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I was out walking with some friends yesterday (and I used the opportunity to say hi to some of my squirrel friends). One friend told me about an interesting study about self-help.
I always had a feeling that going to a coach or a therapist must be more effective than just reading a self-help book. After all, a coach should be able to give you more personalized help than any self-help could ever give, right?
At the same time, as a person who has consumed a lot of self-help books, I know that they can be life-changing (the good books, that is).
Still, I got surprised when I came across a huge meta-study where they looked at 723 people who had either received self-help or help from a therapist.
The researchers wrote:
“We found no difference in treatment completion rate and broad equivalence of treatment outcomes for participants treated through self-help and participants treated through a therapist.”
The results of the study were not at all what the researchers expected.
It turned out that there was no difference in results between going to a therapist and using self-help when the self-help was scientifically based (1).
There’s, of course, a lot of shady self-help out there which isn’t helpful at all. But this study indicates that well-designed material can be as good as spending thousands of dollars on a coach or a therapist.
I think that’s pretty cool.
What’s the latest self-help you tried? Was it helpful? I’m excited to hear your comments!
- King, R. J., Orr, J. A., Poulsen, B., Giacomantonio, S. G., & Haden, C. (2016). Understanding the Therapist Contribution to Psychotherapy Outcome: A Meta-Analytic Approach. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 44(5), 664-680. doi:10.1007/s10488-016-0783-9