Psychological Self-Help

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1,000 typed pages long and cites well over 2,000 references, plus
linking to hundreds of Web sites. Since 1970, PSH has been repeatedly
updated and revised. How much is it read? One can't tell, but during
the last two years, PSH has had about 8,000 visitors per month who
have viewed about 375,000 "pages" per month. That is about
1,500,000 hits per month. That still doesn't tell you much about how
many words are read or how many ideas are grasped. 
The main page of PSH provides a feedback form for visitors. I will
give a very brief summary of the feedback. Out of all these visitors
only 272 people have partially or completely submitted responses,
about equal numbers were consumers (74) and professionals or
students (72). The remaining 110 described themselves as "just
wandering the Web." They were asked to list the most interesting
chapter. Each of the 15 chapters were listed about equally often. 
About 92% of the people giving feedback rated PSH as
"comprehensive enough," but 7% felt more information was needed in
specific areas. 97% judged PSH to be easily understood (but some
commented they didn't have the time to read and use the
information). On a 5-point Overall Rating scale, 63% rated PSH as a 5-
-"one of the best," and 34% rated it a 4--"a very good source." There
were two ratings of 3--"average," one rating of 2--"Not great," and
three ratings of 1--"Well, you tried!" 
There is space at the end of the feedback form for comments. Here
is sample of the comments: "excellent source;" "it has helped me;"
"where can I buy the book?" "very supportive;" "persuaded me to seek
therapy;" "led me to great material;" "a detailed and in depth review;"
"my problems are ____(a request for help);" "I'm telling everyone
about PSH;" "I started a S-H group;" "can I duplicate parts of PSH?,"
"can I translate it into my language?," etc. 
Of course, this feedback can not be taken as an accurate
assessment of PSH. For one thing it is only 272 responses (between
March, 1997 and 1999) out of almost 100,000 visitors per year. This is
also probably a positively biased sample of readers. Dependable,
useable outcome research would involve careful, complex
measurements of change as well as a comparison with the amount of
change achieved by other matched experimental and/or control groups
in order to identify the causes of the changes. Programmatic studies of
many self-help methods used with hundreds of different kinds of
problems in specific situations need to be done. 
Besides the responses via the feedback form, I receive about an
equal number of emails from readers, almost all positive. Some are
touching, such as those who are desperate for help, others who
describe using self-help to turn their lives around, people without
resources who are grateful for the free guidance, spouses and parents
who very much want to help a loved one, former students who share
fond memories of being in the class/groups, and many others. 
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