individual lives would interfere with many churches advocating self-
help psychology to improve your life.
One would think that schools are the perfect place to give away all
the useful knowledge science has found. But that doesn't happen. Why
not? In the case of self-help, there are many reasons. There are no
special advocates for psychology in schools (no clinical psychologists
work in public schools). Schools fear having even more responsibilities,
especially with very limited budgets. School schedules are filled and
other disciplines don't want self-help psychology to take part of their
class time. Neither psychology nor education has prepared teachers to
handle a class in which students learn to direct and change their lives.
In fact, only 50% of high schools offer psychology (the watered down,
easy-to-teach academic kind) and only 50% of those high school
psychology teachers have a background in psychology. Teachers who
would help children actually practice self-improving need to be highly
qualified and experienced (well trained school counselors might be
good choices). Such training would require at least a four-year college
program leading to teacher certification in "self-help psychology,"
which doesn't exist at this time. As mentioned above, there isn't even
a comprehensive textbook that all students could use to plan self-
improvement projects. Our public education system can't be prepared
to teach useful psychology at the junior high and high school levels
until 2020, at the earliest.
University psychology professors yearn to publish research with
the brightest graduate students, but most would abhor intimately
teaching personally useful courses to ordinary undergraduates.
Community college teachers and counselors might be more interested
in teaching useful psychology. Most professors are in academia
precisely because they are untrained and/or uninterested in helping
with personal problems. The list of barriers in education could go on
and on. Yet, there could be great advantages to individuals and society
in the future from teaching personally useful psychology in schools;
some advantages are listed at the end of this chapter.
The neglect of prevention by books and institutions
Just as specialized self-help books leave much of your life
untouched, thinking of self-help as being primarily for solving serious
problems may cause us to neglect the prevention of problems. Since
the 1980's government funding of research has focused on the
physical, genetic and biochemical causes of diseases. The
psychological, interpersonal, environmental causes, like poverty,
prejudice, and dysfunctional families, are considered less important
(Albee, 1996). Prevention should be a strong point of self-help. Who
else is going to guide you away from trouble? And, we all face trouble.
A 1993 national survey about mental health lead by Ronald Kessler, a
sociologist at Michigan, found that half of us will have a mental illness
some time in our lives. It is a part of life. In fact, according to that