What’s best, self-help or coaching?

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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.

self-help squirrelI 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.

Read more: The dangers of high confidence, but low self-esteem.

What’s the latest self-help you tried? Was it helpful? I’m excited to hear your comments!


  1. 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

David Morin is the founder of SocialPro. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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  1. Right now. Compassion Lifestyle with Christina Andersson ? In combo with your program its so much easier ?

    By the way – i got my new work thanks to your program. And then i was at a tupperware and made new conections without even think about it.

    Me so happy! Thanks ?

    Someday I hope I will learn to trust a boy besides My old family and friends again ? so I can get a partner family in the future! Trust-Ideas? ?

    • That’s amazing Camilla! Congratulations on your new job! 😀

      I’m really curious, how did you get a new job thanks to our program?

      About trust, a big thing I see many people do wrong is that they shut themselves off too much because they are afraid of getting hurt. If all you focus on is avoiding what you fear, it will be very hard to get what you love. So an idea is to open yourself up in small steps, very gradually to build up your trust in others again. Don’t let your fear of being hurt again stop you from living life.

      • Thanks! ? I know I did have the experience and education for the job, but to people to employ you the will feel that “klick” with you. And often I do fake that so I can get to know people later (I listen but I do not tell) so maybe I didnt really feel that i fit in. And now I did focus more outside myself. And we really did klick for real at the intervju. ?

        I will try open up myself a little bit more for every time then! ? Thanks, again! ?

  2. I chose your confidence program because I thought it was specifically targeted to my goals. I have tried therapy before and all I ever seemed to do is vent. Sometimes that can help, but whenever I would ask them what can I do about this or that, I never seemed to get any good guidance, which is what I was really looking for.

    Matt Manti

    • Glad to have you with us Matt!

      We try to make everything we do goal-directed and problem focused. Not just more information.


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