Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 17 of 52 
Next page End Contents 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22  

I believe some self-help methods can be used by some people to
make some changes in some areas. There is a lot more to learn. 
Summary: learning and carefully applying self-help methods
(which isn't just vaguely "trying to change" on your own) seem to be
about as effective for many people as undergoing much more costly
psychotherapy. This may astound many of you, especially those who
are in awe of professionals. The data, thus far, also suggests that
minimally trained "paraprofessionals" are as effective with specific
problems as highly trained therapists with years of experience
(Christensen & Jacobson, 1994; Dawes, 1997). This too is amazing.
Your understanding of these findings may be increased if you know
that two thirds or more of psychotherapy by professional practitioners
is not based on the best and latest scientific research (Sanderson,
2002). Perhaps the self-helper (or paraprofessional) is like a mechanic
in comparison to a physicist or engineer. You can't expect your
mechanic to design and perfect a revolutionary engine or fuel, but you
can expect him/her, and not an expensive engineer, to fix your car.
Perhaps in psychology we are too dependent on scientists and high-
paid therapists to fix our minds, our feelings, and everyday
relationships, when we could be seeing trained assistants working
under professional supervision or reading and doing a lot of self-
changing ourselves. 
Before I leave this "understanding" I want to divorce science-based
psychological self-help from other approaches which may, in ordinary
person's mind, be considered a part of self-help. First, there are
support lists, forums, or boards--some are very beneficial, some are
not. Second, there are several thousand
inspirational/spiritual/motivational books and tapes published every
year--it is mostly "feel good" material, but I seldom review it. I prefer
more specific methods which have an empirical basis. Third, there is
the popular psychology found in many self-help books, on the radio,
on tapes, and on TV. Much of this material is not produced by
outstanding psychologists, but rather by publishers and media
corporations designed to sell books, talk shows, and personalities. I
will review a couple of articles about this type of "self-help." 
Are self-help writers generally more snake oil salesmen than
In answer to this question, Rosen, Glasgow & Moore (2003) say,
“Yes, in many ways” and they document that answer in sobering and,
for psychologists, embarrassing ways. First of all, what some writers
call the “advice industry” is big business: books, tapes, videos,
seminars, coaching, CD’s, groups, workshops, etc., are sold for a total
of about $3 billion a year. Most of these educational services have
not been proven to be effective. And they are pushed by
advertisements filled with enticing promises and unsupported praise
from their publishers and other self-help writers. Nona Wilson (2003)
also documents the massive and unfettered-by-facts commercialization
Previous page Top Next page

« Back