spite of these limitations, talk shows have probably done more than
anything in the educational or entertainment system to increase our
psychological enlightenment. That's really sad. Someday, perhaps half
of our K-12 education will be psychological--understanding ourselves
and others, developing a philosophy of life, controlling our emotions
and behavior, learning to find and give love, caring for all people,
animals, and the earth (see chapter 1). Encyclopedic computers,
interactive video, helping groups (local or on internet), therapists,
instructors, peer counselors, and books will be a part of that
A book, Reel Life/Real Life: A Video Guide for Personal Discovery
(Fourth Write Press, 800-900-REEL), claims that seeing a video or film
about your personal problem is good therapy. The authors recommend
specific movies for specific problems. If you are looking for useful
books for children with specific problems, such as child abuse, sibling
rivalry, divorce, friendships, eating disorders, shyness, fears, etc.,
check to see if your library has the latest edition of The Bookfinder
(hard copy or CD-ROM).
Although outdated already, the best source of advice about self-
help books is Santrock, Minnett & Campbell (1994). They surveyed
500 psychologists asking them to evaluate 300 self-help books in 33
categories. The professionals were also asked to list other books they
knew of in those categories. I have cited this valuable reference and
the recommended books throughout this book. These authors give
eight guidelines for selecting a self-help book:
Don't buy a book by its cover or by its advertisement.
Don't buy a book that makes too-good-to-be-true claims. Self-
help is usually not an easy, quick, sure process.
Buy books based on scientific knowledge and/or extensive
clinical experience. Be skeptical of books based on only the
writer's opinions; question testimonials for a book; doubt the
author with only limited experience in one problem area or with
only one treatment method. How can you identify science-
based books? Look in the bibliography for scientific references;
check the contents for descriptions of sound research findings
or extensive professional experience.
Buy books that recognize that the causes of problems are
complex and that the same solution probably won't work for
everybody. If only one solution is proposed, don't buy it.