stimulate a sense of safety and restore feelings of calm and ease. I’ve already been recommending this book to my clients and their reactions have been joyful… sharing reactions like “this book speaks directly to me and my experience! I feel hopeful again!”.  Without hesitation I recommend this book for therapists and clients alike and anyone ready to do the work to change their unhealthy patterns and strengthen the most important relationship we have… the one with ourselves!


LePera, N. (2021). How to Do the Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, and Create Your Self. Harper Wave.

About Michelle

Michelle is a mother, a partner, a friend, a spiritual seeker, a psychotherapist and someone who enjoys connecting with herself within a mindfulness meditation practice. She has a BA in Communications and Humanities from the University of Colorado and an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a concentration in Mindfulness-based Transpersonal Psychology from Naropa University. Michelle’s practice, Soul Care Counseling, offers mindfulness-based practices that support clients seeking to become less anxious, less stressed, less reactive and more grounded, present and connected with their own inner ally. As a result of their work together, clients are able to communicate with themselves and others with greater clarity, care and compassion.