drinkers could be predicted by their nervousness earlier that evening;
thus, confirming the "self-medication hypothesis." However, the
findings got complicated if they looked at more factors: moderate and
heavy drinkers drink less on stressful days if they had used active
coping strategies ("I did something to try to change the situation").
They drank more on stressful days in which they had used emotion-
focused strategies ("I let my feelings out today"). For most people in
this group, however, avoidant coping ("I tried to pay attention to other
things") during the day was not related to how much they consumed.
These conclusions can only be drawn if each application of the self-
help method(s) and the consequences are recorded.
In another study, Tennen and his colleagues divided patients
suffering pain (fibromyalgia) into three groups: recently depressed,
not depressed but depressed years ago, and never depressed. They
found a history of depression was associated with more pain, more
attention to the pain, more catastrophizing about the pain, and more
refraining from social, work, and personal activities when in pain. This
seems to confirm the "scar hypothesis"--that depression leaves scars
that interfere with coping. Interestingly, these researchers came to
believe that people often develop explanations of how-to-cope that
just don't fit with the actual observations of what worked. That's a
good argument for recording data and carefully analyzing it.
In a third study, the same researchers tested and confirmed the
"fallback hypothesis," namely, that emotion-oriented self-help
methods (venting of feelings) are less likely to be used unless action-
oriented strategies (trying to change things) are also being used. Only
by recording both self-change actions and the outcome of those
strategies can we truly understand self-help. Good research involves
thinking in a sensible and careful ways, careful and frequent
observations, and the use of statistics to help us (as well as
researchers) draw valid conclusions. The end product--useful
knowledge--is vitally important. You can do research.
Revise the Treatment Plan as Needed;
Deal with Resistance; Find a Therapist
If your self-help project doesn't produce the desired results in a
reasonable length of time, figure out what is wrong. Perhaps the
method needs to be used in a different way, e.g. a behavioral contract
may be demanding too rapid change, if so, reward changes in smaller,
easier steps. Or, perhaps another method would work better, there are
several to choose from in the same or different parts of the problem.
Or, perhaps you have lost your motivation or the "faith" you need in
yourself to change. Or, perhaps you are resisting change, there may